Extreme Kindness

I was at a faculty meeting where the administrator kept raving about one particular teacher and I felt like pulling my turtleneck over my head. Why did she not praise others? Was that one teacher her favorite? I suddenly realized, This is what a child feels like when a parent overly praises a sibling.

Children see their parents as if they were Olympic judges flashing scorecards. If one gymnast is getting straight 10s, that must mean I am getting 7s or 8s, and, let’s face it, a perfect score is nearly impossible to beat, so why even try?

But, here in the workplace conference room, we are all adults, not children. Shouldn’t we enjoy the success of our colleagues? I am going to try to enjoy other’s success, even if it feels, like, I am being passed over.

Just for today, I am going to make a secret vow to be exceedingly kind to everyone I meet. And in my generosity, I will pick no favorites.

I am hell-bent on fairness. As a teacher, I am exceedingly kind, yet I am firm and set boundaries. I am not a freakin’ doormat. Sometimes students ‘call out’ over me or another student, I will note such interruptions, respectively, asking gently, ‘Please wait your turn,’ or ‘Quick reminder: Raise your hand next time.’ I choose not to correct in a shaming way.

“Quit calling out. You’re being rude.” I have heard teachers (at another school) label students as ‘rude.’ Truly, students are motivated towards comedy, amusing one other and themselves. But I do not believe they are intentionally rude. Or are they? I’m sure behavioral psychologists have figured out at what age a child’s disrespect becomes willful or intentional. What is the age of self-control? It must arrive sometime after First Grade.

Why does kindness seem so hard? Is it that we’re giving away a bit of ourselves? Is it that giving something away goes against our human / animal tendency to hoard — hoard things like compliments? I’m not sure. All I know is that as I’m giving more and more kindness away, I haven’t lost a thing. If anything, the rewards keep rolling in.

It’s not always easy. Still. Keep on keeping on with by showing of extreme acts of daily kindness in words and deeds.

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Yesterday, I walked along the Reservoir from the east to the west side to meet friends.

When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people. – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Incidentally, I realized I wrote about excessive kindness three years ago. October must be my season for reflecting on matters of kindness in the classroom.

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