My daughter is playing on the floor, creating a terrible mess of toys, without a care in the world. It is then when I think that thought.
I wonder if at some point, every parent thinks that thought. The one where you worry about the sort of world you are bringing your children into—not her mess of toys, but the one we’ve made for her. That sense of fear that you ushered a life into this world, only for them to inherit burdens they never asked for, much less deserved.
There is a classic song, "Batang Bata Ka Pa" by The Apo Hiking Society. Its cascading, meandering melody and thoughtful lyric have allowed it to endure over time, with relevance that most songs fail to possess, a mere one or two years after they are penned. Melancholy to the core, the song seems to convey the very sentiment I’ve been prone to ruminate since I became a father: an open-ended question to the world of, Are you going to treat her right?
Those are the good songs, I say. The ones that you were already singing, you just never had the words or music until a singer on a record gave them to you.
Quarantined. (Photo by Amy)
The past month has been a challenging one for our small family, especially our daughter. She suffered from three different illnesses in three weeks. We were at the hospital at least five times in twelve days. And the episodes culminated in a week-long quarantine for me and Cadence in order to protect pregnant Amy and unborn Dylan from infection. If it was tough on us parents, I’m sure it was more of an ordeal for little Cadence who just turned one recently.
And I couldn’t help but wonder if it was some sort of introduction into an unkind world, an initiation at the hands of a mean frat boy God waiting to take a paddle to an unscarred ass, just to show who’s boss. Welcome to the world, kid—THWAAACK!
Humans worry, and parents are worst of all. And yet, in spite of that, I’ve also been learning what sort of courage children bring, whether they know it or not. For every fear you have, they pull some crazy, carefree antic and somehow it makes you feel like everything will be OK. Their complete abandon in living, and confidence in nature taking care of them models immense faith. Their ability to have fun in spite of sickness shows that these little people are living poems, ironic and unknowingly wise. It’s as though they have found the meaning of life, and are teaching us old people the way to live, like they are privy to some great secret of the universe, but can only communicate it vaguely through coded gibberish.
I’m certain there are many parents in the world who have ached at the suffering of their young ones. Many suffer far more than my family ever has. And the truth is, I don’t have any solutions for either of us. I don’t have the clout to give any advice, especially about such deep matters as human suffering.
All I have is a little girl. She laughed and played through all her sicknesses, only breaking the pattern to whine occasionally. I don’t have immense wisdom. I just have a little bearer of courage, a living example of utmost trust in a being bigger than her. And somehow that serves as answer enough for my life. Somehow it is reassuring.
One day, my little girl will learn that the world does get more complicated and unkind. But I pray she finds someone, maybe her own child, to remind her that although the world is a complicated place, sometimes the big answer is carried by a little girl, playing on the floor right in front of you.
Listen to "Batang Bata Ka Pa" by Apo on YouTube