“I give up”. She had thrown herself onto her back and was looking up at the ceiling. She had been complaining about something, and I was eagerly trying to finish something on the computer. So I’d really only listened to bits and pieces of her ranting. But when she suddenly grew quiet after mumbling something, I curiously knelt over her to find out. I touched her face and asked her what was wrong. “I give up”, she responded. She sighed and I had to laugh. I swear she looked like a sixteen year old girl who had just found out her best friend had gone out with her newest crush, and now she did not know what to do with her life.
It’s amazing how the smallest things can provoke such anger and irritation and frustration out of a child. For us, it’s when a check bounces, the car explodes, or someone breaks into our home and steals our television. For Emma, it’s because she can’t get a piece of cardboard to stand up. I wonder how our lives would be if we thought and felt and acted like little children. Of course, we’d be throwing adult tantrums and crying every forty-five minutes. But do you know what else we’d do?
We’d appreciate life.
Next time we ate an ice cream cone, we’d think it was the best thing we've ever tasted. When someone hands us a cheap two dollar gift, we’d treasure it as if it cost them the world. We’d not judge people by what they wear, or how they look. We’d also unfortunately be afraid more often, which means we’d lean on one another and be strong for one another. I mean, isn't that what I do for Emma? Am I not strong for her when she’s afraid? If we were like children, wouldn't we love each other more?
If I were like my Emma, I’d say “I give up” a lot. But if I were like my Emma, I’d also keep trying. And trying, and trying. Because she’s never had someone looking down on her, telling her she can’t. She’s never experienced real failure. Real heartache at someone turning their back and abandoning her. She’s still got hope. Hope in people, hope in animals, hope in herself, hope in life. A real, true hope that can’t be extinguished. The kind of hope that cannot die.
I think most of us have lost that kind somewhere along the way.
But she hasn't. And if we are good parents, she never really will. And although we try our best, inevitably, life will come, and it will hurt her, like it does everyone. It’s healthy, really. But when that happens, we can help her get back up. And we can tell her not to give up. I won’t ignore her little pleas for help like I did today. I won’t wait until she’s lying on her back, looking up at the ceiling, telling me that she’s given up. No. I hope I’m smart enough, kind enough, patient enough, to be the kind of person she can go to when her soul is sad, or her eyes are swollen from days of crying. Or when she really is about to give up.
I hope my door will be open and my arms ready. I hope she will feel my love. My faith and my hope in her.
I’ll look her in the eye, take her face into my hands and say, “Don’t give up, sweet girl. This world is yours”.
Because I love her.
Because I believe in her.
Because I have hope in her.
Yes, my sweet girl, this world is yours.
…..Because it’s true.