I remember laughing at a friend of mine when she told me her one-year-old daughter spoke Chinese, in other words, a language she did not understand. Well, karma is a toddler because now my girl-child is looking East too. She communicates in child-speak, which for all intents and purposes, is a foreign tongue. The strangest thing is that I can speak the language but don’t understand a word of it.
So it’s become all about tone. We infer meaning from what we perceive to be intent. There are some ‘words’ however, that we have come to associate with definite scenarios.
If she’s crying and going, “Mana-mana-mana-mana!” I know that she’s sleepy. On the other hand, if she’s crying and going, “Ma-Mum, ma-Mum, ma-Muum!” I know she’s hurt.
I sound like a broken record when I say this, but watching a child grow is the most fascinating thing. Not a day goes by without one change or the other. Sometimes they are small changes and sometimes the difference from the evening before to the morning after is literally like night and day.
It seems like eons since the girl-child learned how to crawl and yet it has only been a few months. It feels like a long time because since then she’s learned so many other things. She is certainly not the child she used to be.
Adoti has always been a feisty little thing but now we can see clearly a strong independent streak. A one-mindedness that will no doubt be her mainstay as she grows into a young girl and finally becomes a woman.
My voice is always raised in prayer for her. But even as I pray, I wonder about religion and the rights of a child vis-à-vis a parent’s chosen faith. What would I do if one day she came home and said, “Salaam aleikum Mum…I’m a Muslim now.”
Would I have the standing to get upset that she was choosing a faith different from my own? Would the God I pray to expect me to force her to remain a Christian? Or do children come into this world with their own individual destinies that are divorced from the destinies of their parents?
I look at my sassy lil’ miss speaking in her foreign tongue and wonder if she will grow up to be Spirit-filled, with a passion for the things of the church, or laidback and relaxed about matters spiritual, like her Mama.
Will she seek the peace that passes all understanding or choose the zen-like path to enlightenment? Will her head be covered to pray five times a day, or will she choose the natural high of Jah Rastafari?
These are some of the questions that go through my mind every morning as I recite the ‘Our Father’, first out of habit because that is how I was raised to pray and then because of my faith. If my parents had been Catholic, I would not be an Anglican. If they were Buddhists, I would not be a Christian. So how much of my religion is really, truly mine?
None of it, I suppose, because religion is an outward manifestation of faith…and faith is what really matters.
During our long conversations – Adoti and I – speaking in tongues that one of us doesn’t understand and yet still communicating, I am well aware that God is the giver of all life. He created her in His image, giving her all the tools she will ever need to grow and be great. Everything she needs to develop from one milestone to the next is already imbedded in her brain.
So far, other than feeding, housing and clothing her, I have done nothing to push her from one level to the next. She follows an internal timetable that can only have come from a superior creative force. From pooping all day to pooping almost all day, to crawling, eating ‘grown-up’ food, sleeping through the night, walking, running and talking, she’s taking leaps and bounds powered mostly by the essence of the Divine.
My role as Adoti’s mother at this stage, is to be her biggest cheerleader, her most avid supporter and her shoulder to seek refuge on, as she navigates new territory. As the woman whose role in the creative process was to provide a hiding place for nine months and then receive the child into this world, I am now blessed to watch a higher power at work, as He guides her through every phase of her growth.
It is my hope that she never lets go of the knowledge that it is in Him that she lives and breathes and finds her being, no matter which path she chooses to the top of the mountain.