Cultivating Compassion

On the river trail last week.

I’m focusing on empathy with my kids, because it’s the few things I can control, harness, do, in these trying times, and I’ve come to the conclusion we’re decidedly short on it as a country. Annie asks why I’m crying. (Who isn’t crying?) So I tell her. She doesn’t understand all the nuances of what is happening, but she understands love and equality.

“Chase said two boys can’t get married,” she told me a couple months ago. “What did you say?” I asked. “I said they can if they want to, or two girls can get married too,” she shrugged and went on playing. It was no big deal.

She came with me to the Women’s March in Philadelphia. We talked about healthcare in five-year-old terms and how everyone has the right to obtain the care they need. This past year we spoke about race often. And last Saturday we carried a sign that read “Keep your theology off my biology”. I told her that she is in charge of her body: it’s hers and hers only. She will learn the rest in time.

Our conversations with Sam are similar, but geared toward a mischievous three-year-old. He drew on the walls with a red crayon the other day. “Who did this?” I asked. Sam immediately said, “It was me,” looking down. That boy will always own up to anything (along with sharing — he has a cookie and he’ll give you 2/3 of the darn thing). We talked about respecting property, apologizing, and he and Matt cleaned it up together. We complimented him on his elbow grease with the Magic Eraser. He lightened up, smiling the bashfulness away.

We are cultivating compassion in our home.

Literally the most snow we’ve gotten this season…

As we guide them, they are giving me the energy to continue. I pick up Sam at Miss Julie’s Tuesday through Thursday while Annie is in preschool. We get home before Matt and Annie and it’s been the most dazzling 30 minutes in my daily routine. Sam simply helps with dinner. He loves it. He takes interest in each component, from cutting (with a butter knife) the mushrooms, or (trying) to open a can. From grating the cheese for tacos and fetching pasta from the pantry. The highlight so far was a spectacular honey and ginger-glazed salmon with bok choy we tackled last week. It was a new recipe for both of us, and Sam ate his and Annie’s portion with relish (she was age-appropriately disgusted with the whole entree).

And then they go to bed, and I refuel, too. There’s a lot of work to be done.

In Philadelphia last week.