Our country has gone through a horrible pandemic that has changed our lives in numerous ways for the last two years. We have stayed away from family and friends, as well as seen our schools, churches, and businesses closed, bringing hardships on everyone. Along with shutdowns, there has also been a sense of dread and fear. Our friends and family feel it, our children and grandchildren feel it, and we feel it. As tensions build, wondering if we will ever return to our perception of normalcy, there are noticeable instances of rude and unkind behaviors. Unlike the coming together after 9/11, a sense of me-first is rearing its ugly head.
If we are aware of this type of behavior, certainly our grandchildren also pick up on it. When we are with them and experience unkindness or rudeness, we need to talk with them about what we heard or viewed. We cannot let them think that is an acceptable way to speak or act.
Recently, I read an article written by a mother about her severely handicapped son. He is wheelchair bound and has very limited means of communicating. However, it was obvious by her writing that she wanted him to be around other children and socialize as much as possible as long as he is able.
On this occasion, he expressed the desire to attend a cotillion function. His mother wheeled him into the large ballroom where the event was to take place. The girls lined up on one side, and the boys on the other. They would be seated with the one they were paired with. The mother watched as her son got closer to the front of the line and noticed girls moving back so as to not be paired with him. She hoped her son would not be aware of this happening. Fortunately, one sweet girl stepped up, smiled, and happily walked alongside his wheelchair to their table.
This story melted my heart. Her kindness meant the world to his mother. I wonder if her parents were surprised, but I expect they would have been more surprised if she hadn’t been the one to step up. I would hope that the girls who moved away didn’t do it for any reason other than a lack of maturity. Unfortunately, I don’t think parents were in attendance as it would have been a good teaching moment. If they read the posted article which was written to thank the young girl for her actions, it would be the perfect opening for a conversation, even if their children were not involved.
Do we as adults miss opportunities to set good examples for our grandchildren – or even other adults? A simple kind word or deed can make someone’s day without us even knowing it. Think about how you feel when you’re paid a compliment by a stranger. How nice it feels to help a person in need without being asked just because you can. Even the simplest thing can make a bad day good and a good day better.
My grandmother, whenever she caught my sister and me or our cousins displaying what she considered inappropriate behavior towards each other, we’d hear her voice, calm but clear, saying “Be ye kind, one to another.” As we should all be.