Today we took a break from our low energy schlumping, recovery and cleaning to attend the second birthday party of Noah’s neighborhood friend Louis. His parents held a lovely barbecue and their garden was awash in little people. It was nice to socialize and baby watch. But one of this afternoons events will live forever in infamy. Today was the episode with the “neigh neigh.”
Shortly after the party started Louis’s mom hung a piñata. Noah smiled and pointed. “neigh neigh” he exclaimed happily. Before it was time to cut the cake Louis’s mom fetched an aluminum broom handle so the kids could have a go at the piñata – but after just one swing Louis told his Mama to do it. Mark held Noah up to watch as she whacked at the piñata until the head broke off and candy spilled to the floor. “Neigh neigh!” Noah shrieked in a panic. “Neigh neigh!” he cried having watched a horsey being beaten with a stick. “Neigh neigh…neigh neigh” he said in mournful confusion. We all assured him it was okay. “The horse isn’t real,” we said. “It’s a game,” we said. “Have some candy,” we said. But as I took him over to show him the paper horse he started to shake. My sensitive sweet boy. After about 15 minutes we got him to spend a few moments focusing on something other than the “neigh neigh” even if only briefly, and he even had a piece of candy. But I know he’ll be fixated on this “neigh neigh” incident for quite some time and I just hope he doesn’t wake in the night crying about it. I can’t adequately relate how badly I felt for him in that moment. He was SO upset about the horse. His concern was so overwhelming. But I also can’t adequately relate how proud I am to be raising such an empathetic little man. Our world is dreadfully lacking in empathy and I hope as parents we are able to preserve Noah’s willingness to identify with the emotions of another, even if it is just a paper horse.