Little Princess

I’ll keep this short. That way, you can get back to making coffee, trimming your eyebrows, or scrubbing oil stains off your driveway with a wire brush. So here it is:

Don’t be mean.

This three-word phrase doesn’t come from me. A six-year-old named Lacy offers it to you.

I met Lacy this weekend. When I saw her, she was bald, pale, and she wore pink cowboy boots.

Her father told me that Lacy is in remission. Doctors expect her to make a full recovery, but it’s not smooth sailing yet.

“We’re different people ever since it happened,” her father adds. “We’re treating every day as a gift, you know?”

I lowered myself to Lacy’s eye-level. At the time, she was eating a butterscotch lollipop and reading a magazine upside down. I was hoping to get a few words of wisdom—on the record.

“Lacy,” I said. “Do you have anything you’d like to tell my friends?”

She removed the candy from her mouth and said, “FRIENDS? WHAT FRIENDS? I DON’T SEE THEM!”

“Well, they’re not here.”


“No,” her brother explained. “He’s speaking figuratively.”

“COOL, THEN I’LL SPEAK SPANISH! WATCH!” Lacy began talking in Pig Latin and picking her nose with both thumbs.

“I didn’t know you spoke Spanish,” her brother said.

“Sucker!” said Lacy, then she laughed until she was nearly unconscious.

We got off track a little, but I was eventually able to get a few remarks from Lacy once she stopped digging for gold.

“Lacy,” I said. “Let me put it like this: if you could tell people one important thing, after all you’ve gone through, something super important, what would you tell them?”

She thought long and hard.

“Well,” said the wise girl. “I would say I got a SUPER big booger on my finger, do you wanna see it?”

I gagged.

This pleased her.

“SUCKER!” she shouted and she almost laughed herself into incontinence.

She went on. “I’m only joking, I would tell people, ‘Don’t be mean.’ Miss Julia taught me that.”

Julia was Lacy’s nurse when she was in the hospital. She was Lacy’s favorite non-mean person. Julia stayed late hours with Lacy, gave gifts, and played games. She was a Godsend.

But then, Lacy has been around a lot of non-mean people lately. In fact, she’s been around angels, saints, and cheerleaders.

I should’ve left it at that, but I pressed for more information. I asked if Lacy currently knows any “mean” people.

She pointed to her older brother.

“He’s mean, he hid my Hatchimals and I thought they were lost, but I forgive him, ‘cause I found them.”

Her brother pleads the Fifth, and requests not to be included in this article.

As it happens, I understand his side of the story. He’s twelve. A brother is supposed to add a little espionage-like adventure to his sister’s life.

I accompanied them to their vehicle before bidding them goodbye. Lacy is very slight, sometimes she still wears a surgical masks. She has had two chest infections this year. She needs to gain weight, and she still takes a lot of meds.

Her brother lifted her into his arms and held her like she was the most precious thing he had ever handled. He buckled his sister in with care.

Her father said to me, “You just don’t know what a great girl she is, man.” His eyes turned pink. “You shoulda seen all the nurses, they were like, ‘She’s just the sweetest baby.’”

Ever since then, I have been thinking about all the sweet, non-mean people I have known. People who altered the course of my life.

Davey—who gave me music lessons every Monday and Wednesday until he died. He did this for free because he knew how badly I wanted to learn music.

Martin—who gave me a job laying tile and paid me more than he paid other employees because he knew I needed money.

Math Professor Reynolds—who even though she shouldn’t have, she made sure this adult genius understood everything he needed to pass his finals and didn’t injure himself with protractor.

You—who helped this kid become a writer by reading his words. You didn’t have to do that, but you did. Because you are a non-mean person.

Life is so short. With every few minutes, I get a few minutes poorer than I was before. There’s too little time to be ugly. So in the words of a survivor who is as strong as iron, but frail as lace:

Don’t be mean.

I know I promised this would be quick.



  1. Janie F. - January 22, 2019 7:28 am

    I agree with the little princess wholeheartedly Sean. We shouldn’t be mean! Life is too short to spend it making people miserable. Thank you for sharing these stories with us. They always make me feel and think. You are a blessing in this old world Sean.

  2. jane jones - January 22, 2019 11:31 am

    Always inspired by your stories…..

