Monkey Boy turned 3 this weekend. He was so excited he could barely sleep before his birthday party. My baby daddy found him during nap time, naked but for a pull-up, rocking back and forth on his bed, singing “Happy Birthday to me…” We don’t ask questions as long as he doesn’t pee on the floor.
The party was as successful as a room full of sugared-up toddlers can be. Monkey insisted he was not the birthday boy, but rather the birthday CAKE boy. He has his priorities straight. He was, however, a little confused why Santa didn’t come to visit.
I couldn’t help but be a bit sad. Don’t get me wrong, we had a happy day of great joy celebrating how thrilled we are Monkey Boy is part of our lives. I’m sad because he is so completely innocent right now. He thinks all people are good, even if some are a little annoying. He doesn’t know that some children go to bed hungry. He doesn’t know that some kids live in fear. He has no concept a world without soft pillows, cuddles and books before bed. But he will.
This year, instead of gifts for the kid, we asked people to bring an item to be donated to Our House. It’s a wonderful organization for working homeless. They provide daycare, a place to live, job assistance, etc. to help folks get back on their feet. This may seem kind on our part, but mostly, it’s selfish. It’s a way to keep more $10 plastic toys from cluttering up my house. He has so much, and these kids have so little. The kids who will get these gifts are the kids Monkey Boy has no idea about. He’s never known their hurt, never felt their insecurity. He’s safe from the real world, and they are not.
This is the double edged sword of raising a kind, generous, compassionate kid. He must first be made aware of why there is a need for kindness, generosity and compassion. He must learn to see need without judgment. He must learn to see hurt without blame. He must learn about all the things in life I wish didn’t exist.
Sometime soon, he’s going to understand bad things. It’s going to break my heart because it will break his, and there’s no turning back from that. You can’t unknow the cold, hard facts of life. You just can’t.