RSS Blog Archives Get My Newsletter


This Wouldn’t Have Happened with a Swingline

Everyone dreams about qualities they’d like their kids to possess before actually having them. I came across one I can only hope future Pensingers inherit from a recessive gene or weird mutation. (Only I don’t think character traits work that way.)

Yesterday, I was hanging out with my little band of 2nd & 3rd grade misfits at church. They are all generally nice to each other. Still, there’s one boy—I’ll call him B—who usually sits on the fringe of the circle. I think he’s mostly content to be in his own world, but I’m extra careful to make sure he’s included.

The craft yesterday involved a slip of paper, a crown, and staples. I’m normally good with stapling. Unless it’s a mini-stapler and I’m down to three staples. Before the craft was over, B’s name was called for pickup. I told him to wait just a sec, confident I’d be able to send him home with a completed crown. He waited patiently (a good thing considering patience was our topic).

My ogre fingers could not get the staples to stand upright and I knew if I didn’t send him on his way right then, I would impede the entire parent pick-up system. My heart sank because I worried he’d feel like I didn’t care about him. I’d sent every other kid before him down the hall with their staples in place.

“I’m so sorry buddy,” I said. “You’ll have to see if your parents can staple it for you when you get home.”

He nodded and then started to make his way down the hall. Halfway down, he turned and said, “It’s okay.” His sweet little face was filled with the empathy of an old soul. “I have problems with staples sometimes too.”

I was so incredulous I don’t even remember my verbal response. How in the world does a rising 3rd grader possess the ability to empathize?! I don’t think it can be taught. It seems to be simply inherent in some. My guess is he has the natural tendency, which may be further cultivated by what he witnesses at home.

Regardless of the particulars, little B’s empathy floored me. I had to restrain myself from running after him and squishing his small frame in a big hug. Last night I told Jerimiah what happened with B and we both agree: we hope this is one of the inherent qualities our future kids possess.

Share This:TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+LinkedInEmail
  1. Oh, that’s such a sweet story. I love it when kids throw out something so profound, so casually. 🙂

  2. Oh, that the Lord continue to minister to that sweet fella and nourish that ability as his life unfolds. May he use folks like you to be iron sharpening iron even at this tender age.

  3. Carolyn Trucano

    My heart aches for situations like that, because I want to take my fingers and with brute force MAKE those stubborn staples close (the result is bloody fingers, of course, but I just want it to work, especially for the child who sits on the edge of the circle). Truly, this child was endowed with empathy, which is a lesson for all of us.

  4. It’s amazing how much empathy kids naturally possess. One can only hope they manage to hold onto it as they grow older.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *