Making Light of Things

April 2012 Archives


Caleb lies awake in his room, Faith watching over him while I take a breather from night duty. We’ve just sponged him with tepid water in an attempt to cool the fever. He endures the procedure, though he clearly hates it, muttering soft “I don’t want”s, his voice quivering as he shivers.

I’m barely able to hold myself together at this point, my heart shattering in a thousand pieces, crying out in anguished prayer for the suffering to be taken away from him. My faith flickers in the wind, believing that God knows what He’s doing, even though I do not.

These moments are real. Real in that they strip away the games we play; the facades we navigate as adults in a world we constructed. It is these moments we are left with nothing except a stark, pure, unadulterated look at life and its meaning, where thoughts find their utterance in prayer. Life in its raw form.

This is the real reason why we need children in our lives. Forget the economic argument or talk of lineage and continuance. There is nothing on earth more worthy of our protection, our most unselfish hopes and our self-sacrificial love than our children. In our very hearts it matters not if the children are mine or yours; they are ours, and the deeply engrained need to protect them from harm and nurture them to fullness is a universal one that unites us.

We live in a society steeped in the culture of competition, and its poison is seen all around us. It has tainted the value of hard work, and it has introduced many cracks in our society. Hierarchies such as social status, income levels have clouded our judgement; discrimination and xenophobia have become commonplace behaviours.

20 minutes ago as I curled up behind my boy, holding his hands and feet to keep them warm, nothing else mattered. As I left the room to catch some sleep he waved his little hand and managed a “bye bye”, his voice still trembling.

Seven and Four

My dearest Anne and Caleb,

I had meant to write this a few days ago, but erased the draft I had because I couldn’t quite find the right words to describe what I felt watching the two of you sleep, hours after your birthdays.

We’re all in a different phase of life now. The two of you are no longer babies.

My beautiful Anne, my daughter. I know that it is not easy going to school. I feel a pang reach into my deepest of hearts when you sometimes weep at night, not wanting to face the cold hard reality of school the next day. You say there are too many rules, and that you fear unintentionally breaking any one of them. I wish I could tell you to disregard them, because life isn’t made up of silly rules; and more importantly, life shouldn’t be lived in fear. School, above all, should be the one place you ought to be able to make mistakes safely, and experiment with solutions bound only by your imagination.

I sound like those parents I used to loathe when I was working at the Ministry of Education: the ones who thought they knew better than the system. Like them, I believe I do. Because you are mine, and the world has never seen anyone like you. I know good parenting is learning how to let go, and I pray I’ll have the wisdom to do so when the time comes.

For now, your hand grasps mine while you sleep. You tell me that it helps you fall asleep, but you won’t mind if I need my hand to type this post. I clasp your hand in mine. Times like these are too precious.

My wonderful Caleb, my son. You refuse to be thought of as more little than your sister, and your little legs propel you so quickly forward, out of toddlerhood and now you’re a boy. There’s a certain sweetness about you - the way you tilt your head back and forth, the goofy grin and how you trundle about. I know it won’t be long before your male pride prohibits me from kissing you, but till then, your mother and I cannot resist planting our lips on your face, our hearts holding on to the last vestiges of baby that slips through the sieve of time and memory.

My children, it is customary to pass you some words of wisdom on your birthdays, but any honest parent would confess that we learn more from our children than they’ll ever learn from us. Living with the two of you, watching you grow from infants to the amazing kids you now are, I’ve learned a great deal about life.

As you grow in your consciousness and become more aware of the flaws of your parents, the lesson for me is this: it is imperative that I live an example; the best gift I can give you is that my life be proof of the things I implore to be true, because anything less is hypocrisy. And you, my dear children, deserve the best parents we can be. Even if we fear you may end up hating us for it.

If we believe that life is more than the acquisition of material things, we ought to live it. If we believe that God will supply our needs, we ought not to worry so much, not to safeguard so much, we ought to trust more. We might have less, but we will have more.

You deserve parents that love God with all their hearts, and prove that He reigns over us all, and that there is peace and joy in unconditional submission unto Him.

Your mother and I want so much to be those parents for you. It frightens us, and has been the source of tears. We’ll be brave for you.

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