Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Special Kind of Kindness, revisited

Today, as part of Bridget Chumbley's One Word at a Time Blog Carnival,  I'm reposting my story about a -ahem- unique path of Kindness that I found myself pursuing last December in the first of Baltimore's many snowstorms.  Darling son has been in a few snowball fights since then, and typically comes out on the losing end.  Still doesn't make this story right...


So I've been focusing on kindness in recent months - not just the idea of kindness, but really the practice of kindness.  In fact, I went as far as to make it my specific goal for this Christmas season - to find ways to extend kindness at a time when people are so, well, unkind.  (Imagine the parking lot at the mall, and you get the picture.)

This was my Facebook update yesterday afternoon: "who can explain to me why kindness is such a hard concept for people to embrace?"

Not three minutes after I posted this query, my four year old came banging in the front door.  His cheeks were bright pink, and he blurted out Mommy, the reason I had to come inside is that there are bullies - two big boys - outside throwing snowballs, an' one hit me in my face! 

A half-second later I was out on my front porch scanning the street for suspects.  I saw two pre-teen boys ambling up the path next to our house, and I demanded if those were the boys.  When Lars confirmed that yes, 'dose are the guys',  I tore down my front steps and out to the street without taking the time to change out of slippers.

HEY!  I shouted.  Are you the guys throwing snowballs at four year olds? [cue vague grunts & mumbling denials.]  I SAID, are you the guys who were down the hill there throwing snowballs at little kids?  Because I want to know IN WHAT WORLD is it ok for kids as old as you to throw snowballs in preschoolers' faces?  How OLD are you anyway? [uh, 13.]  AND HOW ABOUT YOU? [uh, I'm 11.]  SO REALLY?  YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE COOL TO THROW ICY SNOWBALLS IN MY  KIDS FACE?!?!?!  

At this point they tried to argue it wasn't them throwing the snowballs.  They tried - weakly - to suggest that my kid had thrown snowballs at them.  Both tacks, whilst perhaps inspired defenses in the 'tween mind, served only to fuel my indignation and wrath.

So I dropped my voice down low (an old cheerleading trick, much handier in parenting than it ever was on the sidelines.)  And here is what I said:

Listen - and listen good:  If I EVER see you NEAR my child, or my home, or if I EVER even HEAR about either one of you coming near my child, I will PERSONALLY make sure that you are VERY VERY SORRY.   Do you get that?  Get away from my house, and get away from the kids in this neighborhood. NOW.

Now, not only have I been 'choosing' kindness this year, not only have I been pursuing ways to be gentler with those around me, I also fancy myself as a bit of a cool customer when it comes to parenting.  I do my best not to freak out when there are injuries (real or imagined), I work hard at accepting all the outrageous things kids do without judging them, and I certainly never planned on screaming at preteen boys in my fake fur slippers.

If you'd asked me, maybe presented the above scene as a 'theoretical' to me, in the days before I became a parent, I would say maybe that the kids needed to figure it out.  I would say that maybe the four year old instigated it.  I would say that overreacting would only make the incident worse. 

Oh, but the white-hot fury.  The absolute primal reaction of a parent protecting a child - of wanting anyone, be they thirteen or ninety,  to know just how wrong hurting little people is?  Well I took myself by surprise. 

Seems I'm not quite as evolved as I'd imagined.  But with 24 hours to look back at the scenario, I still have the same reaction.  I will be as kind as I am able - just don't touch my cubs.


Helen said...

I don't have kids, but I was a teacher for thirteen years. I'd've bawled them out, too.

Glynn said...

I love that bear picture. There's nothing -- nothing -- like a mom defending her cubs. ROAR! (Great story)

Jennifer said...

Remind me never to get on your bad side. Fwiw, I probably would have yelled at them too but never having been a cheerleader it wouldn't have had the same effect ;)

Anonymous said...

Momma bears are the best! Great story of love and protection over our babies.

Kindness is a work in progress... as well as love in action! ;)

Good post, Kirsten.

katdish said...

For everything there is a season...

You go girl. I would have done the same thing. (Not saying it's right, just saying...)

jasonS said...

Roar first, ask questions later. :) Loved this story (and my wife would have done the same thing).

M.L. Gallagher said...

I love this story too! And the photo is just awesome.


Kevin said...

"I will be as kind as I am able - just don't touch my cubs." Just like meekness does not mean weakness, kindness does not mean that we are to door mats too.

Great story!

JoAnne Bennett said...

You are a wonderful story-teller & such a kind, loving mommy. Being a mother of three grown daughters and watching many, many daycare children over the years, I firmly believe if you don't say anything that what they did was wrong, nobody will. Nice meeting you Kirsten and thanks for sharing :)!


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