Almost 3 years have passed since my beautiful wife delivered her first child (my third). a sweet little boy. In that short time he has grown into the happiest little guy I’ve ever seen. He is affectionate, sensitive, very bright, observant, strangely obedient, and of course he has more energy than the sun!
Thinking about how he is developing so well really strikes me and I find myself in awe, daily. Clearly it is not my doing! There are certain circumstances required for a child to reach his potential, such as being guided through life by someone who shows him love, affection and kindness all day, every day. He needs someone to give him firm boundaries, to read to him (in two languages, no less), to explore his world with him, to teach him manners and right from wrong. Someone who places more importance on his well-being than their own personal interests. Someone with the patience to hold him while he cries for hours on end, for seemingly no reason.
That person isn’t me, even though this is my 3rd time around the block. The only person who fits this description is Mamá. She does this without enough sleep, without any experience, and without complaint. One day isn’t enough.
¡Feliz día de las Madres!
Each morning I quietly sneak into the kitchen and grab my lunch bag, trying not to wake the little one. In that lunch bag I find breakfast ready to go, with a heart carefully drawn on the ziplock bag. Sometimes there’s a more direct message of “I love you” written on tin foil, depending on what breakfast is that morning. In fact, most of the wrappings have something written on them, and even the plastic containers have been marked with little messages.
Later in the day when I’m sitting at my desk, hungry, I reach for my lunch bag and find that it also contains a variety of containers all prepared the night before. Sometimes there’s a salad, with things like nuts, peppers, tomatoes, and things I don’t even understand, added in. Inside the salad container there is always a salad dressing waiting in its own little container. Other times I find things like alll of the ingredients needed for real Mexican tacos, including sliced limes, diced onions and cilantro – everything individually packaged so that nothing gets soggy or mixed too soon. Sometimes the tortillas are home-made! That’s not all – I’ve even found baked salmon with rice and green olives waiting for me!
Snacks are always included: sometimes it’s the traditional chocolate chip cookies, or a healthier choice of mixed nuts & berries, or a quick apple or banana. When I am really lucky there are M&Ms, straight from the freezer (because I like them frozen)!
When it is up to me things are very different. My choices are a quick and dirty toast with butter for breakfast and peanut butter & jam sandwiches for lunch. And the cookies – I don’t deny myself the cookies! So, to be treated to this level of consideration and careful preparation is more than I could hope to ask for. And I don’t ask for it – it just happens. The only other time I’ve been so cared for was when my loving mother was taking care of me as an incompetent, unaware, (and possibly thankless) little kid.
This is what my wife does for me each day. I’ve thought about it for some time and I cannot find that point in our marriage where I did something that deserved me such a selfless and loving woman at my side. When I find out what it is I am going to be obligated to write a book about it so that others can experience a relationship as awesome as this one is. But, until then, I will settle for showing her my sincere appreciation, and bragging to everyone at work how awesome my lunches are.
Each of my kids are chatter-boxes, but they’re each completely different in how they chatter and what they chatter about. I like hearing what they have to say about the world around them, and how they perceive it, so I often engage with them about world events. Sometimes I get literally nothing out of them, and other times I get more than I bargained for when they tell me something that I wouldn’t agree with or didn’t see coming. Then there are times when it becomes abundantly clear that they’re listening and processing in those moments of silence.
Over this weekend I had trapped one of them in the car with me as I running her around town. As always, when there is no sibling competing for attention –or air time– the chattering starts up. This is always the best time to jump in and see what kind of thoughts are bouncing around their minds. This time I had Paris on my mind and I wanted to get her take on it.
Of course this event was not on her world news radar as this particular kid is more into gaming than social media, so she had no idea what I was talking about. I simply said that terrorists attacked Paris, in multiple locations, killing more than 100 people. There was some silence after than, in what I thought was a lack of interest, but she started to ask a few questions about who the attackers were and why would they do that. I provided the limited answers that I could, and after a while she started to make more sense than most people in any government.
For the sake of simplicity, and because I am not one known for a perfect memory, I’ll paraphrase what my 12 year old had to say about war:
“I think it’s stupid for people to be so one-side about war. The people they’re killing aren’t the bad guys – they’re just people who have families too. And THOSE people think WE are the bad guys, too. It’s just a point of view – we are all just people. They think we are bad, we think they are bad, but none of that matters. It’s just killing and it’s stupid.”
I should point out that she added angry emphasis her use of the word “stupid,” as she is known to do when things are stupid (in her point of view).
This didn’t really strike me at the time. I was proud of her for thinking like that and I told her that she is absolutely correct. I pointed out that so many people haven’t reached that level of thinking yet. But, since it was just so like her to say that, I didn’t come back to it until I drank a cup of my Facebook news feed this morning.
A friend of mine wrote, “If you feel so strongly about sending people over to other countries to kill people, just go yourself.” Yea, he is right, and after reading that I was reminded of my daughter’s point of view, and so I posted it there as a comment, just to add some strength to the sentiment, and as the day went on I realized that she had a point strong enough to warrant repeating.
To be honest, I’ve had the same train of thought before as I pondered American patriotism vs Canadian patriotism. I’m not a fan of the Canadian military just because I’m Canadian, which I’ve felt is the default American point of view. I’m not a fan of a war just because Canada has sent its military there, either. What would you say war is, if a little kid asked you?
How do you avoid telling the kid that war is when two or more countries can’t agree on something so strongly that they start a big fight where the purpose to destroy their land and kill as many people as needed to make them stop defending themselves? That’s what happens: mass killing and destruction, then total submission. After the submission, then what?
She’s right, it’s just killing and it’s stupid.
Praying for Humanity isn’t going to do a thing. What we need to do is think and act more like lives actually matter.