Looking for a Land of Empathy and Wonder

71 Comments

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I’d like to live in a land where my son Tucker is one of many, and the many each have a variety of differences. A land in which none of those differences are considered afflictions, special needs, disabilities, or developmental delays. In this land, people’s quirks and differences wouldn’t be noticed.  They wouldn’t be important. Everybody’s uniqueness would be celebrated.

The only thing important in my imagined land is a person’s heart.  His empathy.  His ability to find wonder.  To experience joy while blowing bubbles on a breezy spring day, rather than worrying about a deadline, a job, an overdue bill, or a disease.

A place where every resident is able to abandon her phone and follow her son on his quest to best imitate the flight pattern of an erratic butterfly.  To experience wonder.  Joy.

I’d like to live in a land where skin color is as notable as the color of a person’s socks.  A place where couples who fall in love are automatically a family, regardless of the opinion their neighbors, or their governments hold.

Where a person’s actions towards others is noticed. Appreciated. A place where the cost of her handbag, or her shoes, is not.

I’d like to live in a world where I can take my son to the playground and the fact that he’s playing amazingly well with an unknown younger friend is what’s noticed rather than the fact that his new, younger friend is miles above him in language.  In knowing how to play.  In, well, everything.

I’d like for all of us to simply bask over the joy seen on two boy’s faces bonding over finding an abandoned ball.

I’d like for all of us to simply be.

Can you imagine?

I can.

I see that joy and wonder on my little boy’s face every single day.  He sees magic.

He makes me want to get back to seeing the magic.

Because this land of mine would also allow me to see my son’s recent school photo and not analyze it.  It would hold me in the warm arms of the belly-laugh moment my husband and I shared when we first saw it, and thought, “Oh my…he looks so mischievous!  So grown up! So beautiful.”

Instead, I studied that photo late at night, alone, and wondered whether his school photo looks like autism.  Whether my little boy’s beautiful eyes all squinted up as if he’s hiding something meant, instead, that he was at an “I need a break” point.  That he may have been intimidated or overwhelmed and didn’t have the words to say so. That he may have been frightened.

I’d like to live in a land where empathy and wonder rule.

Where our differences don’t.

You know what the best part is?  This land exists.

It exists right now. It exists in you.  We, my friends, have the power to transform our worlds, our wanna-be lands, and our homes into places filled with empathy and wonder.

It starts with you.  With me.  With our children.  It starts with how we choose to spend the next five minutes. The next hour. The next year. The next rest-of-our-lifetimes.

It starts tomorrow, when we’re stressed, overwhelmed, busy, and annoyed.  Take a moment and don’t look away.  Attempt eye contact with the boy who makes you uncomfortable.  Say hi.  Give his tired mom a smile.

Give her a smile that conveys the message that we’re all in this together.

Your smile may just be the one thing, today, that lets her know that there truly is empathy and wonder.

And it’s Everywhere.

Comments

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  1. 1

    says

    I’m so glad to see this post here on Scary Mommy, where it will gain exposure and make people think. I agree that the land of empathy and wonder is everywhere and within each of us to perpetuate. I’ve discovered through my own parenting and life challenges that empathy does not come naturally to all…sometimes it’s not until a person experiences their own difficulties or trauma that they realize they too need empathy. Once they receive it, they’ll know how to give it back. But, I also believe that through sharing stories like yours, we can build that caring land for our children and ourselves that we all desire.

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    • 2

      says

      Emily,
      I agree that empathy doesn’t necessarily come naturally to everybody. But it starts somewhere right? I’ve really changed a lot regarding how I look at people since having Tucker. I try to never look away any longer, even when it’s not always comfortable. You’re right – once we receive empathy, it’s much easier to give it to others. Thanks so much!

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  2. 3

    Jen @ Ginger Guide says

    This is beautifully written. I like this place you speak of and the world would be a better place if we could reach a point where we do celebrate our differences and family was family, no matter what.

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  3. 5

    Janine Huldie says

    Loved this when I first read it Kristi and a=seriously so happy you got to share this here on Scray Mommy today. Way to go and am hopeful that your vision of the world we live in would happen someday soon!

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  4. 12

    don says

    I’d take umbrage with calling Kristi semi-lapsed in anything. She’s fully lapsed, I’m sure.

    Still, I love this post and I love it when a stranger smiles at me or smiles back when I do it first. All the kids that I’ve met in my neighborhood are so sweet and supportive of each other. I don’t know at what point we lose them to the stress of life, but if we could fix that, the world most certainly could be a better place!

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  5. 20

    says

    A smile can truly make someones day. We are all in this world together and when we learn to celebrate our difference instead of judging them it can be a beautiful world.
    Thank you for a beautifully write post Kristi.
    Debbie

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  6. 24

    Sabrina (the other one, not the mommy yet) says

    It’s amazing what a smile can do. It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having, a smile from a child or even an adult stranger who somehow just sensed that I needed it, can completely alter my mood. And, I can’t help but pay it forward.

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  7. 26

    Laura says

    My kids may be grown (with nary a grandchild in sight, alas), but I can still smile at children I see. And it’s quite amazing how often a smile at a child brings a smile not only to the child’s face but to their parent’s as well. Just a moment of human contact in the midst of a busy, faceless society. Yes, we need more empathy, it works wonders for all of us!

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  8. 36

    Jeannine Walker says

    Thank you for sharing! My favorite part “Give her a smile that conveys the message that we’re all in this together.” Because we have all needed this on those tough days and it is always appreciated and reminds me that I am not alone.

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    • 37

      says

      Jeannine,
      There have been so many times that I’ve felt so alone. And the thing is – I’m not. There are so many people, parents, non-parents, parents of special needs kids and parents of typical ones…who just need a smile. A reminder that this world is beautiful and amazing and so are the different people who live on it. Thanks much!

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