I had one of those brief heartening moments today, a moment I want to bottle and give away jar by jar. Brad took John-Pio skiing so Misa and I spent the day doing practical things - cleaning, birthday party, organizing, and homework. As she put the final touch on her journal entry, a routine she does for better or for worse, she closed the book with a deep sigh.
It started with, "I'm nervous about going back to school tomorrow," and continued for several minutes more of painstaking revelations about how hard it is to be nice, even when other kids are not.
What a battle it can be to hone in and just listen, to resist the urge to advise and relate, take sides and give her all the answers to such a universal problem. But I listened with deep empathy seeping out from my bones, because I know - just like my mom and dad taught me - that to really understand and give perspective, you have to lay down your arms and simply listen.
Misa finished venting. I sat quietly holding her in my lap because she's still willing and little enough so I can, and I asked her what she was going to do about this.
And just like that, as if she was the character Vennelope in the charming movie, "Wreck-It Ralph," (my new favorite movie, by the way), she said quite pragmatically,
I'm just gonna keep killing 'em with kindness.
I couldn't tell if it was her resolve or a forced solution in an effort to get through her emotions quicker, but it was sweet. It reminded me that for young people (and adults too, no doubt), relationships and friendships can be built on that basic virtue of being a nice person, even though it can be exhausting, sometimes without much in return.
In the end, Misa and I talked about possibilities. I told her there's always the curse of "This might not work" nestled in the back of the mind. That curse though, can also be a blessing - a way to believe that in the midst of all that she was feeling, her attitude of killing 'em with kindness could forge something unexpected.
That old lesson from my little 9-year-old is already helping me ease into my week a little lighter and with a lot more optimism. I'm just gonna keep killing 'em with kindness is a good old-fashioned mantra.