Early one morning this week, my bed-headed 6-year old came downstairs for the traditional morning snuggle and gradual re-entry into his world of simple questions and not-so-obvious answers.
We put our hands together and I noted for him that no-one else in the whole world had his fingerprints. Seth is unique. There never has been – nor will there ever be – another person with the patterns of his skin, his blood vessels, his eyes, let alone (and much more profoundly) his mind and heart.
And his four brothers are also unique. Because when you roll the procreative dice, in one of the most unfathomable mysteries of human existence, someone derived from you and another person, yet utterly different from both, is brought into being.
Line us up and we look like a family. Look under the hood, and you see quite a difference in make and model.
One of our boys, when a toddler, would go right up to people and charm them. His two natively introverted parents, who also don’t detect much of the “outgoing gene” in the close branches of the family tree, were astonished. From that time to this, he relates effortlessly to people. Where did he come from? How did he end up with his senses tuned in so naturally to others? Out of all the possible sperm-egg combinations, there he was. All we did was roll the dice. I’m proud, humbled, amazed, and…truth be told…even a bit jealous!
The others? Unpredictable combinations of creativity, drive, passivity, brilliance, stupidity, sensitivity, self-centeredness (well, that’s predictable!), compliance, defiance, and a host of other attributes that both delight and perplex. Just when you think you have this parenting gig down – here comes the next curveball.
Even when the roll of the dice comes up with a troublesome result – a child with a disease, or defect, or incapacity – great levels of human love and nobility can arise as a result. The blind can cause others to see more clearly. The infirm can help others overcome their infirmities of self-centeredness. Those that die far too early can cause the rest of us to live more fully. You send the dice on their way – but you can never be sure, in the risky romance that is real life, what will unfold.
Now whether you believe in pure chance (I don’t), or divine providence orchestrating events that often appear random (I do), there is much room for amazement with every swim of the dice that comes up “lucky.” Locked away in that little helpless being, who can only cry, eat, sleep, and poop for a season, is someone who will quickly demonstrate to you an astonishing capacity for independent thought and action. Someone who will mimic you for a while, then, just when you figured they’d come up 3’s, they show you sixes. It begins to dawn on you that in the depths of DNA-driven mystery, joined to divine creativity, there are levels of wiring in your little offspring which you cannot reach with even the sharpest of parental pliers. You contributed one cell to the mix – now you stand back in awe and say, “Where in the world did this come from?”
And then, you gaze into your heart, and wonder – “where did this love come from?”
As a boy, I used to look up into the seemingly endless heavens with awe (I still do). Now, having rolled the dice with my beloved, we flounder through the joyous and exasperating and confusing and exciting lifestyle of parents, marveling at what has been wrought. If you have little ones under your roof, you know exactly what I’m saying…with every “lucky roll” you’ve turned your world upside-down afresh, but somehow, you wouldn’t ever almost never want to take that roll back!