Slowing Down to Be Kind

It was a crazy afternoon. I picked my children up from school and immediately set off for our extracurricular activities, dropping my 6-year-old at a lacrosse clinic before heading toward the tennis court for my 9-year-old's lesson and then to pick up the 11-year-old at his middle school bus stop. With four kids -- three of them in school -- life never gets boring and it never slows down. 

As I slowed to a stop in the tennis court parking lot, I noticed my 9-year-old, Charlie, was staring out the window, lost in his own thoughts. "Mom," he said pensively, "the next time we are going to go down that road by the grocery store, will you tell me so I can bring some food?"

I was confused. "Huh?" I asked. I wasn't sure what he meant. Food? Road? What?

"That road, near the grocery store," he said, exasperated a little now. "There are people standing there, and they don't have homes? I want to take them some food the next time we drive there."

Our community has been hit by the rough economy; for the first time, my children are seeing people ask for money on the sides of our neighborhood roads. Their elementary school now has a substantial percentage of students on free and reduced lunch. Caught in the haze and hurry of my days, I didn't think about how they would react to these realities. I am ashamed to say that I before that moment, I didn't think to talk to them about it, or that they might want to help.

Luckily, my child's desire to be kind to others in need spoke louder than my thoughtlessness that day. We developed a plan of action: to collect blankets for homeless families this winter and to collect donations for homeless children at his birthday party this year in lieu of gifts. These were his ideas, and he has shown me that children know exactly how to be kind to others -- we just have to give them the chance. 


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