Photo taken by Christian Wicaksono
I was at the kitchen table, a little groggy and sipping on my first cup of coffee. My wife was comfortably seated on the couch and, like me, was casually perusing her favorite social media site. My son was comfortably sprawled out on the love seat watching cartoons. Bailey, our nine-year old daughter, was the last to come downstairs. I saw her first, but it was my son that first acknowledged her. And it was his subtle, yet powerful gesture, that almost moved me to tears.
“Hey B-e-e-l (Bailey), you can sit with me.”
She noticed that there was no room where he was sitting and that he had a small throw carefully draped over his little body so at first she declined. But he insisted. And then…
He moved a little to the left and made room for her to sit with him.
And she did.
A simple gesture that was as powerful as any I’ve seen in quite a while.
He didn’t have to make room for her. He was just fine the way he was. Yet, he wanted her beside him. Sharing the same space.
Photo taken by Jon Harper
Making room for others is not easy and it does not always make things better. But oftentimes I think it is what makes all the difference in the world.
I work with children everyday that aren’t always accustomed to having someone make room for them. Consequently, they do not learn this skill themselves. They come to school with walls up and a strong sense of self but no knowledge of other. Making room for someone else doesn’t even cross their minds. Furthermore, when someone crosses that line between self and other they lose control. They don’t know how to handle it.
We must teach them the benefits of making room. And in order to do this we must be willing to accept the fact that moving over can be quite uncomfortable for some. Because at first it appears that there is no space. How could there possibly be room for two where there once was just one? Are we creating space?
There will be those that will not readily embrace this. They have had to put up walls just to survive. Moving over, letting someone else in, is not only foreign to them, it puts them at risk. A risk that they have never had to take and may not be ready to take.
I witness this with children all the time. Just last week I had young man was sent to my office for hitting a girl in the face. She wasn’t injured, but it was upsetting. I sat them both down and spoke with them together. He freely admitted to doing what he did and he didn’t really know why he had done it. I allowed them both to share what had happened and then I made a decision that I knew would either be a miserable failure or a mild success.
I told the young lady that I wanted her to look after the boy who had hit her. I was asking a lot of her, but I felt like she was up to the challenge. For the rest of the day and the next few to follow, they were to sit next to each other. An hour or so later when I went to check on them they were sitting side by side, giggling and having a good time. He had decided to make room for her and she for him. And so far it has worked. Next week may be a different story. But for now at least they know it is possible.
Since that beautiful moment this morning my son and daughter have played, argued and played some more. And I am quite certain that this cycle will continue. That’s okay. Because I will always remember the morning my son made the decision that almost went unnoticed. But I saw what he did. And I will never forget it.
He made room.