Ahhhh, January…the month where you have to park four times farther from the gym in order to find a parking place. Or, as it’s affectionately known at our house, Cookieless January. By February, you can find a parking place closer to the gym, as many of the resolutions that were set seem to falter in the face of reality and daily life. Resolutions are important, no doubt, but maybe instead of making huge resolutions in January that are difficult to keep, perhaps it’s more realistic to change habits little by little.
At the end of every session, we challenge kids to take home what they have learned at camp and show people what it means to “Live the Creed.” The skills learned at camp are important, for sure…water-skiing, tennis, horseback riding…awesome skills to take home with you. But we feel that the interpersonal skills learned at camp are even more important, and are the ones boys will use for the rest of their lives.
Ryder and I just finished reading the book, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. We both loved it. It’s the story of a boy who was born with major craniofacial deformities, and it begins just as he is entering middle school after having been homeschooled for his elementary years. It tells the story from his perspective as well as some of his friends and family, and it opens up an amazing dialogue about what it means to truly be kind to others, especially others who are so different from ourselves.
In the commencement address at the end of the year, his principal gives a speech where he mentions a line from a book by J.M. Barrie, called The Little White Bird. “Shall we make a new rule of life…always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?”
“Here Mr. Tushman looked up at the audience. ‘Kinder than is necessary,’ he repeated. ‘What a marvelous line, isn’t it? Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed. Why I love that line, that concept, is that it reminds me that we carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness.”
I love that statement. We all carry with us not just the capacity, but the choice of kindness. Sometimes kindness comes easily, naturally. But other times it has to be a very conscious choice, where it takes a concerted effort to remain kind in the face of plans changing, rude people, fatigue, grumpy kids, and busy lives. I know for me, the resolution to be kinder goes hand in hand with a resolution to slow down. When I start trying to multitask, or stay up too late trying to get more work done, or try to pack too many plans into a day, life gets stressful and kindness takes a back seat. Slowing down helps me to be more present in the lives of our kids, and kindness comes more naturally.
What does being “kinder than is necessary” mean to you?