It’s hard to be nice

It’s become a ritual in our house that when we put Calvin to sleep one of us will lay on the bed next to him for a bit. I’m not sure what Amanda and him talk about.

He and I usually talk about what he is going to dream about. Most of the time it’s dragons, red ones without wings that can breathe fire or emergency vehicles. He really likes emergency vehicles.

Sometimes he will ask me what I like or what I am afraid of. I will tell him I like animals, like Bruno, people, and motorcycles. I don’t tell Calvin what I am afraid of. That is just too scary for a three year old.

I will close my eyes and hang out quietly for a few minutes before he falls asleep. He falls asleep in his crib bed, without a blanket (his choosing), with his Clifford and a cup of water by his bed. His humidifier hums and his sound machine purrs. There is a night light by his bed in case he wakes in the middle of the night. When I roll over to pretend to sleep I think of all the parents who are holding their child close to keep them warm in hopes they can sleep tonight and have a place to go tomorrow.

While I lay there pretending (okay sometimes falling) sleep I do think of the things I am afraid of that I can’t tell him. When I tell him I like people I can’t explain that I am also so afraid of them, that people are the scariest things around.

I always come back to thinking that being nice is hard. It’s real hard but it’s a choice we all can make. We all make choices every day. Every time we choose to be mean (thinking in terms that I use with a three year old) it’s a choice. We can choose to be nice. We can choose to help or we can choose to hurt.

The gun to your head — make choice to hurt people or you/your family is hurt is rare. It is so rare. I know we see it all the time on tv and in the movies but that is s 42 minute or a 2 hour story that has a beginning, middle and an end. Everyone else. We have a choice.

Oh, I know it’s hard to be nice. Off the top of my head the people I find it hard to be nice to include:

  • people smarter than me
  • people dumber than me
  • people who just don’t get it as fast as I do
  • people who don’t give me enough time to get what’s happening
  • people who ask questions over and over again (including 3 year olds)
  • people who drive to fast
  • people who drive to slow
  • people who wear their faith on their sleeve
  • people who wear their lack of faith on their sleeve
  • people who hurt other people
  • people who are mean and don’t even realize it

Above is just a short list. I’m sure by tomorrow it will be longer.

All these people can bother me. I can not like them. I can not like their attitude and actions. It is my choice to be nice to them or bring them harm. And that is the hardest part.

The choice to pick up a gun or a knife or use a weapon is a choice. The choice to build a bomb is a step by step choice. Before pulling the trigger, swinging the knife or placing the bomb there is a choice. It is not a choice about good or evil. It is a choice about how to take action on how we feel toward other people.

We can choose to be nice. We can choose not to hurt others and to help them.

Whether it’s in your thoughts and prayers, whether it’s sleeping with your gun next to your bed in your quiet suburban home in fear of this weeks boogie man or whether it’s falling asleep next to your precious child please remember that each action is a choice and yes, the choice to be nice can be hard, but each choice to be nice can help someone else make that same choice.