Mind Matters: COVID and kindness

My granddaughter has been asking me a lot of questions about the past lately. Now that this 4-and-a-half-year-old has been home with me rather than in daycare, we have a lot of time together. She loves to tell and draw stories, but she also wants to hear real-life stories about her mother as a child, and even about me, her grandmother as a child.

If COVID time has given us anything it is a deep and precious connection. Perhaps because the present is so constricted, we are all more curious about the past and more wishful for the future. While my granddaughter does reminisce about going to the Museum of Science and the Aquarium and flying on an airplane to visit her uncle, she seems especially interested in creating an historical timeline of what life was like in the past. She, of course, like all kids loves repetition. Tell the story again, Mimo (my nom de grandmother).

One story I have repeated lately is about my airplane trip with her mother as a 3-year-old and her uncle as 1-year-old. I was flying solo with the kids from our home outside Pittsburgh to Newark, New Jersey, and back. Both flights were fraught with challenges. My son’s ears could not tolerate the air pressure changes and he screamed and cried on takeoffs and landings. On the return flight, he also had a major diaper blowout all over his clothes. He was not happy. While he sat on my lap. I cleaned him up and changed his clothes, keeping his sister at bay. At some point, a suited man across the aisle asked, “and to what do you attribute his behavior?” I probably just glared, too overwhelmed to respond articulately about children’s needs and problems.

Finally, after my son’s tearful and painful landing, we made it to baggage claim, where my husband awaited our arrival. An older woman with gray hair (which is what I am now) approached me as we were retrieving luggage and congratulated me on a mothering job well done.

Her kind words touched my heart then and still remain with me now. I am grateful to my granddaughter for having prodded me to consider past events to remember in a new way.

Who among us is not feeling stressed? I know I have been, more than I care to admit, like the judgmental man on the plane, rather than the kind grandmother at baggage claim. Perhaps we can begin by being kind to ourselves, forgiving the moments we have been harsh, and then see if each day we can extend that kindness into the world. What a ripple effect that could be.

Can you take a moment to reflect on a time someone has been kind to you where it came unexpectedly, a surprise? How did that feel? Do you notice how good it felt then and how it still feels good now when you recall it?

Why not look now for places where you can pay the kindness forward, giving others lasting remembrances of kindnesses! It won’t cure COVID, but it may slowly, imperceptibly change the world.

 

About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.

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