Finally I yelled. I admit it. I yelled at my kids. I try not to, but there are 2 reasons for this lapse in self-possession:
#1--the kids were so loud, yelling was the only way to be heard over them
#2--I was angry
And do you know what I yelled?
If you want someone to be kind to you, you must. be. kind!!
It was then I came to 2 realizations:
#1--I'm yelling (unkindly) for my kids to be kind. Nice work, Anna. Brilliant parenting technique. This follows in the hypocritical vein of "Do as I say, not as I do." I just stepped into a field oozing with hypocrisy. Ew.
#2--Being kind does not guarantee repayment of kindness. I'm telling my kids that if they are kind to others, others will be kind to them, and that is just not true. In a perfect world this would be true. However, in our fallen, fractured world--not at all. To be fair, at times I have found that kindness breeds kindness. That vulnerability breeds vulnerability. But there are going to be times when kindness is taken advantage of. There will be times when, in return for kindness, cruelty and criticism are doled out.
As an adult I am able to understand the realities of this. It gets difficult--at times impossible--to explain this to my elementary-aged children. So I sat my 8-year-old down and pulled a Mother Theresa--rest assured I am NOT Mother Teresa, but she said something wise (many wise things, actually) that I've carried with me. I didn't throw the quote at my daughter, but I did try to paraphrase this:
What if there were more "Anyway" people in this world? People with a perspective beyond the immediate, and beyond the self-serving. People determined to be kind, regardless of the response. Wow. What a world that might be.