My B+ Attempts at Being All That

I'm funny. I promise. If you don't believe me, ask me; I'll set you straight.

New (School) Year Resolutions

on August 16, 2018
Resolutions are a funny thing. I’ve had many over the years: eat better, move more, watch less TV, read more. All good things, mind you. I’ve not heard anyone complain about how awful their decision to eat better was (except for the occasional mourning of the loss of the fried pickles). My latest: leave it better than when you came. 
More than a score
I love that moment when you realize your kid’s extracurricular experience is going to be more than just playing a game. My daughter played volleyball in the off season, and the tournaments were brutal: hours of bleacher sitting, ill-timed and often rushed food breaks, narrow hallways filled with blankets and cell phone chargers. And yet, they also provided valuable character lessons, opportunities to be better both on and off the court. The club director told the girls many times, “Leave the place better than when you came.” And it was tough after that hard-fought loss or aching feet from hours of jumping on a hard gym floor to think about picking up wrappers that may or may not have been theirs, about putting away a chair that they know they didn’t get out. And yet, because it became an expectation, they did it. They left the gym better than when they came.
Are you okay?
I work with elementary school children. They fall. A lot. Really, some days you start to wonder if you’re working in a 2nd grade classroom or a toddler convention with a tiny American Ninja Warrior course. They sometimes do it on purpose; often times, they don’t. But even if “IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!” they could probably have avoided it if they were (fill in the blank: sitting in their chair the right way, not running, looking ahead instead of at Suzie’s new pencil). Yes, all those falls could be avoided. So on the bad days, the tired days, the “are you kidding me with that surprised look that the chair fell over when you’re trying to balance it on one leg?” days, it can be exhausting. And especially difficult to look past the irritation. And yet . . .
TJK. They’re Just Kids. I love that. Stole it, but I love it. And really, couldn’t we replace the K with H and make it Human? I mean, really, we’re all going to try to balance that chair on one leg every once in a while, right? And when we do, don’t we already know that it was probably not on our top ten list of good ideas? I know that when I tip that chair over, the first thing on my mind is typically the choice I should have made. Chastising: check. Maybe I’ll blame somebody, something, but in my heart, I know I messed up. The kid knows, too.
Think Kindness, Speak Kindness, Act Kindness, Become Kind
Thoughts become words; words become actions; actions become habits; habits become character. I stole that, too. But it’s worth taking. I try. When I see the kid fall out of the chair, I try to think, “He’s just a kid,” and wonder if he hit his noggin on the way down, if embarrassment is going to cut through him. Kindness. Think kindness. If I’m not so frazzled that I can’t see straight. Then it might be a very long sigh, breathing exercise, mentally counting to 10 – you get the drill. But on the good days, “Are you okay?” There’s time for correction, time for lesson-teaching. Later. After the kind.
Pick up your trash
I’m not a hugger. And I’m a talker. And I’m pretty self-centered. It doesn’t come naturally to me to be compassionate. I have to plan ahead. I have to think about things I might be able to say and questions I could ask. I have to work hard to try to remember that situation that affected a friend a while back and ask how it’s going. I fail. All the time. I blame my bad memory, but really, it’s more of a commitment to what I find important. I absolutely have moments of “leaving them better than when I found them” but still have a lot of work to do to make those moments habits. But really, it’s not tough: a smile, a joke (even a bad one – trust me; it works!), a question, a listening ear, a hug. Pick up your trash; clean up the mess; lift someone up. Take a moment filled with mistakes, shame, embarrassment and make the person better. Make that person okay.
No really, you go.
So, I wonder. What if we resolved to leave it better than when we came? All of it. And for the sake of keeping it manageable, let’s take a single day. Did you ask a person about his day? Did you listen – and I mean really listen? Look for ways to improve her day, or did you wait for her to do something for you? Let the guy in on the highway even though he probably didn’t deserve it? Tell the grumpy clerk at the grocery store that you hope her day would get better? Ask a child for a high five? Pray for someone who annoys the daylights out of you? Did you look for an opportunity to put someone else first, even if that someone didn’t deserve it?
We’re just human. We screw up. Some of us a lot. Some of us publicly in a way that hurts. A lot. When you hear me say the stupid thing, watch your neighbor do the un-neighborly thing, feel the sting of the bonehead online post your “friend” made, check in first. Correct later. Be the one that asks, “Are you okay?” Leave them better than when you came.
Especially when I’m hiding under the desk because the tiny humans have mastered the ninja course. Happy New (School) Year, peeps!

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