Hosting an Au Pair presents us with one opportunity after another to teach our children how to be kind.
In many of our conversations here on the blog, we worry about being kind proactively.
As adults, we Host Parents spend a lot of time thinking about how to be kind to our Au Pairs, to say “no” only when necessary, to offer explanations of tough decisions, and to be generous when we can.
We also try to model kindness after the breach — when feelings have been hurt, folks have been angry, or even just a little too self-centered.
I know that time and again I’ve said “I’m sorry for ______” to an Au Pair, and done this in front of my girls. I’ve wanted them to see that apologizing — being kind after having been hurtful — is a normal part of being a good family member. I wanted them to feel like they could mend a breach that they had created.
As I was clearing out a drawer over the weekend, I found this envelope addressed to Clara, our Au Pair from when my girls were 10 and 12-ish.
The handwriting was obviously my older daughter — the one who’s just gone off to college. When I opened it up, I realized it was a concrete piece of evidence of one of my child’s magical qualities —
One of the things I’ve loved about my older daughter is that she is a model of saying “I’m sorry”. As a girl, she’d be angry or mean like any other kid who wants things her own way. She’d argue, get flustered, and occasionally stomp off to her room. All that is common.
What’s uncommon, though, is that even as a little kid she’d return a short time later and apologize. And really mean it.
I can imagine the situation that could have triggered this note — an unmade bed, laundry on the floor, a direction to put the book away NOW and turn out the light.
Even though it’s a little stilted, a little formal, I can hear my 12 year olds’ voice saying the words, sincerely and with love. And I’m proud of her.
Clara is, too.