Maren Schmidt: Sign of a good-hearted woman |

Maren Schmidt: Sign of a good-hearted woman

Maren Schmidt

The first time I went into Nina Clare’s kitchen, a drawing near her back door surprised me because I recognized it.

It was a drawing of a stylized cat on a piece of slate.

The drawing of the cat looks like one that a child of 7 or 8 might draw.

The cat has only two legs depicted by circles at the front. The tail is thick and curved. The face with a smile looks human – no upside down triangle to make a cat’s nose, though triangular ears, and straight-line whiskers are used.

Over the years, I’ve seen many children’s renditions of cats and had only seen this style of cat one place – in chalk on the garage across from our house in Heidelberg, Germany, during my high school years.

“Where did you get that cat?” I asked Nina Clare.

“It was a gift. It’s the hobo sign for a good-hearted woman,” she said.

During my years in Germany, at least twice a week, a vagabond type of man, looking like he had stepped out of the 1930s, knocked on our front door asking for a plate of food in exchange for some chore, such as sweeping the walkways, weeding a flowerbed, or trimming the hedge.

My mother always put together a plate of food and a little more. How times have changed. Most of us wouldn’t open our doors to a stranger much less give them a plate of food.

Perhaps it is harder to identify a good-hearted woman in today’s world, but good-hearted women are all around us even if we don’t have cat drawings to help us recognize them.

Good-hearted women come in all types of guises.

It’s easy to pick out ones who are cheerful and pretty. We can see their acts of caring, honesty, trust, compassion and healing without much prompting.

For others, we must look more closely. The 80-year-old woman who seems sour on life but funds a college scholarship. The relative who seems to pry into our personal life and make unbecoming remarks but always remembers to send us a birthday card.

The neighbor who is there with a casserole when someone is sick in the house. The co-worker who always has time to listen.

Good-hearted women in different disguises guide us and protect us to adulthood and beyond. Women who are caring, honest, trusting, compassionate and healing are the mothers of the world, whether they’ve given birth.

This week, show your appreciation for a good-hearted woman. She may be a mom, aunt, sister, friend, co-worker, neighbor, store clerk, boss, or a complete stranger.

Take a closer look at the women in your life. You should find signs, as obvious as a hobo’s drawing, of good-hearted women everywhere.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the good-hearted women of the world.

Kids Talk TM is a column dealing with childhood development issues written by Maren Stark Schmidt. Ms. Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has over twenty-five years experience working with children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. She is author of Understanding Montessori: A Guide for Parents. Contact her at or visit Copyright 2009.

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