Every once in awhile, Saul and I play “Who would you most like to have dinner with?”
Jimmy Buffett is high on Saul’s list. Mother Teresa is high on mine. I imagine we’re both out of luck.
A little boy in Fargo will long remember a recent meal he got to share thanks to a side helping of kindness. His grandfather, Harvey Laabs, sent me this story.
“My grandson, Ethan, is a sports fanatic. At age 10, he already plays basketball in the winter, baseball in the summer and flag football in the fall. He also loves to watch sporting events, especially Sheyenne Mustangs High School basketball and Fargo Force hockey games. He can tell anyone who wants to listen what number any of the Timberwolves, Vikings, Wild or Twins players wear. He has plenty of heroes among these teams.
“My niece, Amy, has a son name K’Andre. K’Andre is 17 years old and is a member of the USA U17 hockey team. This is a team of young men who are part of the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.
“The team was recently in Fargo to play a pair of games against the Fargo Force. Of course, Ethan and his family were there for both games. After the Saturday game, Amy led us down into the ‘belly of the arena’ to wait for K’Andre. During our short visit, K’Andre signed a puck for Ethan. Ethan was beaming.
“Even though it was after 10 p.m., the team was headed to a restaurant for a late dinner. Amy invited us to join her since she planned to go there as well. After K’Andre finished eating with his teammates, he came to our table and joined us.
“Ethan quickly changed the seating arrangement so that he was sitting next to K’Andre. He took the children’s placemat, and the two of them played tic-tac-toe. When Ethan won two out of three, K’Andre was suitably impressed. They continued on with a word find game, and ended up quizzing each other on ‘What number does (insert sports star’s name) wear?’ Again, K’Andre was impressed with Ethan’s knowledge.
“All of this seems simple enough, but here was a 17-year-old young man treating this 10-year-old boy as a peer. The ‘hero’ was treating the ‘hero-worshipper’ as an equal. He was so casual about it, it wasn’t as though he was going out of his way to be kind; he was just being who he is.
“This is something that Ethan will remember for a lifetime; those of us that witnessed it will also remember.”
Sometimes we save our best selves for a person who impresses us or for someone from whom we can benefit. A beautiful act of kindness unfolds when we remember that everyone, especially those who look up to us, deserve our time and attention.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at email@example.com. 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 is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Friday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.