  3. Cathy Callender - January 22, 2019 12:15 pm

    You just hit another one out of the park!♥️

  4. Sherry - January 22, 2019 12:35 pm

    Prayers for Lacy…thank you!

  5. Susie - January 22, 2019 12:36 pm

    Thank you for a great reminder, Lacy and Sean.

  6. Beth Ann Chiles - January 22, 2019 1:02 pm

    One of my mantras – Be kind. It is free, doesn’t’ cost a thing and can change the world. Thank you for sharing Lacy with us this morning.

  7. Jill - January 22, 2019 1:02 pm

    Sweet Lacy, I within my mind am giving her a big hug. I too, remember those nice to me. Angels. Thank you Sean and Lacy.

  8. Naomi - January 22, 2019 1:05 pm

    I had polio in 1950, the summer I turned 6 years old and spent 3 months in the hospital and crippled children’s clinic for 3 months. Back then, the nurses were mean. I couldn’t have visitors, not even my parents, because back then they didn’t know how contagious polio was so the only interaction I had was with nurses and physical therapists. None of them knew how to interact with young children except by being mean. This had a very negative impact on me regarding how I felt about doctors and nurses. It took many years for me to get over this “trauma”.

    • Micha Abrams - January 30, 2019 9:52 pm

      That’s awful. I’m glad you could finally get over the meanness Naomi.

  9. turtlekid - January 22, 2019 1:07 pm

    From the mouths of babes comes simple truth.

  10. Judy Weldon Cobern - January 22, 2019 1:21 pm

    Thank you, Again. . I wish more Mommas would emphasize that to their babies as they go out the door each morning…. Children can be the cruelest

  11. Bill Henderson - January 22, 2019 1:28 pm

    Just another article that was well worth the time that it took to read. Thanks for writing it.

  12. Nell F. Hamrick - January 22, 2019 2:57 pm

    thanks Sean for this reminder. If Lacy is real, hug her for me.

  13. Dawn Byrd - January 22, 2019 2:59 pm

    Your column is the first thing I read every morning and it always starts my day on a good note! Thanks for being not mean in a world that can be incredibly painful.

  14. HELEN BULLARD - January 22, 2019 3:03 pm

    I finished reading another great story from you this morning. I have my Kelloggs Special K and my coffee cup here with me. I was rather Melancholy as I got to the end of your nice story about Lacy. Don’t be mean is a very good three word saying to carry through the day. Then I got to the end and you said SUCKER.. . I Almost laughed to unconsciousness or the incontinence you mentioned. Thank you for weaving your words into stories that keep us reading your pages everyday. Helen in Ark.

  15. Stephanie Cox - January 22, 2019 3:42 pm

    So beautifully said. Prayers for Lacy and her family.

  16. Liz Watkins - January 22, 2019 3:45 pm

    Awe sweet story! Don’t be mean!! Love it!
    Well the referees were very mean to the Saints!!!
    The whole world knows??????

  17. angelseyes71 - January 22, 2019 4:19 pm

    I save all your emails – put them in a folder with your name on them. I go back and read them if I’m having an especially crummy day, because they remind me to quit whining, life is not nearly as bad as my pity party invitation says it is. I was getting ready to move it, and I almost unsubscribed by accident! Not gonna happen. 🙂 I need your words to lift my spirits, make me smile, belly laugh at times. I’m so glad God gave you the gift and the courage to write. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT stop. Now THAT would just be mean.

  18. Paul J. LeBlanc - January 22, 2019 5:42 pm

    Hi, Sean. I have made a conscious effort to share on social media when I find posts regarding “Kindness”. “Not being mean” is right up there, too. Thanks as always.

  19. Shelton A. - January 22, 2019 5:49 pm

    Great story and message. May God bless the angels and non-mean people in our lives, especially Lacy and her family.

  20. Debbie Britt - January 22, 2019 5:50 pm

    She may be young but she’ s very smart! Those three words cover most situations in life! Don’t be mean!!

  21. SuzanneB - January 22, 2019 6:24 pm

    Unlike you, I have no words to describe how much I love your stories. What a gift you have with words AND people!! You seem to only see the good in them and that is a beautiful thing. I have lost two boys to accidental deaths and many days, your words are the best part of my day. Xoxo

    • theholtgirls - January 23, 2019 7:10 am

      Dear SuzanneB, I am so very sorry for your loss. I pray that you will have at least two “best parts of your day” ~ every day.

