Friday, July 09, 2004

Love for a Child

It's Luigi's 7th birthday on July 13. Luigi is my first nephew by my
sibling, so he holds a special place in my heart. Miko, the second, holds
the special place of being the youngest, kasi dalawa lang sila. I'll write
about Miko some other time, for his antics require a book.

A couple of weeks ago I had the bright idea of asking Luigi, during
family dinner, what he would like as a gift for his birthday. He didn't
answer me right away as he concentrated on his fried chicken first. I forgot
about my question as several conversations were going on simultaneously at
the table, typical of our family dinners, until I heard a small voice calling
me from the other end of the table.

"Tita Ella, can I tell you a secret?" asked Luigi over the din of voices
surrounding us. I hadn't finished my ebi tempura yet so I thought I'd ask
him his secret from where I was sitting. I said, "Yes Luigi, what is the
secret? You can tell me now."

Luigi looked at his parents, grandparents, tito and titas, before
returning his gaze at me and saying softly, "Do you have lots of money?"

At this point all conversations came to a halt, and all ears were on the
six-year old as he obviously had something important to say. I tried to keep
a straight face and told him that having lots of money is relative, so he
should tell me what it was for then we'd know if I had enough money.

He said, "Tita Ella, I want something for my birthday but only if you have
lots of money. Because I want a reaalllly expensive toy."

"Hala ka Tita Ella", teased my brother, the precocious boy's dad.
Everyone was laughing now because the little boy had me on the spot!

My curiosity took over and I asked him what, specifically, it was that
he wanted. "It's a Power Rangers set, and daddy said it's expensive, but I
really want it. Please, please Tita Ella? You asked me what gift I wanted.
This is what I want."

I needed help at this point, so I looked at my parents, and then at
Luigi's parents. When I learned how much exactly I needed to raise, I
couldn't help but laugh out loud. I said, "No, Luigi, this Tita does not
have lots of money. Is it ok if I give you another gift instead? Can I give
you a book?"

His eyes started to shine and I knew that his tears were about to
trickle, but I couldn't give in. First of all, I couldn't afford it. And
even if I could, I didn't believe he should get used to getting such
expensive toys. Thank God I couldn't afford it pala. :)

Apparently, I wasn't alone in having such opinion. I discussed it with
the rest of the family, because if we pooled our resources together we could
probably give Luigi that power rangers toy of his dreams. BUT, we know that
he has a roomful of toys already, and this is no exaggeration, for he has
several ninangs and titas all over the world. He would love that toy but
only until the next one comes along, or until Cartoon Network tells him of
the next must-have for kids. We didn't want that for Luigi. He needed
clothes, shoes, and yes, books.

His heart broke when we took turns explaining to him that this time we
couldn't give him his dream toy. My heart broke and part of me wanted to
think of a way to indulge my nephew, but love took over and I knew that we
were doing the right thing.

I think of this and I think how much more God's heart breaks everytime
we cry over some must-have toy that He seems to deny us of. I wonder how
many times my tampos and tantrums hurt my heavenly Father, who must want only
what's best for me. I've asked him lots of times, "You own the universe, why
can't you grant me this teeny request? I've been a good girl! I've been
praying hard for this. Please, God please?"

He gives me food, shelter, clothing, education, job, family, friends,
community, and all the things that I need. Once in a while, He gives in to
my trivial requests. At His perfect time, He showers me with earth-shaking
blessings. When Jesus said that we should be as children, I must have taken
it to heart. :)

May we all learn to rejoice in the love that surrounds us and to always
have an attitude of gratitude. :)

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