Recently my six-year-old and I were walking into a store when we heard an Ambulance coming up the road. I kept walking until I felt a tug on my coat.
“Dad,” he said to me, “Momma told me that when you hear an ambulance driving up the road you’re supposed to say a poem for the person inside.”
I understood that what his mom actually told him was that he should say a prayer for the person inside, but I really dug the translation (so did his mom when I reported out later on). I didn’t correct him. I simply nodded my head in agreement and support.
Anyway, we stood there for a moment. He let his hand slip from my coat and then rise to his chin, settling in the classic “thinker” pose as he tends to do when he’s deep in thought (the beard is yet to come). I just watched. He was giving it some intensely penetrating attention. He authentically cared about this. I could see on his face that he needed to get it right.
What an interesting piece of the childhood puzzle. We weren’t standing outside of just any store. We were standing outside of 7-11. The big guy stopped cold in his tracks on the way to get a treat. He felt that saying a poem for a person in an ambulance was more important than eating a donut with sprinkles on it. He knew that there was likely someone in need of some positive energy and some healing thoughts, and he was intent on delivering just that before moving on with his life.
After some serious consideration he indicated that the poem was ready to share. In hindsight I might have written it down or recorded it on my phone but it just wasn’t that type of moment. I don’t recall exactly how it went but I remember the sentiment. His poem expressed the hope that healing would happen quickly.
He meant it too. We stood for a moment. I gave his hair of bit of a rustle, expressed my pride and offered some affirmative feedback regarding the practice and his dedication to it, and then we went in for our teat.
Connections to Life, Learning, and Leadership:
This situation marks one of the many times I’ve noticed a child act with genuine compassion, even along a stalled path to treats, celebrations, and/or rewards. Kids are connected to people with extreme purity. They’re connected to those around them as defined by their curious natures. They seek to understand themselves and others from a place of innocence in part because everything is about growth for them, and in part because they’ve not been hardened but skepticism. What if we could harness that innocent curiosity and compassion?
I say we can. Parents and educators, let’s continue to encourage it in our children by taking every opportunity to suggest ways that they can express compassion and support it when they come to it on their own. Let’s also lead one another by allowing children to be our role models as we relearn this incredible skill from them and enforce it within each other and ourselves. Then let’s model it to one another and celebrate it in those we serve. Let’s say poems for one another as often as the idea arises!
Live. Learn. Lead.
Dream Big. Work Hard. Press On.