Normal routines seem so far gone (at least for me, a parent of three), that I have almost forgotten what a regular Monday to Friday schedule looks like.
This letter from a woman in Wisconsin quickly reminded me that some days were better than others — and that kindness always smooths out the rough spots.
“I remember this pre-COVID-19 day way too clearly. It started out as any other day and somehow turned into a terrible, no good, very bad morning.
"We have three daughters and were going through our regular morning routine of getting ready for school: eating breakfast; packing lunches; getting dressed; and running through spelling words. However, on this day, I tried to cram too many things into the morning.
"Before we knew it, we were running late. I was barking at the kids to hurry up, and Finley, our second grader at the time, was upset because I had told her to change her shirt (I noticed she had worn it the day before). She was taking her time, making it obvious she was not going to be rushed.
"The drive to school was speedy and frazzled. There was a heavy blanket of mom guilt because it was my fault we were late. When I opened the car door to let the kids out, Finley didn’t even look at me. No kiss goodbye or ‘Bye, Mom.’ She got out of the car with her head hung low and walked toward the school.
"I sat and watched her and just felt so defeated. But then her head popped up. Ms. Ivy is an education assistant and was on recess duty. She must have seen my sad little girl and yelled out, ‘Hi, Finley!’
"Ms. Ivy is Finley’s favorite person at the school. They share a love of nature, and Ms. Ivy is an encyclopedia of knowledge about birds, plants and amphibians. Ms. Ivy is the person who gets excited to hear about Finley catching frogs or finding salamander eggs. She encourages Finley to keep a nature journal and to keep asking questions and exploring.
"She once told me that Finley ‘feels things very deeply in her heart’ and I wondered if this was because she relates to her. They both would rather be outside in any weather than in a room full of people.
"That morning, as I watched Ms. Ivy’s kindness towards Finley change the outcome of her day, my heart lifted, too. She had picked up the baton when I needed it the most.
"During COVID-19, Ms. Ivy was the first person Finley wanted to send a note to. Ms. Ivy wrote back and said, ‘Hi, Finley. Miss you, nature girl. Spring is coming and adventure awaits.'"
It sure feels good to know there is someone in our corner when we need them and even when things are completely different, some things — like great teachers — stay the same.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.