Monday, May 30, 2011
DXM History Repeats: Inara
Here on the fifth birthday of DXM, there's not a whole lot that I can add to the following two pieces. They kind of speak for themselves.
DXM Fifth Birthday Jubilee
Number of Posts: 108
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" (Originally Published, 9.5.10)
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.
"Goodnight Noises Everywhere" (Originally Published, 6.5.10)
Tomorrow morning, Inara goes back to New York -- but tonight there was this:
After watching some TV on the couch together, followed by a little collaboration on a coloring book that features cartoons of dogs (whenever Inara wants to do this, she gets the book, looks up and announces, "Draw puppy?") and a couple of bites of what she excitedly called a "yummy salad," I finally decided to put my daughter down for the night.
I picked Inara up, carried her into her room and set her gently in bed -- along with a cup of milk, her blanket and stuffed bunny -- then laid down next to her on the floor. I listened to her fidget for a few minutes, then from out of the darkness came a tiny voice.
Nothing. She didn't respond at all, just went back to sucking on her sippy cup.
A few moments later, there was the voice again, even quieter this time.
"Yes, honey. I'm here."
Even though she couldn't see it, I gave her a warm and reassuring smile -- one fueled by pure contentment.
Again a little later: "Daddy?"
"Yes, Inara. I'm still here. I'll always be here."
After a while, the voice grew smaller and smaller -- its entreaties further and further apart. But each time she called out for me, I answered, until she stopped altogether and the only sound left in the room was her steady breathing.
This is the best Saturday night I've had in years.