Our one-year-old is developing a couple of traits that seem like an odd pair of characteristics for a little boy to form simultaneously. He loves to throw things, which seems quite normal. What is less usual is the level of compassion he shows when someone in his family is hurt or sad.
The boy loves playing catch, minus the part where he catches anything. He has quite a limber arm and throws a ball, or any other convenient object, with a healthy velocity. He is not picky about the projectile or the target.
Meanwhile, he is always ready with a hug whenever his big brother is upset, no matter how ridiculous the cause. But big boys never cry over silly things anyway, right? Toddler Boy kisses boo-boos to make them all better and is never stingy with a pat on the back when he has run through his repertoire of hugs and kisses.
At first blush, these two traits seem as though they would have little overlap in daily life. That is, unless the boy grows to become a baseball pitcher who rushes to the plate to console batters he’s struck out, or a football quarterback who passes out hand-written thank-you notes to receivers who catch his passes.
In reality, these traits are just two sides of the same coin for an indiscriminate living room hurler. Like the other day, when he beaned me, point-blank, with plastic balloon pump. I still have the red mark on my temple to attest to his marksmanship. The moment he realized he’d hurt me, he was all over me with hugs and kisses. It really made for a sweet scene, or I’m assuming it did; my vision was still a little blurry.
He appears to be right-handed, although when he gets on the playground, he throws mulch equally well with both arms. I hope he quits throwing mulch soon, because mulch scatters like birdshot and he might wing kids other than the one he’s aiming for. As an upstanding parent, I’m all for minimizing collateral damage.
The responsible adult in me wants to discourage him from throwing things so much, but the sports-fan father in me wants him to keep his arm loose. You can’t warm up by throwing air. We’ll try to steer him toward tossing various types of balls and away from chucking random bits of nature. We’ll also encourage him to throw toward folks who are ready and willing to catch what he’s pitching. This may take some time.
As he learns to blindside fewer people with heaved objects, he will have less cause to call upon his vast compassion for the injured. I hope this won’t make that trait fade from his character. I admire his compassion and hope he keeps it always, so long as it doesn’t prevent him striking out batters with heartless precision.