Sunday, December 9, 2007

Pride and compassion

As a parent, you "get" that you are going to feel pride. You learn it's an ever-evolving depth of scale with each new feat. I remember screaming out loud when my daughter first laughed at nine months old. I recall doing a triple fist-pump when she first walked to me the week before her first birthday. The day she said "mama" my heart tripled in size in two syllables.

What I didn't truly anticipate was the pride I would feel when I witnessed the capacity of her heart. Sure, she had cried with honest remorse after hurting "fatty" our cat. Sure, she had given numerous hugs on cue when I was there to lead her to it. But today....she owned her own compassion.

The gym I belong to has an elevated track that opens out onto the actual basketball courts. All the elliptical machines, and weight training devices are on this second floor. During certain hours the children from the on-site day care are released to play and run. Every few visits I actually walk over to the ledge to see if she is in there. More often than not, I recognize her high-pitched screech and laughter over the music and clanking weights.

Today I watched her. I always find it so inspiring to watch my child play when she can't see me. The joy, and innocence in her trying new things, or discovering new skills sets. She was chasing a gaggle of older children ( 3 and 4 yr olds) from one side of the court to the other with no aim or direction to the game, except to scream and stomp.

Off to the side a 4 year old boy broke into tears. She didn't notice at first, but then stopped and walked to him. She approached him concerned and fast. She even bent down to meet his eyes with hers. I only saw the back of her head, but it tilted as if to say: "whats wrong?". I was frozen in awe. She backed away, and I thought she was surely going to run away as fast as she came to him, join the girls again. But she didn't.

Instead, she spun around and sat her tiny bottom about six inches from his. He continued to cry, and I was disappointed for an instant that I thought she would lose interest. Her face stayed focused on him. I saw her lips moving, while he stared blankly out at the other children. I know her vocabulary is rather limited; so my brain raced trying to guess what she could be saying...that she would be saying anything? Using both hands on each side of her hips, she lifted herself and dropped again, closer to him this time, touching his side. My eyes teared almost as if in exchange for his tears.

Seconds later, he was fine. He stood up. She watched, then followed. The moment was gone, so easily missed if I weren't there to see it. I felt the strongest sensation of pride to date. Stronger than any feeling I had generated by my own accomplishments. She showed compassion, not when forced or taught to. No,I am overwhelmed with pride because...

She showed compassion when she thought no one was watching.

No comments: