Monday, January 11, 2010


This weekend set in motion my focus for the week to come.

Mornings are my best time of day. I'm energetic, happy, and look forward to participating in the unfurling day. An habitual early-riser, I was at my computer before the sun came up on Saturday morning, my fingers flying across the keyboard, giving life to an inspired stream of thoughts. I jumped at the voice of my daughter standing at my shoulder. I hadn't heard her come in.

"Mommy," Sidney began. "I want--"

Donuts, I thought, as the word sailed out of her mouth a nanosecond later.

My son, Cody inherited a lot of my genes: my looks, my temperment, suseptibility to headache and teeth-grinding, and my love for writing. But Sidney got my sweet tooth. In fact, she got Cody's share too. Double dose.

While the boys slept, Sid and I headed to the grocery store. I'm clinging to the diet wagon and refuse to fall off before my trip to New York at the end of the month, so we only picked out a couple donuts for each of the three of them. When we got home, Sidney tiptoed through the silent house like an elephant crashing through the brush, and within minutes the boys were awake. The promise of fresh donuts brought Christian and Cody to the kitchen in time to see the last bite of Sidney's first donut disappear behind glaze-smeared lips.

Cody chose one of the two donuts his sister announced were "his," a blue-iced affair with a face of gummy ring eyes and a red licorice smile. He ate it slowly, putting it down on his plate between bites. By about Cody's fourth bite, Sidney finished her other donut. She eyed him suspiciously when he declared he was full and excused himself from the table, leaving a half-eaten donut behind. He shouted "No!" over his shoulder when she asked if she could eat his second one.

The next day when I asked the kids what they wanted for breakfast, Cody was all smiles. "I'll eat my donut!" he said cheerfully. I looked over at Sidney, her arms hanging at her sides like a cut flower's wilted petals in a five-day-old bouquet. She was staring half-heartedly at the short row of cereal boxes on a pantry shelf. Cody followed my gaze.

"Little S," he said, "you can have half my donut, if you want."

Sidney and I both said, "Really?"

I was so proud of him! He wasn't prompted or goaded, except by an innate desire to do the right thing. And the look on Sidney's face was priceless. She went from partly cloudy to sunny in less than the blink of an eye. I hugged them each tight.

When I came back to the kitchen for a second cup of coffee an hour later, the kids were playing a collaborated game involving Bionicle robots and Littlest Pet Shop bobble heads. Their voices trilled with genuine happiness as the bizarre cast of characters interacted with indiscriminate ease. I stood there a minute, in awe of them. As if I'd made a sudden noise, they both looked up.

"What's wrong?" they asked.

I told them how wide my heart smiles when I see them getting along so well. And I pointed out that Cody's act of kindness in sharing his donut with Sidney started them both on a path of friendliness and high spirits. After all, if Cody had been stingy and not shared his donut, Sidney would have watched him eat with envy and resentment. She'd probably have delighted in needling him at every turn, irritated him to the best of her ability all morning. The day was more enjoyable because everyone felt the positive effects of Cody's action.

I was interpreting a life lesson for them, but I was teacher and student at the same time. Once again, my kids were a mirror reflecting life in its purest form, reminding me how we should act. The power of kindness overwhelmes all else; its light douses the darkness. You may not see all its effects, but if you tune in to the world around you, you will feel it.

Lesson learned, again. Thanks, kids!