Have you read The Giving Tree?
My favourite teacher in primary school first read it to the class and I was the special one who got to turn the pages of the big book version. I remember looking at Shel Silverstein’s face from the back of the book and feeling sad after the story. I told myself, “I won’t want to be that tree! How silly to give everything to an ungrateful kid!”
I read The Giving Tree to my elder niece when she was barely 2. She loves the story. At 4 yrs old and turning 5 at the end of 2014, I suppose being with her tells me how annoying I can be to the people around me. The niece corrects her grandparents’ grammar, reminds them on the redundancy in their speech and asks for organic snacks and sweets. But I finally realise why the tree could keep on giving despite the unreciprocative Boy. Because the love for the Boy preceeds every and anything.
The younger niece turns 2 this April. We don’t really get along because my death stare freaks her out. She is pretty strongheaded and very short-fused. Yesterday, I brought her to the playground. She climbed up a faux rock stairs all by herself; i never knew she had such awesome motor skills. I was focused on her bad behaviour and inability to articulate herself. My heart swelled with pride yesterday.
We were playing hide-and-go-seek for a while. Instead of seeking out for me, whenever I was out of her line-of-sight, she screamed for me, with a tinge of fear in her voice. I realise she will only need me for a very short period; I need to be there for her no matter how bad I think her behaviour is. And because I also love her very much. That was why, I learnt, that the tree would still continuously give to the Boy no matter how little she had left.
Junior — he has an abundance of energy. Stick thin but is always looking to eat something. I don’t get to spend as much time with him as I would love to but whenever I am with him, I feel that we are so tightly bonded. He climbs onto me and sticks his hand under my blouse. Boys! His sweaty head always smells good. So much love for this little fella. His antics are neverending and the joy he brings me is boundless.
So, I have become that tree even without knowing it. But I am willing to be that tree to these three little ones.
They have taught me so much about life and myself.
They have guided me to be more forgiving and humane. More importantly, they have defined what happiness is for me.
Happiness, to me, is time spent with them. No matter what we do, as long as we are together, we will always be happy doing even the most mundane things.
My little ones, may you always be healthy and well.
May good friends and mentors surround you as you learn to navigate the world. I know the importance and difference good friends and sound mentors can make to your life choices. The world may not always be kind but you can choose to be kind to those who don’t have the privilege you have had in your lifetime.
May you always make the right decision even if it is the tougher choice.
May you always choose to love yourself above anyone; because when you love yourself first, you will never feel the need to be someone’s fiddle. Independence will be your pillar.
May you always know that I carry you in my heart and mind, always.