When children are not mean


You know what I hear a lot? “Kids are mean.” I know this can be true. The recent horrible story of relentless cyber bullying that led a middle school girl to jump to her own death is a sad reminder that it is true. But I think something else is just is true. Kids are kind. They are.

This morning, my nine year old and I had to have a difficult talk in the car. I tried hard to be calm and patient and gentle when I talked to her about the tone she’s been taking with me. But by the time we got to school, she was really upset. I didn’t want her day to start out like this. I just really felt I needed to do something to nip this in the bud now.

As we walked down the street toward her school, I leaned into her a little. I put my arm around her. I told her I loved her. This girl can really hold onto her anger, so I was happily surprised when she stopped and hugged me. She started crying again.

We were about thirty feet from the school’s front doors, and people were dropping their kids at the curb. A girl in my daughter’s class – a girl I’ve always been particularly fond of – got out of her car. And instead of heading to the front door when the chaperone there tried to steer her inside, she said something to the woman and turned our way instead. She walked toward us with the sweetest expression of concern.

“Are you all right, Kali?” she asked, putting her arms around my daughter and hugging her. Kali nodded. “Do you want to walk in with me?” she asked. She took my girl’s hand and they walked together the rest of the way down the street and went inside.

Children are kind. They are compassionate and empathic and genuinely giving of themselves. I know this is true. And I thank little D for reminding me of this by being the best kind of friend to my kid. I thank the boy who collided with my other daughter on the soccer field on Saturday, who stopped chasing the ball so he could help her up and ask if she was all right. I thank the boys who live on my street who I watched the other day as they cheered on the littler, younger, developmentally delayed, bespectacled kid in a friendly two-boy wrestling match, rooting for him to win, chanting his name.

I hear too often that children are mean. This is just a little reminder to us all that, more often than not, children can show kindness that is meaningful and honest and beautiful to behold.

Illustration by Kali