I’ve always considered myself a fairly kind person. I have my moments where jealousy or competition unfortunately comes into play but for the most part I try to conduct myself from a place of kindness. Today I was humbled by my son’s acts of kindness and shocked by how I almost interfered being concerned that he would be criticized which based on his emotional deficits is never good.
It started off a pretty typical Cooper OCD morning which involved an early morning train ride to any number of New Jersey Transit Morris/Essex line stops. Today’s pick was Morristown. Cooper always wants to be at the very front or the very back of the train, better engine to child relationship. After boarding the train and realizing that the back car was blocked off we doubled back in time to see a woman struggling to get her piggy back luggage off the train. Cooper grabbed her top bag and took some of the weight down the steps. The woman said, “thank you Cooper” and the door closed. “Hey, how did she know my name?” Cooper questioned and then moved on. Later in that same trip as we were surfing from car to car in search of the perfect location an elderly gentleman with what appeared to be some physical limitations was struggling to board the train’s steep steps. Cooper reached down to him to offer a hand to help, the the man seemed genuinely grateful. I realized on both occasions my instinct was to stop Coop as if he were going to cause the opposite reaction and annoy these two individuals. He continued to display good manners the rest of our journey; plenty of please and thank you the rest of our trip and he even made small talk in the bagel shop in Montclair with a woman who let him sit at the table with her family to enjoy his bagel. Later as I thought about these good feelings he experienced I was glad I didn’t inter fear, I was happy he had the opportunity to be rewarded for his kindness (especially his response to the elderly gentleman which is often outside Cooper’s comfort zone).
Later in the day when we were leaving a shop at the Costco we witnessed what appeared to be an injured woman who had been alone surrounded by a few people on cell phones. I defaulted to a quick Hail Mary (being solidly my mother’s daughter), as Doreen kept the girls shepherded toward the car. Coop had made a detour to check on this lady. I came around the corner to gather Cooper up and another lady was guiding him away saying she would be okay. Coop came and reported to us that he was worried because she looked cold and there was a lot of blood coming from her nose. Doreen and I did some instant awkward parenting letting the kids know that if a situation is being attended to best to “stand back and keep the area clear”, “never try to move an injured person”, “if you are the only person around a blanket and call 911 was the best thing to do.” We got in the car and I made the kids do a little prayer, again my default, as the ambulance arrived. As we pulled away cooper rolled down the window and shouted, “I hope you feel better.”
Again, the thought that resonated with me is that in some realm Cooper’s shout out came from such a genuine and honest place I just felt a sense of pride. Could this be the same kid who yells in frustration multiple times a day. Mercilessly teases his sisters until a physical battle ensues. Looses his temper daily at the word “no” or when he feels like he is being scolded? I am often questioning if we are parenting these very special children correctly. Then, I have a day like today where, while not perfect behavior by any stretch of the imagination, our parenting is paying off.