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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Of Love and Loss

Well, it's only been 4 months since the last blog update, so I reckon I'm getting more regular about it.  I actually write quite a bit for this place, but being a little bit of a perfectionist about certain things, I do a lot of revamping before I actually publish anything.  If Poe could spend 6 months figuring out the best place for a comma in The Raven, I should be allowed to take a couple of months to figure out the best way to work a fart joke into my blog.


From just about the time my youngest daughter was born, her favorite thing on Earth was her pacifier.  She could not go a good five minutes without what she would later call her "gonk-gonk".  I have been sheltered and fortunate enough not to have ever known any severe drug addicts, but I have a good idea of how they behave thanks to my child's incessant need for that bit of plastic.  Fearing permanent tooth and jaw deformation from chronic non-nutritive suckling (that's Dr. Phil-speak for "We didn't want her to look like a buck-toothed yokel"), we did our best to wean her off of the cursed thing. 

That, of course, is a lie. 

We, being average parents in much need of sleep and peace, would listen to her whine for it for about 2 minutes before we would give in and give her the gonk-gonk.  (I actually made a midnight run to Walgreen's to buy a couple of them after a long couple of hours of withdrawal.)  It's not like we had a choice:  Before she could even walk, our cunning little snowflake had learned to keep a hidden stash of the things.  She had them hidden everywhere: under the liner in her car seat, under her pillow, in the toy box, UNDER the toy box, taped to the underside of the dining room table, in a safety deposit box at the bank, etc.  Finally, my wife and I had had enough and decided to break her of her habit once and for all. 

Six months later, we had finally tracked down and trashed all of the pacifiers in the house except for one.  (And when I say "trashed", I mean we took scissors and cut the things up before throwing them in the trash.  She would actually check the trash can for them and pull them out if they were still usable.)  We knew that the Last of The Gonk-Gonks would be the toughest one to get rid of, especially since our little 'un pretty much had it handcuffed to her person at all times.  That's when my wife had a mind-alteringly brilliant - and desperate - idea.

My wife (whom I shall hereafter refer to as "Genius") pulled out a small, padded manila envelope, showed it to our budding addict, and asked if she would like to put her last and only gonk-gonk in the envelope and mail it to her recently-arrived baby cousin in Utah.  I could actually see the wheels turning in her little toddler head as she considered her options.  She took the gonk-gonk from her mouth, stuck it in the envelope, and handed it back to Genius.  Genius scribbled her nephew's name on the envelope, handed it to me, and told me to "put it in the mail" immediately. 

As I stated before, my child loved her gonk-gonk more than any other physical thing on Earth.  I could go away for several days, and she wouldn't even notice.  Take her pacifier away from her, and she would hunt it down and give you a look that contained as much contempt and scorn as can be mustered by someone in diapers.  Also at this point in her life, her entire moral code could be summed up as "Dora = good, Swiper = bad".  When she put her pacifier in that envelope for her cousin, it became obvious to me that she had made some sort of conscious decision to give that which she valued above all else to someone whom she had never really met because she thought he might need it more than she did.  I learned that day that charity begins at home - and in infancy. 

So why, dear friends, am I telling you all of this?  Well, it has become sort of a tradition during this time of year to tell everyone what one is particularly thankful for.  I am of course thankful for all the usual things: good health, a loving family, stunning good looks, etc.  What I am MOST thankful for, though, is what my 2 year-old daughter taught me when she gave away her gonk-gonk:  There is good in everyone.  It ebbs and flows as we live our lives and move through the world, and sometimes it is hard to see in others (and even in ourselves sometimes), but it is most definitely there.  You want to change the world?  Find the good in yourself and others and share it...nurture it...reward it...celebrate it.


ps - While cleaning out my car before trading it in a while back, I reached under the driver's seat and pulled out a small, padded manila envelope addressed "To Baby B____" (our nephews' name).  The Last of The Gonk-Gonks was still in it.  Maybe someday I'll give it back to her....