Monday, January 2, 2012

Acts of kindness

When I was little I was afraid of the dark. I'm still not entirely comfortable with being in complete darkness  - even at the ripe old age of 51. Bedtime was not a happy time for me. I always fought when it was time to go upstairs to bed.

Remembering my issues with sleeping alone, I was always easy, some thought too easy, with my own kids: reading to them until they were almost comatose and lying beside them until they fell asleep. As a mum, I knew that I was probably promoting bad habits with my kids - but selfishly, I loved this time of day. As a working mother, I grabbed any time I could with the kids - and lying beside a sleeping child is a small piece of heaven.

Sometimes they would wake up, and, finding me gone, they would find their way into our room. I would put one hand under their butt and lift them into bed without a word. They would fall asleep immediately - and so would I. Half the time, or maybe more than half the time, Bill would have no idea that there were 3 (or 4!) in our bed.

Eventually, the practice stopped. The kids didn't need me to read to them or even to tuck them in. Despite my questionable mothering techniques, they outgrew the need for companionship in the middle of the night. I don't regret my behavior  - not one bit.

As a child, I remember lying awake looking around my room and feeling afraid to move. Only my eyes moved - surveying the doorway, the closet, the cupboards, the toys. I knew that "sanctuary" was just beyond my door and in the next room. I just had to gather my courage to leap out of bed and run as fast as my little legs could carry me to my brother, Kevin's room.

Once there, I would wedge myself into his single bed, and he would pull the covers over me. He didn't exactly welcome the intrusion nor could he have appreciated the fact that I squished him up against the wall, but he didn't ever kick me out either.  Even after I vomited all over him one night. Kevin knew I was terrified of the dark; he never taunted or made me feel silly. He just resigned himself to the fact that every so often I would squeeze in beside him. I had made up some weird belief system that as long as a part of my body touched his body I would be safe all night. Usually it was my foot on his knee. I'm not sure he knew how much I appreciated his indulgence.

He was a great big brother. When he could have been mean he showed kindness - and tolerance. He's the same way today.  He looks past my idiosyncrasies, and, if he judges me, he never reveals what he may think.

And that brings me to my NEW YEARS RESOLUTION! Which amazingly was reinforced today at the Grand Island bridge. I resolve to perform an act of  kindness to someone in need  at least once a day.  If I do that, I will have made at least 366 (remember it's Leap Year this year) people a little bit happier in 2012. Just like the toll taker at the Grand Island bridge today. She flashed me a big smile and wished me Happy New Year! She made Emma's day, too.

So, Happy New Year everyone! Let's hope that you receive a kindness every day too!

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