Last week, Zeca had to write an essay about her family's values and she said with a dramatic flourish, "I don't know what are family values are!" We were driving home from school so I looked in the rearview mirror and said, "Really? What is something we talk about all the time?" She was quiet for a moment and said, "Kindness." Yes, we talk about that one a lot. In fact, when I drop her off at school each day, I say, "I love you. Remember to be kind." As we made our way home, I kept saying, "What else?" and she would come up with another thing and by the time we got home, I pointed out that she'd already named five things and she only needed to write about three. This morning, I read her essay and she wrote about kindness, community and sense of humor as three of her family's values.
We talk a lot about the importance of kindness and we have built a close community of friends, people she knows she can turn to and count on if needed, so the first two didn't surprise me. I definitely value a sense of humor but, when she mentioned it initially, I didn't think it rose to the level of a "family value" and secretly hoped it wouldn't make the list. I hoped that she'd pick something more noble like service to others but I don't monkey with the controls on these things and let it go.
But when I read her essay today, I loved what she wrote about humor. She said that it is important to fill your life with people who make you laugh, that laughter is important because it is something you can share and it draws people together. And then she said that sometimes humor can go too far and can hurt others but everyone makes mistakes and we have to apologize and move on.
Sometimes, I wonder if they are paying attention but after reading her essay, I know without a doubt that she is.
The world feels like a dark place right now and people are scared and angry and I certainly don't have the words or wisdom to know where to begin to address the problems in the world. I was offline most of the weekend and came back last night to see people fighting on Facebook about profile pictures and flags and trying to organize and prioritize tragedy as if that is something that can be done. So, I closed it all down and tried to find quiet in writing and reading.
I still don't have any answers and my words will always be insufficient but my daughter has armed me with things to focus on when it becomes too much: kindness, community and a sense of humor.