It happened after school, she hopped in the car and started talking as she buckled into her car seat …
This is our after school ritual: she talks, I listen, she talks. She talks about how much she loves her teacher, she talks about her A++ in math, she talks about how she was at the top of the behavior chart. But today she added, “Kody-with-a-K is so bad, Mom! He’s ALWAYS at the the bottom of the iceberg.”
I took a deep breath, because a huge mantra in our house is “Be kind & show grace.” But was she showing Kody-with-a-K grace in this moment? Did she know anything about him other than his behaviors in class? I’ll answer for her; no, she didn’t.
“Bug, have you ever thought that Kody-with-a-K might need grace? Maybe you could show him some extra kindness.”
“But Mom, he’s so bad!”
“Is he bad, or does he make bad choices?”
“He makes LOTS of bad choices.”
This started a long, heartfelt conversation. I reminded her that kids aren’t bad, but they do make bad choices. We recalled times when she had made one bad choice and how that choice led to more bad choices, but it didn’t make her a bad person. I reminded her that kindness and grace can speak deeply to our friends and others around us. We show kindness and grace to everyone … not just those that make it easy. That we don’t know what Kody-with-a-K goes home to everyday. Maybe he has a new baby at home and he just needs a little extra attention, or what if he’s lonely and not really sure how to make new friends? He may not have examples of good behavior at home. He may not know better than to make bad choices. But it’s not her job to judge him; it’s her job to show kindness and grace. I told her we could say extra prayers for Kody and maybe next time he made bad choices in class instead of reacting with snark or indifference, maybe we could show Kody extra kindness that day. Because Kody-with-a-K may or may not receive kindness when he leaves school, so if we can show him just a little kindness everyday, we could make a big difference in his life. I made sure to emphasize that she shouldn’t put herself in harms way, but that Kody deserves grace for his actions just as much as she does.
You see, it’s my job to teach her to deal with life. If I don’t show her she’s an example, she may not learn. And if I do her the disservice of avoiding darkness in this world, how will she ever be the light? I need my child to know that people’s actions and emotions are often woven together, one affecting the other. And how one small act of kindness can change the trajectory of someone’s day. But even more so, repetitive kindness and grace can open doors she never knew existed.
Now, I daily ask about Kody-with-a-K. And now, instead of telling me how bad he is, she gets excited to talk about his good behavior days. We discuss how she can be intentionally kind in Kody’s day. And honestly, I’d prefer my kid to see outside herself and realize that not everyone has what she has – but she can offer that same experience.