“Be kind,” I tell my kids often. “To yourself and others.”
It is the last thing I tell my son each morning as I wrap my arms around him, before he gets on the bus for school. I don’t know if my words make a difference, or if the repetition turns the words stale, but I do it anyway.
What I really want to tell them is that kindness matters—that the world can be a painful, confusing place, and small acts of kindness have impact.
Michelle Icard, author and parenting expert schooled some teenage girls on kindness. Last Monday, she was picking up her morning caffeine from Starbucks when she overheard three teen girls gossiping about another girl.
“They were bashing her over what was clearly a popularity issue—and they were talking about gifts they’d received and how tacky they were,” Icard told People Magazine.
Disturbed by the loud, unkind comments the girls were making, Icard left the Starbucks and posted about the experience on her Facebook page. A reader suggested she return to the coffee shop and leave the girls a note about her observations.
So she did.
“Hi Girls!” The note began. “I sat near you today in Starbucks and listened as you talked. You three are obviously pretty and hard-working. I wish your kindness matched your pretty exteriors. I heard you talk about a girl who sang a song about being lonely in the talent show—and you laughed. About a girl who couldn’t be lead singer because you got all the votes, about crappy presents other people have given you…and you sounded so mean and petty. You are smart and you are pretty. It would take nothing from you to also be kind.”
Icard ordered a round drinks to be delivered to the girls, dropped off the note, and left.
She later told People magazine that her comments on their physical appearance was an attempt to “speak their language” and get their attention.
The story blew up on Icard’s Facebook page, garnering a lot of attention.
Will her note to the girls make a difference? Or will the girls shrug it off perhaps the way my kids do with the reminders I give them about kindness each morning.
Unless one of the girls speaks up, we’ll probably never know.
We can do our best. We can speak up, like Icard did, in a way that demonstrates grace and kindness. We can plant seeds of kindness and hope they sprout and spread.
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Editor: Sarah Kolkka