And Zeke does this a lot. When he sees that someone is upset, he makes every effort to comfort them. When a kid is on the playground and isn't really part of the main action, Zeke invites him or her to join in the game. He'll introduce himself to whomever is around, show them his toy, chat them up and make them feel included.
Last night Jason talked to his dad on the phone, for the first time in a while. His dad has been suffering from a rare disease for about 5 years, and it has ravaged him. He now has lesions on his brain that have destroyed his equilibrium, so he can't really walk or do any of the activities he used to enjoy. His cognitive function is also suffering -- when you talk to him (as I did the other night, when he called after Jason and the kids were asleep), you can tell that he's not all there, not quite "with it." It's really, really awful.
When Jason called him back last night, I could immediately tell he was having a rough time. They talked for a long time, and when they hung up, Jason sobbed. Sobbed because he was so sad for his father's condition, because he missed him and hadn't seen him for 2 years.
The kids saw their daddy in tears and immediately sprang into action. They went and sat next to him, bringing stuffed animals for him to hold. Josie held his hand and kept kissing it, and said, "Daddy, I love you. It'll be OK." And Zeke stayed by his side, smiling at him and chatting with him and patting his arm. "Daddy, I think you need someone to snuggle you. Would you like me to snuggle you tonight so you're not sad?" They gave him hugs and told him jokes and invited him to color and do puzzles. They stuck by him until he felt better.
Of course I want my children to be smart and successful and good-looking and accomplished. It's fun to see your kids be good at stuff, and to be admired, plus it's obviously easier to go through life when you're attractive and charismatic and talented.
But mostly, I want them to be kind and decent. My most earnest discussions with them are about the importance of being fair, and generous, and just. To stick up for people who are being picked on or who might need some encouragement.
It makes me so thankful that the lessons appear to be sinking in.