Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Empahty

I have succeeded as a parent. I figured out how to breastfeed, I learned not to gag on impulse at puke and poo, I have tried new foods and feed (most of the time) my daughter a balanced and nutritious diet. But the real test of parenthood? Teaching EMPATHY.

For a quick sophomore year refresher courtesy of Merriam Webster online: Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this.

On Saturday my husband labored through putting together a porch swing for us to enjoy. As with most “disposable” furniture the craftsmanship isn’t the highest quality and there were missing washers and a screw that broke off in one of the support rods upon tightening. Phillip went in search of replacement parts, Sophie and I sat on the swing, on the porch, before it was set into the overhead support bar. One of the side supports was delicately in place but not fastened. With a shift of our bodies on the swing, the support bar came crashing down into the back of my head. It hurt. I don’t think I swore out in pain but it was visible that I hurt and was in pain. Sophie quickly stopped what she was doing and in her adorable two-year old voice asked “Okay? Okay?” with an inspiring look of concern on her face. “Ouch.” I said rubbing my head. “Okay? Okay?” she asked again. Yes, I was okay. It appears that just as a magical mommy kiss to a child’s hand or knee erases the pain of their fall so does an empathetic “okay” from the mouth of a babe heals our pain too.

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