My 2 year old son is quite intuitive, as I’m sure every mother says about their first and only child. But really, he is! He has this high level empathy, this instinct for knowing when others “need a hug”, that I am almost certain he inherited from his father. Corresponding with this empathy, his new favorite question is “Are you okay?”.
Not in that – I’m just being polite, but might not listen for the answer – way that we grown ups ask. If you have ever been asked a question by a two year old, then you know the intensity I would see in his little gray eyes, the insistence in his little high pitched voice, the concern, so evident in his tone and body language. He really wants to know how you are doing. Even if the the only solution he can offer is an embrace from little toddler arms that can’t quite wrap all the way around you yet.
There is much to be learned from the total earnestness of children. Watching my little man grow has taught me what it means to “see” others. I now know what it means to be sincerely curious about where another person is coming from, what made them who they are today. It’s given me a desire to understand what that other person’s needs are, and genuinely ask how I can help. It’s taught me to consciously and actively listen for the answer. And to care when the response is neither happy nor easy to hear.
You may never know what someone you meet along your journey in life is going through. Sometimes a compassionate heart and a listening ear is all that’s needed to help let them know that their presence here on earth is valued. So the next time we ask someone “Are you ok?” or “How are you?”, let us take a page out of the books of kind, caring toddlers everywhere: Ask with sincerity and listen with patience, even if all you have to offer is a hug and a smile.
Peace & Love
Andrea (Inspired by Jasmine)