We are together, she wrote.

Marta in 2010: Portrait of a girl wondering which crow to feed.

Two messages came through my world over the weekend. First came from the Facebook confessions of my friends.
         In his wall-post one of my friends wrote: conversation with my daughter this morning about her future: "You should be a pastor." Her reply: "No way, they don't make any money."  She is a young child, and children talk with no apprehension, and express themselves how they see it – sweet and straight.
         It made me wonder – what is it that she is picking up from the milieu she observes that already at her young age she is so resolute and focused. Her father, a pastor, is obviously wondering, too. What is he feeding her, I wondered? Or is she another victim of being exposed to mind-bending diatribe served daily from the politicians?
         Perhaps, if all she is hearing and internalizing about the rich paying less in taxes, for example, she constructs a vision for her life to consider wealth as a better option. I get it. Her father’s pastoral salary does not allow her to get what she wants, nor that she should get all her young eyes desire. Perhaps she wants to be like, say, Paris Hilton, and have more than less in life.
         With years of upbringing his child still ahead, my friends joy will be to explain and model other options that would undergird her life choices. He will watch her progress and relish the sight of her growth and beauty.
         The other piece of news was about our niece, Marta, when Grazyna’s sister, Lidia, and Jarek, our brother-in-law, told us that Marta announced that she has a boyfriend. When I spoke with Jarek, he was excited. Of course, I will have a “man-to-man” talk with her as any father would, he said, but I know what she received from us. We are not worried about her.
         Marta’s dad was traveling. And having been caught by her aunt with her boyfriend-to-be, Marta wrote an SMS to her dad: “we are together.” He thought it was a message of affirmation to her traveling parent, and that the message was about him.
         Later, he realized it was not about him, but about the other man who appeared in Marta’s life. “I thought – how sweet my girl is, remembering her tired father. Then I learned that she is serious about a friend she was dating.”
         With plenty of laughter, our conversation moved into a topic of trust. Marta is trusted as she is very close to them, and also trusting toward her parents.
         Lidia and Jarek are still to meet Marta’s boyfriend, but what they saw on a photo, and heard about him does not create a fog of distrust toward their daughter. They have given her examples of kindness, honesty, compassion and moral standards. As a family, they share hope, love and faith, which she, now an adult, is taking into her everydayness, and her own choices and decision-making.
         A reminder from the past came to mind when at years ago Grazyna and I had a conversation with Michal, as we expressed a concern – in many and varied ways – about late evening arrivals home from his escapades with friends. Natural worry about living in a crime-ridden metropolitan area of Washington DC, made us sensitive about his well-being.
         No, I am not doing what you think I could be doing, he stated one evening. You have given me the moral values, and what I need to be trusted with, so don’t worry about me, he continued.
         It was reassuring. Yet, we still didn’t stop worrying. Even now – many years later - as he is on his own.
         So, what did we give him? What did Jarek and Lidia have been sharing with Marta? What is my Facebook friend’s daughter getting?
         What matters in my book is that, to be is far more valuable and lasting than what is to have.

A family quartet: Lidia, Grazyna, Jarek and Marta visiting Warsaw's Lazienki Park.

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