When I was a Junior in high school, my locker partner was the notoriously famous basketball player, Danny Manning. Many people may know him as the captain of the 1988 National Champs KU basketball team. He then went on to play professional ball, but ended up choosing coaching after an injury.
What most people don’t know is the young man off the hardwoods, whose Levi’s 501 patch came to my eye level, and who jokingly asked me to hand him his books because I was closer to them, was a very sweet person.
In fact, when the “Sweetheart King and Queen” were voted by the student body, Danny was near unanimously deemed the nicest guy in our school. Not bad for a class of over 500 people.
I remember watching him bend over from the waist, like one of those wooden birds that used to bob up and down into a glass of water. This allowed some vertically challenged admirer to place the crown on his head while we all were thinking, “Now there is a really good guy.”
However, at the same time, I also was hearing another voice in my head saying, “There is NO way I will get that crown when I’m a Senior with my mouth!” A pity though, that I never aimed for that goal. Being the nicest person in the school was unfortunately not something I thought of. Perhaps, I was so good at being an adolescent and only focused on the typical, “Me!”
Many teens may fantasize about becoming Homecoming King or Queen; but that accolade used to be saved for the popular students. The cheerleaders, the jocks, etc. However, I can actually say I never thought there would be a hells chance of me bringing home that crown either. I had my eye on a Tony Award. Ah, the sweet, sweet bird of stupidity…
So recently, when my munchkin’s had an elementary school Spirit Week, where all the students were to dress up in various silly clothes each day; I noticed a pattern stabbing me in the chest with these young kids. Friday was to be the day when the kids were to dress up like Twins. They were to wear matching clothing with someone or a group in their class. Sounds fun, right? Yeah, unless you don’t make a plan to match with someone or are being excluded.
I knew Munchkin #1 has a couple of best friends in her classroom. She talks about them every day, they have been close since Kindergarten – so I assumed the three of them were going to figure it out. They are in second grade, and she is becoming more independent and able to take care of more responsibilities.
Alas, when she got home on Thursday, I asked her what she was wearing for Twins Day. When it comes to costumes and being silly, I always am eager to gather the scoop! M1 said that she wasn’t quite sure. Now since M1 is my analytical child, who is often “stuck in head” I thought perhaps she had missed the directions – but according to her:
“We are wearing pigtails and tennis shoes.”
Obviously, this wasn’t going to do! Knowing if she didn’t get the plan figured out the night before, there would be tears and screaming – and that would be just my reaction.
Thankfully, one of the moms, let’s call her Eunice because that would really annoy her, called us up to find out what the master plan was. Do you know HOW hard it is to get three strong-minded, independent thinking girls to decide on anything? No wonder they had only planned as far as athletic footwear and a cute hairstyle.
Eunice let the girls talk on the phone to iron out the details which took approximately 20 minutes. They agreed on their look and Eunie’s girl was going to contact the third friend to inform her of the details.
I was so relieved to not hear them fussing over what to wear, I needed to relax and pamper myself. So I got on Facebook. Nothing like escaping from the world in Zuckerland! Not long after, or it could have been two hours because you know time stands still on the Facebook watch, I see an email pop up from Eunice.
Oh, boy! What did M1 say that upset her kid?
I need to stop assuming the worst when the phone rings or an email shows up in my inbox because this email was one of the most beautiful acts of kindness I have seen in a long time.
Eunice not only contacted the third girl, but also sent out an email to all of the girls in the class. She informed their parents what our girls were wearing for this day (including every detail), and invited them to join in the fun.
I knew that this would irritate my daughter because she wanted to have a special day with her buddies; but she needed to learn this lesson early.
Is it more important to be popular and have friends, or is it better to treat everyone as you would want to be treated?
This was a golden moment to reteach the Golden Rule. Munchkin #1 needed to know what our expectations as her parents were for how she treats all persons.
Of course, mother’s instincts were correct, for M1 was pouting when informed that perhaps the entire class would be dressed like she and her buddies. But it is never too early to teach kids how to be nice to each other and be respectful of their feelings. Poor, poor M1!
It was at that moment when bending down from the waist to talk to my daughter, that I flashed back to Danny Manning as the Sweetheart King. Even though he was a star and fairly popular in school, he didn’t let it get to his head. He was kind to everyone.
As I wondered if my munchkins’ high school would have a Sweetheart Queen, I thought if Eunice’s daughter learns from her mother’s actions – she is going to get that crown.
Then after reliving my past with my girls, and teaching them what I believe they need to work on, I said to them as they ran upstairs to get ready that Friday morning:
“Just know that your father and I would prefer you try to be the Sweetheart Queen instead of the Homecoming Queen. BEING KIND IS MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN BEING POPULAR!!!”
Then I thought in my kind motherly way, “And if you don’t put your clothes away, you won’t make it to high school!”
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