In addition to saying nothing
negative to your (sons) again today,
do at least one unexpected gesture
as an act of kindness.
As many of you may have noticed, I am…ah… rather exacting over the meanings of words and sentences. I don’t do vague in day-by-day communications. The sentence means what it means. A ridiculously simple example would be the construction truck with the warning on the back – Working Vehicle Do Not Follow.
Okay. So the truck is working – usually a dump truck so I *assume* the fear is the back will give way and drown the close-following car in dirt or whatever happens to be lucky enough to be enclosed within.
Then my mind goes to work. (And yes, this will relate to the subject eventually…. sort of.) My first thought is, ‘So you can’t follow the truck…. for how long? A mile? Forever? Never?” Will all the traffic suddenly come to a stand-still while the truck drives off into the distance alone?’
The sign doesn’t even give you the respect of clarifying, ‘Do not follow behind this truck any closer than 60 yards. You might get smushed.’ There is still some vagueness here but never mind for now. You can undoubtedly see the point. I’m anal about words and grammar.
And now here is where I am going to make a flourish with my hands, say TA-DA, and suddenly spring a ‘new’ subject on you, even if I did just give you a hint of what was to come.
What does the Love Dare mean by Kind? Am I kind if I bake you cookies? How about if I mow your grass just because? Pick up your child from school so you don’t have to miss work? Send a card? Call? Flowers? Does kindness mean that I have to do something for somebody else whether physical, mental or emotional?
Or can kindness also be not doing something?
I thought about the ways and means of kindness this week, trying to figure out what kindness I could offer to my sons. Their suggestions would mostly likely cover the money or food avenue of giving them something of monetary value.
So, yes, kindness can be giving but must it always be giving?
Doing their chores for a day? What chores? The ones I have to threaten bodily harm to get done? Those chores? They wouldn’t even notice.
Take them to dinner? A dinner out would be kind if you mean kind as in ‘nice.’ But is nice what the Dare is asking me to be?
Nice is a ‘nice’ word. The sky is nice today. Tells me nothing about why the sky is nice. Or the clouds or the sun or your spotted dog. Nice really tells nothing more than the speaker doesn’t have the ability, time, care enough, or is afraid to, to say what is really meant.
I don’t want to be just *nice.* I want to show kindness with action or actions that are real and solid and meaningful. I want them to be able to say, ‘Wow, Mom sure was kind to me today. She…. fill in the blank as you wish.’
But kindness shouldn’t need shouting from the mountaintops. Kindness isn’t something done for praise. So maybe kindness should slip quietly into one’s life like a shadow, maybe not even realized until later.
Last Friday, as always, my oldest picked me up from work. He had just recently painted his room and I’d told him I would buy him a new rug. I was tired. I didn’t want to go to the store then, but he wanted to go and every other time I was off he had plans. So off to Kohl’s we go.
Found the rugs. He liked. We’re done. Right?
Ah, no. He’d been hinting that he needed shoes but I explained to him that was why he worked – so he could buy his own shoes. But I could tell he wanted something so I suggested maybe he might like to look at the clearance clothes. Instant smile and off he goes.
And there, in the middle of Kohl’s, I found myself in the middle of kindness. There is a reason why we disagree on clothes but it isn’t something I’m comfortable with at the moment. Suffice it to say, the greatest kindness I could have shown him at that moment was to tell him he could get clearance clothes and then walk away. To remain silent when he came up to me with clothes in hand, waiting for me to give the Mother’s ‘No.’
I said nothing except ‘do they fit’ and ‘do you want them.’ And then, ‘let’s go pay.’
At that moment, I was enfolded in the arms of kindness towards another person. Silent. Warm. And filled with overflowing love.
At that moment, I was kindness and isn’t that what the dare was really asking…