There are times when my son can surprise me. I’d always thought that maybe I was doing something wrong since I didn’t understand how to teach child empathy. On one hand, I recognize that toddler behavior requires a certain amount of being self-absorbed… but on the other hand, I knew that child empathy skills would be invaluable when dealing with peers. I just didn’t get how to pass this skill set on.
I started out the day on a rough note: Eudora was screeching into the baby monitor. It was 6:15 am. She stopped, but I couldn’t get back to sleep. Then there were computer issues and a whole host of other things driving me crazy, including kids with runny noses, screaming Eudora, barking dogs, and my phone pinging like crazy. The final straw was when I couldn’t find my keys.
I sat down in the hallway and buried my face in my hands. I was just done. I couldn’t handle anything else. Too many things were going wrong at once and I had zero help since my husband was off to work. I just wanted to cry. Even my sort of break (also known as “preschool”) was going down the tubes.
Norton saw me and wandered down the hall to where I was essentially hiding. He patted me on the head and said, “What’s wrong, Mommy? It’ll be okay.” That little bit of child empathy was what I needed. When I looked up at him, he gave me a hug and some kisses… then some more cuddles. Those cuddles were precisely what I needed. It was just a little bit of calm, quiet affection.
It didn’t resolve everything that had been bothering me. It didn’t make the morning magically straighten out. But what that bit of child empathy did do was that, for just a couple of minutes, I felt better.
Has your child ever surprised you with a bit of unexpected empathy?