Very young children express their feelings and observations with such raw honesty and unfiltered emotion, if we truly listen and are willing to hear we can connect our clouded minds to some amazing things.
At my daughter’s play date with one of her closest companions last week a bit of a classic two-year-old confusion erupted. Her friend happily asked her mother to read books to all of us. Then she picked up one of my child’s favorite books, and my child reached for it and started flipping through the pages. Her friend tried to take it back, there was resistance, then frustration, then protest, then crying. Lots of crying and wailing and heart-rending distress ensued.
I watched my daughter’s eyes shoot back and forth to her friend and the two mothers in the room. She wasn’t about to give up her book, but she wasn’t entirely sure what the problem was, either. I saw her struggle to understand, and then by choice join the crying. The somewhat amusing thing was she still didn’t seem to know why her friend was upset, but she was going to cry because her friend was crying.
The words she said were, “Everybody crying together……….everybody crying together…….”
We mothers knew we had to help change the channel quickly, if for no other reason than we were about to start laughing and we didn’t want to throw fuel on the tiny meltdown cases in our care. We whisked them up and went to another room for another activity, and all was well in very short order. (I recall chocolate also was administered.)
When I did some searching on “crying together” it suggested that we cry together fairly easily when we are happy, and not easily but often when grieving a shared loss. I wonder how often we cry together to express compassion.
Compassion (from Latin: “co-suffering”) is a virtue—one in which the emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy (for the suffering of others) are regarded as a part of love itself, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnectedness and humanism—foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood.
Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Forgotten. Perhaps we are born knowing, and we spend a lifetime forgetting.
I’m sure someone with a degree in child development or some related psychology field can explain to me why what I saw was just a toddler tantrum; unfortunately I can’t hear you, I’m too busy listening to a child and making a pledge to be less concerned with why those I care about are upset, and more focused on being present with them when they are.
(The beautiful image used in this post is from Children: The World Affairs Blog Network and the entire post can be viewed at http://children.foreignpolicyblogs.com/page/81/.)