People can be shockingly unkind. Sometimes I almost forget just how hateful this world can be, especially since I’ve been a work at home mom for the last few years. I just don’t get out that much to interact with many people outside of my close family.
Things are changing now. My two children started school this week. Pre-Kindergarden and Kindergarten. So far I love their teachers. They keep me informed of what’s going on and they seem to love what they do. I have a lot of appreciation for those who work in education because their job is so important.
Even so, this experience has been difficult. One of my children is doing great, but the other is having some difficulty. He has needs that are different from most children, so my husband and I have been worried about him and we are trying to think of ways to work with his teachers as well as things we can do at home to help him overcome these challenges.
So, between this being their first week in school ever and trying to help our child settle in, its been an emotional week. Kids starting school for the first time is hard for most parents in general. When things are hard, it seems little acts of kindness and little acts of unkindness can have a larger affect on you.
I drive my kids to school and pick them up everyday. I wrecked our car last year, so it looks beat up. It runs fine and it is safe, but it is not pretty! So, that’s kind of embarrassing, right? That’s on my mind somewhat because people can judge these things.
Well, when picking children up in the afternoon, parents are supposed to go through a car line and place a tag on the windshield rear-view mirror. This tag has the child’s name and grade so the people walking the kids out know which car to take them to.
When I got the tag, it was just a blank, laminated tag. I got no directions for how to use it. I reasoned that I should probably put the kids names on it. I brought a dry-erase marker so if I messed up, I could erase it. I wrote their first and last names, grade, and teacher—just to be thorough. While in the car line, a woman walks down the row of cars and reads the tags off into a microphone. This lets those helping the kids to the car know that it is time to bring the children out. The first few days went fine.
The last day of school this week, Friday my husband is off from work. We had been talking about our child that was having trouble in school and going over our options for helping him. Do we just wait and work with him at home and see if he improves? Do we take him to the doctor for an evaluation? Will the try to push medication on our child, and is that something we are willing to consider? Should we pull him out and home school him? So much going through our minds. So much worry because he is so smart and we know he has this amazing potential, but we fear it will go un-nurtured because of his other difficulties.
My husband and I went together to pick the children up, and I noticed that the dry-erase writing on the car tag had worn off. I ran in and wrote their names, grade, and teacher—in permanent market this time. Well, I forgot the last name. I notice this once we were in the car line, but I thought, the woman who reads these probably will know who they are. She has seen us for a few days already, and not many children come out in pairs like mine. Also our car is hard to forget.
When it came time for the woman to walk to our car and read the name, she stopped, glared at my husband who was driving and said, “I need the last name. We have more than one kid with that name in our school.” The tone and look was filled with hate and condescension. She was so nasty about it. My husband apologized and said the last name. I know she heard him. Did she speak it into the microphone? No. She said the first names and the grade, then she said, “there is no last name” with that same what an idiot kind of tone. What was the point in that?
Top that off with the fact that my youngest is still a bit small for a booster seat, so when he is placed in the car I have to turn around and buckle him into a car seat. He can’t do it himself. Well, that does not go over so well. They push us through and say we have to pull over so the car line can keep going. It takes like 20 seconds tops for me to turn around and buckle him in. Big deal. So, we pull over, but not in the right place. We look like idiots again. Great.
Instead of condescension and purposeful unkind attitude, all that needed to be said about the car tag was, “can you please put the last name on for next time?” Then when told the name, speak it in the darn mic. Is a few seconds to buckle a kid in their seat really going to hold up the car line? If so, make your directions clear so it’s obvious where to pull off, or maybe when you put the kid in the car, buckle them in yourself to save a few seconds. Little acts of kindness versus unkindness.
These things are small, but when going through things that are big, these small things feel much larger.
For some reason, these little things really got to me. Maybe it’s because I will have to see these people everyday during the school week, and now I fear when I come they will think, Great. Here’s the idiot parent. Watch out. Really though, I think it was just because of everything else happening at the time, and just the fact that the bad attitudes were so unnecessary.
It’s amazing what small things can accomplish. Small words, both kind and unkind. Maybe the woman working in the car line was having a hard day. Even so, just because we feel bad does not mean we have the right to make others feel bad also. We need to be careful with our words, our tones, and our actions. We never know what someone is going through.