By: Staci Stallings
My niece and nephews arrived this morning bright and early. I’m watching the four of them (plus my three) for most of the day. They are truly great kids and get along swimmingly with my kids, so it will be good. One thing I thought was interesting was when they came in. They range from 13 to 7 and their personalities are as different as night and day. But as I greeted each one, they gave me a big hug as they always do. I thought about that later, how each kid’s hug was just them. The youngest always follows his with a kiss. The niece always holds on the longest, the middle son always the tightest, the oldest (a boy) briefly but always with a smile.
As I thought about this later, it occured to me how many adults miss the truly important things in life. Seeing how these wonderful kids truly connect with me, I wondered (with no evidence one way or the other) if they connect with everyone like that. I know their teachers like them. I know their grandparents do too. However, I know there are countless kids out there who are not like these kids… instead of bringing joy, they offend everyone they get around. They are rude and obnoxious. Why?
Maybe because no one has ever shown them how much easier life is when you are a certain kind of person–a kind person, a loving person, a gentle person. I read a small book on student leadership not long ago. In it, high school teens were talking about principles and values and how to know right from wrong. They said that their teachers, etc. having no moral guidelines like the Ten Commandments to point to, simply said, “Do what you think is right.”
Sorry. That won’t work.
Young children learn from their very earliest hours that throwing a temper tantrum will get them what they want. They will get fed. They will get changed. Someone will come to their rescue. And for the first few months that works. However, as they get older, children must be taught other, better, ways of getting what they want or they quickly grow into those rude obnoxious kids that no one wants to be around.
Some “kids” stay there their whole lives. They look out only for themselves, never think about anyone else, throw fits of anger to get what they want, and are generally rude and obnoxious. The truth is, like when you’re two, that isn’t the best way to live.
Thinking about those hugs, I realized that one reason they hug me is because I hug them. I always make it a point to do that, to connect if for one moment with each one of them. I read a story about an elderly lady who passed on. After the funeral, her grandchildren were talking about her and her life. One of them spoke up and said, “I always felt kind of bad because I was her favorite.” To which all of the others protested. “No you weren’t. I was. She used to lay in bed with cookies and read to me…” “No, I was her favorite. We always cooked together. I loved doing that…” etc.
This was a very wise woman. She was the kind of person I want to be. She knew how to be the kind of person that made others important and by doing so found the key to loving and being loved. She wasn’t so focused on “I” that she forgot about “everyone else.” I wish there were more like her on the planet. But maybe if you look in your heart, decide to be that kind of person, and then make the effort to do so, maybe there will be a few more. I really do believe those kinds of people could change the world.
I know they made a difference in my life.