Jada and I are very similar in that we are pretty selfish and me-focused people. As a parent you want your kids to learn compassion, and you want to teach them by setting a good example. I don't feel I do good at this at all. So it was a great lapse for me when I missed a great opportunity to cultivate compassion in Jada's heart, and even worse that I took that opportunity and communicated the opposite of compassion.
Let me explain. At dinnertime, I often go through the day's mail while we're setting the table. Invariably there are direct mailers from any number of charitable organizations. Some I read, some I act on, and the vast majority I toss.
One caught Jada's eye, which was an opportunity to not only give money but also send an encouraging note to mothers in developing countries who were doing the hard juggle of raising a family and making a living amidst crushing poverty. She read the ask letter to herself and then aloud and then again to herself.
I missed the cue that she was interested and, when she set the packet down, I added it to my toss pile and then took it outside to the recycle bin. I did not notice when I returned that she was tearing up. By the time I saw her whimpering I did not make the connection to the mailer, and could not coax out of her why she was crying.
It took the rest of the evening for her to be able to say why, after which I apologized profusely and told her how proud I was that she had taken an interest in this opportunity to be helpful and encouraging to people in need. I felt awful that I had so blown a chance to cultivate consideration in Jada, but took comfort in the fact that God birthing something special in Jada's heart is not derailed by something as trivial as my stupidity and insensitivity. I will do better next time in this area, but more importantly Jada is already doing better in this area.