Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kindness is a wonderful lesson to teach.

My boys aren't naturally kind. Not to me. Not to their dad. Not to their siblings. Sometimes not even to themselves. These guys look so cute and innocent. Some days they wake up all snuggly and sweet and within seconds their moods change and it is all down-hill from there. To be fair, my other kids aren't naturally kind all the time either, but they are several years older, wiser and mellower when it comes to being nice. Being kind to others is something we are all working on every day at my house. It is like a never-ending life lesson, that sadly, as we see and hear in the news, isn't necessarily taught or lived out in our world around us as often as it should and could be. On any given day we all have opportunities to be kind or to respond in kind ways. Even if we don't feel like it, or of we have to create those opportunities up all on our own.
These two little guys, Teague and Crew, are at that age {2 and 4} where they are still growing and learning and soaking in way more than we think they are at times. Today they got a lesson in kindness and hopefully it is just one of many that they see and soak in and hopefully put into practice all their own in the years to come.
This little lesson in kindness started back a couple of weeks ago when Chip and I took a quick walk one night. We waved to a neighbor out in his front yard and Chip nodded to him and offered a word of sympathy in the recent death of his wife. He walked over toward us and shared a thank-you to us for acknowledging his sorrow and recent unexpected grief. He went on to tell us how hard it was to live alone now, as the two of them had shared many years of marriage and had their daily routines down- which added to the obvious void in his 'new' daily life. I extended my condolences as well, and asked if he likes home-baked goods as I do lots of baking in the summer. He smiled and said, 'yes, my wife made a wonderful banana bread and she put pineapple in hers". That simple statement was immediately tucked into my notes in my head and at one of my trips to the grocery store last week I intentionally stopped by the canned pineapple aisle and picked one up knowing it might be just the tiny unexpected bit of kindness that our neighbor man might need in his time of grief.
We have walked and ridden bike by his home several more times in the past few days, and we have exchanged waves, but that has been it. With the anniversary of our own tragedy just days from now, my heart is always more heightened to the beauty of everyday, ordinary life...but with that reality of how precious these very days are. So with all of that in my heart and mind, I browsed Pinterest and looked up some of "the best banana-pineapple bread" recipes until I felt confident I had one that was a 'sure thing'. Next, I pulled out some very ripe bananas and that can of pineapple I had bought for just the right bread and I got to baking. Here is the recipe I used- minus the coconut since someone ate the rest of it in the bag I thought I still had left. It was delicious anyway.
I told the kids the story. I told them how our neighbor misses his wife every day. I told them how it is so easy to be kind, but sometimes you have to listen closely to find out ways you can show your kindness and that sometimes just doing something at all is still a nice thing to do. I told them how I had bought pineapple and tried a new recipe just because it would show how much we listened and cared that much more. They tried out the muffin version of the bread, and a couple of my kids declared it "the best bread ever".
Our next task was to deliver the bread to our neighbor. The kids were all so excited to be a part of "showing kindness". They nearly fought over who would get to carry the bread. In the end, I carried the bread and they rode bikes, trikes and scooters. =) We walked down to the end of the block- the bread was still warm. But unfortunately our neighbor wasn't home at the time. So we brought the bread back and wrapped it up and the kids went on 'look-out' a few times until they spotted his garage door up and they excitement started all over again. 'Mom, he's home now!"
They were so anxious to deliver the little loaf of bread. This time he answered the door and even gave hugs to us for being so thoughtful. I told him how I had to look up a recipe and that I was sure it wasn't even close to how good a bread his wife used to make, but that we had been inspired by her and were happy to try a new recipe. He had that look in his eyes that I know from my own experience. That look where outside you are beaming, but inside it is a ball of emotions because the tug at your heart from the memory and missing of your loved one is so strong. I was happy to be able to tug at that heartstring, because honestly, anyone who is a friend of grief knows how special it is to be reminded at any time in life just how special their loved one still is.
I am a lousy mom far too many times in life. I am not a teacher by nature. I am not all that patient; I am still learning lessons that I feel unqualified to pass on too! But, I can tell you that teaching a lesson in kindness is a win-win-win for everyone involved. I was blessed by being a blessing. Watching my kids get excited to share and be kind and thoughtful renewed my belief in the goodness of little hearts. They DO want to love and be loved and niceness isn't just something to do because it's politically correct. I was blessed in the return hug I was given out of a simple gesture of sharing a little loaf of bread. The neighbor man didn't even need to taste the bread and I could tell it had meant so much to him even so. He blessed my kids by his kind words of thanks. I hope we blessed the memory of his wife as we tried to replicate a favorite recipe.
But above all, I hope that the kindness we shared will be a lesson that my kids and I want to repeat over and over again. It is the kind of life lesson that just gets sweeter and better the more you do it. That is a lesson I hope we never forget.


Cricket said...

What a beautiful act of kindness! I'm sure it will leave a lasting impression in your neighbors heart!


Frøken Strøken said...

Jody, that is so beautiful of you. I know he appreciated it immensely, and I hope we all get to experience the care and tenderness you showed this man today when we sometime need it.

Melanie said...

What a wonderful story! We have several new neighbors this year...I think I should start baking:)

missy said...


Cheryl said...

Great life lesson and will sure to have made a lasting impression on their little hearts and on your neighbor's for sure.

Shannon said...

Thank you for sharing your heart with us, your neighbors, and your kids. Being perfect isn't what it's all about, it's about showing that we care.

I burst into tears at your words- anyone who is a friend of grief knows how important it is to acknowledge how special that loved one is- My daughter died last July and I love it when she's acknowledged, even though her life was so so short.

I hope that I can use my experiences to do the same thing you've done- pass compassion on to my children and also to remind others that their loved ones are not forgotten.

thank you.