Careful the things you say;Children will listen.
Careful the things you do; Children will see…and learn.
Children may not obey, but children will listen.
Children will look to you for which way to turn to learn what to be.
Careful before you say, "Listen to me"; Children will listen.
Where do I start? Bedtime on Wednesday night: Twitter was blowing up with news of Joe Paterno's firing as part of a sex-abuse scandal at Penn State University. News outlets were reporting riots on campus not protesting the crimes but the departure of their beloved coach. The students were destroying property. They flipped over a media van.
Did they even understand what had happened?
Ashton Kutcher, supposedly ignorant of the situation, tweeted indignantly that firing "Jo Pa" was insulting and classless — he hadn't read the news and had no idea what was going on.
Between the ignorance of a celebrity with 8 million followers and not a clue about the state of the world, the actually insulting classlessness of a student body defending a man who, despite being one of the winningest coaches in NCAA football history, did little to report or otherwise avenge the rapes of countless young boys by one of his colleagues…and the fact that something like this can even still happen today… It makes me wonder who would want to bring a child into this world.
And yet, as all this was happening, two friends did just that. Her name is Lucia, and she is tiny, pink perfection.
Tim and I went yesterday afternoon to meet her. We took a card and a basket of sunny orange and yellow mums with a tiny Mylar "It's a Girl!" balloon stick in the soil. The hospital is a maze; we clutched our bright pink visitor passes and made our way through fluorescent-lit hallways to Elevator 5, the only way up to the maternity ward.
It felt important, somehow, to be there with this man, at this moment.
My heart raced as we approached the room. I didn't know what to expect when we walked in. I hate hospitals. Pregnancy terrifies me. Delivery makes my stomach turn. Babies petrify me. I'd never been so close to such a tiny newborn. But the room was cozy and dim, mom and baby doing well, everything clean and fresh but mussed and rumpled because everything that mattered was living and breathing, not folded and pressed.
They let me hold her.
God, she's little. She was swaddled in a blanket no bigger than a tea towel, with the tiniest IV in her arm delivering a course of baby antibiotics. Her whole baby body was like a peach — pink and fuzzy and soft to the touch — and she slept the whole time she was in my arms. It's been said I fall in love fast.
The temperature had plunged into the 30s the day before. Before we went to the hospital, the first snowflakes of the season fell as we sipped hot tea and slurped our pho in Uptown. We bundled up outside the car and bowed our heads against the wind as we walked toward the hospital, and I reminded myself to treasure the bracing cold while it's still new and refreshing and somehow romantic.
Lucia doesn't know cold yet. She doesn't know war, she doesn't know abuse, she doesn't know terrible reality TV or 72-day marriages. She knows nothing but love and care and kisses and limitless adoration. Her world is just as tiny as she is.
But there are so many wonderful things she doesn't know. She doesn't know music. She doesn't know Christmas. She doesn't know the smell of bread baking or the warm comfort in the flicker of a candle. She doesn't know how spectacular she is, or any of the possibility that she holds. She has no idea. And it sounds so lame, but God, the world is beautiful. Do you remember what it was like to discover that?
I don't. I wish I did.
Then, I realized why anyone would want to bring a child into this world: Because it's a chance. A chance to teach love and tolerance, to help her appreciate what's beautiful and rise above the rest, a chance for the whole world to get it right. For her.
Meeting her reminded me why, despite how terrible life can seem from up close, I have never been happier to be a tree in this forest. Every day is a chance for the world to get it right.
Welcome to the world, sweet Lucia.