Take my hand, let's walk
Watch a child’s prized possession roll beneath the refrigerator and be blown away by how deftly you fashion a haphazard mechanized solution from a measuring tape and panicky perseverance. Hear tension in their vocal cords and the quickening of their breath – biological signs of mammalian distress – and you will discover your own capacity for achingly honest empathy in the mere passage of seconds.
Things I have empathetically vocalized for my son in public spaces:
“It’s okay, Alton. Sometimes you just need to poop. And sometimes it makes a mess. I can clean it up. Don’t worry. Sometimes I poop all over the place, accidentally. It happens. Sometimes.”
“I would cry, too. I’m going to cry now, I think.”
“I like playing in fountains in my clothes, too. I understand. We can’t now, as it’s late and nearly bedtime. But tomorrow we will come and jump into the fountain with our clothing on. It will be grand.”
“Pants peeing. Time is of the essence. I dig.”