An Unexpected Kindness /3
Local students show off their literary stuff in the 2018 McEntyre Writing Competition
Introduction by Wayne Larsen
Illustrated by Jennifer Cook
In what has become an annual tradition in Westmount schools, the McEntyre Writing Competition always attracts a wide variety of thoughtful and creative entries, and the 2018 edition was no exception.
Endowed by the late Peter McEntyre, mayor of Westmount from 1969 to 1971, the competition encourages young writers to express themselves on a designated topic, each designed to get the creative juices flowing. It is coordinated each year by the Westmount Public Library.
In 2018, “An Unexpected Kindness” was the topic assigned to students in grades 1 through 11.
Westmount Magazine presents the full texts of the first-place entries in each grade category, as supplied by the Westmount Public Library. As well, this year these will be accompanied by Westmounter Jennifer Cook’s charming illustrations.
Here we present Grade 4.
FOURTH GRADE | FIRST PRIZE | SELWYN HOUSE SCHOOL
An Unexpected Act of Kindness
Over the summer, my father decided he wanted a divorce. This came as quite a shock to me. I was very confused. I had no idea what was going on or what was going to happen. My parents would always speak very quietly in another room. Sometimes I would tip toe softly trying to eavesdrop on what they were whispering about. I couldn’t imagine what life would be like and this made me very scared. I felt disappointed and angry at the same time. Even though I had friends whose parents had separated, I never imagined this would happen to me.
I wasn’t sleeping well and though my mom did her best to do fun things with me and organize a lot of playdates, I still felt very lonely. I worried for my mom too. I felt very jealous of other kids whose dads were around to play soccer with. I could tell my dad was always distracted or preoccupied with other things. Sometimes I wondered if there was something wrong with me. It’s easy to think that way. I think a little differently now, because every day I feel a little more comfortable. My family helped me through this.
When I look back to that summer, I think of my cousin Sofia and her unexpected kindness. My cousin and I basically grew up together. We always felt like twins, even our birthdays are less than a week apart. She was often the first person I would call if I had some good news to share. We play often together, make up stories, play video games, play tennis or ski together. Often our play time would end abruptly when we fought or disagreed. We swore we would never speak to each other again, but this hardly ever lasted too long. Still, when I told her my parents were splitting up, she really showed me true friendship.
My mom has a saying on our wall, “people will forget what you said or what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Last summer Sofia was always by my side. I would tell Sofia to leave me alone because I didn’t like her or she bothered me, but she kept coming over to my house. She insisted we go to the park or play video games when I didn’t feel like doing anything at all.
Sometimes she would come over and I wouldn’t say a word to her. I would just do my own thing and completely ignore her. I thought for sure this would make her leave and never come back. After all, didn’t she understand that all I wanted was to be left alone? But she didn’t even hesitate for a minute, no matter how mean I was. She just kept coming over and being there whether I wanted her there or not.
Sometimes I would hear the doorbell ring and think, “Oh no, not her again!” I even used to tell her to her face “Why are you here? I don’t want to see you!” But it was like she didn’t
even hear me. She would walk right past me and sit down on our couch as though I had never even said anything.
I guess I hadn’t understood then what she was doing exactly, but now I think I do. All those times I pushed her away when I was angry and confused, she didn’t leave me and she didn’t mind how mean I was. I am sure I must have hurt her feelings, but she never showed it. She gave up an entire summer and probably missed out on a lot of fun. She took a lot of punishment but she didn’t fight back like she used to.
She listened to me when I needed someone to listen. She was around when I didn’t want her around but I needed her to be around. Even when I told her to go away in the cruelest possible way, she would always be back the next day. I guess that made me feel safe. I knew no matter what I could count on her.
I think about this now that I am feeling better about what is happening. I am a little more sure of myself. The summer would have been very long and difficult without her. Her simple acts of kindness made getting through the day a little easier, even though I didn’t know it at the time. My mom says that being kind is good, but to be kind without expecting anything in return is even better and this is the secret to being happy. All the best people know this, she tells me.
I think doing kind things unexpectedly for others is contagious. Sofia’s kindness made me less angry and made me want to do kind things for other people again. Her kindness brought us closer as friends and cousins. It made me appreciate the people around me more like my mom and her gentle way of being there for me and encouraging me to have fun and take chances.
As for me, I will always remember that terrible, horrible summer when everything fell apart and how Sofia’s unexpected kindness helped me put things back together and how I can smile a little bit more.
Jennifer Cook, with over 28 years in graphic design, brings her expertise to each creative solution she produces for businesses world-wide. Paired with her love of research, she learns the soul of each client’s story to build a successful visual portfolio, which can include a combination of strategic graphic design, brand development, illustration, and social media. For fun, she started a daily illustrated social media series What my Coffee says to me to inspire and promote good mental health. To find out more on how she can meet your visual marketing needs, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.