If you’ve read or seen The Help, the title of this post rings a bell for you. The three things Aibileen helps little Mae Mobly remember when the world treats her like dirt. They’re so simple, but so easy to forget. How much better would we all feel if we just told ourselves this every day? You is kind. You is smart. You is important. And I would add, You try hard. Amid people who treat us like crap, children who never appreciate a damn thing we do, technology that makes us feel like idiots. The list is endless. And unfortunately, not many of us have someone like Aibileen around to help us remember the good about ourselves. So we can really start to feel like we’re not important or smart or worthy.
Both my kids are sensitive, but sometimes five-year-old N takes things so personally, so deeply to heart, that I worry he forgets all the good I do tell him. In our house, we repeat the three things we value most in ourselves and others: kindness, trying hard, and keeping yourself and the people around you safe. I reminded him tonight of these when he was talking about something he’s not the best at. Even if you aren’t the best, you tried. You tried really hard, and so no matter how it worked out in the end, you are good enough and didn’t fail.
Our mantra: Be kind. Try hard at everything you do. Be safe. If nothing else, these three things will carry you far and help you change the world. I don’t care if my children are not the best or the smartest or the cutest (I mean, they are, but they don’t need to know that), but I do care so much that they are kind to everyone, including themselves. I care that they know they are kind. And that they know they can ask for help but only after they’ve tried and then tried again. And that they don’t hurt themselves or any other living thing – physically or emotionally. There are no higher compliments in our house than “you are a good friend,” or “you tried so hard.” We tell them they’re handsome, they’re smart, and they’re awesome, but I think in the hierarchy of important characteristics, it’s better for them to feel good about their kind hearts and their treatment of problems. And I will keep it that way. Because really, very little else matters in the bigger picture and very little else can move small mountains like kindness with a side of confident perseverance.
So maybe just take a minute to tell yourself and your kids. You are kind. You try hard. You are loved. You are important.