Present Tense

We all need a “Buddy Bench”…

kindess 1

Be kind.  People live by a lot of mottos or platitudes or moral codes, but really those two words sum it all up, don’t they?  Be kind. Period.

Last week on our radio show, we brought up the  story of a local 7 year-old who talked his school principal into installing a ‘buddy bench’ on the playground.  The idea is that when a kid is lonely or doesn’t have anyone to play with, he/she can go sit on the buddy bench and the other kids will see them and include them.  Or maybe they’ll just find another kid in the same situation.  It’s sort of a sanctuary and a signal to the other kids to be kind and include the kids on the bench.

As cynical adults, we wondered if kids were really unselfish enough to offer help or companionship to a kid who needed it.  So, we asked our listeners to call us and tell us about a time when their child showed kindness and compassion, without any prodding or orders from adults.

The phones were packed; the stories were moving and sweet and inspiring.  As I listened to one story after another, I realized that kids get it.  They aren’t burdened by political correctness, prejudice or excessive judgment.  They don’t zip through their accumulated filters as to who is deserving of kindness.  They see a need and they act, whether it’s a physical, emotional or financial need.

As adults, we are jaded. We see someone who is struggling and compose a story.  “Well, they didn’t work hard enough…they deserve what they get…maybe if they didn’t drink so much…it’s not my problem…I don’t have time for this…nobody ever helps me when I need it…everyone wants a hand out…”

A child sees someone who is cold and knows they need warmth.  They see someone who is hungry and know they need food.  They see someone who is lonely or sad and know they need comfort. Kindness.  Simple.

I think we’re born with this capacity for empathy.  It’s what links all humans together. We all want the same things.  We want to be happy and loved and nurtured.  For the most part, we get that from our fellow humans.  If we’re in touch with our needs, rather than suppressing them or worse, denying them or being ashamed of them, we can connect with those in need.  Sadly, we humans also do a great deal of damage to others.  That begins the vicious cycle that is adulthood.  We were hurt, so we tend to hurt others in return.

Be kind.  We don’t have to go out of our way.  We can offer a smile during a difficult or embarrassing situation.  We can hold the door for a mom struggling with a crying child.  We can ask an agitated friend or co-worker if there is anything we can do to ease their pain or their burden.  It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture, but rather just a small step; a starting point.

Become someone’s ‘buddy bench’, even if only for a moment.  Be kind.  Period.

February 23, 2014 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Beautiful — Kindness Rocks!

    Comment by Carolyn Noroski Stillman | February 23, 2014 | Reply

  2. Thank You Jane, simple, yet strong.

    Comment by benzintensiveme | February 23, 2014 | Reply

  3. Love this. Listening to the show…restores my faith because I know how cruel some kids can be. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Francesca Amari | February 23, 2014 | Reply

  4. mmm. i needed to see this today. you restore my faith in humanity!

    Comment by talktraffic28 | February 24, 2014 | Reply

  5. This is absolutely true. Sometimes us jaded adults chastise kids for being “childish” when they are actually the ones who see things clearly.
    Thank you to all of the kind hearts out there. I’ll be happy to sit with you on the bench anytime you need me.

    Comment by Renee | February 24, 2014 | Reply

  6. Read “Wonder” by R.J. Palacios, a beautiful book written for kids (a chapter book) about choosing kindness.

    Comment by Lois | February 24, 2014 | Reply

  7. I just read this after returning from a very moving experience working with 5 year olds in the basic school in a small fishing village in Jamaica. Those kids get it. They really do not let the fact that they live in poverty define them. They totally ignored the fact that I was white, fat, and old and just accepted me. We had a great time together and I will take so much from them being kind and nice. I easily identified the one young man who obviously had the most challenges and spent extra time giving his positive feedback. Soon he was completing all of his work and helping the other students when they fell down. I will return and bring my family to experience a culture of people who are truly appreciative of any help they can be given, and then give back so much in return.

    Comment by Tim Lankerd, Ann Arbor, Mi. | March 2, 2014 | Reply

  8. Last year, I recieved an email from my youngest daughters teacher. She spoke of my daughters kindness towards a new little girl who had started at the school. This little girl has a skin condition that can be a little startling to see and many of the other children were taken back by it and would not approach the new little girl. However, my daughter walked right up to her and asked her to play. Others joined in as well and the new little girl made some friends. Needless to say, I was so proud of my daughter for showing kindness. Especially when we live in a very judgmental world. She could have easily saw that the others were not approaching this girl and went with the crowd, ya know? Instead, she offered to play with her because she said, “She looked sad Momma”. My heart beamed!!! Extending kindness and grace needs to be exercised daily to some capacity. 😊

    Comment by Adella Gonzalez | March 31, 2015 | Reply

    • Adella
      That is truly something to be proud of. Good grades are great, but kindness and compassion are so important. I’m sure she got it from her mama.
      Thanks for writing.

      Comment by janelondon | March 31, 2015 | Reply

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