07 November 2017

Kindness Begins with Me

Lizard is a coffee drinker. Black, nothing special. I am not. We have a coffee maker at home, and that's generally what he uses. Sometimes I even use it to make hot chocolate or hot herbal tea.

Sometimes, The Lizard wakes early on his day off to take me to a spectacular location for eye-popping sunrise photography before dropping me off at the train so I can try to get to work on time.

That's when I treat him with a "frou frou" coffee (his term) to show my love and appreciation.

After one recent such extremely satisfying occasion, we spent a little longer in line at the coffee shop than planned. After a few minutes, I realized the two young girls, perhaps 10 or 11 years of age, were short of funds. They had selected confections, probably as breakfast, and there wasn't enough money to get two Frappuccinos. I don't even know what a Frappuccino is, but I could see the disappointment in the girls' faces as they pondered sharing one.

The barista was explaining to the girls she had other customers to serve, so they could sit down with their treats and decide what they wanted while she took the other orders.

I asked if the girls were short of funds. One immediately hid her face in embarrassment. The other looked at me the way a child looks at a stranger who has just offered assistance, sort of a hopeful but suspicious half smile.

I instructed the barista to give them what they wanted, and I'd make up the difference.

The suspicious child beamed with delight. The shy child promptly responded, "No, I can do this."

I assured her it would be all right, and that she could pass it on by smiling to others the rest of the day.

A few minutes later, we were sipping on hot chocolate made with almond milk and cinnamon, no whipped cream, and mocha with whipped cream as we headed toward the train stop. The sky still had a touch of color, and holdout autumn leaves were rustling in the breeze. I'd earned a hug from both girls, but something inside was bothering me.

I realized as I kissed Lizard goodbye that I might have been that embarrassed child nearly half a century ago, and I could have handled the situation differently.

I set out at a very early age to be self-sufficient, and it's a goal for which I continue to strive hungrily. I, too, would have been embarrassed had someone come to my financial aid in a crowded venue of royal embellishments... a shop of expensive things I really didn't need but longed for just the same. At any age.

I realized I should have somehow inconspicuously tipped off the barista without drawing the attention of everyone else in the shop, who also likely would have done the very same thing I did, given the chance.

Kindness in secret often is the best, most delicious and overwhelmingly pleasurable variety, as well as the easiest for a recipient to swallow.

I hadn't gone into the situation trying to make a scene, but I know from very personal experience how difficult it is to accept assistance from strangers when I come up short.

All too many times I had to rely on kindness of strangers when raising my two special needs adopted children alone. I am so very grateful for every single time someone stepped forward to help me find a missing child or control an unexpected raging temper tantrum (or even just keep an eye on the non-tantruming child while I took care of the out-of-control one). But that evil sidekick - fierce independence - emblazoned me with apprehension, doubt, fear, hesitation and uncertainty I was quite sure visually labeled me with perceived skyscraper-sized epithets of weakness and powerlessness, scars that sometimes come out of hiding when I least expect.

There's no better way in the world to begin a day than to spontaneously show kindness to someone in need. There's always room for growth in accepting the kindness of strangers. This particular day, I learned a lesson I hope will help me be more sensitive in the future.

1 comment :

  1. That was great to do, but yeah, I can see it from her point of view and I'd think the same. Hate not being self sufficient. I'd have done the same as you on first reaction, thinking after, slipping the cashier the extra money in secret would be a good option.


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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