It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Empathy 1, self-sacrifice 0

“And one for you!”

Timmy beams as he cuddles his small brown teddy. Anna has a mid-sized fuscia teddy, and Noah a teeny white one. I can’t find our other bears. Good thing Emily’s not here today.

“We all have teddy bears!” Timmy is delighted.
“Yeah! You have one, and Baby Noah has one, and I have one!”

“What about me?” My voice oozes confused dismay. “Anna has a teddy, and Timmy has a teddy, and Baby Noah has a teddy. Where’s my teddy?”

(What am I up to? Well, it could be I’m fostering awareness of others, or nudging them in the direction of compassion. I might be encouraging generosity, setting up a social game to raise their emotional IQ. I could be doing any or all of those thoroughly noble things, but really? I’m just playing with their heads. You all do it, you know you do.)

If Emily were here, I know what would happen. She would hand me her teddy. Without hesitation. Because Emily is exceptionally, amazingly, genius-level (for a not-quite three-year-old) empathetic. Good thing she has that cruise director streak to keep her from being a total pushover.

Baby Noah is oblivious, of course. He’s busy poking his teddy’s shiny eyes, miles away from the emotional conundrum I’ve just tossed into the room.

“You don’t gots a teddy,” Timmy laughs. Funny, silly Mary! (Emotional conundrum? What emotional conundrum? ‘Oblivious’ must be such an easy way to glide through life…)

Anna is not oblivious. She suffers with the dilemma. Her gray eyes dart from her bear to my empty hands, then at the other childrens’ teddies, and back to my empty hands, her brow wrinkled in concern. She sees the problem. Then her face clears. She has the solution!

“Here, Mary. Here is a bear for you.”

Aw. Isn’t that so sweet? She heard what I said, she understood the problem, she is concerned and wants to resolve the dilemma. Houston, we have empathy!

“Here, Mary. Here is a bear for you.”

Too bad it’s Timmy’s.

November 3, 2008 - Posted by | Anna, Developmental stuff, individuality, socializing, Timmy | , , ,


  1. After spending the weekend babysitting young children (not having any of my own as yet)… I totally saw that coming a mile away (except I thought she’d take Baby Noah’s!!!).

    Timmy was closer. 😀

    Comment by Cindy | November 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. What a character Anna is! What was Timmy’s reaction to that?

    Oblivious, or perhaps mild confusion. He was kind of a beat behind the conversation all the way through; he got the bear back so quickly, I don’t think he ever figured out exactly what had happened.

    Comment by rambleicious | November 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. Ah, but you forgot to score Lateral thinking: 1.

    You and Anna both!

    Comment by Kat | November 3, 2008 | Reply

  4. Can’t type; hysterics.

    LOL, thanks! Laughter wreaks havoc with the fine motor control, no? It’s amazing I can type these posts some days…

    Comment by Merrilee Faber | November 3, 2008 | Reply

  5. Playing with their heads is one of the benefits of the job. Next time one misbehaves tell him/her that the next time they will be defenestrated. Loosly translated it means thrown out the window, but you, of course, will not translate. Always good for some anxiety.

    It is, indeed, and ‘defenestration’! I shall remember that one!

    Comment by jwg | November 3, 2008 | Reply

  6. You know, after twenty years of parenting and two years of reading your blog, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t see that coming.

    But it sure made for a good chuckle. Poor Timmy.

    Comment by Zayna | November 4, 2008 | Reply

  7. Hilarious, Mary!

    Comment by Jamie | November 4, 2008 | Reply

  8. That girl will go far IMO:)

    Comment by juggling mother | November 6, 2008 | Reply

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