On the Kindness of Strangers

I love almost everything about my 3 year old’s preschool. Almost. I hate, and I mean absolutely DESPISE, the parking lot. Like I actually experience anxiety as I make the left turn onto the tree-lined street. First of all, there are only five spaces and you have to drive up a over a mountain of a bump to park. If you go even 1mph too fast, you’ll scrape the front of the car with a stomach-curdling crunch. But the worst thing is the size of the parking spaces. They are way too narrow. Since my husband the car snob will never buy a minivan with sliding doors (okay, let’s be honest, that’s not my style either-no judgment here though!), it takes a whole lot of room to successfully get two kiddos out of the car.

One busy afternoon, I had barely gotten my daughter out of school (almost kicking and screaming) because she loves being there so much that picking her up is the worst offense I could commit. (Let me also add that this was one of the first days I had both kids solo and I was quite sleep deprived.) After I managed to set the baby carrier in the car, I was wrangling the 3 year old into her carseat. At this point, she was so full of energy and conversation and free will that it was taking FOREVER to climb up into her seat (which she HAS to do “by MYSELF!” because, independence). I tried hurrying her up because another mom was waiting to get in her car. I kind of mumbled an apology while struggling with he carseat, but that mom, bless her, took one look at my sweaty, frazzled self, smiled, and said, “Oh, take your time, I’m a mom too, I get it.” I smiled back, clicked in the final click, said, “thanks”, and finally got out of her way.

Even though that mom probably doesn’t even remember our interaction, it meant a lot to me. I realized that it sure doesn’t take much to change someone’s day for the better. And it’s not even hard! A kind word, a door hold, letting someone into traffic even though you might get to where you’re going two seconds later, offering to take a busy parent’s empty shopping cart after they’ve loaded the car, even a smile. IMG_3177

On the other hand, it doesn’t take much to change someone’s day for the worse either. People all over the internet have been FLIPPING OUT over the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”, based on the novel by Jay Asher. To be honest, I haven’t seen it, but I have read the book. While I think it is wildly inappropriate for children and young teens to read or view, I think the book (I can’t speak for the series) is an important read for older teens and adults. The story, for those who don’t know, revolves around a teenage girl who commits suicide. Before she does, however, she records tapes outlining the reasons that led her to take her life. To avoid any spoilers, I won’t go into specifics, but it struck me as I read that some of her “reasons” seemed pretty harmless to the people involved, but they certainly weren’t to her. And it made me think a lot about the power of our words and actions and the impact that even the smallest and seemingly insignificant words can have on any person. I also wondered, while reading this girl’s story, whether or not some kindness and consideration could have convinced her of her worth in the world.

That mom at my daughter’s school doesn’t know that her small act of kindness allowed me to be more patient with my child, take a deep breath, leave my frustration for another day. She doesn’t know that she filled me with confidence, subtly letting me know that I was doing a good job. Moms are a great group of people to belong to, because just a week or so later, I had the baby carrier on one arm (that thing is HEAVY!) and had opened the door with the other arm, all while trying to gently herd my kid inside using one of my legs. Another mom looked at me, impressed, and said, “Wow! That was some super-momming going on!” I laughed, told her, “We are all super moms!” and went on my way. Words can truly build up or tear down.

May we all understand the power of our words (and actions) and use them to sprinkle a little kindness into the world each day.

Currently Reading: ALLLLLL things Eric Carle. Cleaning out my classroom and storage space at school means all the fun books come home. My kid is in heaven. She loves to look through img_3178.jpgthe pictures, sort books into piles (using her own special logic and criteria), and have me or her dad read every word. And don’t skip a page ’cause she’ll know.

Currently Baking Cooking: I had to take a break from sweet things for a minute and work on cooking actual food. Here is something I threw together in my Instant Pot (if you don’t know what an Instant Pot is, just get one on Amazon right now. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Best kitchen gadget EVER).

Instant Pot Pulled Pork

3-4lb pork shoulder/butt roast (WHY do they call it a butt roast?!)

2 tbs avocado oil

1 tsp each: sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder

1/2 tsp each: black pepper, smoked paprika (I told y’all I’m obsessed with smoked paprika)

2 cups chicken or beef broth or stock

2 tsps liquid smoke (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cut pork roast into manageable pieces. Push “Saute” on Instant Pot and heat oil until it’s shimmery.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together and rub onto the pork roast.
  3. Brown the roast on all sides in the oil. I did about 2 min on each side.
  4. Unplug IP and plug it back in (there’s probably a better way to do this, but I don’t know it yet), and pour broth and liquid smoke over the meat. Secure the lid and make sure the pressure valve is turned to “Sealing”.
  5. Push “Meat/Stew” button and use the + sign to move up to 90 min.
  6. When it beeps, unplug it to wait for pressure to come down (or if you’re super hungry or impatient like me, turn valve to “venting” and release manually- but do it in the open air, not under cabinets or you’ll have a rainforest-y situation). Just DO NOT remove the lid before the pressure is down-I’ve seen some pretty scary pressure cooker pictures due to user error.
  7. Remove meat from IP and shred up with forks. Toss in your favorite BBQ sauce (or not). Serve on a salad (or let’s be real, some Hawaiian Sweet Rolls) or just on a plate next to your favorite veggies (or mac and cheese or whatever).
  8. Enjoy!

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