Disruptive Kindness At The Dentist Office

Posted by Poonam Singh on Oct 24, 2017
2340 reads  
It was a long night of tooth pain for my older one.

We cried. We were up all night. We were tired.

We called the dentist office first thing in the morning.

I began to tell the lady on the phone what happened, and clearly I needed some support. I think I wanted to hear from them: "so sorry your daughter is in pain and of course we will figure out a way to support you and btw you are a rockstar momma." But instead I heard a pretty curt voice on the other end who interrupted me and told me they only had one slot available and that there was nothing else they could do for me. Even though this would require a lot of juggling around, I had no choice and I made the appointment. I was not looking forward to the appointment or the day and felt a bit more deflated.

That day we met up with a dear friend, Kasia, and her children for lunch at our favorite park. I felt this would be good for all of us to distract us from the tooth, give us some fresh air, and meet some people we love. Inspired by another kindness in the park event created by my Soulforce partner and friend Marie, my friend's dear son Aku created his own kindness in the park with his own handmade flag and materials. Immediately I felt so much joy seeing the blue/greenish sparkle in his eye to offer this space to us. My children also recognizing the format jumped right in and began to decorate rocks and create flower bouquets with Aku.

My shy 4 year old son decided on his own that he would create some flower bouquets to give to the dentist.

Wow, I thought! That's nice.

The hardness in my heart about the curt dentist slowly got a little softer at that moment. It's ok I thought. The dentist must have just been tired today or having a bad day.

I was so proud of my son for thinking of this idea to give to the dentist, because giving away a flower bouquet is a very hard thing to do for him in general.

It's a simple thing but it is actually quite hard to do to go up to a stranger and give them some flowers and wonder if they are going to receive it and it feels pretty vulnerable. It's hard for me. So I can imagine that it is hard for my pretty shy four-year-old son who prefers to just stay close to me and is a pretty small dude in a world full of grown ups.

Onward we went to the dentist office.

When we arrived I immediately recognized the lady I spoke to on the phone earlier that morning because she still looked pretty upset. I suddenly felt a lot of compassion for her thinking she must've been like that all day. Yes I have been up all night and she probably should not have been so curt to me but I get it now, and I have moved on and she had not. In fact looking around I see that there is a lot of transactional interactions going on and general hectiness in the office.

I gently asked Pranav if we could give one boquet of flowers to this particular lady.

Pranav had 3 bouquets. He decided one would go to his dentist and the other to the assistant who cleans his teeth, but the last one could go to this lady.

He slowly approached the lady. And my son took out the bouquet and he stood there for about two minutes. He didn't say anything and honestly that two minutes felt like a half an hour!!! Finally he slowly took out the bouquet and handed it to the lady.

It was a huge deal for Pranav to do this.

Her reaction was surprise and a little sadness. We could see the tears in her eyes and she just looked at him and said thank you and gave my son a hug. Pranav felt happy. And again I felt deep compassion for this lady. Whatever is going on for her, she is suffering.

Then we went inside the dentist office and we gave it to the dentist and the assistant. They were so excited that they immediately put them in those plastic blue cups dentists have and said they would take them home and that in 45 years of being a dentist no one had given them flowers! They were so excited and touched and just began overwhelming us with joy and laughter! Suddenly the whole energy of the dentist office changed! (and in the process my daugther's issue was addressed!)

Pancho said if you want to be a rebel, be kind.

The dentist office is located in a sweet house. We wanted to go there because of that, but I have noticed that they are losing some of the connection with the patients. They keep asking me to sign a yelp review and push business and maybe they're feeling that need but somehow it feels like the children are not being seen. People are looking pretty frantic at the front desk and there are a million people there all running around. Phone calls are curt. I notice a lot of pretty demanding members of the community and many who are on their phones and may not be really connecting with them.

