It is recess time at daycare. There are a bunch of kids playing on the swings, digging in the sand box, and playing keep-away in the yard. All the kids are playing and having a good time. All except one little boy who is sitting all alone on a bench by himself. This innocent, four-year old little boy had only been going to the day care for about a week. He had to go because his mother now had to work two jobs to help make ends meet. The teachers tried to get others to play with this little boy, but were not successful, so everyday this little boy sat on the bench by himself watching the other kids laugh and have fun playing together. A week passed and he made no friends… not even one.
The next week was a little different. While out on the playground, someone noticed this little boy sitting all one. It was a five-year old boy. Just a year older, but old enough to understand. The older boy had just come back from vacation (he had missed the whole previous week). The older boy had asked his teachers if he could play with the little boy since he was all by himself. As the older boy went over to ask he noticed something a little different about the little boy. Maybe this was the reason why none of the other kids would play with him. You see the little four-year-old boy was boy was born with only three fingers on each hand. As the other kids noticed that he was different, they did not want to pay with him. The five-year-old didn’t care. He asked the little boy if he wanted to play catch with him. For the rest of the afternoon the two boys played out on the playground. They played catch, they pushed each other on the swings, and made sand castles together.
The rest of the summer the boys were best friends. They would eat lunch together and take naps next to each other. At the end of the summer, the little boy moved away. His father had been transferred and it was the last time the two boys ever saw each other.
Today, I still think of the little, four-year-old boy that I met on the daycare playground all those years ago. I still remember his name, Ian. Every now and then, he still comes to mind and I wonder how his life turned out. As a five year old I remember the things that Ian and I did together and how much fun we had. I also remember how hurt he had looked before we became friends. I knew how much his friendship meant to me, that year, and how much it meant to him. I saw Ian as a playmate, as a friend.
Now that I have kids, I see this kindness in them. Becky and I have always tried to teach our kids the importance of treating other with kindness. Our oldest son, Jack, is a great role model of this and Becky and I are very proud of him. We hear all the time from his teachers, parents, and coaches how nice he is. He is one of those kids will take to anyone. He doesn’t care what status they came from, what religion they are, the color of their skin. He told us one day that he like to play with kids that are “nice” to him and to others. His teachers often put him in charge of being the “helper” of the class, to help the children that are being mainstreamed (moving from a special needs classroom to the regular classroom. Jack loves this job and he doesn’t even notice that he is doing anything more than just being a friend. Beau, first grade, is starting down the same path. He is always the one that teachers turn to when someone is new to the class or needs a friend.
Kindness and hate are things that are taught, and taught by those that are closest to us. I learned at a young age that if someone is in need or looks like they are having a hard time, you need to help anyway you can. My parents were those type of people. They were not rich in a monetary sense, but they were rich in love and the love to help other. My parents were the type of people that would give you their last dollar if you asked them for it, and would never ask for it back, even if they needed it.
Having these positive role models, made it easy to show kindness on the playground to the little boys, like Ian, all those years ago. Kindness was something that I learned because it was present in my life. For my kids, I hope they will lead their lives the same way. A life that is unselfish and full of kindness towards everyone they come in contact with.
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