After the passing of Caroline Flack, the words “Be Kind” are being thrown around everywhere. But I sometimes question whether we REALLY can as a human race work towards kindness as a goal and whether we TRULY understand how important it really is.
Honestly, Caroline’s passing affected me deeply. Because I saw someone whose life was destroyed by societal constructs, systems that are harmful, mental health issues that are unsupported, and ultimately bullying and hatred.
In truth, it is all of these things that fill me with dread for the future of both of my young girls.
Yet, despite these fears, today a total stranger made my day. My week. My month even. By the most simple of comments. And I realised that kindness isn’t some grand act. Kindness can be as simple as thoughtfulness. Kindness can be easy. When we just open our eyes and hearts instead of our heads and fears.
This past week has been a challenging one. I’ve had a tough few days, of feeling defeated, of feeling that I should be doing better, that I should know more, and that I should be doing a better job of helping my daughter but with no idea how I can do so.
As with all children, behaviour is communication. And this week my daughter’s behaviour was indicating that something was very very wrong. When she can’t verbally communicate what she is feeling, if something has happened, or if she is unwell, my only option is to try and piece together her behaviour to try and establish what it is that she needs. This exercise of constant analysis is, in itself, mentally exhausting.
She has been showing me ALL the behaviour. I hardly recognise her from a week ago. And yesterday it reached a head. Yesterday, I could feel her anxiety, I could feel her distress, I could see her trying to communicate, and try so hard to show me that something was up. And I spent the entire day analysing. Trying to make sense of it. Desperately trying to give her what she needed, and seeming to fail.
It’s simple things that don’t make sense to most people. For example, my daughter is a sensory seeker, which means that she doesn’t experience senses in the same way as many of us. In fact, she needs increased input to regulate her senses. As a result, she has a high pain threshold. This means that pain can actually regulate her behaviour. She is rarely “calm”, but if she is in pain, she becomes calm and subdued and will seem to others to be a “lovely mood”. This is fine – except it can mean that if there is actually something “wrong” with her health, we perceive the behaviour as “normal” and therefore “fine”. Where in fact this change is an indication that something is very wrong.
She regressed yesterday in terms of behaviour and need. And we were in a public space, a library in fact, where her behaviour went massively against what would be societally acceptable. In fact, in its finest moment it involved her singing an entire 3 minutes of the Trolls soundtrack at the top of her lungs, at the top of a staircase, to a silent library, with me being able to do ABSOLUTELY nothing about it.
All in all, this isn’t a big deal. In fact, everyone was super cool about it (thank you!). But it would have been so easy for people to judge, to complain, and for to see failure rather than beauty.
I had to fight to get her calm, to get her home, to get her fed, and to make her feel safe. I ended the day feeling depleted. Lost. I was running on empty.
Day to day there is so much unkindness. At the weekend an older lady made unkind comments to my daughter who was laughing and smiling at the swimming pool. I hear the way that some children talk about her, and while there is so much acceptance and love, it is clear that there is also unkindness and judgement. There is a sense of isolation, of loneliness, of difference. There are the parties, that she doesn’t receive an invite to, and unkind comments from those that don’t understand.
Some could have seen the carnage that happened yesterday and thought all the bad things. Today, we entered the same environment, and I was dreading the same scenario replaying in my head.
When we arrived, a lovely lady who saw us yesterday came up to me. She said ” I was thinking last night….” and she paused. And I was waiting on her to tell me what I “should” have done differently
Instead she said…” I think you are awesome… I think you are really awesome.”
At that moment Erin ran off, and I didn’t get to thank her fully. But those words will stick with me forever. On a day that I felt like I was failing. On a day that we weren’t “fitting in” (who wants to fit in anyway). On a day where it felt like I wasn’t doing enough. Someone saw me for all of it. And gave me hope.
It’s nice to be nice. And what’s more… it makes a huge difference. Try it. And be willing to see kindness everywhere!