Can we trust the world to be kind to our kids?
I was walking through Walmart the other day watching parents and their college students prepare for a new chapter in their lives. It occurred to me in the middle of the toothpaste aisle that it doesn't matter if your kid is going into kindergarten or college, letting them go is hard.
We have to trust that the world will be good to our babies, and that's a hard thing to believe sometimes.
My childhood friend shared a story about her daughter's school talent show. I'm hoping it will remind you, like it did for me, that we can count on kindness to see our kids through.
"As a kindergartner, my daughter, Pietja, [pronounced Peech-ah] sang 'My Favorite Things' from 'The Sound of Music' in her school's annual talent show. She did great, but was disappointed that another student chose the same song.
For this year's talent show, she wanted ideas for songs that would be unique. It's hard to think of things that are age-appropriate but not blockbuster Disney favorites. I suggested Dolly Parton, among other things. She gave Dolly a listen and somehow decided that '9 to 5' really spoke to her as a first-grader making her way in the cut-throat world of a suburban Milwaukee elementary school.
Pietja had her tryout, and the music teacher loved it and suggested that she use a blonde wig that the school had from last year's play. (Thankfully nobody suggested my daughter try to emulate Dolly's other famous assets.)
Pietja decided yes, that would be great. She also wanted to wear a business suit like an office working woman. My daughter was all in.
I felt like this was all fun and spunky — until right before the show, when I began to worry that maybe this skit was a bit out there. Maybe it wouldn't be relatable, and just kind of weird, to most of the elementary school kids who would not have heard the song before.
I didn't want anyone making fun of her or crushing her spirit. Please remember, she was not wearing this stuff to be ironic. This was 100 percent sincere. She was feeling like the most sophisticated office girl, high heels and all.
I was nervous. But I shouldn't have been. Not only did the kids in the crowd start clapping along and cheering like crazy for her, but when she got off the stage she got high-fives and hugs when she re-joined her classmates on the gym floor.
And it wasn't just her — the kids gave the same supportive treatment to the boy trying to stack solo cups into a pyramid, the brother and sister pair attempting stand-up comedy, and the little Irish dancer who had a cast on her arm and fell down, but got back up. It was awesome. It looked to me like they recognized the bravery before them and commended it sincerely."
Hearing my friend's story helps me believe that the world and it's people contain enough kindness to see our kids through. I hope it helps you believe, too.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University's men's head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Friday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.