The little boy pointed to a shelf outside his room and said, “Those dolls are really scary.”
I looked up, smiled and answered quickly.
“Oh, those aren’t scary dolls. Those dolls have great stories to tell,” I said. “Molly named that one Norah because Grandma Peggy brought her back from a trip to Norway. And I gave Molly that other one when I came back from a trip to Austria. She sat on a box of really good chocolate candy when she first came. The other one is Raggedy Ann, and she’s been around for ever. Those aren’t scary dolls, they’re really just souvenirs of cool places and happy times.”
As our day was pretty busy, we got on with it. But, the conversation nagged at me because I knew I had got it wrong. So, I brought them up again that night.
“You know those dolls that you told me scared you?” I said.
The little guy nodded warily.
“Well, I’m going to move them because I was wrong.”
I told him that just because I didn’t think something was scary, didn’t mean it couldn’t be scary to someone else.
“One person can’t tell another person how that person feels,” I said.
I think we humans get that wrong pretty often. Just because something doesn’t make us angry, or sad, or hurt, or scared doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect other people that way. We dismiss those feelings because we can’t relate and that isn’t very nice.
So, I moved the dolls into my room.
Because my life is a sitcom, the littler guy saw those dolls sitting in my room and said, “Hey! Why are those dolls in there?”
I told him I had moved them because they scared his brother.
“Them aren’t scary,” he said. “Them are cute. Can I play with them?”
We’re working on grammar here and empathy and all the million other things we all need to pay attention to as we make our way through this old world.
And we’re all, each one of us, learning new things every day.