This month, my sweet and silly 11-month-old baby has developed a new habit of swatting. She does it when she’s tired, excited, or frustrated, and it’s her way of communicating that emotion or need to us. Regardless, being swatted in the face isn’t pleasant, so 3-4 times a day my husband and I lightly redirect her hands and encourage her to be gentle.
Be gentle. I’ve repeated that phrase so often lately: patiently, calmly again and again.
I’m not always the most patient. I don’t always communicate my needs with grace. I can be downright demanding. I can approach a disagreement with a certain amount of righteousness. I’m often quick to judge and quick to speak, and the result is sometimes that I say things I wish I’d said kindlier—or not at all.
When I tell my daughter to be gentle, I’m asking her to begin a lifelong practice of kindness, politeness, civility, patience. I’m asking her to start working on the things that I continue to work on in adulthood. When I think of it this way, I feel humbled. I also feel tremendous empathy for my swatting little daughter at the start of her life-long journey toward impulse control and gentleness. Her lesson—at 11 months—is a lesson for us all. It’s a reminder to cultivate more empathy, more patience. It’s a reminder to continue to strive for kindness toward others.
Be gentle. Be gentle when communicating: your loved ones will more easily remain open to your needs if you tread lightly.
Be gentle. Be gentle in your approach to others. They may have had a hard day, a long day. Give them a buffer, too.
Be gentle. Be gentle with your family and friends. They are the ones you’re closest to. Don’t take their presence for granted. Treat them with love.
Be gentle. Be gentle with others—and be gentle with yourself, too. The way you treat others often mirrors the way you treat yourself. Whenever you can, be kinder, be gentler, be more loving.