Sometimes you learn the simplest, most powerful lessons of kindness under the most ritual and mundane circumstances. For instance, five days a week, I get up, or I am awakened by my daughter Kenia, to get her ready to go off to school. This morning I asked her as usual what she wanted for breakfast. I would ask if she wanted cereal or oatmeal? She would say….either….oatmeal…or cereal.
Her response left me cold. It took a few days for me to realize that the correct and kind response was to say, “I will have cereal dad, thanks!” Or, “I will have oatmeal dad, thanks!” When I asked her to please respond that way, she said she would and did so from that point forward.
It wasn’t that I was being mean or overly demanding of her. I just knew it made me feel better that if I had to get up earlier than I would like, if she showed a form of appreciation by responding in a way that would lift my spirits when I heard her responses. I also I told her it was excellent practice for when she got older and people were offering her things or asking her opinion, to respond in a positive fashion that would make the person feel better about asking.
I explained to her that if she could just choose the “kind” path or response, people would be more willing to not only be kind to her in return, but they would remember how good you made them feel when they offered you something in the past. They would do it again if they knew they would feel good again if they offered you something in the future.
I let Kenia know that even though the things we were talking about seemed small and unimportant, I told her that indeed, it was very important to get into the practice of being kind. I then went on to tell her that as she got older, being kind to everyone she met would make an incredible difference in her life, not only to the people she was kind to, but to her.