Simple Acts of Kindness

I originally wrote this on May 6 2014. I found it in my archives and decided to publish it.  I am fortunate enough to have a part time job with flexible hours. On the days that I am home with my children, I like to have at least one outing a day. On this particular day, Leah, who was 3 at the time,  and I decided to go swimming at the YMCA indoor pool. This is my account of our outing.

Today, Leah and I went swimming at our local YMCA. As we entered the pool area, a water aerobics class for older adults was underway.

As we exited the locker room to enter the pool area, Leah stopped in her tracks, gasped with excitement, pointed and said, “Look mommy. It’s a bunch of grandmas and grandpas!” She bounced up and down and clapped her hands with the sheer joy and excitement that only a three year old can muster. I should mention that Leah is the youngest grandchild of three sets of grandparents, so you can understand why she might get excited around anyone close in age to Maggie, Papa Greg, Grammy, Papa, B or Gran Jan.

As we entered the pool, Leah slipped her hand in mine and stood chest deep in the shallow end, quietly observing the water aerobics class . Several times, I prompted her to play with the other children, to no avail.

After a couple of minutes, the class came to an end and the adults began walking up the exit ramp. I watched as several of the class participants struggled to make it the top, holding tight to the rails, likely recovering from knee or hip surgery. Some of the men and woman spoke to one another, others were quiet and kept to themselves. I caught the eye of one gentleman who looked as though he might be experiencing some discomfort. He looked sad to me, his face down-turned as he concentrated on each step. I found myself looking away, slightly embarrassed at myself and perhaps for the older gentleman.

Leah continued to observe as the group moved in unsteady unison, toward the top of the exit ramp.  As the first woman rounded the top of the ramp, Leah dropped my hand, kicked to the side of the pool, crawled out and scurried over to the entrance of the ramp. I worried that she might get in the way of one of the adults as they exited the pool. I opened my mouth to remind her to be careful and suddenly stopped myself from saying anything as I marveled at what I saw her do next.

As the seniors made their way to the top of the ramp, Leah greeted each and every one of them with a hug or a high five, a giant smile across on her face. Every once in a while she would say something like “Yeah Grandma” or “good job”. Most of the ladies were enamored with Leah and would kiss her on the head as she hugged their legs. The older gentleman, with the sad eyes, patted her head, his frown turning upside as he smiled back at her.

Another woman was so touched by Leah’s sweet little gesture, she was brought to tears. She came over, thanked me and said, “Some people don’t realize that just a simple little smile or some kind words is all one needs to hear to make another person’s day.”  And at that, my sweet little one wrapped her arms around the woman’s knees and gave her a great big hug. My heart just melted.

So, what did I take from Leah’s Life Lesson? Make someone’s day today. Smile at the grumpy grocery store cashier, who might have just gotten a rejection letter from the college he has always dreamed of attending. Say “thank you and have a nice day” to the guy in the toll booth, who has to inhale automotive fumes and handle dirty money all day long. And when you are standing in line at Starbucks and look over to see the sad woman eating a bagel all by herself, tell her you like her blouse.

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