She lives to laugh and pass along joy. Every gram of her soul exudes sweetness. She intends no maliciousness, and does not play any 'mind games'. Every action originates in pure curiosity or amusement. When I look at her, I understand the definition of innocent. And when I look at her I shower her with kisses and hugs. The thought of anything bad happening to her, of any pain, is completely beyond my mind's ability to handle.
Do poor children in Africa act like this too? Yes, yes, I bet they do. Looking at her pure soul, untouched by the pain and complications of understanding the real world; I imagine that all children must go through this stage. For a second, that is a comforting thought: that all famlies share in this special feeling and step. I feel solidarity with the other mothers of the world. But, then the thought that maybe some children don't have it so good, clouds my mind. I envision a little child in Tanzania, walking around a simple mud hut, wanting to smile, but feeling hungry. I don't want to image Nala hungry; she would cry.
She innocently plays with whatever new thing is in front of her, exploring every little thing, analysing it with her fingers, trying to taste it. Everything is exciting, "oh what's this? fuzz, I can hold it, but it is soft. not a solid or a liquid" "Oh what is this? sour, tangy, wet, yellow." She started walking and she gets so proud of herself as she wobbles from one side of the room to the other with a HUGE smile across her face. She giggles at the most unsuspecting things: Kaio picks up a handful of leaves from the ground.
Do children in Iraq get to enjoy the joys of exploring fuzz? of tasting a lemon?
It becomes clear that this is a crucial stage, a stage where she is not meant to endure any suffering. That would taint her innocence. And then she would be sad, and scared, and hurt. I don't want to let her feel those things yet. If I could only protect her from it all a little longer. But what if I couldn't? What if something happened that was out of my control to hurt her? How awful would that feel? How do the other mothers do it, living in war zones, or areas of suffering - living with a learned helplessness. Where does the survival instinct fizzle out to? How do they carry the burden of keeping their children safe from harm?
When Kaio was this age there were multiple nights when I couldn't sleep, thinking about the children in Iraq, and feeling completely helpless. I wanted to reach out to them, tell them, "I care about you. I'm sorry that you have to live in a war zone. I'm sorry you're scared. I want to help you. I want you to be happy and safe and loved." Crying at night, putting Kaio to bed, in comfort, warmth, and security. I felt guilty for having it so good, and was imagining pain, the pain of children. It was unbearable. Now, with Nalini, those feelings are rushing back.
I dealt with it then by channeling my energy toward collecting toys to send to children in Iraq. Mari kind of gave me the idea. I found a officer who founded Operation Joys for Toys and sends trucks full of toys for soldiers to distribute to children in Iraq and Afghanistan. I posted signs for donations at my office and also on freecycle (even though you are not supposed to do that). It was a bit of work, but I ended up with 10 boxes or so of used toys and supplies to send there.
So maybe it is time for me to find another cause.