Both my kids happily walked into the first day of school this morning.  I know I’m supposed to be just bursting with excitement that I finally (!) have both my kids in full day school.  But if I’m being really honest, the idea of having both kids at school all day is kind of sad; I’m no longer a mom to little kids.  They’re bigger kids now, who know how to read and write and amuse themselves (for the most part).  So when I thought about this year, and what I’d like to try and teach my bigger kids, it wasn’t specific skills, but instead I wanted to explore a theme with them, a theme that pervades all aspects of our lives: Kindness.

Obviously, I expect my kids to be kind to each other, and to their friends.  But what I want this year to be about is so much more than that.  As I was piecing this all together in my mind, I came across this article in the New York Times last weekend, about memorizing poems, so I set about finding a poem about kindness that might be appropriate for the kids to memorize, and I found the most amazingly fitting poem:

A Memory System by Priscilla Leonard

Forget each kindness that you do
As soon as you have done it;
Forget the praise that falls to you
The moment you have won it;
Forget the slander that you hear
Before you can repeat it;
Forget each slight, each spite, each sneer,
Whenever you may meet it.

Remember every kindness done
To you, whatever its measure;
Remember praise by others won
And pass it on with pleasure;
Remember every promise made
And keep it to the letter
Remember those who lend you aid
And be a grateful debtor.

Remember all the happiness
That comes your way in living;
Forget each worry and distress,
Be hopeful and forgiving;
Remember good, remember truth,
Remember heaven’s above you.
And you will find, through age and youth
True joys and hearts to love you.

I couldn’t have come up with a better manifesto for living a good life, than is articulated in this poem.  Not only does it outline just how to be kind, to yourself and to others, it reinforces the idea that being kind leads to a lovely life.  The kids read it last night, and I’m looking forward to working with them on this poem over the coming weeks.

But, as much as I LOVE this poem, I wanted to figure out at least one other way to incorporate this idea of kindness into our lives.  And it came to me yesterday.  On a recent trip to Target, I made an impulse buy of a little chalkboard for the kitchen.  My intention for it was for the kids to use it to write up menus for big family dinners and the like.  But last night, I found a new use for it . . . a weekly kindness quote.  I hope that we can use these quotes as a jumping off point to explore lots of different topics, and to help us remember to be kind.  For this week, I had to choose one of my favourite quotes of all time – from Cinderella – one that I thought was particularly appropriate for the first week back to school – and the first week at a brand new school for my littlest one.

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(I know, awesome penmanship on my part – but in the spirit of being kind, I’m going to be kind to myself, and give myself a pass on this one, and accept that my chalkboard writing will improve over the course of the year.)  

On that note, I’m off to show myself a little kindness and pick up some new workout clothes to celebrate this milestone in my kids’ lives (and mine!) – and also because I’ve got a few personal goals to work on this year in the gym . . . and it’s always more fun to work on new goals in new clothes, right?