  22. Sheila - January 22, 2019 6:27 pm

    God bless little Lacy, her family (even her ornery brother ?), her medical angels and you Sean, just for being you my friend!

  23. Charles L. Scott II - January 22, 2019 6:45 pm

    Absolutely funny , both of you, outstanding prose !

  24. Linda Thacker - January 22, 2019 7:03 pm

    I love this…especially when you “got” me. Be kind for everyone you meet is in a struggle. This little girl knows how to live with a lot of struggle. Thank you for you wonderful words. You string them together well.

  25. Alan - January 22, 2019 8:43 pm

    Wether it’s a funny or sad or a happy story you write about, they are all great. You are a very talented writer. Keep up the great work. I look forward to reading your post each and every day. Thank you!!

  26. Gale Smith - January 22, 2019 9:15 pm

    Always a sucker for a good story….God bless Lacy, and God bless you too, Sean.

  27. Patricia A Schmaltz - January 22, 2019 9:20 pm


  28. Jeanie Crutchfield - January 22, 2019 10:48 pm

    God Bless you and yours. You bring me joy each day.

  29. Bill Heaton - January 23, 2019 1:23 pm

    You’re the only person I know that can write about boogers, keep me reading even though you mention boogers multiple times, and help me to be a better person because of it. It’s a gift – not boogers – you’re storytelling. Lacy rocks, too.

    • Janet Mary Lee - January 23, 2019 5:10 pm

      Amen there, Bill!! Could not have said that any better!! LOL!

  30. Bobby Reeder - January 23, 2019 3:57 pm

    Great lesson for these mean, uncertain times. ❤

  31. Cindy Allen - January 28, 2019 12:13 pm

    Sean, you make my day…every day… thank you for being you and for sharing with us.?

  32. Ronna Davis - February 6, 2019 4:35 am

    As strong as iron but as frail as lace… made me cry. That is me. Keep writing your daily stories. Thank you for doing so. You are nice, and good and I see you and appreciate you.

  33. Faye Pickering - February 21, 2019 8:04 am

    Loved this!! So sweet. So not mean. And at the last word. “Sucker!” I laughed out loud. You do that to me.

  34. Kathryn - February 21, 2019 1:11 pm

    Great column. I immediately fell in love with little Lacy. And, she’s absolutely correct. We could use a lot less meanness in this world.

  35. Carolyn Kelley - February 21, 2019 1:25 pm

    ❤️great article children know best

  36. unkle Kenny - February 21, 2019 2:51 pm

    “You-who helped this kid become a writer by reading his words “.Well that was as easy as helping mom make chicken and noodles . All you had to do was be there and talk ,tell stories,and listen to stories bout our people. It was folklore, or the art of relaying info from one generation to the next . Your pay came in the form or German style thin egg noodles and chicken, and stories shared. Thanks for what you do Sean . uk

  37. Maxine - February 21, 2019 3:11 pm

    Sean, I am a sucker for everything you write. Bringing understanding, compassion and LOVE to all your words.
    God Bless Your Heart and Soul..

  38. Rebecca Kauffman - February 21, 2019 11:51 pm

    Kind is the best thing that we can all be. None of us ever know the lives we can impact with a kind word, gesture, or even a simple smile.

  39. Anna Burnett - February 24, 2019 5:05 pm

    “Don’t be mean.” I never knew how important this was or what a difference it makes until April 21, 2017. That was the day I lost my two year old granddaughter in a car accident. For a long time after that, and still to this day, my emotions were raw. I was experiencing unimaginable hurt and yet, still had to go on with my life. Shop for groceries, go to work, attend family functions, participate in school functions for my children. The effect of even the slightest inconsequential rude remark was exponentially multiplied due to the already existing pain of neverending grief. You truly never know what’s going on with the lady behind the counter at the gas station or the mom sitting next to you at the PTA meeting. So, don’t be mean. It could’ve taken all the strength they had just to walk out their door and face the world. Be sure and make your part of that world kind.

  40. Tammy S. - March 19, 2021 3:18 pm



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