Friday, April 2, 2010

Who's the Most Compassionate?

As part of my teen son’s church confirmation celebration, there was a potluck dinner for all the families involved. At the dinner, one parent from each family told the group what made their child so special. My ex-wife / co-parent spoke about our son, and I was struck by one thing she said:

"Our son is the most compassionate member of the family."

That made me chuckle. My son is a good kid, and where children and divorce are concerned, he's especially doing well. But compassionate? Compassion means you genuinely don’t want others to suffer. The Dalai Lama is compassionate. Mother Teresa was compassionate. My first girlfriend post-divorce was compassionate.

But my son? He’s the kid who will eat a King-Sized Hershey bar in front of his sister and me, and not give us a single bite, even if we’re begging for a nibble. He’s the one who will loudly blow his conch shell over and over again while his sister is studying for a final exam. He’s the one who will borrow my tools to build some cool project in the backyard, then leave those tools outside in the rain for a week before I notice they’re missing.

I reminded him of all that, and told him he wasn’t even close to being most compassionate in our family.

“Fine, then who is?” he asked.

“Me,” I said. “I cook for you guys (and not just homemade hamburgers), pay the mortgage, shop for whatever you need.”

“You’re the parent, you’re supposed to do that. So none of that counts.”

“Well, I’m still pretty nice.”

“You tell me to get off the computer when I’m doing homework so you can do a blog post,” he said. “What’s more important – my education or your blog? And you also tell me to stop enjoying my TV show and make me take out the trash, or clean the bathroom. All those things make me suffer. You’re the opposite of compassionate.”

Interesting arguments, I’ll give him that.

“Okay, then your sister is most compassionate,” I said.

“You mean when she puts me in a headlock and gives me a wedgie for no reason at all?”

That sounded pretty harsh, and not very compassionate. I've said before, I'm not raising a princess. But still.

“Are you sure it was for no reason?” I asked.

“Well, I did eat her Toblerone that she’d been saving since Christmas. But she wasn't eating it. And I was hungry, which means I was suffering. If she was compassionate, she would have been fine with me eating it. In fact, she would have given me another!”

All right, so maybe none of us rate as most compassionate. But with creative arguments like that, my son will make one hell of an attorney some day.

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Concord Carpenter said...

“You tell me to get off the computer when I’m doing homework so you can do a blog post,”....I hear that one too!

Debbie(single;complicated) said...

Ha!!! I think he gets the most creative argument award for sure!! what a great post!! In our family compassion is selective. We are all compassionate towards animals..never letting one go hungry, or suffer (even the bugs..LOL!) BUT, the kids towards each other? well, not so much!!

chocdrop said...

I agree about the creative one. It's always good to hear how kids look at us, the good, the bad, and the funny.

Danielle said...

Yeah, there is not a whole lot of compassion flying around my house either!

soulsearcher said...

lol..thi kid sounds just like me when my parents start to enumerate what they're doing for the family..and the closing line would always be..
"you're supposed to that. you're the parents"

Kat Wilder said...

Interesting timing — my post today is about finding compassion and "the best" in our loved ones (and I offer a challenge to readers thorough an exercise that's a real eye-opener).

And it is funny how our kids think just because we're a parent we're supposed to be ... fill in the blank. I always remind mine: food, clothing, shelter, safety — that's all I have to do, baby!

Keith Wilcox said...

I suppose "most" is relative :-) I think I'm the most compassionate in our family but I'm sure my sons would disagree. Also a matter of perspective.

The Pipster said...

My eldest son (10) is the most compassionate, followed by me, my little one and then BF rounding out the pack.

Mama Llama said...

It's always important to focus on the good in people. But I loved your son's arguments. Very clever.

Be well, Dads.

Anjeny said...

I agree!! He will make a great attorney someday. I'd hire him any day to do my battle in court.

My 16 year old daughter uses that line, "I'm the parent, I'm supposed to do all that so it doesn't count too" on me all the time,

I love this post...just sorry I'm always 300 days later(LOL).

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