I have a 10 year old daughter. She is everything that I could have ever hoped for in a little girl – she is silly, affectionate, funny, shy, dramatic, brave, beautiful, amazing. But the attribute that I find the most incredible is her empathy. Don’t misunderstand – she can be just as selfish, and self-absorbed as every other child on the planet; she is not a sainted child, but she has an empathetic streak a mile wide.
When she was about 3, I remember her coming into the bathroom, after I had put her to bed. It had been a long, loooooong day. The kind where my one year old son was climbing up the walls (literally), my daughter was exerting her independence by resisting everything I did. The kind of day when, as a stay-at-home mom, I felt bone-crushingly tired. I was soaking in a no-longer-hot bath, when she slid open the bathroom door, and my first instinct was “ugh! Why is she up again?? Why won’t she just go to sleep??” She quietly looked at my face, walked to the edge of the tub and smoothed my hair off of my forehead, and said, in her baby lisp, “It’s hard bein’ Mama sometimes, isn’t it?” and she just looked at me with her big blue eyes, and her wild hair crazy around her little face. I thought “wow. I made this?? This intuitive little being is actually mine?”
Since that night, I have found so many instances of her compassion and love for people. During a snowfall, she saw a man living under an over pass and she asked if we could bring him to our home, since he didn’t have one and bridges aren’t very warm. At school, she befriends kids with special needs, and doesn’t even flinch at the idea of including them in her birthday parties. She has asked if she could make “like, a bunch, you know like FORTY pancakes and put them on plates” and bring them to the homeless camp in our city for Christmas breakfast. She understood when our neighbour’s son, who is older than her, didn’t know how to talk to her, because “it’s just his way, Mama. We just keep being nice to him, and he will be ok”. She was right.
Today, after frustrating day, I picked the kids up from daycare, and with a car full of groceries, conjunctivitis and muscles still achy from my run on Sunday, I let them pick what they wanted for dinner. McDonald’s. As we waited in the drive thru, we noticed a man standing at the edge of the parking lot, with a sign that said “homeless. Hungry. Please help.” I could see in the rear view mirror that my girl was watching to see what he was doing. She didn’t seem anxious, as I had been at her age, with the idea of a homeless man being nearby. She was thoughtful and curious. Then she said “Mama, that man looks hungry, doesn’t he?” I agreed. We have a significant homeless epidemic in our city, and this type of thing, a hungry, dirty-clothed person at a street corner begging. Then she said “did you know you overpaid my teacher for my field trip? She gave me some change. She gave me two dollars and some cents to give you back”. She met my eyes in the rear view mirror and said “you know how you say as long as you have something, you have something to give”?” I said yes, and asked her if she wanted to give him the change. She nodded emphatically and told me the money was in her backpack in the trunk. I parked the car and she jumped out to find the change. A young woman nearby saw what my girl was up to and asked if she would give the man $5 from her as well. She ran straight up to him, no fear, no anxiety, smiled and handed him the money. I could see them talk for just a moment before she ran back to the car. She said that she told him that $7 and some cents should be able to get him some food at McDonald’s, so he wouldn’t be hungry. She smiled to herself, and watched as he rounded the corner. I asked her what the man had said to her, and she said “he said he hoped I had a very very very nice day, and that I was kind, and he said thank you four times”. I asked her if she was proud of herself, and she said she was. She was happy to have helped him, a little bit.
This kid who fights with her brother over inconsequential things (such as yesterday’s argument over who had the World’s Shortest Imaginary Cane… the keyword being imaginary); this kid who delays doing her homework; this kid who will lay on her floor for 3 hours straight, rather than hang up one shirt; this crazy, cool, amazing, magical kid gives me so much hope for the future that I cannot even put it into words.
#momlife #kalidesautelsreads #empathy #kindkids #daughter #mylove