My girls are getting older.
With Juliet in Pre-k five days a week, and Priscilla having a social schedule that a debutante would be proud of, it has become blatantly obvious that they have their own tiny lives. They know songs I did not teach them. They spout new knowledge I did not teach them. They love people I do not even know the names of.
As the control is beginning to slip through my loosened fingers, I became even more aware of the things that I want for them. I want warm smiles and lots of people who love them. I want challenges they can conquer, tiny mountains they can climb and declare every day, ” I am brave, I am strong, I am capable.” I want laughter, and singing, and a time to rest. (Did you hear that Priscilla? I want you to take a nap, everyday, so I can see you when I get home in non-melt-down-mode.)
I hope that they are brave. I hope that they are smart. I hope that they are funny. I hope that they are well spoken. I hope that they are bold and gentle all at the same time. I hope that they know just how beautiful they are, how wonderful they are, how loved they are.
But above all, I hope that my daughters are kind.
I see in my own classroom, every day, how rare that is, how important that is, how truly counter-cultural. I suppose that if the day every came where it was their faith or their life, I would hope that my girls would proclaim their faith. But I hope they don’t wait for the day when their lives are on the line. I hope that their little lives every day speak to the goodness of our God.
And most of all I hope that they are kind. I hope that they make room at their lunch table for the new kids, the shy kid, the kid without any other friends. I hope they are kind to their teachers, especially the new ones who are making a lot of mistakes even an elementary-schooler can tell are mistakes. I hope they are kind to the kid who is getting the whole class in trouble, and the kid who has trouble making friends. I hope they are kind to the kids who are mean . And I really hope they are not the kids who are mean.
I hope they forgive, again and again and say things like, You can sit with me. You can be in our group. Would you like to play with us?
I have learned, in my classroom, in my world, that a kind gesture speaks more boldly than a mission trip t-shirt ever will. I have learned that consistent kindness is often far harder than bold witness. I have learned it stays longer. It often means more.
I will, of course, be proud of my daughters when they ace their spelling test, when they score the winning goal, when they steal the show, but I will be especially proud when I learn they have been kind, to a stranger, to a teacher, to a kid who really needed some kindness.
My dear girls, may you be exceptionally kind.