Tuesday, December 4, 2012

If I Were an Onion, I Would Want You To Eat Me

We had this delicious stew for dinner with chicken and beans and spices and onions. I was eating mine up and enjoying it (of course, I'd hardly taken a spoonful and John Paul was already eyeing the pot and saying, "Is anybody gonna want more?").

One of the main reasons why fathers are given authority in the household is because otherwise they would starve to death.

Then there's little tweety-bird on the other side of the table. Josefina is carefully removing each onion slice and placing it (neatly) on the side of her dish.

"What's wrong with the onions?" I asked.

"I don't like the onions."

"Ohhh," I replied. "You know what? If I were an onion, I would be really sad if Josefina refused to eat me."


"Because I would be so lonely on the side of the dish. And I'd be so sorry not to be eaten by Josefina."

So she thought for a moment, and said, "Would you want me to eat you more than anyone else?"

Oh no. How did I let myself get into this position? When you have several daughters, you have to be careful not to play favorites. I always tell them that I love each of them in the special way that only she can be loved.

That sounds like a political answer, but its true. Why does every woman think she's special? Because she is special. Its not a competition. Right from the beginning, every girl should grow up with the awareness that she is a gift. Fathers should foster this awareness.

This can't be done without attention. And real attention is difficult. It is an interior thing. It is the fruit not so much of a self-conscious effort, as it is a kind of sacrifice, a self-effacement that makes space for each person to be the object of a special appreciation and gratitude. Of course, sons also need attention, but with different accents (that's a topic for another time). Every child needs this from his or her parents.

I've never been very good at self-effacement. And its not a matter of being timid or passive. Its a matter of humility. Humility is the habit of wonder and gratitude in front of everything. Humility sees everything coming from the hand of God. It is a grace for which we must pray.

Getting back to the story: If I were an onion, would I want Josefina, more than anyone else, to eat me? I deserved this question. I set myself up for it. What do I say?

"Well," I said, "If I were your onion, I would want you to eat me."

Hahaha. Back to the dinner. Josefina continued to add to the arrangement on the side of her dish.

Finally I said, "Bring those onions over here. I'll eat them!"