The Sweet Tender Heart of a Child
By Don Swinney | December 1, 2014
By Don Swinney I will not fault the married folks who decide not to have children. I do wonder about their sanity, because all a couple has to do to be stricken, is to look at that tiny child, and to say, “Look what we have made.” The folks that prefer to remain childless say, “Yes, but look at the years of worry, work, and trouble they bring, “and of course they are right, but most of us say they’re worth it. I have done a lot of writing. But all of it is just recording things that I have experienced. If I had to write fiction, I couldn’t write a page. A baby anything is so sweet and cuddly. But a baby human, especially is divine a thousand times over. And the one you’ve been responsible for bringing into the world, well there are no words to describe when our first came into our world, we’d spend hours watching him and concluding he slept so intelligently. My wife had zero experience with a baby, but I had plenty for us both. Being 10 years older than my youngest brother and 12 years older than my only sister, I had changed diapers on both of them. Not only had I changed diapers, I had de-pooped them, washed, hung on the clothes line, brought them in and folded them, so they’d be ready to go again. But because she’d had no experience in any of this; she had never even held a baby on her own, and she was worried. She was a sound sleeper and feared she wouldn’t wake up to tend to the baby’s needs during the night. I knew her fears were unfounded and sure enough they were. All our baby had to do was sigh and up she came. But I’m trying to write about the sweet, tender heart of a child. I can only write about that which I have experienced. I want to talk about days when they’ve never experienced decisions of right and wrong. Our oldest child was trying to discipline the younger and I stepped in and told him it was not his job to discipline the younger, but I must have used the wrong words. I said “He doesn’t belong to you.” He ran to his mother and said, “Daddy said Todd wasn’t my bruver.” The younger was born with an incredible birth defect. He seemed to understand at a very young age his time on earth was limited. He bonded with adults rather than kids. We had a wall mounted phone; he’d scoot a dining room chair up, stand on it and talk for hours, to two ladies in the church for which I preached. WE had two musical records that dealt with death. He’d sit and listen to them over and over. We’d ask each other over and over, “Do you think he’s relating these to his impending death? Surely not, “but he was. He’d use his illness to his advantage. When a neighbor girl wanted to lick his sucker, he’d say, “If you do, you’ll get my disease.” He knew when and what meds, he knew when they were due. He would come in from play, open the fridge, stand there thinking a minute, and choose what he needed, and take it without bothering his mother. And he was right! At age seven, when hospitalized in the Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico the head pediatric nurse said, “I’ve been a pediatric nurse for 27 years, and I’ve never known a child like him. “ The wife of a board member came by “to see the child the whole hospital is talking about.” I could write much more, but as I think about the sweet, tender, innocent spirit of a child, I can think of no better examples than the ones we’ve given birth to and reared. One of which died at the age of eight and awaits us in heaven.