Probably, if you spend half an hour in my house on any given evening during the witching hour, you'd agree along with me that I live in a house of wild, unfettered barbarians as they wrestle and whoop and whistle and tear through and around the house. HUGE feelings abound. They get irritated with each other and step on each other's goals and toes and lego castles. It's true that they all have a healthy rambunctious streak a mile wide, as most normal humans can sometimes. We are, after all, not tame creatures deep in the marrow.
However, I often make it a point to draw a distinction between "calm" and "kind". Calm is a mood. Kindness is a character trait, and can be just as present in our wild moments as our quiet ones. I don't often use the word 'nice' at home, and certainly don't encourage the kids to try and be nice. I do, however, encourage gentleness and true kindness, and I'm kind of blessed that it really comes fairly naturally to them the older they grow. More impulse control means more opportunity to show the kindness within, and I really love watching it flourish.
One of my children loves babies. They like her, too, and for good reason. In her words, "We like each other because they're always honest, and I'm honest with them, too, and don't treat them like baby dolls or idiots. They're little people who understand less, but that's no reason to treat them with less respect. So I explain things to them with real words, and give them chances to do things. How else are you gonna learn? They like that." I couldn't have said it better. She's a damned reasonable person with a basic respect for anyone who's honest and open enough to ask questions and be genuinely curious without posturing. I love that about her.
My second born loves harmony (of course), and will bend over backward to find a solution that meets everyone's needs 80% of the time. She does it so cheerfully, because her best time always involves everyone just taking pleasure in a moment. I've watched her give up half her food or a toy (not at my promting; I don't usually as a rule) just for the sheer pleasure of sharing something with someone else on more than one occasion. It's so effortlessly lovely.
My third daughter loves little animals, and loves to see them comfortable and happy. She loves tiny things, and names everything she finds, and imagines lives up for them with families and homes and food, and takes careful care to give them what she imagines in her little three year old mind is necessary. She loves her baby sister with a fierceness that's only rivaled by her mama and papa, and is constantly piping up in quiet moments with an "I love you" for everyone in the family. I'm humbled by her passion for living things.
My sweet man took one of the girls out fishing today, and taught her how to cast. He brought fish home and (with more patience I could ever imagine mustering) painstakingly taught the girls how to clean them, cook them and eat them...where the best parts are and how to avoid the bones. I can see him out my window right now on the back porch after the little ones have fallen asleep, petting our calico cat and letting a little Japanese beetle crawl lazily on his fingers. His long, lanky legs are stretched out on the hot wooden deck by a open can of cheap tuna as he tries to coax a tiny stray kitten into eating and drinking so it won't die in the summer heat wave. It doesn't bother him that most men wouldn't do this, and I hope it never does. He's lovely.
They're all so different. Their kindness comes in different shades and hues, but at the heart of each expression is compassion and a basic respect for life. I love that it's messy and immature sometimes, but, unlike "niceness", it's not a mask. It's something that's winding down into their hearts and brains, making sense, taking root, and part of their own nature. They are not me. They are not a set of rules. They are their own version of compassionate, showing creative mercy in a way that suits them perfectly. I'm so lucky to know them.