It’s funny when you have two children, you give them the same upbringing, the same experiences, give them the same values – you expect them to be quite similar in likes, dislikes, personality etc. It never fails to shock me how different both of my children are. My eldest walks into a room and can make friends or at least talk to people straight away – a bit like her father. My youngest – she has to hang back a bit, assess the situation, suss out who is there and then she may or may not interact with others. I think she must get that from me.
My eldest, will naturally find people, make sure they are ok, look after those who need to be taken care of. My youngest – is still finding her own way in this complex world of ours. So this evening I was completely taken aback when she casually mentioned a name that I had not heard before. My ears pricked up. ‘Who’s this?’ I asked. ‘Ohh, she’s a new girl. She started today and she looked like she was going to cry because she had no friends. So I played with her and made her laugh. Now she’s not lonely anymore. I’ll play with her tomorrow too because she’s a really nice person.’
My heart was almost bursting with happiness with the kindness she had shown, without being prompted, towards another person. We talked about how being new to somewhere was so hard and not having any friends can be so tricky. And she recounted how things were tricky for her when she first started school, but then she made friends with other people and is happy. She wanted this new girl to feel happy too. The way that she could remember, reason and articulate her feelings astounded me. I realised that both of my little girls are growing up so quickly, both of them now, are happy to take care of others.
This blog is entitled ‘Darkest Times’ – and so far, I haven’t mentioned anything remotely related to the title – but bear with me, I am going somewhere with this.
In Hindi there is a very famous saying, ‘Sukh ke sab saathi, dukh mein na koi‘. This translates to, ‘In happiness, everyone is your companion, in sadness there is no one.’ And this is so true. If you want to know who your real friends are – you have to go through the bad times. You have to go through the tough times. Only then will you realise who is truly there for you. Who truly valued you. You realise that the people that you were there for, and would still be there for at the drop of a hat – they just don’t want to know you. They don’t want to hear your problems, they don’t want to meet you, they don’t want to get involved. After all, they have ‘enough going on’ themselves – or worse still – you’re not someone they want to be associated with anymore.
It’s almost as though God intentionally gives you the tough times to cull the rubbish from out of your life. You discover who and what is good for you – and you dispose of the toxic. People you were really close to, behave like strangers – and you receive support from those you may never have dreamed of. You go with it though – it may pain you to discover the true colours of some people – but you go with it. Because that’s life. You have to keep learning. You have to keep rolling with the punches. You will never stop being surprised.
And I suppose that’s why I wrote this blog tonight. It hurts to feel let down. It’s extremely painful to want and need support from others and realise that there is none there. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If we teach our children that kindness isn’t buying people presents; kindness isn’t a simple case of celebrating people’s good news and making a song and dance about things going well. No. Kindness is intangible. It’s letting people know that you think of them. It’s noticing that something is wrong – and then proactively doing something about it. It’s letting people know – you might think that you’re on your own – but you’re not and you don’t have to be. I’m here.
I’ve been on the receiving end of some unkindness in life – but the kindness that I have received far outweighs that. I’m lucky enough to have children of my own and also work with children for a living. So I am constantly surrounded by immense kindness. Children asking me if I’m ok, did I have a good lunch, a good break time, a good day? They help me – sometimes without me even needing to say a word, and make sure that my life is that little bit easier. And I tell them – the kindness that they show me, is more valuable than a huge box full of money. I mean that. I’m geuninely not being twee – I mean that. Because if our future generations of children learn that kindness matters – our world can only grow to be a more beautiful place.
In the meantime – we adults need to take a leaf out of books of the little ones. Be kind to those who need it. Notice those who are struggling and be brave enough to do something about it. Don’t cut those in need loose because it’s inconvenient and annoying for you. Help others. God knows, you may be in their situation one day and hope that people will be there for you. So – take the time to notice and help people – especially during their darkest times.