I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a perfect parent. Despite my best efforts, my kids are not particularly neat or health-conscious. Nor do they seem to have very good taste. They have an alarming tendency to drop and run when it comes to clothes, cups and half-eaten sandwiches. They will still choose a bright pink Fizzer over a bowl of strawberries any day; and their wooden hand-painted toys lie forgotten on their shelves, while their cheap plastic Chinese dolls and cars are given preference.
But here’s the thing: both of them are some of the kindest human beings I know. They will come to the aid of a sad or upset adult, child or animal in a heartbeat. My daughter, being the oldest, will actually tuck me into bed and turn off my light if she sees that I have had an exhausting day and need some extra love and care. My son will cry in sympathy if he sees one of us in distress. They will hug and kiss my elderly grandmothers without reservation, and treat children younger than themselves with such gentleness and understanding.
The kindness I witness in my children is in such contrast to the angry, mean and stressed out people I see every day in the supermarkets, on the roads and all around me. What is it that happens to us as we grow older that suppresses our innate humanity and turns us into these unkind people?
There are so many things I want for my children as they grow. To be loved, and to know the love of a partner, friends, family and animals. To have work they adore and that fills them up from the inside out. To have a deep respect for nature, their bodies and the world they live in. But most of all, whatever they do, and whoever they become, let them be kind.