This blog is about museums and early childhood education, but sometimes I veer a little off course. Today is one of those days, because I am just so overwhelmed by an act of kindness that I got to see.
We got a snow storm last night so the hill across from our house was busy with kids sledding all day long. After nap, I bundled my 2 1/2 year old up and we trudged out with his little inflatable tube. He saw all the kids and immediately asked to go sledding “with the big kids.” We worked our way over to the hill and he watched them doing tricks and zooming down the hills as fast as they could.
When there was a break in the action he plopped down and I gave him a push. The sled slid lazily down the hill, almost stopping mid-way, before making it to the bottom. He jumped up and grabbed my hand to climb back up the hill.
When we got to the top, one of the “big kids” (maybe about 10 years old?) detached himself from the group and came over. He squatted down and smiled at my son and said “Hey! Do you want to ride with me on my sled? It goes faster?” I think Ace was so overwhelmed at being talked to by the “big kid” that all he could do was nod and be led over to the sled.
For the next half hour, his new best buddy rode down with him multiple times on the sled. He was careful to steer it safely but went fast enough to please the heart of a toddler. He also chatted with Ace and talked to him just like he was one of the “big kids.”
As I watched, Ace seemed to stand up a little taller. He wanted to walk up the hill “by self!” and when they tumbled on a particular fast run he grinned through a face covered in snow. He copied everything the “big kid” said and listened carefully to all directions.
I was also really impressed with the other kids at the hill. Although they didn’t interact as directly with us, they made sure Ace got his fair turns on the hill and were careful to steer around him as he worked his way back up. They also didn’t seem to care that a “grown-up” was hanging around and gave me plenty of tips on the type of sled to get that would go faster!
Although this is mostly a story of kindness that made a Mom’s heart melt, it also reinforced one of those “hidden curriculum” items that all parents, teachers and caregivers are constantly striving to teach. These are the things like working together, kindness and respect that just make our world run better. In this case, it wasn’t just kindness to others but a special kind of awareness of what another person needs and a willingness to move at their pace to get them there.
I am very grateful to the “big kid” at the hill today. He gave my son confidence to try something new, a sense of pride in being like “the big kids” and the happiness that comes when someone is kind to you…for no reason at all.