Almost two years ago Eli and I were at the park with a friend. His friend, a little girl, fell and hurt herself. She started crying and came running to her mom. While her mom was soothing her, I turned to Eli and asked, "Did you say sorry and help her up?" His response was, "No, I didn't do it. She fell on her own." I said, "Yeah, but she fell and got hurt so you need to tell her you are sorry she got hurt and help her." He was utterly confused and indignantly responded, "But it wasn't my fault. I didn't do anything! Why do I have to say 'I'm sorry'?" It was about then that I realized that empathy isn't always a natural response, and particularly in boys. I chuckled at his confusion and tried my best to explain that even though it wasn't his fault and he hadn't caused her tears, he was her friend and as her friend, it was kind to help her up and express his sadness for her when she got hurt.
Two years later, I find myself so pleased and touched at the growth I see in Eli. We were at the park a week ago and the clouds that seemed so unthreatening suddenly opened up and dumped rain on us. My nephew Steven scooped Piper up and ran to the van and Eli followed behind them. I found myself in the unfortunate position of having to slowly crutch my way to the van, all the while getting more drenched as the seconds passed. When I finally got in the van Eli said, "Mom, I felt really sad watching you in the rain. Next time it rains, I won't run ahead, I'll walk with you so you won't have to be the only one getting wet." What a sweet declaration! His sweet expression of concern for me made all those sopping clothes worth it.
Since my surgery Eli's compassion has really shone through. He walks slowly by my side and when we get to the van he opens the door and then patiently waits until I'm in before he closes my door. When ever he hears me coming up or down the stairs he runs over and offers to hold my crutches and waits patiently at the bottom/top of the stairs until I need them. Anything I need Eli cheerfully helps me with. (his brothers are good at this too but I mention Eli in particular because of the difference I've seen in the last few years)
Some of this rehabilitation really stinks. It's a humbling experience on many levels. But one beautiful part of this is that I get to witness the love my children have for me and the compassion that is in their hearts.