This is a post by Kandice.
Kind. It’s a word with only four letters. But in the small space between the K and the D lies the opportunity to change the world, person by person, one tiny act at a time.
Meet the Teacher. The day before school started this year, I took the Boy and the Girl to meet their teacher, check out their new classrooms, and get their lockers ready. Meet the Teacher Day is ruled by chaos: There are health forms to be filled out, spirit shirts to buy, mandatory parent meetings to attend, and lost book fines to pay from the previous year (oops!). And it’s not all about the kids either. The parents are given what feels like reams of paper (also known as parent homework). And while you are sitting in the mandatory parent meetings, your phone is notifying you of a bajillion incoming emails (which are from the school and contain MORE parent homework). In reality it only lasts like two hours, but it feels like it lasts for days. But after you get home from Meet the Teacher, I swear the parent homework takes like three or four hours. And some of it involves technology, which isn’t only time consuming but frustrating.
Later that night, after I’d completed the parent homework, packed lunches and made sure everything was ready to go, I realized that I had forgotten to speak to each of the kids’ teachers about their food allergies. (Our entire family has been diagnosed with a gluten allergy and/or celiac disease.) So, at 7:01 p.m. I sent an email to both of the kids’ teachers about their food allergy, what they could and could not eat, and asking for advance warning of any food-centered activities so we could send a gluten free something for our kids to enjoy.
When I went to tell the Boy goodnight before lights out, we talked for a few minutes. It was clear that he was going into this new school year with some anxiety. Okay, a lot of anxiety. He was he worried about his homeroom teacher, because she was “mean” and “strict.” In his mind, 6th grade was going to be horrible. Terrible. He already knew it and there was no convincing him otherwise. On top of it all, being required to eat gluten free was just another way to shine a neon light on the fact that he is DIFFERENT. Which he hates. I tried to give him a pep talk, but I wasn’t successful. He wasn’t happy.
The First Day of School. In our family it’s a tradition, on the first day of school, for me and Stephen to walk the kids to their classrooms. I love this tradition. The Girl will still let us do this. She’ll even let the teacher take a picture of the three of us. Together. Touching her.
The Boy, however, would only let us drop him off at the doors to the Middle School. And he walked ahead of us. Pretending we weren’t there. Armed with his backpack and gluten-free lunch, he put on a brave face and headed to his first period classroom. But I knew he was filled with dread.
That afternoon, as I waited in the carpool line, I prepared myself for a grumpy boy and a long list of reasons why school sucks. Instead, I was greeted by a young man trying to stifle a smile. He doesn’t emote, aside from yelling at his sister when she irritates him, so I knew something was up. I asked him how his day was. Still trying as hard as he could not to smile, he told me that maybe his teacher wasn’t so mean after all.
Friends, his teacher brought breakfast for the entire class. And she stopped at the store early that morning on her way to school to specifically get him gluten free muffins. This meant the WORLD to him. I am not exaggerating when I say it changed his whole outlook on his teacher and made him realize that this year wasn’t automatically going to be horrible. I picked up a smiling, confident, very touched 11 year old.
One gluten-free muffin did all of that.
One small act of kindness had an enormous impact on him. I cannot tell you what a difference her kindness made. It was HUGE. And it didn’t just impact him. It impacted our entire family as well. It was such a beautiful gift.
Sometimes a tiny thing can make an enormous difference in someone’s life. Imagine if we all did something small. Something seemingly insignificant. What kind of a difference could that make?