With great power comes great responsibility.

~Uncle Ben

My child is three: he’s part hug machine and part master manipulator. Okay, he’s pretty much all manipulator; the hugs are just one of many weapons in his arsenal. He’s already adept at divide and conquer, and he wields the appropriately timed “I love you” like he’s been trained in the art.

“I’m sorry, momma. It was an accident,” he says after hurling a toy across the room.

“The cup broke,” he insists. It was definitely not him who did the breaking.

“I don’t want to play with you. I want to play with Dadda,” is now my punishment for insisting on baths and cleaning up toys.

Then come the hugs and “I love you”s in the pleading voice of my three-foot imp, and even though I (usually) stand my ground, my heart is vanquished each and every time.

My son has a super power, and I am sort of proud of his prowess (as frustrating as it often is). He’s just spent the past three years learning that he’s separate from others. He’s learned that he’s his own person, and that there are things outside of his control–that’s really hard.

But with this knowledge, he’s also learned empathy. He’s learned that others have emotions, and I’ve seen him offer genuine kindness in the way of help up or a hand held to his friends in need. I’ve seen him comfort the fallen, laugh in solidarity, and be affected by the anger of a room. He’s learning a new skill, and he’s excelling.

Part of learning involves testing ones new strengths. If others have emotions, how can my son influence those emotions? How much control does he have? It’s his job to test me, and it’s my job to set boundaries and teach him to use his power wisely.

I’m learning. I read. I experiment. I grow. I help him grow. I am still absolutely slayed by each and every hug. Judging by this momma’s smile, I think I might not be the only one.

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