Philosophy, Families, and Kindness

 

Last week, while reading a history book with my son, we saw a sidebar about Confucius stating that he advocated family loyalty and kindness.

This confused my son. He asked about unkindness within families.

I debated what to say.ThoughtBubble

I don’t put rose-colored glasses on my children. The world is not pink.

However, there is only so much information they need. When one of my boys asks me something, there is a split second where my mind quickly determines how to answer by factoring in his chronological age, his emotional age, and his sensitivity. I go from there.

So, with my 8-yr-old, I simply said, “Some families treat each other badly. They are…not very nice to each other.”

To which he cried and said, “Like if you don’t get a birthday card from your parents? Because that would be awful. Cards are a wish for good things and, I don’t know, it means ‘I love you’ and ‘I’m thinking of you’.”

I stared.

He continued, “So ‘unkind’ like if your father never wrote you a card?”

Yes. Just like that.

Can I bottle this innocent beauty? Just for a few more years…

 

Handwritten Notes

A typical note for my kids.

If, for my son, not ever receiving a handwritten note is what it means for family to be cruel,
I’m not going to correct him. Not right now.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

The Places You’ll Go

 

I just returned from vacation during which I witnessed a lot of ugliness.

With all the talk about compassion saturating the blogosphere, I’m still wondering what world my children will live in. I don’t know if anything has changed. ThoughtBubble

I hope much has changed. I hope people who are compassionate have discovered they are not alone. I hope people who are not compassionate read something that helps them act with more kindness.

When I think of compassion, I think of all living things. Of all parts of the world. Of my friends and family.

And, yes, especially my own children.

Although my thoughts reach across the globe, I live here. With my children. While they are no more or less deserving of compassion than others, they are closer to me in all ways. (Also, I am a mother. Our lot can be a wildly protective one.)

As we celebrate Read Across America today, I look at my children’s copies of Oh, the Places You’ll Go. This book describes the world as wonderful and confusing and beautiful and scary. This is all true. But if there is more compassion, I will worry less about what places my children will go.

 

The Places You'll Go

Dr. Seuss Day

 

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Defining Compassion vs. Compassion in Action

 

I am inspired by all the bloggers who posted in support of compassion. It was fascinating to see the different ideas, anecdotes, and topics people wrote about. ThoughtBubble

My #1000speak post, about an experience I had a year ago, reminded me how many times I’ve brought my children to homeless shelters, safehouses, schools, and libraries to donate clothing, toiletries, and books. What, if anything, had they learned from this?

I decided to ask them what compassion meant.

Neither one of them could answer me. They shifted in their seats and looked at the wall and floor with their I-don’t-know-the-answer faces.

Gah! Really? “Think about it.”

My 10-yr-old said, “Uh…love?”

My 8-yr-old said, “Friendship. I think it’s how you feel about a friend.”

Hmm.

I asked them for an example of something compassionate.

My 10-yr-old said, “Helping someone with a math problem if they can’t do it.”

My 8-yr-old answered, “Giving someone a stuffed animal if they’re sick so they feel better.”

They started sharing ideas: donating to homeless shelters, hugging someone if they’re sad, bringing an animal to the vet if it’s hurt…

Both my kids struggled to define the word compassion, but they know how to be compassionate people.

 

Rainbow

You don’t need to be able to define compassion to be compassionate.

 

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Mommy Math

 

Mommy math goes something like this:
(Stick with me. Word problems are wicked fun.)

Question 1: Five appointments need to be made. There is one person making these appointments and one week in which to do it. How many hours are spent trying to find a pen, some scrap paper, and the phone? ThoughtBubble

Did you get it? Awesome. Here’s another one. This time it’s a multiple choice:

Question 2: There are seven days in one week. Three weeks have gone by. How many days is that? (Oh, you’re good.) Fifteen more appointments need to be made, including the five that were not made three weeks ago. Where is the person who was supposed to make these appointments?

A) Helping someone else find his shoes
B) Blowing someone else’s nose
C) Answering work emails
D) Rocking in a corner
E) All of the above

When answering a multiple choice question, it is a fallacy that, should you not know the answer, choose C. What you should do, in a case like this especially, is back away slowly. You never know when someone might spring from a corner.

 

I’m a wee bit overwhelmed at the moment.
And not very good at math.

Sarah Brentyn Parenting Posts

© Peter Le Pard

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.