Empathy and Dangling Frogs
Hello from Montana: The following is a comment and the post I commented on. Enjoy
Thank you so much for this post. It really resonated with me; 1) because my grandkids are all so empathic and
have been raised to treat all life with respect 2) because I am writing a new book on bullying and especially cyber-bullying. Many children do not make the connection between their actions and the reactions on others.
Project Chickens before the Eggs – Lesson 108 – Dangling Frogs and empathy
guest post by Wendy Thomas – Simple Thrift
Yesterday at the community pool, some children found a small frog in the grass. One girl proceeded to pick the amphibian up by one of it’s long back legs and dangled it in front of my son’s face trying to frighten him. Other children gathered round in interest.
“Cut it out”, my son angrily said.
I saw this happening and I knew that he meant cut-out-the-hurting-of-the-frog, and not cut-out-the-trying-to-annoy-me. His concern was for the creature being tortured. The girl thinking that she was succeeding in upsetting my son intensified her assault by holding the frog even closer to his face.
I could see that my son was getting more and more frantic as he watched the frog hung upside down struggling desperately to get away from what had it in its grasps. It was pawing the air and violently twisting in its struggle.
“That’s mean,” one of my daughters said. “That’s really mean.”
The girl was not going to let go of the frog, to her, the sport was too much fun.
After waiting a few seconds to see what would happen, I walked over to the group and told them that this was not going to continue. We needed to get the frog safely over the fence and into the nearby grass. I told them all. The girl put the frog down and my daughter gently picking it up in her hands, walked over it to the fence and placing it on the other side where it would be safe from kids and girls who wanted to tease boys.
When we got into the car to go home, my son, a young man of few words simply said “I didn’t like that.”
None of us did.
I’m not saying that my kids are perfect little angels. On occasion they have been known to hit, scratch, and even pull each others’ hair. But what I will say is that when you invite animals (yes, even chickens) into your life something wonderful happens. When those animals are dependent on you for their food, water, and shelter, and when you discover that animals have intelligence and personalities, it makes a difference. A big difference.
You realize that all are connected and all are worthy of respect and empathy. Even the youngest child learns that to harm another, even a lowly frog, is to do injustice to the greater whole. When you invite animals to share in your life, you discover that when someone bigger and stronger harms something smaller and defenseless, it creates damages to everyone.
It’s not a good thing and you don’t like it.
Because of the dogs, cats, gerbils, hermit crabs, and many chickens we have had and continue to have in our lives, my kids have fully embraced that pain and violence to another creature is always wrong and unacceptable.
And that’s something I like.
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