Letter to My Grandson xxxxvi: Developing a Moral Compass.

You are growing up in ways that often surprise me. In some of my earlier Letters to you, I have written about you learning to walk, to speak and to gain control of your physical environment.

But now I’m witnessing something else which became obvious in three incidents on the same day.

We were in the Richmond Aquatics Centre and you asked me to explain a sign which said, “Pool Rules and Etiquette.”

I explained that Rules were things things you must do: Not running around pool, not diving into the shallow water. I explained that Etiquette was a French word, describing things you should do: like sharing with others and being kind to them and you could choose to do them or not.

I explained that the little boy who was meant to be playing with you but kept throwing your diving ring so he could always dive for it and you couldn’t, wasn’t sharing.

You answer surprised me. “It’s OK Papa, I got the ring some of the time when I wanted to.”

Later that day, we took you and Matilda out to dinner. When we were walking back to the car, Matilda and Nana were getting ahead of us. You called out for them to wait for us. I told you to run and catch up with them, if you wanted to. You keep holding my hand and said, “I’ll just walk with you, Papa.”

We had arranged for you to have sleep over with us that night. But, during a conversation between your mum and Nana, you heard that your mum was on her own that night. You then decided that you wanted to go home to sleep that night.

You felt you needed to make amends in some way. ” I’ll miss you, Nana and Papa but I miss my mum too.”

We always explain that we always miss you but that it’s okay to miss people. It means that you’re looking forward to seeing them next time and that we would see you tomorrow.

You are developing your moral and ethical compass, that sense of how to relate to the people around you. Not just your mom and dad, Nana and Papa but also towards the stranger you were playing with in the pool.

What is so interesting is that you are developing a sense of responsibility towards those you love but you are also deciding how you will treat people outside your family circle, some of whom may not treat you particularly well.

I was so proud of you that day.

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