The Art of Kindness
I’m not a morning person. I’m more like an all day person who will drop everything at a moment’s notice to dance to a tune or sing out loud. My singing should be banned in even the shower but once I have a song in my heart, you’d best believe that I’ll belly it out.
This morning I woke up way before I’m used to, in an attempt of fixing my son’s ID. A futile exercise but at least my husband applied for his passport. Yay!!! My husband who has no dreams of ever crossing borders or oceans.
As I stepped in line, the gentleman before me started a conversation. Now yes, I do mornings so well that I’m fairly certain that I should be pushing up daisies already because my husband hates mornings and he’s probably killed me a gazillion times for being so chirpy. Let’s just say that I’m like weed. I don’t die. Much to his morning chagrin. Unfortunately this morning I wasn’t in the mood for idle chit chat. What’s more, I hate when people say I look like someone. At one time I visited someone in jail and one of the inmates told me I look like his cousin from Knysna. He reached for his photo album and by golly, even I had to admit that this woman looked like me.
Me resembling the person the gentleman knows set the tone for our conversation. A very loud chat it was. I noticed people noticing us and this didn’t sit well. I prefer to melt into the background. Not be the centre of attention. Thing is, I didn’t have the heart to ignore him or be a turd. Being a turd is never the way to go. It’s not part of my make-up anyways. You see, this young man is mentally challenged. On a scale of one to his age (which I’m assuming is mid twenties), his mental capacity would rank the same as my 9 year old daughter. With my daughter’s capacity being a bit higher because of her love of reading.
During our few hours together (courtesy of Home Affairs) I learnt more about him than I know of most people I interact with on a daily basis. Poor lad cannot read or write but he wishes to. It’s one of his dreams. A dream that makes me even more peeved at the kids at my school who run away from school on a daily basis and takes their education for granted. Damn fools. What he lacks in education he more than makes up for in enthusiasm and gifted hands. He had his basket filled with yarn, a knitting loom and his blanket in the making. Ever the crafter, I asked him for tips on looming and he was more than willing to explain the process. He simplified it more than any YouTube tutorial I’ve come across and I can’t wait to buy myself a knitting loom. I can see all the blankets I’m going to be making.
In turn I could show him how to finger knit with t-shirt yarn. Yep, I actually pack it in my bag when I know that I’ll have time on my hands and for obvious reasons like preventing frustrations. As I stood in line I made a few necklaces. I’m having my first stall in ages on Saturday and I need to have enough stock on hand. This was information I shared with the fella as well. We spoke about the time, quality of our crafts and also pricing.
He showed off a beanie he made and asked for advice on pricing his items. I pointed out to him that he was selling himself short and got quite upset by the fact that people seem to take advantage of him because of his mental capabilities. Ten freaking rand for a beanie??? Seriously? Wool doesn’t even cost R10. By the looks of his quality and style of the beanie, I would easily pay him R60 for it. And if know me, you’ll know I’m the queen of cheap so you have to know that it really was worth paying for. In hindsight I should’ve bought it. The conversation was too interesting for me to think shopping just then.
As we spoke, my initial self consciousness faded away. It was only me and him. Two kindred spirits. A very unlikely match but a good pairing all the same. The same mocking faces who looked at us with amusement when we started talking seemed to be interested in what we were doing. For those couple of hours he was not what society labeled him as and neither was I. Whatever it was society labeled me as this morning. Or any other given day for that matter.
Things aren’t always what they seem.
For a few hours this morning I was his safe haven. The woman who looked like the worship team leader at a church he visited and immediately trusted. It’s a good thing I didn’t have a song in my heart just then. His trust would have been shattered by my singing. I was the person who brought him some calm. His initial chatter was actually nervous banter. The fear of not knowing what can happen. Learning that he’d have to get an affidavit at the police station and return to the back of the line that increased dramatically by one hundred in the first hour. Obviously I offered to keep his place in line after he called his dad to fetch him and take him to the closest SAPS station. That’s what kind people do right?
At some point I need a lady’s break and excused myself leaving my son with him. Upon my return my son was engaged in conversation. Only this time around they were talking music. Sound systems and checking. Although I must mention that he kept the conversation going and all my son had to do was make positive affirming sounds. My heart just swelled with pride as I watched the two of them. They were having a proper “guy” talk and not once did #1stK break eye contact or seem bored. He loves music and could definitely relate. What surprised me was the fact that he was so courteous. Teenagers don’t usually do courtesy. Off course I shouldn’t have been surprised because hey, he is my son and I’m raising him to be a kind and well balanced gentleman. But with teens you just never know.
When we parted ways at the cashiers we said our goodbyes and I wished him enough. Enough happiness, love, kindness and all the fruits of the spirit. Without him knowing, he touched my heart today and reminded me of a few lessons I don’t wish to forget.
- Be kind. Always.
- Have patience.
- Don’t worry about what others may think of you.
- Be yourself. Not the person you think people want to see.
- You never know where you help may come from.
- Never underestimate anyone.
- You’re never too well educated to learn from someone else.
- Book smarts is not the only smarts you can have.
- Knowledge is power.
- Your only limit is yourself.
Every time I choose kindness over any other emotion or action, I do so not only for the next person but also for myself and my kids. My kids serve as my conscience all the time. Because how can I teach them anything without practicing it first. It is absolutely important for them to realize that life is not about big gestures. All the little ones add up.
How often do you practice kindness?