The Simple Kindness of Attention and a Safe Place

Seven young adults forming a pyramid. Four boys on bottom, two girls atop them, and then the youngest as the apex of the pyramic.

I am on the left, in the middle row.

I grew up in a large family – one of seven children. I don’t know how the Duggars do it, because our house was kind of crazy a lot of the time.

I was fortunate, however, that there was a community of love that surrounded our family, that enveloped me.

One of my aunts in particular, my Aunt Winkie, provided refuge for each of us children.

Aunt Winkie was my dad’s sister. She would invite one or two children along with her on a trip to the museum, a movie, or the zoo. The one-on-one (or two-on-one) time was an incredible gift.

It wasn’t just about the excursions, though they were fun. (I will always remember seeing Little Women with her, and, to this day, mimic the “coffee machine” at the Ontario Science Centre, which demonstrated how intonation can alter the meaning of a single word.) It was the conversation: she actually took notice of us, of our intellect, our interests, our individuality.

I felt so safe and welcome there that, at least once, I “ran away” to Aunt Winkie’s.

Aunt Winkie "hides" behind a mug and wine glass.

Aunt Winkie HATES
having her picture taken.

As I’ve become a mother myself, I’ve often stated that children need “another home.” Family relationships can be so intense and so dysfunctional (even at the best of times) that kids need a loving, safe place that they can turn to. At times, our home has been that refuge. For my own kids, I know that they have turned to their Aunt Barb and Aunt Pat, and I am glad of those relationships.

I suspect many of you are providing this “random act of kindness” without appreciating what a great difference it can make in the life of a young person. Believe me, your generosity matters.

And, for those of you who have received this kindness, I encourage you to:

  1. Thank that person.
  2. Pay it forward to some other child or young adult.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>