As Ethan becomes more aware of his interactions with other children, we come across more teachable moments to help him think about the wellbeing of people beside himself. Sometimes the brutal honesty of a small child can be a bit comical to those of us who see ourselves as sufficiently refined to think more unselfishly, or at least pretend that we do. An example today was in the sandbox with a girl his age, crying over a possession dispute with a toy: “Do you want her to be sad?” Ethan’s answer: “Yeah.”
The good news is that so far, Ethan has always been willing to listen to reason in these matters. They also provide opportunities to put into concrete terms this word love, which Ethan so often hears, but can’t get his arms around quite as easily as, say fire truck. Especially since Eliana was born, he has been coming to understand that love means caring that someone is not sad, even if it costs him something.
These experiences made even more poignant a simple statement Ethan made to me out of the blue a couple days ago: “Daddy, I love you.”