Monday, November 10, 2008

The Giant Bunny

Not long ago, my six year old daughter, who is positive, sat on my lap and told me a story. It went something like this:
"Once there was a giant bunny. He was so big that he reached all the way to the sky. One day he went to a place where there were lots of people. The giant bunny loved to play, so he hopped around, trying to play with the people that he saw. But some people were scared to play with him because he was so big, and they ran away from him. Other people wanted to play with him, but their friends told them not to play with him because he was big and they said he would hurt them. The bunny got sad because nobody liked him. He started to hop away, but he bumped into some houses and they broke. It was an accident, but some people got mad and started to yell mean things at the bunny. The bunny cried because it was not his fault he was so big, and he wanted the people to like him. Even though he was big, he was still just a bunny and wanted to have fun. But the people never wanted to give him a chance, so he went far away and never came back."

If the topic of the story was about anything else, I'd be focused on how proud I am that my baby girl, who is still learning the language, is able to independently create a story that's such a clear metaphor of her own life (yes, my princess is brilliant!). But I was too busy being sad. I often struggle with how to tread the fine line between the seemingly contradictory need to both shelter my daughter from the still-existing stigma of her illness and yet be "real" with her about it. On one hand, her HIV status is secondary, and possibly even tertiary, to the everyday aspects of life, and I don't see the need to be unneccesarily focused on it. However, it's always lingering subtly in the background, i.e. when she takes her meds, or when she says her prayers for her "mommy and daddy in Heaven." Generally, she is a happy, high-spirited child, and doesn't dwell on her status, but she is becoming more introspective as she gets older and hates injustice of any kind. It bothers me that life has to rob her of her innocence so early. I remember how it hurt when I first started becoming aware that I was "different" than others growing up, and that everyone didn't necessarily celebrate the difference. And even though my daughter has far more happy days than unhappy ones, as a mom it still hurts me that I can't fix all the ugly parts of her life. But I guess such is life.


Leslie said...

Thanks so much for sharing that, Sheri. It does really hurt not to be able to fix those hurts, and like you said, they are often in the background of so many interactions. Thinking of you and your girl.

Farmboy and Buttercup said...

I have been having a hard time wrapping my mind around what life will be like for our little one, as we pursue adopting her. You know, we are excited that God has given us this opportunity, but we are not truly connected to HER yet. How could we be, as she is only a picture and a story at this point? The other day, I finally started to connect with it. I pictured my 11 yr old daughter with the virus. Pictured this girl who is ALL about fitting in at this stage in her life, and different is not a word she embraces at all (hopefully someday that will change). She is naive and vulnerable and full of hope, how awesome is that! As I got a lump in my throat, I felt God wanting to prepare me for the blessing of parenting this little one, and reminding me that although there will be times of pain, he is there every step.