We had a lovely Easter. Two outdoor egg hunts (one at my parents’ house and another at a friend’s), two indoor jelly bean hunts (one at my parents’ house and another one here), two delicious dinners cooked by someone else (one by my mother and another by a friend), and lots of happy toddlers getting giddy on chocolate and great companionship.
Owen got to learn that some children are not TWO (as his friends Natasha and Layla are) but even THREE (as Willow turned on the weekend). With Owen’s weird habit of what I call word symmetry, Willow becomes “wiwwo,” just as shower is “shasho,” Cheerios are “cheechos” and bunny is “nunny.”
Owen has become captivated by bunnies lately (for obvious reasons). He calls jelly beans “nunnies” because we told him that the bunny brought them, though for some reason he knows the word for chocolate “chocha.”
My mum bought him an adorable stuffed bunny for Easter, which she hid under a cushion for him to discover. When he did he gave it lots of kisses, which he has been doing ever since (mmmmah!) while assuring himself that the bunny is happy. These past couple of days, Owen has been very concerned with the general well being of everyone and everything around him.
“Nana Papa happy?”
“Yes, I am sure that Nana and Grandpa will be happy to see Owen.”
“Mama happy? Dada happy?”
“Yes, Owen, very happy.”
“Will cheerios make you happy?”
“Yellow boots happy?”
And on and on. His first words two mornings in a row have been “Mama happy?” – kind of melts my heart.
He’s also become obsessed with all books bunny, including “The Runaway Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown. I love it too, especially that I don’t have to look at the words – it’s getting more and more difficult to read stories to Owen because I can no longer see over the top of his head! Owen loves that the mummy bunny fishes for her baby bunny with a carrot, and he likes to find the baby bunny on the mountain top and in the hidden garden.
The title of this post is deceptively cute, though, because I need to move onto a grimmer theme. At the gym this morning I passed a poster of missing children’s faces. Cedrika Provencher’s was the only one I recognized. I don’t know why I remember her, maybe because people initially seemed so hopeful. She had been helping a man find his dog – the man they assume took her. There was another poster with her image and “do not remove” written in ink across it. I glanced at another face, that of a little blond boy, maybe three years old, and I had to look away. Well, I did look away. And as I sit here now I am realizing that that is precisely what I should not have done. Those faces are there so that we do look, scrutinize, memorize, so that if we see those children we can do something. My only concern this morning was in limiting my personal “pain” – the contemplation that this could happen to any parent (i.e. me).
At school today I attended a talk by Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire about another group of lost children: child soldiers. He was invited by the Zero Force Cycling Team (some of whom are John Abbott students) who are cycling across Canada to raise money and awareness, working to eliminate child soldiering. I knew Dallaire’s talk would be moving, but I didn’t expect that one story would bring me to tears. He told of how when he was moving across a No Man’s Land in Rwanda, he and his fellow soldiers stopped their truck because there was a little boy in their path. He said that when children block the roads, there is usually an ambush waiting – the children are used as decoys because the armies know that no one will run over a child. When they had determined there was no ambush, they realized that the boy had gone missing. They found him in a hut that contained the dog-eaten remains of a man, a woman, and two children. The little boy looked to be completely at home – because he was. He was the only person left alive in the village. Dallaire said that he looked into the boy’s eyes and was reminded of his own five-year old son waiting for him at home. He stressed over and over again: “No human is more valuable than any other human.” And he reminded us: “Inaction is an action.”
Dallaire and the Zero Force team asked everyone in the audience to spread the word, so that’s part of what I’m doing here. They are hoping to raise money but their website also mentions that donations can take other forms (housing, camping gear, frequent flyer miles, etc).
It is so easy to look away but it is so important not to. And please know that I am not trying to be preachy. I am trying to remind myself. Because we are happy, because we are lucky, because we are afraid of tragedy we must confront it.