At 2 years old, you'd think Gracie and Luke would be all about themselves. For the most part, they are, but when it comes to someone getting hurt or sad, Gracie and Luke are among the first on the scene to offer help, hugs, and love.
Gracie is a back-patter. She'll pat your back and say, "It's okay, Momma! It's okay!" She'll offer kisses and hugs or whatever is needed to make you feel better.
Lukie is a little different. He will cock his head to one side and say, "Okay, Momma? Okay?" and if you don't respond right away, he'll say it for you: "Okay, Momma, okay." He may pat your back or your cheek. He'll hold your hand until you feel better.
They are quick to comfort the people they love and, when they see a friend in need, will approach them if they feel safe. When they don't, they'll hold my hand and make mewling sounds in sympathy.
Tonight, we watched the movie Dumbo for the first time. They were facinated by all of the elephants and the other animals. They were very excited and told us the names of the animals they saw:
"Papa, 'ook! 'raffe!" (Giraffe)
They were a little nervous of the lightening in the beginning, but it did not bother them too much.
Cut to the scene when Dumbo's Mommy holds him through the bars of her cage and rocks him in her trunk. I was in tears listening to Baby Mine and thinking about how incredibly awful I would feel if I were kept from my babies. I wasn't facing Gracie at the time, but all of a sudden, I heard a cry and looked over at her. My baby girl was sitting on the couch, clutching her blanket, tears streaming down her face, crying for a little baby elephant who cold not be with his Mommy. I went over to her an picked her up gently, as she was very upset. I took her to my chair and rocked her. It took a lot of reassuring, but eventually, I convinced Gracie that the Mommy (Mrs. Jumbo) would get out soon and that she and Dumbo would be able to play together soon.
While she stopped crying, Gracie did not leave my lap for the rest of the movie. I was stunned at how much my little girl gleaned from watching a movie. There was nothing scary about the scene, but for a little girl and boy who have spent months away from their Daddy and had to leave him in the hospital, it clearly touched her.
The experts say that toddlers don't begin to empathize until closer to 3. Maybe Gracie and Luke are experiencing empathy earlier because of the events of the past year. I don't know which is the case. I just know that my little girl cried for a baby elephant tonight because he could not be with his Mommy.
And it made me very proud to be her Mommy.