Earlier in the month, we took Maisie to the elementary school where she will begin kindergarten in the fall for a tour of her new school. She had been talking about the visit for weeks ahead of time. But as we exited the car and began waking toward the front door, our normally bouncy little girl looked very serious and I could see the apprehension building. To some extent, I was right there with her.
We jumped in with a tour group of five or six other kids and their parents. It seemed obvious to me that at least some of the people in our group already knew each other. That paired with my carrying of Penny in the baby carrier kept me at the back of the group. This gave me a perfect vantage point for watching the kids. There were the moments of skipping and walking with arms out as if a small airplane were navigating the halls of Boren Elementary. But there was something else. While there was a bit of blissful ignorance to what was going on, you could see more than a hint of trepidation.
What happened next with Maisie was truly beautiful. Three of the girls in the tour group started holding hands in red rover fashion while they were walking down the hallway. Maisie looked over, saw what was happening, and simply reached out for the hand of the girl on the end of the line. There was no awkward pulling away or questioning who this person was. There were simply two little girls who saw someone who looked an awful lot like them and were content to walk down the hallway together.
I recently overheard a conversation where someone asked what a particular group of people were like. The response was something along the lines of, “they’re nice until they can figure out if you can benefit them.” At first I was taken aback by the response. But the more I thought about it, the more I could ashamedly find abundant examples of when my life had reflected that sentiment. We can have such a very businesslike approach to life, and kindness is no exception.
What if, when life seemed unsure, when things are new and different, what if we could look to our side and, seeing someone with whom we have more in common than we realize, reach out and join hands and realize that we’re not alone? As I watched those five-year-olds work together to navigate this strange new experience, I couldn’t help but realize that what they were doing was exactly what I see so many adults longing for.
I think the phrase goes something like this: “All I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten.” Maybe there’s more truth there than appeared at first glance.