MINESTRONE FOR THE SOUL
“This is how you plant the seeds for kindness.”-Mamma Regina Margherita Di Meglio
We are them. They are us. The next time you encounter someone you think is “crazy” or mentally challenged or physically disabled or simply blue, reach out your hand to them instead of running away. If they are jumpy or paranoid, take a step back but still look them in the eye and offer to help. Be compassionate, dammit. This should be a way of life and not just with those who are mentally ill or have some sort of ailment but with everyone.
Last week, my pre-schooler wore different clothes and talked about sharing and respecting others as part of an effort to stomp out bullying in school. He wore a blue shirt (in honor of bully prevention) on Monday and superhero clothes (to be a hero to someone) on Wednesday, and two different shoes (to see what it’s like to step into someone else’s shoes) on Thursday, and orange and black (to show his school spirit and that we’re all part of the same community) on Friday. He is 4 and didn’t get it. He just thought it was cool to wear his Spider-Man Tee and mismatched kicks. But I got it. And my mom really got it. Mamma Regina told me, “This is how you plant the seeds for kindness.”
So, I explained to him why he was wearing the clothes each day, and we often talk about sharing – mainly when he’s arguing with his cousins because he doesn’t want to share. I tell him to “be nice and share and help the other kids in his class” every day before he leaves for school. I remind him that he doesn’t like it when someone laughs at him or says something mean or leaves him out, so he shouldn’t do that to others. I’m probably talking to the wind. And he probably doesn’t know what I mean, but this is like me watering those seeds I planted.
Eventually, the seeds will grow in his mind and he will understand, and he’ll think twice about calling someone a name or shoving him or raising those eyebrows when he sees another struggling or facing hard times. Eventually, I hope, if I keep watering those seeds and nurturing these ideas, he will get it. In the end, I will have planted kindness in his heart.
You see, you cannot live the sweet life without embracing your fellow man. You simply have no idea what the person sitting next to you on the bus or in the office or at school is going through. You don’t know the sadness or loneliness or worry creeping inside them. But you can bring them a sliver of hope with a smile, some encouragement, or even just acknowledgement of their existence. I am just like everyone else. Sometimes, I take these things for granted, and I don’t notice the person right next to me who is in need. But I’m working on it. I want to be the one to be there for others, and I’d appreciate it if my positive behavior came back to me when I needed it. I wish for my son a kinder world, so I’m sowing the seeds in him now. Oh, I hope our garden grows.
Di Meglio uses the written word to help families create memories and stick together. You can follow her on Facebook at Francesca’s Newlyweds Nest and on Twitter @ItalianMamma10.