My son, Jonathan, has developed a strange little habit as of late. We'll be at home, just hanging out, doing nothing in particular, and he'll run into the room and announce, "Here I am! You see me?" This will happen three to four times over the course of an afternoon, him running into whichever room Rachel and I happen to be occupying and shouting out his new phrase.
He did it again this morning. I was trying to solve a computer problem and Rachel was getting ready to head to the gym. Jon, when we last saw him, was happily sitting in the den, watching Cars and playing trains.
All of a sudden, he bursts through our door and announces his presence. Then he leaves.
Rachel turned to me. "What's up with that?"
"I have no idea."
"He's been doing that a lot lately. Why do you suppose that is?"
"I have no idea."
But after thinking about it, I do have an idea. Or two. Or three, but let's just stick with two.
First of all, I think part of the reason is the blasted Elf on the Shelf. My feelings on this particular subject are well documented, so I won't go into any more detail; suffice it to say, I think my son's newest fad is his way of telling the little felt nightmare we call Eli that he's being a good boy. He wants to make sure that the elf sees him and gives him a "thumbs up" with the ol' Clausmeister. And since I screwed up and established that Mommy and Daddy have a special connection with Eli, and communicate with him about the kids, Jon wants us to be aware of his goodness too.
Quite the CYB for a two year-old.
And while I'm almost certain that this phenomenon can be laid at the feet of our elf (at least, it could be if the elf HAD feet), I read something this morning that made me rethink.
Job 10:18-19: "Why did you bring me out from the womb? Would that I had died before any eye had seen me and were as though I had not been, carried from the womb to the grave."
As a parent who has lost a child, that verse gave me chills. As I said in yesterday's blog, I've got some issues I need to work through, and when I read this verse this morning, those issues jumped right out. I mean, from my perspective, I wanted to tell Job to shut his stupid mouth; knowing the background of the story (Job lost everything he had - money, property, health, every one of his children) didn't abate my disdain for the words.
How could any human being, unless in the midst of a massive self-pity party, suggest that not being born is preferable to being born? How could you even think those words, let alone say them out loud?
It offended me, quiet honestly, and here's why: Job suggests that people who never live outside the womb "were as though [they] had not been."
Unborn babies, apparently, don't exist. Don't count.
I could rail about this, to be perfectly frank. I could turn this into a bitter screed against Job, against abortion, against any perceived injustice on my part or on behalf of the unborn - such is the rage that one phrase inspired.
But then my son popped in. "Here I am! You see me?"
I exist, the boy says. Notice me. Love me. Appreciate me. Let go of the bitterness of your loss, dad, and enjoy the fact that I am here. You can cuddle me. You can kiss me. You can throw me up in the air and chase me around the room and race trains across the coffee table because I exist. I am real. I can't diminish the hurt of Ruthanne, but aren't I better than dreaming about a dream? Ruthanne was real, but I am too; and I am here, waiting for you to love me as much you wish you could've loved her.
So do it. See me. Here I am.
My son, it seems, has been on a mission to help me climb out of the hole I have dug for myself. He is calling me out of the darkness of sorrow and into the light of life. Yes, he may be telling a phony elf that he's been a good boy, but he's also telling his father that he's a real boy. His passion to declare his own existence is also a call for me to embrace my own.
I didn't see this until he got out of the car at preschool this morning. My son, who has a face that makes the Gerber baby seem ugly by comparison, turned his big brown eyes on me and smiled.
"Bye, dad! See you lay-der!"
He said this as he waved and reached his hand up for the teacher to walk him into school, a little person with a world to conquer. And as I drove away, his face still burning in my eyes, I felt the immensity of his words.
Here I am. You see me?
For the first time in a very long time, yes, son - I do. And in seeing you, the sting of your sister's death fades just a little more - and my heart finds a little more healing.