Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On compassion

Elijah and I were having a conversation about parents doing bad things to their children. I told him about a student whose mother said, "I wish I never had you as a daughter." Elijah considered the statement and asked why the mother would say that, why didn't the mother give the girl up to be adopted and why do parents do bad things to their children???

I explained as best as I could that sometimes parents can't handle their stress, anger, money issues or whatever and take it out on their children. I candidly told him. "sometimes I'm upset you, sometimes I'm upset about other things and may take it out on you. Sometimes, parents do bad things to their kids, though they may not mean to. How do you think that child feels?"

I don't know if he understood. Child abuse, emotional and physical is hard for me to digest; I can't imagine how a seven year makes sense of it.

I gave him kisses and told him to say his prayers. "Dear God, thank you for my mommy and all the things she does for me. Please help that girl's mommy to not say those mean things. Please help that girl. Is there anything you would like to say?"

"Thank you Lord for giving Elijah a good heart. Help him always to care about other people and to love you," through my restrained tears, I added.

Then, of course, I had to explain my tears to this always curious, compassionate child. "I'm crying for the child and I'm crying because you have a good heart, so I'm happy and sad. I love you. Good night."

Not a few minutes later, he was out of bed feeling sad for the child for whom we had just prayed. He might have sought more attention from his doting mother; but nevertheless he'd had a lesson on caring for others, a moment of looking deeply into the situation of our brothers and sisters, (a la Thich Nhat Hanh)---maybe that's the best I can do; explain that we all suffer and we should all show compassion.