Monday, June 3, 2013
Mani is five years old today.
In our house, that always feels like a big step into a bigger world. Five year-olds seems to get it, if you know what I mean. Their eyes are opening to the realities of life-- both harsh and beautiful. They step on a beetle accidentally and mourn its death. They break a dish and realize that it may not repairable. They get that every Monday is music lesson day for the big kids, and can look forward to the little guy-focused game time that ensues without being reminded that it's coming. They feel the rhythm of the house and respond to the temperature thereof. They ask questions of an abstract nature, and begin to understand the grey answers in what was once a black and white world.
Some of Mani's realities are more stark than the ones my previous five year-olds have had to face. He's already delved into the truth that he grew in another mommy's tummy. He's already grasping that he rode in an ambulance when he was a tiny baby-- "Smaller than Reuven, even!" He can already report that police men took care of him for a while, and that social workers knew him before Momma and Daddy did.
Vibrant, vocal, curious, bold. Manolin enchants each of us, daily, with the hunger for life that he exudes even in his most agonizing moments. Mani is a fighter. We see evidence of this every time that he sets his face against our wishes, or determines that he is big enough, by golly. Mani will grit his teeth, dig in, and thrash far longer and far harder than seems possible. When he relents, it is with either a calculated trust or a total exhaustion-- there is no in between. Thankfully, he chooses his battles quite carefully and rarely decides that something is so needful that he must, must, must hold on to it.
Which is good, because when Mani purposes otherwise, the world knows it. And this, dear friends, is not something I try to squelch. In truth, it is the very thing that kept him alive in the desperate days that followed his birth. A less passionate child, a weaker one ... well, those are the babies whose stories haunt you long after you set down the newspaper. Those are the cases where evil triumphs and there is simply no punishment here on earth that will satisfy the just.
But then ... there is Manolin. Strong. Alive. Thriving.