Empathy

This morning was a typical weekday morning.  Busy.  Green tea to make, lunches to pack, breakfast and school clothes for the kids, you know the drill.  As I was finishing packing lunches and getting ready to jump (for two minutes) in the shower, I reminded little A to pull out any forms that needed my signature.  She reviewed her agenda (sounds v. fancy, no?), and exclaimed in horror, “oh no!”.  “What’s up?”, I asked impatiently, ready to brush off anything as not important.

Little A showed me that the agenda listed “cursive writing page” as one of her homeworks.  She told me that she didn’t see the page in her mailbox in school, and so didn’t bring it home with her.  She went on to say that she was sure that she didn’t miss it in her mailbox, and that maybe the kid whose job it was to fill the mailboxes forgot to include the cursive writing page.  “Ok, then it’s not your fault”, I said quickly, ready to get on with my morning.  Little A was quite worried by this point.  “But Mrs. Y will be angry with me if I don’t bring in the page.  She will probably write me a yellow slip for missing homework”, she said, on the verge of tears.  “Well, you should learn to speak up in class, and explain why it’s not your fault”, I said, getting really peeved by this point.  “Or”, I continued ominously, “just be prepared to deal with the yellow slip.”

I walked upstairs in a huff and started ironing my clothes with jaw clenched.  “Seriously, what is the big deal about missing one page of cursive writing in 3rd grade?!”, I told myself with annoyance.  A minute passed.

I heard myself and paused.

You ready for the good stuff? 😉

I paused and considered that it was a big deal because she was the one in that 3rd grade class.  I remembered vividly one day from my own 4th grade days (those ancient times!) — when I forgot to bring an English book to school, and spent the whole day in mild terror waiting for the yelling from the teacher (which never came).  This missing homework meant everything to her. Telling her it’s not a big deal was not going to change a thing.

Ignoring the clock that was a-ticking, I ran downstairs to look for little A.  I found her huddled up miserably on the family room couch.  My heart went out to my little munchkin.  I sat her on my lap, and we cuddled (serious yum!!).  I told her that I understood she was worried about the missing page, and told her about my own misadventure in 4th grade.  I reminded her that Mrs. Y was very kind, especially to her since she was usually soooo responsible.  And if we do need to deal with the yellow slip this one time, we would just do that.

She cheered up right away, and got dressed at express speed (and so did I).  We reached the bus stop with light hearts, and with time to spare for a few riddles, which is one of her favorite things these days.

In that one minute, in the middle of all the morning chaos, I chose empathy with my munchkin over my instinctive frustration.  An all too rare moment, as a parent, when I know I did just right.  Made me soooo happy! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Empathy

    • It is tough to realize in real time that you are standing in that second — that you still have a choice to not lose it. Glad it worked for me that one time, and hope for more consistency in the future. Look forward to your story, Maha!

      • I forgot to write about it. My second one is a picky eater, normally I am fine with it because I was a picky eater myself and I can totally understand that food can be unappetizing to some. But that day, I put in extra efforts to have him have his food, and mid way he started gagging. I so totally lost it and started giving a earful to the poor four year old. This child is sensitive by nature, can’t take no for an answer and he started crying which angered me even more. After 20 seconds he paused and said, “Mama, be nice to me. If I am crying you should take care of me. Mommys take care of babies” – I don’t know hearing it so black and white from my four year old shook me out my immaturity. That moment felt very profound.

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