Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sweet and Innocent

I've been sick all week. Yesterday, I slogged through work and then
trudged home in the baking heat. I tiredly peeled my shirt and tie
off and resigned myself to an evening of quickly eating dinner,
getting Jada down for bed, and then myself going to sleep.

A few minutes later, Amy got home from picking Jada up from daycare.
While Jada played quietly and happily in the next room, Amy told me
the daycare workers absolutely adored Jada, because she was happy when
she needed to be quiet by herself, and even happier when they were
doing some sort of activity. "They said Jada does every activity,"
Amy reported, to which I replied, "Why wouldn't she?" But then it
occurred to me that not every kid is like Jada. Kids sometimes just
aren't into an activity: it could be a willful unparticipation, or
simply a lack of interest. Not our Jada, who seems to dive into
everything, almost always with a big grin on her face.

Amy's report just brightened my day. So did the sight of my daughter,
who I then peeked in on in the next room: she was playing quietly and
happily in the corner, and then we she turned around and saw me
peeking in on her, she gave me that big grin, and then kept on playing
in the corner.

I smiled back and then smiled at Amy. Not even a grumpy sick day --
and I can get pretty grumpy when I'm sick -- could keep a smile off my
face at this point. For I considered how happy and free our daughter
was. She's happy at daycare and happy at home. She enjoys all the
social activities at daycare and also just playing quietly by herself
at home.

Life for Jada, in short, is devoid of the worries we adults worry
over. She hasn't yet been tainted by cynicism or hatred or
insecurity. "Please tell me our bon-bon will always be this sweet and
innocent," I said to Amy. And yet, even as I said it, I knew it
wasn't true. For Jada won't always be this sweet and innocent. But
maybe, because she's had a childhood that's been mostly sweet and
innocent, she'll be healthy enough for when life isn't sweet and
innocent.

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