Sunday, September 05, 2010

Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

I just put Inara to bed.

Every parent believes his or her child is special. I realize that there's a danger in this way of thinking; far too often it plants a demon seed which grows into an insufferable sense of entitlement as the years go by in a young life. We've watched the effect of this brand of parenting on a massive scale -- with children serving as little more than the reflection of their mothers' and fathers' own narcissism -- as it reached a point of critical mass over the past decade. We've been forced to live with the consequences of it, and we've come to despise it.

But all of that being said, I have no choice but to believe -- after all I've seen and felt and come to understand -- that there is something different about my daughter.

It's not simply that she's learning at a truly accelerated pace; that she counts higher or spells better or comprehends concepts she shouldn't be able to at the age of 25 months or engages in two-dimensional thinking; there are plenty of parents who can make that claim. No, what Inara possesses and exhibits that never ceases to leave me astonished -- and occasionally shaken to my very soul -- is empathy. Humanity. She's not just an incredibly sweet little girl; she seems to have a genuine understanding, on a primal level, of the way those around her are feeling. She knows when people are happy, or sad, or angry, or excited, or lost. She feels it. Maybe this gift is something many children have, and I've just never been around one long enough to see it for myself. Maybe it's perfectly natural for a father to convince himself of these things when it comes to his child.


But she's taught me that sometimes I need to shut my brain off, to stop spending my life trying to peek behind the curtain to see how the magic trick is done. And when I do this, I know I can't come up with any other explanation for Inara's rare and inexplicable compassion for the world around her than it being just that: some form of beautiful magic.

Earlier today, she and I went to a place called Butterfly World. While she was wandering the aviary, laughing out loud as butterflies danced all around her, she noticed a man standing alone. She looked down, suddenly very quiet, picked up a flower from off the ground and walked over to him. Without saying a word, she handed it up to him. The look on his face as he leaned over and took the flower from her was something I will never forget. There was more beauty in that moment than in almost anything I've seen throughout my life.

Later, when we got home, she and I laid down together for a nap on the couch. We slept until we were awakened by the sound of rain on the lake outside. She curled up closer to me as the thunder came. I told her not to be afraid -- that it was wonderful. The living room strobed white with lightning, so I whispered to her, "Give me your hand," and we held our arms out together like a maestro conducting an orchestra. I waved her arm up with mine at the moment the sky cracked and exploded, shaking the entire room.

Years from now, I hope she remembers that when she was just a little girl, she and her father could make the thunder.


Yankchic22 said...

That was amazingly beautiful. You are a lucky man.

lakelady said...

whether she remembers this particular night making thunder matters not. What she without a doubt will remember is that she has a father who understands how to make magic and that loves her very very much. And I know this next bit can't help but sound a bit trite but whatever pain you and your ex have endured it is insignificant next to the fact that by coming together for however short and incomplete a time it may have been the two of you brought into this hard world a very soft and beautiful soul, exactly the kind of sould the world needs more of. Thank you.

d-rap said...

I so enjoy your stories about Inara. And each time I see her pictures, like the latest w/ the floppy hat and tutu or her eating and smiling BIG (those made me wonder what she was up to), I ALWAYS find myself giggling out loud.

Whatcha got there's something, someone, very special. And as a former "little girl" myself, believe me...she'll remember.

Alanna said...

I've teared up when reading your writing in the past. But this, straight up, has me sobbing. You are truly a wonderful father. I am so, so happy you have these moments with Inara. Such a beautiful and intelligent girl.

I've spent the last 36 hours with a man I am so proud to call my father helping him battle one of the worst bouts of depression he has ever experienced. I know that there are very few who can help him when he is in this state. I feel "blessed" to know I am one of them. This post makes me realize I may truly never understand the love this man has for me.

But thank you for fashioning it into a piece I can very well send him to explain, " I get it and I love you too, dad. "

Anonymous said...

My daughter was so special she was magic, too. Still is at 21! But the flower story? That IS above and beyond for a two year old. You go, Inara!

J. Walker said...

Well, there it is. After all my years of reading, you've finally written something that's reduced me to a sniffing, blubbery mess.

Of course, the fact that I'm reading it sitting next to my sleeping wife, who gave birth to our first child two days ago, might add to that.

I'm already entranced by our son, and he barely opens his eyes; I can't imagine what it will be like when he can talk to me.

Anonymous said...

Chez, you are a shining example of a great parent. Inara is indeed very lucky.

brite said...

Lovely Chez...just lovely. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Remember those posts where you say that you're bitter about love and that even your friends wonder how you could be so empty?
Yea. Same guy here in this Inara Post.
Perhaps it's possible that loving your daughter so completely is part of Your Evolution of Love -- no games; no trust issues; no wondering about her reciprocity.
I hope that your wonderful experience is not unusual to parents. With my boys, these moments occured over and over again, and these little miracles happen even today with elementary-age kids.
As my marriage falls apart (and thank you, Chez, for your posts that have helped with that part of my journey), I know that the love for my kids is so strong and so great that when I am left with only that, it will be enough.
Looking forward to the next rain storm.

Jacki Schechner said...

She's really something. You both are.

Thomas B said...

Touching, Chez. Really touching. When she gave the flower to the man, I needed to brush away some tears - I can only imagine how touched he was by such a lovely gesture. Cheers, Chez - you really hit the jackpot with your lovely daughter.

Pants said...


sdg said...

I copied this and sent it to my 21 year old daughter (who lives across the country) and told her it reminded me of her when she was my baby girl. She wrote back:

that is so sweet! who wrote this?"

I wrote back and said, "just a guy who is also a dad of a special girl - we are a club."

You do good work mister.

Tabi said...

SO sweet! You are both very lucky to have each other :)

My little guy is a month younger than Inara, and he shows the same kind of compassion. It is amazing how in tune they are with human emotion at this age.

Missy said...

Anyone who tells you an abudance of faith in the specialness of your child will in any way be detrimental is crazy. My only goals as a parent are 1) raise a child who shows compassion and 2) raise a child with good self esteem. Life will knock them down a peg or two- moms and dads need to build em up with love.

namron said...

Chez, your voice is coming back. Inara has given it a softer timbre, but it still can boom. Keep going.