Thursday, September 22, 2005

"Born into Brothels"

Today is my son's ninth birthday. Nine years ago today, I gave birth to him in a whirlpool tub at The Birth Cottage in Poughkeepsie, NY. I suspect that those early minutes of hot water on his head are what caused him to hate washing his hair to this very day. What a joy it was to welcome him into the world! Eight pounds and nine ounces of rambunctious, nerve-jangling, life-altering energy that couldn't even wait for me to get out of the tub before making his dramatic entry into the Belsito family.

Birthdays are fun in our house. We have a tradition of the children waking up to find balloons in their bedrooms on the morning of their birthdays. We used to make banners as well, but I was too lazy of late to do the computer work after they went to bed last night. Anyway, yesterday he informed me that the balloons look like people to him and frighten him, so he didn't want them to be in his room when he awoke. So I tied two to his chair in the homeschool room, two to each of their stools at the kitchen counter, and one to his PlayStation unit in the family room. he liked that much better.

Soon after we all got up this morning, we piled into my bed for the opening of the presents. A few goodies I'd picked up in Spain were a big hit, as were the other odds and ends we tossed into a gift bag for him. He's still so easy to please; I hope he maintains his simple joy and laughter long into his life. No birthday cake for my Daniel, though; he requested butterscotch squares which we ate with neopolitan ice cream after football practice tonight. He is in bed now, belly full, heart happy, and already looking forward to Christmas.

I am enormously grateful to be able to honor my son's life in such a simple but beautiful way. He's a delight to have in our family. A friend of mine with four daughters tells them this story: "A long time ago, God was walking around heaven deciding which children to send to our family. He sent you to us, and we couldn't be happier. Of all the children in heaven He could have chosen, we are thrilled that He gave you to us." I like that story. Of all the boys in our neighborhood, in all of the world, there isn't one other boy I'd want to have as my son than this kid. He smiles broadly every time I tell him that, but he tests me with the names of certain boys he likes a lot to see if I'd choose them over him. Of course I never do. He makes me laugh, cry, scream, fume, rant, rave, and adore him - all within a single hour some days. He runs, jumps, falls, figures out two digit multiplication in his head, and remembers Bible verses after looking at them only once or twice. He's an awesome kid. But I admit to being biased.

This afternoon on our way to his football practice, we returned some movies to BlockBuster and picked up a few more. I grabbed one entitled, "Born into Brothels." I'd never heard of it before, but it appears to be a documentary about the lives of children born into brothels in Calcutta. They are taught to use cameras and take photos of themselves, their friends, and their lives. I expect to shed many tears, to be moved to anger, and then numbed by the film.

I expect that it will also cause me to hug and appreciate my own children in a new way. It will move me to a deeper level of gratitude for the great bounty and blessings we enjoy and are able to rain down on them. It will remind me of the comfort, the peace, the calm, the normalcy (if such a thing exists...) that makes up our regular routine.

Born into brothels.
Born into privilege.
Born into fear and despair.
Born into security and hope.

In some ways, those statements are contradictory. In some ways they aren't. There is fear and despair in the midst of privilege. There can be security and hope in the backrooms of brothels. I am looking forward to seeing the film. I will be sure to write a review soon thereafter.

I am also looking forward to celebrating Kristiana's 12th birthday at the end of October. We are planning a mother-daughter day on Saturday the 29th: out for breakfast, some clothes shopping for her, getting our hair done, manicures, and everything else we can think of. It should be lots of fun.

Happy Birthday, Daniel!

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