Our young daughter is engaging the world and loving it. Now 3 and aware that only most of the universe revolves around her she is exploring the other creatures she runs across – particularly those her size. This means that she walks up to children and says, in a high, sweet, clear voice that emphasizes each syllable, “Hi! What’s your name? My name is….” and off she goes.
Kim and I find ourselves nearly doubled over by the sheer joy and innocence of it. There is a complete absence of anything corrupted in the questions, in the voice. It leaks wonder. And we can hardly stand it.
Sure we celebrate it. We laugh and we listen and we laugh some more. But in our ironic and cynical age, her innocence is all the more jarring. We already mourn its loss and all that will come before its loss. We long to hold it, protect it, bottle it before it is gone – if only to feed back to her one day.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is that she will have no particular memory of it. Maybe that is the ripping pain of innocence – not its loss but its slow slide into forgotten memory.
But then, one day, hopefully, she will stand on a playground and watch her own daughter teeter confidently over to another child and say, “Hi! What’s your name? My name is….”
My prayer for her now is that in that moment she will remember her own innocence and celebrate it.