Watching Fina these past few weeks has been amazing. Apparently, she’s been just as amazed watching us over the past year and a bit. I don’t know how much awareness I had at 14 months, but at this pace, Fina is going to be giving me Dhamma talks by the time she’s four and a half. Aside from dancing, drinking tea, and taking all my money out of my wallet, she’s learned to put her palms together and wave them up and down, choppily, when we say thank you for what she’s just handed us, when EunBong repeats “Gwan Seum Bosal” to her; She has the basic concept of chopsticks down, in that she can stick them into a plate of food and, if she’s lucky, get enough food stuck to one of them to put in her mouth; She’s always enjoyed seeing her reflection, but lately, she started actually identifying that it’s her, pointing to her chest, shouting, “Ma, ma, ma!”; During bath-time, she suddenly hit the pump of her baby soap bottle and then rubbed her head with the palms of both hands. When I pumped a bit into her palm, she began to lather up her belly with a big smile; When she’s in a really good mood, she’ll run back and forth between us, giving big kisses!
Of course, some things can be more alarming, a few days ago, I took my eyes off her for 10 seconds, and when I looked back, she was sticking a lighter into a lit candle (one more level of shelf I can’t put things on…) Today when I sat, she even brought over a case of incense to me.
It’s not anything new, but it’s amazing to watch your own child learn and grow, to see it first hand. I’ve thought back to my own childhood, and how most of the stupid things I said or did were done imitating others. I really didn’t know what I was saying until I saw other people’s reactions. But, when I think about other things, like the times I was compassionate to my sisters, or to the animals around the house, I can’t say for sure, but in my memory, it doesn’t feel like those we learned. It feels more like that’s what was naturally there. Before I really knew anything about Buddhism, I read that the Buddha said when all defilements are gone, what’s left is compassion. I know many of my defilements were not learned (in this life, anyway) and Fina surely has her own that she’s brought with her, but what I can do is do what I can to nurture the compassion within her, hopefully by my own example. Isn’t that the best way we can teach each other as well?