It’s a teachable moment with a child. When they say, “I don’t care.” And you respond, ” I do.” “I do care.” I can tell you that it takes them aback. And it catches them off guard. They look at you wide eyed. You see, you have shifted the conversation with the fewest of words. And they didn’t expect it. Your reply makes them stop and wonder. And wonder is good.
Caring is my super power – and maybe yours too. So don’t hide your light under a bushel. Be open about it. Let it shine light. Let it shine wonder. Step into the fray. You have the power to turn around a conversation, a thought, an action of another just by staking your claim – “I care.” It means “You matter to me,” and “What you think and feel matters to me,” and “What happens next matters to me.”
“I don’t care” is often a universal response to feeling hopeless. That is true for children and for adults. (Of course, sometimes “I don’t care” does mean “It is not important to me, so I let it go.” And we need to acknowledge that as a just sentiment.) When you tell someone “I do care,” you extend your hand – and your heart and your mind. You are saying, “You are not alone,” and “We will figure this out,” and “It will be okay.” You are puncturing the balloon of exasperation.
“I do care” is a game changer. It says “I see you.” It says “I acknowledge that you are at a loss for other words….” Often this exchange of words is followed by silence. Sit with it. If you are close to this person, you may offer a hand or a hug. Otherwise, just sit together or stand together. Time is on you side in this one. Let the words and your caring sink in.
By being present in this way, you are bringing hope to another. Conversation or action will eventually follow (maybe soon or maybe down the road), but you have opened the door, even if it’s just a crack. You have gently let your light in. You have engaged another soul and made them feel a little less alone in the world. And that is what caring and hope is all about.