Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
One summer morning we accidentally got to the library eight minutes early. On the surface this doesn’t seem like a big deal . . . but with three spirited boys, eight extra minutes can feel like eight hours. At the time, my sons were seven, six, and four — the perfect ages for high curiosity and low impulse control. As we entered the small outer foyer and I realized the main library wasn’t open yet, low-grade panic set in. My kids were not cut from the “sit still and wait patiently” kind of cloth.
So they returned our bag full of books, slurped water from the drinking fountain, hid under the massive stairwell, and asked a gazillion questions. There was a trip to the bathroom and a thorough investigation of a row of cup- boards foolishly void of padlocks. As the minutes inched on, more people joined us in the waiting vestibule. Staring eyes weren’t in short supply.
“Be aware of others. Stay near me. Quiet words, please,” I reminded them often.
My boys weren’t being bad. Just inquisitive, antsy, talkative, active kids. And after eight minutes, their mama was exhausted. When the clock struck ten, the large sliding glass doors finally opened. The small crowd slowly descended into the sanctuary of books. Jude jumped and Elias squealed and Noah started to sprint as I reminded them again to please walk and use inside voices.
An older woman who had been waiting nearby caught my eye. “It’s going to be a long summer,” she said.
“Yeah, it is,” I replied with a weak smile and sigh.
Then her eyes brightened, and her smile warmed. “But you’re doing a great job. Thank you for being here,” she added.
I had braced myself for a stranger’s rebuke — parenting in public in the little years made me sweat with anxiety. But instead of judgment I was met with the kindness of simple encouragement. All I could do was whisper thank you. She gave me a knowing nod and entered the library as I followed my sons — my back a bit straighter, my steps a bit lighter.
A small, unexpected thank you from a stranger. A word to make someone feel seen. Is there an easier gift of kindness to give?
So I pass on these sweet words to you: Thank you. Thank you for changing diapers and reading stories. Thank you for going to work and still making dinner when you’re dog-tired. Thank you for cheering at swim lessons and folding laundry and answering the billionth question to quench a little person’s curiosity. Thank you for helping your neighbor and listening to your coworker. Thanks for getting to church early to set up or staying late to tear down. Thanks for mentoring that teenager. Thanks for doing your mundane job with a smile. Thanks for putting one foot in front of the other.
Thank you for being you. No one else could fill your shoes.
TODAY: Choose someone to give the gift of simple encouragement.
-Written by Becky Keife, adapted from The Simple Difference: How Every Small Kindness Makes a Big Impact
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