Several years ago, my three year old son asked me the question I will never forget. “Daddy, are you happy?”
And that time, my marriage had completely disintegrated. I wasn’t happy.
Almost silenced, I think I said yes.
But he knew I wasn’t happy. I mean how could he know? Why would he ever ask? Did I father an empathetic child?
How could that be? I wasn’t an empathetic child. I was rational and unemotional.
But even then there were times that I knew other people’s feelings. At least once, I gave advice and then was asked, “How did you know that?”. Another time I gave career advice and a bystander asked, “What did you just do?” A third time the person I spoke to ran away.
The funniest thing was when it happened I wasn’t surprised. It’s what I do. It keeps happening. Maybe I was always like that. Perhaps there really is an empathy gene.