And so, after all these things happened, the god tried something on Abraham.
ABRAHAM: Here. I. Am.
GOD: Take your son, your one and only, the one you love, that Isaac, and get going to the land of Moriah, and offer him up, as a burnt-offering, on one of the mountains there, the one that I say.
And Abraham woke up early in the morning, saddled up his donkey, and took two of his young workers and Isaac, his son, chopped the wood for the burnt-offering, and got up and went to the place that the god told him.
As a first time parent approaching the high holidays, the universe has revealed to me a whole new world of “sins” to which I’m now suddenly susceptible — all basically to be filed under the category of: Screwing up Your Child.
My baby will not yet be 3 months old at the time of publication, however every day I am made more and more aware of how I can, and probably am, messing her up for life.
The newest sin brought to my attention is the empty praise sin. It goes like this:
Baby does something like burp.
I say “good burp!” As if there’s such a thing as a bad burp. Oh wait– there is, sort of, when she’s older and maybe on a date. Oy.
I say “nice poop!” As if some poops are not “nice.” As if “nice” actually means something here. As if not pooping would result in some sort of torturous punishment from her evil mother.
Baby smiles or coos or claps or rolls, etc…
I applaud. As if her action is some great achievement — which it is to me, even if she’s done it before, even if it’s just a normal growing milestone. But just as the vague praising of her bodily functions could be setting her up for high anxiety/low achievement or inflated sense of self/deflated sense of menschlichkeit, so too could my nonverbal cues be teaching her that being smart means don’t try things that don’t come easily. Like math.
Sin. Possibly double sin.
And the list goes on… sleeping sins, feeding sins, childcare sins, toy sins. Yup.
The sin of giving your child the wrong toy to play with.
You might know this one as the developmental/flame-retardant/plastic vs wood sin.
1. Like you and everyone else, I am screwed up in part because of my parents’ sins (the sins they didn’t know they were committing, of course.)
2. Most parents will offer their unsolicited advice on how to curb your sinning ahead of the time and then remind you that you know best and don’t listen to anyone. Kind of like God telling Moses to sacrifice Isaac and saying “Psych!” at the eleventh hour.
So I turn to my daughter, and I look into her deep blue eyes that haven’t yet changed to the dark roast brown of her parents’, and maybe, as a first symbol of her independence, never will. I ask for forgiveness for anything I may have done to hurt her whether I realized I was doing it or not. She gazes back at me, drools, coos and flashes a big toothless smile. And that’s enough for me.