Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in The Preschool Mommy | Posted on 23-04-2013
Tags: compassion, compassionate, heart, spirit, tender
I spend so much time teaching my children. Reinforcing the basics of manners, guiding the development of imagination, recognition of letters and numbers….the list goes on, as we “Moo,” and count and sing and dance and paint our way through the day.
From they time they wake up, until they go to sleep at night, the world around them is their classroom. For now, Bitzy’s lessons are simple. They range from “Where’s your nose?” to “ICKY,” when pulling her hand from the bathroom garbage (praying she doesn’t lick the toilet handle like DJ once did – horrifying!). I teach her how to stack blocks, how to drink from a straw, how to wave goodbye, and most recently – how to blow her nose. DJ, on the other hand, is learning more complex things about the world around her. Sure, we’re still working on cracking an egg without getting any shell into our bowl – but that’s easy stuff compared to the “heart stuff.”
DJ is probably the most compassionate person that I know. At 3 1/2 years old, her tender spirit is already so mature. She is usually always the first to notice a crying baby, a sad friend, or a lost animal. She selflessly stops whatever she’s doing to ensure that peace and happiness are restored whenever there’s a conflict.
As a result of this, I find myself most often teaching her about feelings. Why someone might feel sad, what can make someone angry, and when things might feel frustrating. I teach her about standing firm, sticking up for herself, and openly talking about how she feels. I want this precious bleeding heart to learn how to keep her most valuable asset protected. I am already bracing myself for her first experience with brokenness – be it from a boy, the death of someone she loves, or the awareness of injustice.
DJ is also your typical Preschooler. She’s super self centered in all the normal ways kids are. The times when she’s expressing compassion are always outnumbered by the times she’s frustrated by things not going her way. She’s busy testing me, trying to find the loophole in every rule, and every routine. I’ve found myself being much more stern with her lately. My voice a bit louder, my words more resolved. It’s not a version of myself that I’m particularly fond of, or even comfortable with.
Last week I was talking with my Dad about one of DJ’s tantrums. I shared with him that each time I raise my voice, or put her in a time-out, I worry that I’m chipping away at her beautiful spirit. I worry that I’m hardening the most tender corners of her soul. My dad asked me, “Does she ever see you cry in those moments of battle with her? What does she do when she sees your tears?” “Yes, sometimes I do break down and cry, and when I do, she immediately comes to my side. She usually hugs me and tries to dry my tears.” “Then her spirit hasn’t been broken. She still has a tender heart. It’s seeded deep within her. It’s who she is.”
And then, I woke up to this – and I knew:
Me: “DJ, what are you doing?”
DJ: “Just getting some money out of my piggy bank.”
Me: “What for? Is there something you want?”
DJ: “Did you know there are some people who don’t even have any money?”
Me: “Yes, I do know that. So, what are you doing?”
DJ: “Getting this for the people who don’t have any money. I’m going to give this to them.”
Me: (all teary-eyed) “How will we find them?”
DJ: “We’ll just drive….”
And with that, she gathered up a ton of change, put it in a huge Ziploc bag with a pink note taped to it. The scribbles are translated to read, “This money is for you. Thinking of you.” It’s in our car, just awaiting the perfect recipient. (I couldn’t help but include a note of my own about this being an unprompted gift from my 3 1/2 year old).
Thinking of you. She scribbled “Thinking of you” onto a note. For a stranger.
This was not a result of any lesson I could’ve ever taught her. This was a result of her infrangible tender heart moving her to take action.
We’re gonna be just fine.