How Children Hold Us
I feel so lucky whenever I hold my kids’ hand. I’m saving them from oncoming traffic, but they’re saving me from incipient mortality. I’m walking them into this world, but they’re walking me out. We’re both ultimately helpless. We hold each other, really, hand in hand.
That’s the reason the children are here. When Din Anna was murdered, the family became wildly unbalanced. All death, all the time. That’s why I brought the children back to Sri Lanka while my wife stayed behind in Oxford. Our nuclear family split to give the greater family energy. The children think they’re being cared for by doting elders, but they don’t get it. They care for the elders. They give them life.
The children are blissfully unaware and when you’re caring for them you can catch a contact high. Children's emotions are so outside their body that adults have to step in to modulate them, which means we have to be on their wavelength for a while. That means you have to really focused on mundane things like every green fleck in a pasta or uncomfortable socks or how cool this rock is or what that bird is doing. Kids are in a constant flow state and you have to be with them to keep it from overflowing. I wouldn’t call this a meditative state but it’s an insistent madness that nonetheless forces you to concentrate.
For one or even two parents this is too concentrated, but for an extended family it’s just the right dosage of delirium. All of the kids’ dumb shit breaks people out of the day-to-day like a drug. Paati can go from mourning her son to sewing her great-grandson’s toy back together, because it simply must be done, and it must be done now. The children drag your attention back to living, even when death is all around. They simply have to be fed, clothed, and indulged, and this drags the old people forward in an irresistible current.
They’re just so cute, which my mother used to say was so you wouldn’t kill them, but now I think it’s so you don’t feel like dying. The fact is that you are dying, unless you feed and care for these children and part of you lives on. By feeling what they feel, by being their emotional support animal, you can live a little longer, a little stronger, and feel less alone for a minute. Caring comforts the carer, giving gives…