Family Lifestyle Parenting

Kindness Please

I realized that I have not written anything here since April. The thing is, I haven’t really felt like writing much these days at all. There has been a mix of busy. I’m still a grad student, I’ve still been working full time and like all of you, I’ve been a bit consumed with the state of the way things are these days. You know the things I’m talking about.

After I posted my last article, I told myself not to write about Covid-19 anymore. Because my blog isn’t about Covid-19 after all. But then I realized that I started this blog to talk about now. The middle of now, to be exact. And folks, this is what we are in the middle of. Covid-19. The pandemic that has robbed us of our year 2020. The year that we anticipated, which was anything but this.

So here I am. Sharing my current thoughts about these dreaded things. As we have embarked on the second half of the year, I have seen a few comments rejoicing that we have made it half way through this terrible year. As if six months from now, Covid-19 will have disappeared. I doubt it. Even if there is a vaccine by then, this virus will still exist. And how readily available will that vaccine be? How many will refuse to get the vaccine?.

Now here we are facing July. With the start of a new school year coming at us faster than we know what to do with. With school officials making decisions to share with the public. Decisions that we are reminded, are still fluid. To be honest, July does not feel very good to me.

I often find myself wondering why my town continues to host social events as though the need for social distancing has disappeared. The mixed messages have made a mess of things. My brain hurts every time I see the disagreements in the comments on social media platforms in response to a news article.

And I am struggling. The thing is, I have anxiety. The kind that is clinically diagnosed. The kind that needs medication and therapy. The kind that fills me with self-doubt everyday. The kind that keeps me living in a state of wondering about the “what-ifs” in everything I do.

But one thing that anxiety does not affect is my ability to be kind. My ability to hold onto my personal beliefs and opinions and still choosing to be kind to those who do not share the same beliefs and opinions as I do.

Despite being accused of being a Pollyanna at times in my life, I do have mean thoughts about others. I do. I do get angry when I see and hear many things going on around us right now. I do get upset by the necessary restrictions that have been placed on the things that are no longer normal. I do vent to my people I live with. I do cry alone in the shower sometimes.

But I can still choose to be kind. Being kind does not change the things we are all dealing with right now. It does not make Covid-19 go away. It does not make our state and national leaders make different decisions. It does so much more.

My anxiety is heightened right now about all of the chaos that is out there right now. We are just a few short weeks out from the start of the new school year. And I am a new teacher. And a mother. Though I am a known germophobe, I am worried about a lot more than just Covid-19.

I am about to walk into a classroom to teach your children. I am about to send my daughter into the circus that her senior year is becoming. And my anxiety is increasing over the way people are treating one another. There is a huge lack of kindness amongst us. The absence of empathy.

So while you won’t ever see me challenging you about your religious or political beliefs, which somehow seem to translate to Covid-19 beliefs right now, you will see me get on a soapbox about kindness every now and again. It might seem cheesy and irrelevant to some, but it isn’t.

The thing is, your children are watching you. They are learning from you. And they should be. Because it is our job as parents to guide our children. To teach them how to respect others and show kindness. Which includes that all people are different in many ways, including those beliefs and opinions.

Instead, I am afraid there will be more problems in schools than we already have to deal with as a society. I am afraid that children are going to be mean to one another about the differences of opinions they will have learned about from their parents regarding Covid-19.

Everyday, I open up my Facebook to scroll through my newsfeed and I am called names. I am treated unkindly. You might not think it is personal when someone makes a post that says I am an idiot because I don’t have the same opinion that they do, but isn’t it? If I saw the people who say those things out in the street, would they say that to me in person?

What is going to happen to the children at school when they begin to talk about the things that are going on? Some of them will call their classmates names that are unkind. Like stupid. Because they follow rules or don’t. Or idiot. Because they are wearing a mask, or not.

Teachers are already facing bigger challenges this year than they ever have before. It will be more than making sure our students are six feet apart. It will be more than gentle reminders to wear their masks.

It will be consoling hurt feelings. It will be having discussions about kindness. And teaching to agree to disagree when we should be teaching about math, science and writing instead.

Parents, it starts with you. It is not too late to remind your children to respect authority and follow rules even when you don’t like them. It is not too late to show them that you can do the same.

I realize that I may be fantasizing about my Pollyanna-like world again, but I will never be sorry for promoting kindness. For provoking thought. For showing you the bigger picture. For reminding you that you are not the only person who matters.

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