ministones

The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Empathy

I was upstairs folding laundry this evening when I heard Evan burst into tears, the serious, heart wrenching kind. Nothing too disastrous seemed to have happened and I could hear Paul downstairs soothing him, so I stayed upstairs and finished what I was doing rather than rushing down to intervene. I was concerned about the intensity of his hysteria, however, and even as I carried piles of clothing to my kids' rooms, I was mentally trying to figure out what might have caused him so much misery.

The answer turned out to be one I never would have guessed. Evan's tears were sparked by an episode of Sesame Street. Grover, it seems, had fallen in his typical pratfall way and Evan had instantly broken into empathetic tears.

Empathy. That's no ministone... that's a milestone.

I had forgotten until this evening Julia at the same age, crying at a Sesame Street episode in which Elmo fell off of a stone wall or at a book in which a little boy had dropped his drink. The stage in her life when she developed empathy was the beginning of a powerful and exciting leap in her cognitive and emotional development. It was, quite simply, when she ceased to be a baby and began to be a person -- a real, interactive, participatory member of this family. And now, here was Evan, on the cusp of the same evolution.

"Mommy, Grover down," Evan kept repeating over and over again when he came upstairs after the program had ended. "Grover uh-oh," he continued to explain as I helped him into his pajamas. And then he burst into tears as I helped him into his crib and left the room. "Grover down," he whispered softly and sadly as I returned to see what was the matter.

I sat down in the glider and took him in my arms to rock him like a baby, noticing as I did so how incredibly large he suddenly seemed to have grown. A lullaby wasn't going to cut it anymore, I suddenly realized. Switching to Plan B, I still rocked my little boy, but instead of soothing him as I would a baby, I explained to him rationally the reasons that I knew that Grover was OK. He stopped crying, comforted by my words, and agreed that it was time to go to sleep. And so I helped him into his crib, kissed him goodnight and tiptoed out of the room, entirely aware of -- and both awed and saddened by -- the fact that I had just kissed my son's babyhood goodbye.

2 Comments:

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

Ah, but you kissed your son's childhood hello...

 
At 9:48 PM, Blogger Rosemary said...

Wow... I remember.

This is what awes me about the power and persistence of a blog.

 

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