School is out for the summer in Fargo, so I feel it’s safe to let you in on a little family drama. My sweet, 6-year-old boy, Charlie, made a really bad decision a few weeks ago.
Before you accuse me of throwing him under the bus, believe me, I am only sharing this because the entire family learned a lot about kindness from this experience.
Charlie was sitting in his kindergarten classroom looking at his nails that desperately needed to be cut (mom’s fault). Two of his classmates dared him to see what would happen if he dragged those sharp little nails across the arm of another unsuspecting boy.
Guess what? Sharp nails on skin cause blood. Not a pretty picture. Charlie felt awful and so did I when I got the email from his teacher explaining what had happened.
I literally cried when I read the email. I cried again when I talked to the teacher on the phone. Then I cried some more when Charlie got home and explained what had happened in his own words.
I just kept thinking, “Is this it? Is this the moment I will always remember as The Day My Good Son Went Bad? How could I not have seen this coming? Will Social Services take all of my children away because of my inadequate parenting skills?”
Was I overreacting? Maybe, but I was in a pretty low place.
I eventually pulled myself together and tried to work out a solution with Charlie. We decided that he should take his own money and buy some candy for the boy as a form of apology.
Charlie hung his head as we walked into the store. I could see in his eyes how little self worth he was carrying around. My heart hurt for him, but I couldn’t quite find the words to tell him that he was a great kid even though he didn’t make a great decision.
It turns out I didn’t have to.
My idea was to buy a sucker and some gum for the injured party. Charlie’s idea was to fill a bag with everything else in the candy aisle. As we looked at all the options, Charlie got more and more excited. He kept saying, “Mom, Cole will LOVE this!”
By the time we left the store, Charlie was glowing. He was so excited to deliver the gift to his friend.
It turns out, giving Charlie the opportunity to be kind allowed him to rebuild his self worth. He started to see himself again as a person who is smart, honest and kind.
And as I always say, kindness comes back to you.
Cole’s dad sent me this email a few days later”
That was awfully nice of you and Charlie to drop off that package for Cole. He was pretty excited. Thank you! What a sweet card from Charlie. Don’t worry at all about the scratching – not a big deal, 5- and 6-year-olds are really good at doing strange things sometimes.
“Charlie is a super nice kid – I’ve been in the classroom four or five times now for Junior Achievement, and I can tell you that he is always very well-behaved and attentive – easily one of the best-behaved in the class. I’m sure you have heard the same from the teacher. He always raises his hand if he wants to say something, waits his turn, and never blurts out.
“Anyway, just thought I’d drop you a line since we all have a tendency to worry too much about what our kids do sometimes, and it’s always nice to get some positive feedback.”
Cole’s dad could have let the whole situation go. He didn’t need to follow up with an email, but I’m sure glad he did. That message means so much to me, because between the lines I got to hear that I’m doing a good job as a mom, and those are some of the kindest words ever.
Now, if you don’t want to continue hearing about my family’s adventures, I encourage you to tell me about your own! I’m in desperate need of stories of random acts of kindness, so be kind and write one today!
Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo, and currently the Executive Director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.