If we were having coffee, I’d welcome you in. It’s quietly productive here today, and I just brewed the fresh pot my Accomplice set up for me before he left for work a little earlier than usual. He greeted me, as he often does, with a hot cup, made just the way I like it, and a kiss. That’s a small kindness, but one that sets a lovely tone for my morning, and connects us.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that that bigger-than-me-now teenaged boy washing dishes at the sink is doing it not because anyone assigned him the job, but because he wants to help out. Washing dishes isn’t his favorite thing to do, not by a long shot, but he’s taking a break from setting up his new Minecraft server to pitch in. More and more, this young man in the making is willing to do things that make his parents’ lives more comfortable, even when doing so means setting aside his own activities for a bit. He’s willing to carry laundry, take out garbage and recycling, mow the lawn or shovel snow, and feed pets. Once upon a long ago, I thought he needed to be assigned chores to learn responsibility. It turns out that kindness given is kindness returned, and maturity is bringing not only a greater understanding of what it takes to run a household, but an increased willingness to step in and be a part of that process.
If we were having coffee, I’d ask you to be a little quiet. My girl, not quite twelve, was up till after 7 this morning. She’s had a bit of a chaotic week. She finally got her long-awaited kitten one week ago. The first days were spent helping an 8 week old barn kitten who suddenly lost access to her mommy and ended up indoors, in a cat carrier, after a car ride, adjust to her new life as a family pet. There was a lot of kindness in her tending to this tiny little being entrusted to her care. It’s been intensive, with frequent updates from her room (Kitten Central,) as she’s dealt with waiting for little Amelia Rose to start eating, using her litter box, purr, and stop being terrified of her.
If we were having coffee, I’d add that all that kindness has not only paid off, but has led to a need for deeper kindness and understanding. In the last two days, Amelia has become far more comfortable in her new surroundings, and with her new “mommy”, and has begun to inhabit the space and her feline nature. In other words, she’s exploring the many nooks and crannies in a cluttered (to put it kindly) room. She’s still small, so she’s becoming “lost” for hours at a time, as she tucks herself into places easily accessible to a nine-week-old feline, but invisible to a child.
If we were having coffee, I’d say that there’s something in this that’s painful and scary to my daughter, in the same way it was painful and scary to me when she became strong and confident enough to explore away from my arms. Like a mother with an infant, she had an idea that Amelia would need her always, in the same way. She’s feeling a little bereft and betrayed as her “child” exerts her need for increased independence and solitude. It can be hard not to take that kind of thing personally. But we’ve talked about how “my” cat (she adopted me, so maybe it’s more like I’m her person) is obviously very attached to me, but that I don’t know where she is a good deal of the time, and, even when I do, she’s not always in my arms or at my side. That’s how it is with cats, and my daughter is learning a kindness now that eludes many – the kindness of allowing another to live in accordance with her true nature, even when that feels lonely and sad and like her kitten doesn’t really need her.
If we were having coffee, I’d say that kindness is everywhere (but maybe not so much in the dead baby squirrel my Squeak-cat left on the floor by my side of the bed this week.) I’d add that this has been my entry into this week’s Kindness Challenge (#RevofKindness), where we were urged by host Niki Lopez to look for acts of kindness happening around us. Next week, we move on to Kind Energy. I’m not sure how I’ll approach that just yet, but I expect to have a better idea by tomorrow – wait, wait! Something just came to me, but I’m not quite ready to share it…