Kindness Corner: The Kinder Option

Kindness Corner

By Randy McNeely

We’ve all seen the infomercials where someone is selling a product and then they say, “but wait, there’s more!”

This is one of those times, but from a story perspective. I shared the story of Beth and the friendship bracelet. But wait, there’s more, and here it is.

Little Susie Marks loved math so when Beth showed her a calculator she was so excited she could hardly contain herself. During the week-long camp, every time they got on the van, Susie sat by Beth and they played together on the calculator.

On the second-to-last day of camp, Beth got on the van as usual. She reached inside her bag to retrieve the calculator and it was missing.

Beth’s friends immediately said, “that little girl took it. Susie took your calculator.” They acted upset and implied that Beth should really get after Susie.

Beth decided to take a different approach. She was pretty sure Susie had taken the calculator. “But,” she thought. “Kids don’t take things just to take them. It was wrong for her to get into my bag, but there has to be a reason for it.”

So, Beth took her usual seat and waited.

Sure enough, within a few minutes, here came Susie. She took her usual place next to Beth and proceeded to pull out a little calculator that looked very much like Beth’s.

“What do you have there?” Beth asked.

“It’s my calculator,” Susie said.

“Oh,” Beth said. “Where did you get it.”

“I found it.”

“You found it. Where did you find it?”

“I don’t know,” Susie said. “I just found it.”

“Oh, okay,” Beth said. “That’s pretty cool. What do you like about the calculator?”

“Oh, you can add. You know, I like math. I really like math.”

“Wow, that is awesome.” Beth exclaimed.

“Yeah,” Susie said with enthusiasm. “I’ve never really seen one of these things and you can, like, you can do math on it!”

“Yes, you can. Absolutely.”

And so, the conversation continued, with Susie talking to Beth as if the calculator was hers all along, even though it was perfectly obvious that it was the same calculator that she and Beth had been playing with all week.

After a minute or two, Beth said, “Susie, I have a question for you.”

“Yeah?”

“Is that my calculator?”

Susie got really, really quiet.

“I’m not going to get mad at you Susie,” Beth said. “I just want to know if that’s my calculator.”

In a very tiny voice Susie respond, “Yes it is,” and she put her head down.

“Well, let’s talk about this for a moment,” Beth said. “Are we supposed to take other people’s things?”

“No.”

“Did you go into my bag and take my calculator?” Beth asked.

“Yeah,” Susie said as she slumped lower in the seat.

“What would make you think it was okay to do that?”

“I just loved being on it all week. I’ve never seen a calculator before and I love math,” Susie said.

“Well, okay,” Beth said. “I can understand that, but let’s have a quick discussion about taking things that aren’t yours. How would you feel if I took something of yours? What if I took your doll baby that you like to sleep with every night?”

“That wouldn’t be very nice. I’d be really angry,” Susie said.

“That’s right,” Beth said. “When someone else takes your things that’s not very kind.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Okay. So, are we clear that it’s not right to just go and take someone else’s things? We should ask before we just someone’s things.”

“Yes,” Susie answered.

“I do understand why you like the calculator so much. You love math and it’s a fascinating math machine,” Beth said.

“Are you mad at me?” Susie asked.

“No.” Beth said. “I am not mad at you. I just want you, from now on, to not take someone else’s stuff. It’s just not right. You may want it, but it’s just not right. You should always ask first.”

“Okay.”

“Can you promise me that you won’t take someone else’s stuff without asking again?” Beth asked.

Susie looked around to see if anyone else was watching.

“It’s just our secret,” Beth said.

“Okay, I won’t.” Susie said.

“Can we shake on it?” Beth asked.

They shook hands.

Then they arrived at Susie’s stop. Before getting off, Susie wrapped her arms around Beth in a big bear hug. “I’m so glad I met you!”

Beth walked Susie off the van. Susie mother was waiting nearby. “Thank you so much,” said Susie’s mother.

Susie turned to go.

“Susie, wait. Here.” Beth said, and she gave Susie the calculator.

It would have been very easy for Beth to immediately accuse Susie of stealing her calculator as soon as Susie sat next to her on the bus. We all know how that would have turned out. Instead, she chose the kinder option and helped Susie learn a life lesson that she would not soon forget.

Maybe we can take a page out of Beth’s book. We’ve all faced similar situations and we will again. Rather than getting upset and accusatory, maybe we can get creative and innovative about finding a way to choose the kinder option that touches a heart and changes a life.

Has your life been touched by kindness in action, either giving or receiving? Do you have a story to share? If so, reach out to me at kindnessgiver@randymcneely.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Please note that upon request, I am happy to change names to protect those who want to share but want to remain anonymous.