Often my posts seem to focus on the tough parenting moments, interspersed at times with clever or funny things that come from my kids' mouths or at least, things that strike me as funny or clever. I realize that publicly (as public as this blog may be with just a few readers), I don't tend to write about the times when my kids amaze me with their kindness, gentleness, goodness or compassion. I don't know if I avoid using those moments as material for writing so not to appear bragging, or simply, perhaps it's the opposite moments, the ones that cause me to grind my teeth in the back to stubs, that push me to the keyboard in attempt at some sort of catharsis or at least, dull the pain.
Tonight while instructing the guys (over and over) to get dressed in their pajamas, S was amazed when P called him out on spinning his top around like a lasso when P didn't even appear to be looking at him. P explained it was because parents have superpowers, an idea S quickly rebuffed. P insisted, and when S wanted details, P ironically began to list the things we parents [wish we] can do.
"Our superpowers include the ability to make our kids eat vegetables and fruit at every meal, the ability to make a toddler stop pooping in a diaper and use the toilet, the power to have our kids put on their shoes and coats quickly and leave the house in just minutes..."
"And to care," C spoke up, not quite catching on to P's sarcasm. "You forgot the superpower that parents have to make their kids care. It's the most important one out there."
Imagine having the superpower to make someone care? We can model kindness and compassion. We can talk about the ways we treat others and read books to our children that reflect those values. Ultimately, however, I wonder if teaching a kid to be compassionate and show empathy for others falls into the 'eating your veggies' category. We all tell our kids that they should eat their vegetables, and some kids love those string beans. Some kids will deign to take a bite or two if there is enough incentive or they're simply pleasers. And some kids just refuse, outright refuse, to let anything naturally green colored past their lips.
Yet, while we are constantly talking with our kids about good behavior, polite manners, kind action, I realize that empathy and compassion is something that both my older fellows have already practiced. That's something I can forget when I get wrapped up in their melty moments, cheeky talk, and difficult phases. However, every once in awhile they do something so utterly kind and naturally empathetic without any prompting, it stops me in my tracks. And there was that moment this weekend. At a picnic for new students at P's graduate school, C and S met the daughter of an incoming student. Eight years old, she is deaf and has autism. But without any questions and with no fear or backing away or comments that she looked or acted differently, C went to befriend her. And when learning that she could not hear his questions, he raised his skinny little hand and waved to her and started to sign his name with imperfect but earnest finger spelling. And S followed behind, saying hello with his hands and smile, and he, too, stretched his fingers to share his name.