Kindness is disruptive because for those few minutes the people at the dentist office went into their hearts when they got that bouquet of flowers. They were able to get something from a child without any agenda. It was not a business transaction where we exchange services. Now that they have accessed that feeling of connection, gratitude, and warmth, I wander if they can now go and share that with others. I wonder if it will make them think about they interact with others throughout the day or how the front desk people are treated or interacting with each other. I wonder if there will be more awareness and desire to connect more deeply.

It was also disruptive for my son who proudly told me in the car that he had courage that day. This opportunity to practice taps into his inner reserves which is already so natural for him.

And it was disruptive for me as this tired mama had compassion for someone she wanted to stay mad with. It was an opportunity for me to practice nonviolence in the daily moment of my life.

Dehumanization is at the root cause of violence in the world, and dehumanization begins with disconnection. It begins with not seeing someone and it builds up to overt violence. It begins with the small moments in our lives which then builds up to organizations and structures and society. Maybe some act of violence was disrupted that day--either with me, the front desk lady, or the dentist, or with Pranav. Who knows, but I think it was.

Disruptive kindness can change the world.

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Comments (4)

  • Nandini Iyer wrote ...

    Wow! What a powerful story of the ripples of kindness. Inspires me to remember that empathy and kindness are everything. Thank you to you and your son for sharing!

  • Audrey Lin wrote ...

    Beauuutiful story, Poonam! So sweet to picture your little son gifting flowers at the dentist and shifting the energy with his kindness. And I appreciate the lens you carry all throughout!

  • Marie Thuillier wrote ...

    Here is the prequel to this story: On a cold Wednesday afternoon in Mountain View’s Pioneers park, Aku brought his light and aliveness to our "Kindness in the park" blanket and taught us all humbling lessons on how to engage with joy. Excited and fearless, he painted rocks with colorful images and words, and looked for the next human being who would receive his gifts.He gave flowers to a mom playing with her young baby, a sacred moment which brought tears of tenderness to his mom’s eyes and mine. He gave a rock and flowers to a young man playing with his young son, Oliver, and the two children hugged, once again melting our hearts. Aku gave to the old, the young, the mothers, the fathers, the children, the single passers-by with his whole mind, heart, and body. He gracefully received [...] See full comment.
    Here is the prequel to this story:
    On a cold Wednesday afternoon in Mountain View’s Pioneers park, Aku brought his light and aliveness to our "Kindness in the park" blanket and taught us all humbling lessons on how to engage with joy. Excited and fearless, he painted rocks with colorful images and words, and looked for the next human being who would receive his gifts.He gave flowers to a mom playing with her young baby, a sacred moment which brought tears of tenderness to his mom’s eyes and mine. He gave a rock and flowers to a young man playing with his young son, Oliver, and the two children hugged, once again melting our hearts. Aku gave to the old, the young, the mothers, the fathers, the children, the single passers-by with his whole mind, heart, and body. He gracefully received “No, thank you” twice with a big smile. While we adults wanted to protect him (and ourselves) from a broken heart, he simply came back to the blanket, his smile still radiant, saying “ He did not want it.” When we thought we had learned all we could from him in a period of sixty minutes, Aku blow our minds once more. He made a card that said “Open this and see what’s inside” and inside, he drew a man in a boat (I believe) and wrote “ Breathe the air.” After cracking us open with this simple reminder, he gave the card to a little girl while her mom watched in awe. We just watched him and gave him more flowers and rocks to give away because none of us could do it with such aliveness. As we started wrapping up, Aku said he wanted to take this home and the next day he organized his own “Kindness in the park” spreading more kindness around and into the hearts of friends and strangers alike. Hide full comment.

  • Roshni Shah wrote ...

    Such a beautiful share and EXACTLY the reminder I needed <3 Give Pranav a big hug from Chicago!! (ps. tooth pain is THE worst and you are a rockstar mama because its HARD work caring for someone you love being in so much pain and not being able to take it away. What a beautiful lesson for him to learn the beauty that can be taken from painful experiences.)