Tag Archives: empathy

Kindness goes a long way

Trying to load the kids into the car this afternoon; Arik, as usual, is being a right little shit about it. I had opened his door and very carefully rested it against the mirror of the car beside us (this was actually a conscious decision, as it’ll do significantly less damage that way if my little punk manages to get a leg free enough to kick the door…) As I’m struggling with him, a guy comes walking up and is clearly the owner of the car beside us.

I say to him (in Norwegian), rather cheerily despite the on-going battle with my son, “Oh, sorry, you’re probably looking to get into your car, aren’t you? One sec!”

He snarks back at me, “I really don’t appreciate you doing that to my car!”

I was confused for a moment and then realised he was referring to my car door resting against the back of his mirror. To be fair, if I were in his shoes, I’d probably have been irritated, too. But I was doing the best I could with a kicking, writhing, (screaming-at-the-top-of-his-lungs) toddler.

I sighed and muttered that I was being very careful, moved the door out a bit (praying that Arik wouldn’t manage a successful kick) and then continued loading the tyrant. I finally get Arik in (and the turd has the audacity to give me an impish grin, as if we’ve been buds this whole time) and move to get Linnea in the car next.

The guy starts walking back towards me and I turn warily, expecting I’m about to get reamed out.

“Sorry I was rude to you. I can see you’re doing the best you can and you didn’t do anything to my car.”

Huh? I looked up at him, surprised, and then started to stammer out an explanation as to why any part of my vehicle was touching any part of his vehicle…

“It’s ok. I shouldn’t have gotten mad at you.”

I thanked him and told him I really appreciated him saying that and then went back to loading my other munchkin, trying not to cry. Go figure, I didn’t cry when he’s being unpleasant and then he takes pity on the struggling mom and I’m suddenly not only struggling with monkey kids, I’m struggling with potential water works, too.

I did appreciate it though. It was kind of him to cut me some slack and show some empathy. Many of us – myself included – are quick to judge and perhaps not so quick to admit when we overreact. I didn’t damage his vehicle, but I can understand why he wasn’t pleased to see my car door bumped up against his. And who knows what else had happened in his day up to that point? He could easily have gotten into his car and driven away without saying another word to me. Maybe he would’ve felt a bit regretful at snapping at me, but that wouldn’t have helped me much. Or my kids, who likely would’ve had to deal with a snippy mother for the rest of the evening.

Kindness goes a long way.

Empathy, she’s got it

It was obvious from an early age that Linnea is an empathetic person. We’ve tried to foster that natural tendency, but it definitely has more to do with her own personality than anything we’ve done. Even before she was verbal, if she noticed someone was upset, she’d do what she could to comfort them; laying her little head on a needy shoulder, gentle little hand pats and snuggles offered freely. Yet even with the knowledge that she’s like this, she still manages to take me by surprise with just how empathetic she truly is.

This evening while I was getting her ready for bed, I was seriously struggling with her hair. She’d requested a French braid and it just wasn’t working for me. I was tired and sweaty after dealing with double bath time since her little brother had pooped in the tub… again (he’s decided this is an excellent game), so that didn’t help my mood. After my third attempt was getting me nowhere, I threw in the towel, muttering a curse word as I pulled out the disaster of a French braid and informed Linnea that, “Normal braid is all I can manage tonight.” She looked at me calmly in the mirror as I disgustedly wiped sweat from my forehead and upper lip, glaring at the offending hair. “Ok, Mum.”

I felt guilty and more than a little immature. “I’m not mad at you, bug. I’m just tired and I can’t seem to get the braid to work, so it’s annoying me. But I’m not annoyed with you!”

“I know, Mum. It’s ok.”

So I set to work, pulling her hair into a ‘normal’ braid (that still didn’t look all that great, but would have to do). As I was finishing up, Linnea said to me, “Mum, you’re doing a good job.” Oh. I looked up at the mirror and those intelligent eyes watching me through it. She offered me a smile that showed she meant it, every word of it.

“Thank you, baby.” I smiled at her and tried to will my eyes not to well up. Seriously, how did I get so lucky?

After a moment, I said to her, “You know, Linnea, it’s things like that that make me so proud of you. You are such a nice person, a kind person. That was a very nice thing you just said to me and it made me feel really good. You make me so proud!”

And she does. Every, single day, that kiddo makes me proud. Sure, she does some not-so-great things on occasion; she’s human. And sometimes, she drives me more than slightly batty (not that I need help with that…) but more often than anything else, she makes me glad I became a mom. Because even if I do nothing else to make this world a better place, it’s better because she’s in it.