My 5-year old son loves sports. He is strong, fast, and has great coordination. Even his older siblings admire his athleticism. But he’s not arrogant or boastful about his abilities. In fact, he’s quite humble.
After one of his soccer games, he asked, “Did I do a good job, Daddy?’ His question caught me off guard. He had just scored six goals and helped to prevent the other team from scoring a single point.
“You did a fantastic job,” I said. “I’m proud of you.” He smiled and grabbed for my hand. A little encouragement from dad was all he needed to feel good about his performance on the field.
Although I was pleased with my son’s athletic prowess, I was more proud of the other things he did during the game.
My son is the most compassionate person I know. He goes out of his way to encourage others and to make them happy. When his friends are hurting or sad, my son feels their pain as intensely as they do.
During the game, my son sought every opportunity to get his teammates involved. My son was the best player on the field and he could have easily scored at least a dozen goals. Instead, he stopped, held the ball, and allowed someone else to take the shot.
At first I was confused and wondered why he wasn’t scoring. When I finally figured out that he was just being himself and helping his friends, I chuckled and cheered loudly every time one of his teammates scored.
But what he did next was even more amazing.
As the kids were scrambling for the ball, one of my son’s opponents fell to the ground with an injury. The other kids saw an opportunity to get the ball and took it. While they moved the ball to another part of the field, my son sat next to the injured child and placed his arm around his shoulder. My son waited with the child until the coach came over to take him to the sideline. My son stayed with him until he was safely in his mother’s arms.
All I could say was, “WOW!” I called him over to our side of the field and gave him a pat on the back.
“That was nice of you,” said his mom.
“Yes,” I agreed. “I like how you helped that boy.”
“I’m just being a good sport, Daddy,” he said and ran back on the field.
That day, my son taught me more about compassion and sportsmanship than I could ever teach him.
A version of this article was originally published on my blog at Healthy Perspectives. Click the link to read more of my work.