I am a crybaby. I cry when I read a perfectly worded line in a good book, a nice, emotional reveal in a story, a well-hit note in a song. I cry at weddings and I tear up watching my kids’ school programs. I cry when I listen to a friend’s sad story. I cry when I see an emotional moment in a video.
My little girl Laila, easily tears up, too. Sometimes, we’d watch a movie at home and when an emotional scene comes up, we’d just look at each other and laugh as we wipe our tears.
My eldest daughter, Unna, on the other hand, does not easily get affected. She does not cry at sentimental songs and movies. I was therefore mildly surprised when we watched the DVD of “Les Miserables” and saw Unna cry twice. It wouldn’t have been surprising if it had been Laila who shed tears at the heart-wrenching scenes in the movie but Unna….it was just so not her.
She cried when Jean Valjean went down on his knees in front of the altar, riddled with guilt at the Bishop’s insistence to give him the silver candlesticks along with the other stuff he stole from the church. She cried at Fantine’s “I Dreamed A Dream” scene (and let it be said that I cried copious tears at those scenes, too).
Then I realized that my first-born does cry easily after all. But it does not come from a wellspring of sentimentality. It flows instead from sympathy and from compassion. Sure, she’s not like me and Laila, who cry over everything----from merely being witness to pain and anguish, tenderness, and even from observing the beauty of art in its many forms.
But tearing up from compassion is probably the most honest emotion one can ever feel. And I am glad my kids both have that gift.