If I could change anything about my high school years, it wouldn’t have anything to do with grades or classes. I wouldn’t add more activities or strive for more recognition. I wish I’d been kinder.
I wish I’d been kinder to my friends, to new kids, to my family, to the guys that I dated, to the guys that I decided not to date anymore, to my classmates. It would have been helpful to be kinder to myself as well.
I don’t wish I’d been more friendlier or nicer. I wish I’d been kinder.
Kind says, “No one is perfect.” Kind says, “Do you want to sit with us?” Kind says, “I’m scared, too.”
We don’t give school awards for kindness and I get that. It’s too subjective and vague a category for teachers or administrators to determine.
Just because it isn’t recognized, though, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter. In fact, I’m starting to suspect that kindness matters most.
I’m in several online groups for parents of kids who struggle at school with learning disabilities and other challenges. One mom wrote last week about her daughter, who has struggled to make friends in middle school, only having two signatures in her yearbook.
This sweet girl told her mom that she’s been setting her yearbook on the corner of her desk day after day just in case someone wants to sign it.
My heart ached for this girl. My heart ached for her mom.
I want to give the daughter an award for not giving up, for trying so hard, for being so vulnerable.
I want to give the mom an award for gingerly and lovingly nurturing her daughter. I want to give her an award for reaching out to other moms for help and support.
I want to give an award to any child who asks to sign her yearbook and I’m not even kidding.
So, yes, let’s keep encouraging our kids to do their best in school, but let’s also make sure they are doing their best to be kind. Let’s remind them that when they see a vulnerable girl with her yearbook out on her desk, that asking to sign her yearbook will mean the world to that particular girl.
They won’t get an award for it, but it just might be the most important thing they do all year.