Do you ever wonder if your kids or grandkids are going to turn out OK? I’ve spent more hours than I can count worrying about what my kids eat (or refuse to eat).
I try so hard not to micromanage them, but gosh it’s hard. When we’re away from the dinner table, I wonder if they're reading enough. Should we be doing math flashcards this summer? And don’t even get me started on electronics and video games.
We can get so overwhelmed by what might be going wrong that we forget to see what’s going right. It’s sort of like the way some people see the world. If we’re not careful, we can begin to think this place is going to hell in a handbasket.
That’s why kindness is important. It pulls us back into a place of hope and peace. Just in case you, like me, need a reminder that the kids are going to be OK, I’m dedicating July to stories of young people who are doing extraordinary things. Some of their acts of kindness are big and some are little, but they are all significant.
Let’s start with Holly Altman and her son from Sheldon, Iowa:
“This past Sunday I was shopping at a local Walmart with our two kids, who are 3 and 8. I had our 3-year-old daughter in the cart while our 8-year-old son was walking alongside me. We stopped so I could grab an item off the shelf and when I turned around, our son, D, was gone.
"I found him up the aisle a ways hugging an elderly woman. D had no clue who she was. He just told me that she looked sad and lonely. That she needed to feel loved so he wanted to hug her.
"The smile on her face was so beautiful. I can only hope the other people around us saw how that simple act of kindness brightened the day of a complete stranger and they will be encouraged to spread love like D did.”
In the coming weeks, I’m going to introduce you to a little girl who is helping women going through trauma, kids who have turned kindness into a game and a little boy who left a superhero legacy before he left this world. I wanted to start, though, with little D, the 8-year-old who goes around hugging elderly women. I think he does an amazing job of reminding us that kindness doesn’t cost anything, but it does require us to truly see the people around us and bravely enter their stories.
Imagine how that woman smiled to herself the rest of the day, thinking of D’s hug. Regardless of what else was going on in her life, in that quick moment, she knew someone saw her and cared. We can be the people who bring out those smiles. In simple, uncomplicated ways, we can learn from the ones who love others with a childlike faith.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.