Monday, August 20, 2007

Be Nice!

"Get down, Charlie. That nice lady doesn’t want you to climb on her mobility scooter.”

We were in the freezer section at Wal-Mart. While I was looking for the spinach, Charlie had noticed the gears and levers on a scooter that rolled by. Hmm. A video game here in the freezer aisle? I must check this out. And so he did. He climbed up on the running board and reach over to work a few levers. The “nice" lady looked like she would like to run him down.

“I’m sorry m’am. My little guy thinks you're driving a rolling arcade.” I smiled my most winning smile. Charlie grinned.

"Hmmph!" The scooter occupant glared and sped ahead to the frozen dinners.

Whoops. I guess we need to add that to our list of shopping behavior:

1. Put your hand on the hood of the car while you are waiting for everyone to get out.
2. Don’t climb the toilet paper display
3. Don’t play on occupied mobility scooters.

(Charlie's list of grocery store ettiquette is so different from the rules that that I created for the other four kids.)

We wheeled our carts to the checkout counter and an older cashier greeted us with a friendly smile. “How ya’ll doin’ today?”

The girls and I unloaded groceries while the cashier looked on with approval at my helpful girls. Charlie found a toy cell phone and began to push the buttons.

“Charlie, do you want me to get that phone for you?” I am always looking for ways to unplug his video addiction and develop his creativity. A cell phone seemed like the perfect thing.

“Yeah, Mama!” He rushed over to the counter and held it out for the cashier to ring it up for him. He waited patiently but the woman was intent on finding the number for the cantaloupe. Her smile had vanished.

“Wait a minute, Charlie. Wait ‘til she’s done with the cantaloupe.”

He waited. And waited. And waited. For after the cashier scanned the cantaloupe, she continued to scan everything on the counter.

“Put it on the counter. I’ll get to it.”

That wasn’t very nice.

At the car, I lifted Charlie to his seat. He pinched my face. “Does that hurt, Mama?”

“No Charlie, that doesn’t hurt.”

He squeezed harder. “Does that hurt?”

“Yes that hurts. It’s not nice to hurt people.”

“Oh. Does this hurt?”

On the drive home I thought about what it means to be nice, to put people before accomplishments, before chores, before self. I thought about the times when I’m not nice. I’m never nice on the phone when I’m dealing with some push-button customer service representative. I’m not nice after an hour in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. I’m not nice when I have to fill out fifty pages (I'm not exaggerating) of information for my children to have their teeth cleaned. I’m self-righteous and arrogant. “What do you mean you need my kids' social security numbers? They don't want to operate the x-ray machine! They just need their teeth brushed!” GRR!

And when I got home I opened my e-mail and found this

from Christine at Fruit in Season. She thinks I’m nice. Ha! This is because she doesn't work for Verizon. Well, I am nice here. Here behind my keyboard. I use the backspace button quite a bit to delete those sentences that have too much zing. Thank goodness for the backspace key. I wish real life came with backspace. Christine is a great encourager and a fellow sojourner on the quest for humility, the key ingredient for NICE. She inspired me to be nice for the whole rest of the day.

The great thing about being a Nice Matters recipient is that I get to pass it on. I have been meeting all kinds of bloggers these days, women who encourage me with kind words on my blog and encouraging posts on their own.

I choose to pass this award on to:

Melissa at Breath of Life.
Faith at The Great Adventure
Jennifer at Gathering Grace
Lori at I Will Take it Lord, All You Have to Give

Girls,

You all write in a way that makes me feel like I am sitting with you over a cup of coffee. (Or since it’s still close to 100 here, maybe a tall glass of iced tea.) Thanks for your friendship. It matters.

Kate

Oh, I almost forgot. The cello phone (Charlie's word) was the perfect thing. Hours of imaginary conversations filled the airwaves until he flushed it. Now we have plumbing issues.






    8 comments:

    Faith said...

    Why, thank you, Kate! I'm really honored.
    And I really enjoyed this post. :) I could use some of these reminders when facing my "not-nice triggers."
    Glad Charlie is enjoying his cello phone. :) And since it's still around 100 here, too, I'd be happy to pour you a nice iced coffee. :)

    Jennifer said...

    Thank you! I was happy as a kid when I saw your comment. Couldn't wait to "unwrap my present!" I have had more encouragement since I started blogging than I have had in the last year, I think... it's become my daily dose, and I confess I'm addicted! I do hope I manage to spread it around. I'm like you, I sit safely behind my backspace button. Ah, yes, if only life had a backspace button.

    I laughed out loud over Charlie. He sounds just like Jack. And like you, I have developed an entirely different set of rules - and correspondingly, a different set of expectations! - for him. But he shines in his own beautiful way, and I wouldn't trade him for a million girls. Just think what we would be missing!

    Alana said...

    I can see Richie doing the same thing with the mobility scooter.

    What is the saying?

    Oh yeah..."curiosity killed the cat". That is my son in a nutshell!

    lori said...

    Kate!
    My day began when my walking pal had to cancel due to "bathroom issues." Wide awake at 5:30 am, I went to the computer to try and get some "work" done! What a wonderful surprise to be on the nice list!! I have to tell you, it made my day, my week really. I DO try to be nice...but sometimes I fall short! I will pass this on, and I must tell you, its been so nice getting to know you...Unsweet Iced Tea with any kind of sweetner you'd like...that would be nice! thanks for letting me peek into your world too! It's a lovely place!
    Thanks again...Lori
    PS..the rules for boys are soooo different and I LOVE it...mine was HIGH up in a tree yesterday...no girl around here ever dared to go THAT high!!
    Have a blessed day!!

    Jennifer said...

    I just noticed you are reading E.Nesbit... we are, too! Only we are reading The Treasure Seekers.
    It is SO funny, the kids love it, but so do I! What a smart kids book. I read that she was CS Lewis' favorite children's author... so of course I had to check it out. We haven't been disappointed!

    Meg said...

    My Dad always used to say (and sometimes sarcastically when my sibs and I were arguing), "It's so nice to be nice!" And it really is. Nice is an important and under-rated trait these days! Nice acts often bring out the nice in other people who are inclined to be rude. Just like the rudeness begets rudeness. It's so nice ot be nice. Have a NICE day (smile). Meg

    Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

    "3. Don’t play on occupied mobility scooters." That is so funny.

    Thanks for the reminder that we don't have the ability to "delete" our actions! I forget that way to much!

    Mary@notbefore7 said...

    Your son sounds like a great kid with a heart wide open to exploring the world! Some people just don't understand it....

    You are a very nice blogger and nice DOES matter!