Saturday, August 15, 2015

Things I Love About My Kids #2 - Their Generosity (When I Least Expect It And Most Need It)

My kids definitely have their selfish moments, with us their parents and with each other, but they also each have an amazing generosity of spirit.

Alyx's preschool teacher repeatedly told us about Alyx's predilection for helping. If a classmate was upset or worried, she would hug them and talk to them comfortingly. One of her classmate's mothers spoke to me and my husband gratefully about Alyx helping her daughter through some severe separation anxiety. I remember once we were driving home one night after work and I was in a bad mood, and apologized to her for it, and she said, "It's okay, Mommy; you're probably just tired." So many people saying it, it would have come out condescending and dismissive, but she managed to make it reassuring and somehow even at her age, supportive.

Isaac likes to be funny. When his siblings are sick, he'll cheer them up with toddler humor (a sort of Three Stooges-type physical comedy meets Ren & Stimpy-esque potty humor-- just saying the word "butt" or "poop" repeatedly is apparently hysterical).

And Malcolm-- Malcolm is always the first to ask if you're okay if you indicate in any way that you hurt yourself. He kisses boo-boos and offers hugs, and I frequently hear while snuggling, "Mommy, you a sweetheart!" followed by "I give you a hug," followed by "I give you a kiss too!" He also has a perplexing but endearing habit of offering his food to you, one bite at a time, even if you have a serving of the exact same thing in front of you, being actively eaten. And he will occasionally hand me his current favorite toy and tell me that he wants me to "take it to my work." Whether he wants his toy to sight-see around my office, or he just wants me to have his toy with me, I have no idea, but I put them in my sweater pocket and take them to work with me. Both his Octonaut and his favorite purple car have made repeated trips to my office, and whenever I reach into my pocket for something and feel one of them there, I smile.

All three of them love to bring me "presents," which range from baskets of random small toys (usually introduced to me as candy or pastries of some kind) to full eight-course meals, to flowers, to completely made-up things that they imagine I'd like, like a machine that sweeps the floor and makes ice cream. Sometimes these are brought as offerings to placate the Wrath of Mommy, but other times they are just little surprises for no reason at all.

This morning the kids and I happened to be at Costco, and of course Alyx asked for a smoothie. I don't know how standardized the Costco food court menu is, but in our neck of the woods, you can get a mixed-berry smoothie for $1.45. The smoothies aren't great, but they aren't terrible either, and my kids love them. At that price, I just get them each one; it's worth it not to have them fight over who's drinking more or who got "all of it" (the last of it) or who gets to have it in the car (Alyx, no contest). I didn't get any myself, a decision I regretted the moment we got back to the hot van and took a few minutes to get the air conditioning going before strapping in. I distributed smoothies and churros, unloaded the stuff from the bottom of the stroller, folded it, tossed it in the back (wording it like that does not do that 25 pound monster justice), and then collapsed into the driver's seat, engine running (for the AC) but in park and with the parking brake still on.

Hot, sweaty, and exhausted, I asked Alyx if I could have some of her smoothie. She readily agreed and handed it over. That's when the boys came tumbling down from the very back (where their car seats are) with their own smoothies, almost literally falling over each other to offer me their own smoothies. Folks with no kids, if you want to know how we parents end up catching and/or carrying every infection that comes down the pike, it's because Ebeneezer Scrooge himself would be humbled and grateful at the innocent generosity of a small child. Don't get me wrong, my little con artists can wheel and deal with the best of them. But much of the time, I'm reassured in some measure that we as parents must be doing something right, if their knee-jerk reaction to hurt, upset, or depression is more often than not to comfort, compliment, share, or otherwise try to heal and help. And when a three-year-old little boy earnestly holds out his smoothie to you and urges you to have some (the same boy who, under other circumstances, you would not be surprised to see try to stab someone's eye out with the straw if they tried to take any of said smoothie), you don't care that the straw is covered in fuzz and the cup is sticky and probably at least twenty percent of the liquid inside is backwashed and you don't even particularly like these smoothies to begin with. That cup holds pure love.
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