Monday, September 28, 2009

Compassion

Little Meems learned about compassion in her Kindergarten class last week. She happily defined it to me as, "like, when someone falls or something, you help them back up and pat them on the back and stuff..."

Poetry, sheer poetry.

A couple days later she wanted me to help her brush her teeth. She's 6, and we have to remind her relatively often that she's old enough to brush her own teeth, get the stool to reach her underwear drawer instead of making one of us come all the way upstairs to do it, button her own shirt, dry herself off after a bath...you get the idea. She loves the idea of growing up; just not so much the reality.

I (standard answer) said no.

"You know Mom, you could have a little compassion."

She said it in a singsong, teasing voice. And while I've no doubt in my mind she was merely flexing her new vocabulary muscles and trying to get her way, still I couldn't help but think about what she said.

Last night, she woke up crying for me. Once in her room, she informed me that she was cold. She wanted me to pull her the blankets over her.

I started to react...and then, like a whisper on the wind..."compassion."

Ignoring her dramatic moaning and groaning (I comfort myself with her imagined Oscar speech where she thanks me for all I've done for her) I arranged her covers, put socks on her chilly feet, rubbed her little cheek, gave her kisses and tucked her in like a burrito.

A little later, still awake, my husband and I heard her making creaky door noises in her room. Quite loudly. My hubby exclaimed "that child has lost her mind."

But I just smiled. I realized that instead of haunted house noises, we could be listening to hysteric, whiny moaning and groaning, had an argument ensued at her request. Instead, she was a happy, warm little girl trying to find a creaky melody.

In that moment, I admitted that she still needs to be babied, just a little bit. Because while she's ready to grow up, she's not ready to be all grown up. But what she also needs is a little more patience (and therefore compassion) with her process of doing so.

Besides, it turns out I'm not ready either.

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