“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
By Beth Pinyerd
Happy Winter in 2022. Winter months — with the precipitation and gray skies — can bring on some winter blues even for our youngest children. At times, we have to stretch our acts of kindness (caring and outreach) for others when we want to wrap up in a warm blanket and “just be”. Because bitter cold can hurt.
When I flew to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to be with my son over Christmas, I had an early touch of winter cold to hit my neck and shoulder. In the airport, without uttering a complaint, but from compassionate observations, I had fellow younger passengers grab my luggage from the carousel. Another kindness action, this time provided by a four-year-old and six-year-old of a family my son and I visited for Christmas, came after these two young children made a kindness observation when I kept rubbing my shoulder and arm. These two children — with no prompting or probing — came and rubbed my sore arm. These simple acts of kindness melted this teacher’s heart on Christmas Day.
Upon reflections of kindness, I wanted to re-share an experience of kindness blossoming forth on a winter day that still remains in my heart. It was winter of 1986. I was a second grade teacher at Carver Primary in the Opelika City School System. On Jan. 2, 1986, my husband and I became the proud parents of a baby boy, Gus. When I returned to my classroom family in February as a mother of a newborn, I had gained a few more responsibilities in getting to school. My husband had to get to his job earlier. My first winter challenge would be to scrape the ice off the windows of my car before dropping off my baby to the sitter. When I hurried down the steps to embark on this winter task, the windshield had been cleaned and scraped. I was touched with a warmth of hope and kindness — but who had gotten up so early to do this? The next morning in the darkness of the winter morning, I peeked out my window and saw an elderly gentleman scraping off the ice. It was my neighbor who understood the need of this young couple. That afternoon when I got home, I went to thank him. Each morning of that winter, this gentleman helped me to scrape the ice off my car windows, as well as helping my son and myself to get in the car so I could get to school on time. His humble act of early morning kindness is one that stills warms my heart.
Young children are sensitive to extending random acts of kindness to others. When acts of kindness are modeled in front of them, they quickly catch on.
Guiding young children to hold the door open for others is such a delightful responsibility for young children. A big grin stretches across their face when they are properly thanked.
I love to hear a young child wish me a good day with no prompting or probing. Too, for we parents, grandparents and teachers to receive a child-made card of happiness is a child’s way of expressing happiness straight from their hands and hearts.
A delightful winter story I love to read to young students is “The Mitten”, which is a Ukranian folktale retold by Jan Brett. It’s about a young boy named Nicki. He loses his mitten in the snow and the mitten becomes a host and home to a lot of different forest animals — big and small — to keep warm. Of course, the animals have to be considerate of each other as they snuggle into the mitten to keep warm. I use this book as a winter theme for friendship and kindness with my young students. There is always room in our hearts and our actions to be kind to others.
Plan kindness projects with your children during these winter months. This can be done by you and your child in doing a simple winter craft of cutting out snowflakes for January with you both planning together a Winter kindness project. Too, why not do hearts of kindness projects for February? Examples are preparing and taking warm meals to a family who have been sick or in need is a wonderful lesson for your children to feel and model kindness. It may be helping another family by running errands or doing chores; walking a neighbor’s pet when they are sick or away; helping an elderly person by taking out the trash. These acts of kindness not only help the recipients of your help but it also helps you and your child. As we reflect back on times that we have helped others, it brings happiness to our whole being. Practicing acts of kindness for others melts away any kind of winter blues.
Too, aren’t we so thankful to God who has been so kind to create a world for us to enjoy during these winter months. We just have to look around and see His hand and His heart. No two snowflakes are alike. Each one is unique and different just like each child.