Friday, August 11, 2006

(Un-)sheltered childhood

Prof. Me's recent posting got me thinking. I too am a parent who tries not to shelter my sons from reality. I'm the type of father who simply can't resist showing them the way to do things, open cabinets, turn on machinery, even if I know I may regret the results. But I figure knowledge is to be shared, and better they learn under my supervision, so I know they know how to do something, than they discover on their own, while I'm not watching.

She mentioned 9/11/01. I found this note hidden away on my computer. The Painter was but two months into gestation at that point.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

To my yet-unborn child:

I sit here and wonder what kind of world this will be for you to be born into. And yet I know that the world is as it ever has been. And even people are as they have always been. Mostly good, some strong, some weak, a few exceptional in any way. And among those few exceptions, there are those whose actions lead us to conclude they are evil. This week we have seen the consequences of this apparent evil.

And all the while, you float in the protective chamber of your mother’s womb where you grow, unknowing of these things in the outside world. I told your mother that I think her most important job right now is tending to your growth and birth. She agreed. Many have often despaired of the conditions of our world, going so far as to forego pregnancy, in the thought that this is no kind of a world to bring another life into. But I take a different tack: the world needs more good people. It is our fondest hopes, designs and expectations that you will come to be among those needed good people.

When I was a child, my parents, your grandparents, taught me that my life had a purpose: to make the world a better place for my having lived. At times this purpose has been a burden, and yet an unshakable one, because I have ever felt that such a purpose was my duty. In Hebrew, an ancient language of some of your ancestors, there is a phrase tikkun olam, which means “heal the world”. It is a long-standing heritage that I pass on to you. Guard it well, and don’t despair if at times it seems an unbearable task. It is yours for life, just as it remains mine for as long as I live. I hope in both case that that shall be a long time yet to come.

As I hope to raise you, I will try not to trouble you with so much of the evil and sadness and grief of this world. I will attempt to fill you with wonder and love and hope instead. If at times I fail, please forgive me. That is why we need you, my child, to improve on us, and to bring your own unique perspective, grown of your experience in life.

I love you,

Your Father (yet-to-be)


Prof. Me said...

This is simply lovely, Articulate Dad. What a beautiful message to pass on to your son; I would love to read his thoughts as, someday, he reads these of yours.

ArticulateDad said...

Thanks, Prof. Me. Perhaps you will read those words someday. I'm looking forward to it myself. I think of the poetry exchanges I had with my father years ago. Something truly special in that. Maybe I'll share some of them here one day.

Lilian said...

This was a beautiful letter. Our sons are the same age and I had found out I was pregnant only 4 days before 9/11. I was absolutely frantic the moment I discovered the news of the planes hitting the buildings (quite late - both towers had already fallen) and I felt utter despair, like "the world is ending" and here I am, pregnant, what's going to happen!

I too hope we can read your son's response one day!