What My 3 Year Old Daughter Has Taught Me About Forgiveness
by Ted Greenbaum
This afternoon I returned home from a yoga class to discover a new member of the family. A tiny quail that appeared to have fallen from it’s nest showed up and had been hanging out by the pool. It had been around for a few hours. It was the cutest little thing and seemed to have gotten quite attached to the family, coming right up, crawling into the palm of your hand, and following us everywhere. My youngest daughter was very attached to it, calling it her baby chick. There was talk of the possibility of it becoming a family pet. Having just gotten home, I was just beginning to get to know him.
The patio door at the back of our house was open and the cute little feathery guy was running around just outside the door when a wasp flew into the house. It was buzzing around our heads and we were frantically trying to get it out. We managed to get it out and quickly shut the patio door. In the meantime, I had not realized that the little quail had scooted into the house.
I heard a small peeping sound. I looked down and discovered to my horror that in the attempt to shoo the wasp out I had accidentally stepped on and crushed the little guy. My daughter was devastated. It was her first firsthand experience with death and loss, the death and loss of something that had become dear to her, and it was at the hands (or more precisely, the foot) of me, her own father. She was heartbroken. She cried and cried. Big, deep soulful cries. Sad, mournful cries. My wife cried. I cried too. It was very sad. I felt terrible! I felt like I had ripped my baby’s heart right out of her.
We cried and cried and then in the midst of all the sadness and crying Fiona said to me “I forgive you Daddy.” I was dumbstruck! How could I be so fortunate to have such a wise and wonderful 3-year-old? What a big, open heart she has. In the midst of her mourning and grief she let me know I didn’t have to feel badly about having caused this, and that she understood I didn’t mean for it to happen.
We gathered the poor thing’s lifeless body up, had a tearful burial in the backyard and said goodbye to little “Chickie.” What a gift my daughter has given me. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I truly know what forgiveness is. It’s my daughter!