Kindness matters and so does perspective. Particularly at this time of year.
I don’t often get news from the day at school, but in the car on the way home today, Tiny Miss H proudly told me that she had a part in the nativity play.
A step up from last year when she was part of the crowd; ‘a villager’, so with excitement she announced proudly that she will be the Donkey. We celebrated, laughing and happy for her, and thrilled that she was so proud.
Then she said something that made me cry.
“I was a King, but I swapped” she chirped merrily.
I know what you are thinking, most kids would be happy to be King so why did she swap? Was it ‘taken’ from her for some reason? Why? How had this situation occurred? Had she been duped into swapping by some other wily child?
After a short pause she continued;
“Freddie* was the Donkey and he was crying because he didn’t want to be, so I swapped”.
“Oh Darling that was such a kind thing to do. I am incredibly proud of you….” I started but she interrupted, almost irritated at my apparent stupidity. She queried;
“What? Why wouldn’t I? It’s what a King would do.” As though it was the most natural thing on earth.
At that moment my tears started flowing. I can’t tell you how proud that made me.
“Yes, yes, it is Darling. It’s exactly what a king would do” I choked through my emotion, thinking ‘it’s certainly what a ‘King’ SHOULD do, but in this day and age, how many people do we actually know who would?” (I’m very proud to know one!)
Her big sister, Little Miss H and I were explaining how you can be kind and generous without doing yourself a disservice. We wanted to be sure that Tiny fully understood the generosity of her decision. Little Miss H admitted she wouldn’t have given up the role. Both the other Kings are Tiny’s friends and one of whom is her best friend, so to readily step away takes immense selflessness, or we worried, obliviousness. Does she fully comprehend what she has done? Does she realise that she can’t swap back? It’s a one way move that I really don’t think many people would make.
Freddie will have the memories of standing proudly on the stage in a cape and crown, forever. His parents will have their proud photos of their ‘King’ and will no doubt keep their momento programme with his name against the role ‘King’. In that moment she built up a little boy whose heart was broken.
We explained how very kind it was, what a true Christmas gift she’d given to Freddie, because most people see ‘the Kings’ as really important roles and to give him hers is very precious.
“But so is the Donkey,” she almost shouted. “Without the Donkey, Mary wouldn’t have gotten there and Jesus wouldn’t have been borned. So the Donkey is REALLY important!”
I asked why she thought Freddie might have been upset then at being the Donkey and she lightly stated that perhaps he was worried about being hot in the costume.
She’s thoroughly content in her decision. She wanted Freddie to be happy and he is. More importantly to me though, so is she. I will watch proudly as my Little Donkey with a big heart walks with Mary and Joseph. And I will enjoy watching the three Kings deliver their Christmas gifts, privately knowing they aren’t nearly as precious as the one my daughter gave today.
[*To protect his anonymity, Freddie is not his real name]