I’m afraid I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have small children. How is that even possible? My kids are 12, 11 and 6. It’s not like they’re adults. They are definitely still in need of guidance and discipline, but life is a whole lot different (dare I say easier?) than when they were toddlers.
I see moms walking through the grocery store looking hassled and harried as a wiggly 2-year-old tries to squirm out of the cart.
I have totally been there.
I was waiting in line at Walmart the other day when a mom with two little ones struggled to get information from the clerk while her kids simultaneously tried to climb up her legs.
I felt awfully smart when I remembered I had Batman bandaids in my purse. Who would have known I could make friends so fast?
Mavis Freuh is a friend of mine from Alexandria, Minn. She reached out to me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, because she had been walking the same road.
I should have known from that sweet act of support that kindness is just part of her nature. The more I get to know her, the more I realize the depth of her love for others, including those she doesn’t know, like the exasperated parents who apprehensively bring their occasionally noisy children to a place where people go to find acceptance, comfort and a few moments of quiet: church.
Mavis says it was the kindness of others that originally led her to an idea that has become contagious.
“Several years ago, when my son was small, we visited family and went to church in Oakes, N.D. They had ‘quiet bags’ for the kids, a bag with some distractions for them like a stuffed toy, coloring pages, crayons, a car and a book. Both my husband and I thought this would be a great addition to our own church.
The nursery in our hometown church wasn’t ‘soundproof’, and we felt self-conscious of our loud toddler.
With our tax refund money, we bought cloth bags, found clearance stuffed bunnies, used coupons for Etch a Sketches and found Bible coloring books at the dollar store. I painted on each bag and we filled them up.
Over the years, someone brought in two stands to hang them on, and our boys have helped us fill and reorganize the bags.
If it makes some parents with little kids feel more welcome and more willing to stay for church with their kids, then that’s great. It was our way of spreading kindness.”
May we never grow so far away from our own life experiences that we forget just how challenging they were at one time, and how refreshing it felt when someone stepped in with a well-timed bandaid, a coloring book or just a smile.
I may have forgotten what it’s like to have small children, but luckily, enough of them cross my path to keep me honest … and kind.
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 Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.