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Kindness is Not a Random Act

My son is a freshman in high school. For me, being a freshman was a difficult journey, but he carries the mantle more graciously than I ever did.

Being a freshman means finding your way. It's about deciding who you will be, what you will do, how you will spend your time and why you will get out of bed in the morning.

If you are lucky, you will find people to help you on your way - friends, teachers, teammates, people with similar interests. If you are really lucky, these people will not only provide companionship, but also guidance, support and encouragement.

My son is an actor and just yesterday, his troupe finished their run of Damn Yankees. The production was fantastic - the singing, the dancing, the set, the sound were all student led and all remarkable in their own way. At the final performance, the students had the opportunity to buy a carnation and attach a note for their peers. It was really great to see how many of the students chose to send good wishes to their friends. I should know, because I foolishly volunteered to tie the notes to the the carnations.

This was his third show with the troupe and my son has grown to trust and respect his fellow actors - especially some senior boys who are funny, gifted, hardworking and kind.

To have your teenager look up to kind, funny people is enough of a gift. But yesterday, these senior boys all sent him a carnation with an encouraging message. "Keep it up," they said. "You've got talent and I can't wait to see what the future will bring."

I'll admit to reading the notes more than once. And to crying every time. I remain deeply grateful. These students went out of their way to encourage my kid. Their kindness was palpable.

People often talk about "random acts of kindness." Those are cool - my dad used to carry quarters in his pocket and when he walked around downtown, he would feed the meters for others. We will never know how many parking tickets he prevented.

But I believe that best acts of kindness are intentional and not at all random. These senior boys were intentional in their kindness. They went out of their way to do something for my kid - and probably other people's kids, as well. And the school provided an avenue that enabled them to be intentional.

People need intentional kindness. And I was grateful to these boys, their parents and their school for fostering their ability to be kind.

What are some ways that you can promote, support and encourage kindness in your students and children? How can you provide opportunities for them to show kindness to others? How can you help them be intentional with their kindness?