Earlier this week Ashton came home from school and told me that a child in her class was being mean to her. I asked her what happened to make her think the other student was being mean or if anything else led up to this interaction. Then, I asked Ashton how she responded to the situation, and she said, “I didn’t do anything, but tomorrow I will just be mean back.”
I told her we were definitely not going to do that.
I explained that maybe something happened at home before she got to school that morning that upset her, maybe she was feeling left out, maybe she did not sleep well the night before, or perhaps she was just in a bad mood or having a rough day.
You know the whole “treat people the way you want to be treated” thing. I went there. I explained that even though someone is being mean, we should always respond in kindness. That may be just the thing this child needs, just someone to be nice to her, to play with her, to make her day a little brighter.
Now, I did make it clear that if the child proceeded to be mean to her or make her upset to just remove herself from the situation, but even go about doing that in a kind or quiet way.
Before bed that night when we were saying our nighttime prayers, Ashton prayed that this little girl would get a good night’s rest and have a great morning before school. She also prayed that she would be able to be nice, even if the other girl was not nice to her.
I mentally noted that she did not just pray that this little girl would not be mean to her tomorrow. She specifically prayed that things would fall into place in this child’s life, setting her up to have a good day the next day.
It reminded me of a quote by Mother Theresa that says, “I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.”
As a parent, part of your job is to instruct your children and instill lessons that they may carry with them for their entire lives. That is true, but more times than not, I find myself learning a major lesson.
I certainly said my prayers a little bit differently that night. I did not pray for homes for the homeless, food for the hungry or safety for the fearful. Instead, I asked God to guide me and lead me into a direction where I could change these things happening around me and I asked Him to give me the strength I would need to do that.
The very next day after I picked Ashton up, I asked her the usual, “How was your day? Did you learn anything new? Did anything interesting happen?”
After answering my lengthy list of everyday questions, she proceeded to tell me that she had made a new best friend A.K.A, the girl that had been mean to her the day before.
I know it is not always that simple, especially in the complicated lives of an adult, but now I do know a little kindness always goes a long way, prayers go even further, and I am nowhere near above receiving an important lifelong lesson from a four-year-old.
(Paige Nash is a mom and digital journalist for Webster Parish Journal.)