Goldie’s baptism and confirmation (which are recorded in detail, but in a more private place) were combined with several other children, so, after helping her get dry and dressed from baptism, we entered the Relief Society room to find every chair filled. Without a moment’s hesitation Abe hopped up and offered me his chair. I stuck Jesse (who had been sitting next to Abe) on my lap and had Goldie sit in his chair, and Abe went and stood against the far wall.
Not for the first time I wondered what on earth Mike and I might have done in raising this boy to be so thoughtful and good. I wondered it in a bit of a frantic way because I couldn’t pinpoint or think of any one thing. Did we ever actually tell him how polite it is to offer his chair to someone? Did we ever sit down and teach him to ask, “Anything I can do to help?” when he notices me busy or stressed? Because I don’t think we did, and if I can’t recall how he got to be so kind and polite – how we got him to be that – then how can we repeat those steps with our other sons? How can we turn them out to be such gentleman?
And then, with a sinking feeling, I realized we probably hadn’t done anything. It likely wasn’t Mike and I who “got him to be that” way. And while it filled me with motherly pride and happiness to think (as I’ve really already known) that Abe just came that way: that what he is, who he is and was – long before we got ahold of him – is good and considerate and aware; it worried me to think that I hadn’t magically turned him out that way – that I was still at square one when it came to knowing how to teach and raise my other boys to be polite and thoughtful and helpful and chivalrous – that I didn’t have some magical formula I could just put on repeat.
He seemed about as surprised to have said it as I was to hear it. We both knew it wasn’t his own words, and, after praising him and giving him a small chore, he seemed to rather instantly regret his offer – running off before I could take him up on it too fully. But, in the past day or two, he has repeated his offer a few more times. And each time he has been a little more serious about it. And, while Jesse might not know what has prompted him to ask such a selfless question, I know exactly where those words came from. They came from Abe. They came from Jesse overhearing his older brother say those words many many times while he’s been busily running about the house minding his own little business. They came from him hearing and seeing what we do when someone is busy or stressed or needs a helping hand – and since we all know example is the best teacher, I have been breathing a tremendously grateful sigh of relief as I realize I am not at square one in raising these other boys after all. In fact, I am way ahead of the game because even if I teach them nothing, they have someone pretty amazing to watch and listen to; and that might be all the teaching they will ever need.