The hardest part about kindness is not the being kind but rather the being kind to the unkind. It’s one thing to emulate John Lennon in life. It’s quite another to be kind to the likes of which would shoot you in an alley as he was sadly taken from us. How do you be kind then? I am preaching kindness to my students all the time. They are 10 years old and already showing symptoms found in the Lord of the Flies. I teach them to say simple, positive things to one another. Years ago I played in aband so I bring my guitar sounds to the classroom at times. We have a song we sing that I wrote called “The Morning Positive Song.” I sing the song with them and then stop asking students randomly to say a positive to another student. Without fail, it puts a smile on the receiver’s face. This is a powerful lesson for my 4th graders but adults should try it too. Getting practice at saying positives makes it natural after awhile, like any discipline. In the same sense, it can take time to develop a habit. I got a call from a parent a couple days ago and I must say, I was not prepared for the corrosive attitude on the other end of the line. It was a fairly new family to my class and they had no background knowledge of my work or my wonderful school. In the interest of the caller’s privacy I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say it was a parent concerned about something that happened outside my classroom that I did not witness and yet, I was given all the blame.
The good news is, it got worked out immediately and all parties involved were satisfied with the conclusion. Still, try ans I might, I cannot say I was as kind to this person as I aspire to be. That’s when they say you point at another person and get three fingers pointing back at yourself. By my own personal code, I will not allow myself to be rude or insulting just because it’s “self-defense.” A professional working with the public, especially children, needs to have a bit of a higher code than the majority of the population. While I was certainly courteous, I could have been more kind. Have you ever heard of the guy on the plane who is getting walked over by school aged kids as the mother does nothing? The man asked her, “Ma’am, you must do something with your children!” to which she replied,
“I know, I’m sorry. We’ve just received word their father was killed and we are flying to the funeral. I haven’t figured out how to tell them.” Usually, when people are unkind, there are reasons bigger than you comprehend. A paradigm shift like the man likely had is helpful but whether you have that or not, you need to err on the side of kindness. Having said that, I was told by an administrator I have the right to stop the conversation if it becomes corrosive or insulting. That way, I don’t have to appear unkind. Being kind is something I hope I always aspire to do.