I have two kids. And of the many things that they need to be taught (and kids need to be taught EVERYTHING), at the top of my list right now: kindness, compassion, manners. I try to teach these lessons at home, away from home, with family, with friends … I try to be vigilant in reminding my kids to look people in the eye when we say thank you, to hold doors for strangers, to always find something to compliment, to choose to use good manners even when we’re tired.
And y’all. It’s exhausting.
Sometimes I stop and wonder if they’re learning anything, and if these years of training will pay off. Because sometimes, when they’re squirting all of the moms in the swimming pool or fighting over who had more cookies or basically acting like two wet cats tied up in a sack … it’s easy to think I’m not getting anywhere.
(Can I get an Amen?)
But the other day, as my kids and I were walking into the YMCA, a family was leaving. A mom and her kids were walking towards their car. And then suddenly, her teenage son noticed us. Without hesitation, he hurried back to the door. He held it for us. He smiled at my kids. And he walked away.
And I stood there, a little bit speechless.
I looked at my son, who I am diligently trying to teach to be a gentleman. I looked at this young man whose mother had clearly been teaching him the same things. And I smiled.
Because parents … it does pay off.
I am no parenting expert. I am seven years into this journey. I haven’t seen the “end result” of my work yet.
But I can see the result of other people’s work. And I love what I see.
I love seeing teenage boys who run out of their way to open a door for a woman and her children. I love seeing teenage girls holding the elevator door at the mall for a lady with a baby in her stroller.I love seeing big brothers helping little brothers on the playground, and I love seeing big sisters helping little sisters walk to the bathroom at Church. I love seeing it because it reminds me, “Keep going, Mom. It will pay off.”
So to you parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers of children … keep going. Keep teaching these little ones to be kind.