Allowing Toddlers to Choose Compassion
Kieran half ran, half stumbled down the small hill that separated us from his new favorite place on Earth: the baseball diamond. A ball in one hand, a bat in the other, a Royals hat on his head to shield his eyes from the scorching sun that was slowing baking the field at 100 degrees.
Just before we hit the dirt of the dugout area, we were startled by movement at our feet. We stopped short and stared, confused, at the small robin who flapped her wings but did not flee our approach.
She fluttered frantically again and I realized why she was still on the packed dirt: a piece of grass netting was wrapped around her neck. I whispered some soothing words to the bird and tried to move the netting, but all that did was frighten the bird and Kieran. Kieran, scared of the bird’s panicked flapping and my obvious unease, started to cry.
“What that bird do, mama?”
“She got caught in the net. She doesn’t know how to get out, and she is scared, hot, and tired.”
“Get that net off that bird, mama!”
“Let me see if we have something in the car.” I ran back to the parking lot and scanned the car: nothing. I hated the thought of driving home for something, but I did not want to teach Kieran that we only help when it is convenient (and I couldn’t in good conscience leave the bird anyway). I went back down and asked Kieran if he wanted to go home and get scissors. I explained that we would come back and cut the netting away to try to help the bird.
Without hesitation, Kieran headed for the car.
Instead of driving all the way home, I decided to stop and ask for help at a garage sale a few blocks away. My strange request was met with a smile, and I promised to return the homeowner’s scissors shortly.
When we walked down the hill this time, I picked Kieran up and hurried. The heat and the bird’s struggles were taking their toll, enough that she didn’t put up much of a fight when I bent over and gently scooped her up.
Kieran’s cheeks were wet with tears again, and he asked over and over if the robin was ok.
Once I had the net off, I walked her over to a shaded area and poured some water on the ground and tree next to her. Then Kieran and I talked about taking time to help others. He has continued to talk about the experience since then, often wanting me to “tell me the story!” of saving the robin.
While I’m not certain that the robin met with a lucky end, the experience allowed us to act compassionately and made a lasting impression on Kieran.
What opportunities have you and your child had to show compassion?
Photo credit: BrandyCorc
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"Allowing Toddlers to Choose Compassion"
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