Ale, Fish, and Loss

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“Daddy, do fish have a religion?”

“Why do you ask?”


“If it dies, who will it go back to?”

“You’re too young to think so deeply.”

“I’m just afraid it will be lonely and die in vain.”

“Why should it be in vain?”

Four-year-old Ale’s head was filled with worry. Next year, he would start kindergarten. But we were still unsure, was kindergarten education important for our child? My in-laws sometimes urged us to take Ale to a specially designed school for toddlers. Financial sufficiency was not a reason for them not to spoil their only grandchild. Fortunately, my wife could address my in-laws’ concerns properly.

Intentionally, we did not take him to early childhood education centers or kindergartens that offer many methods for our child to learn happily. Besides saving money for our small family’s expenses, we made that decision because we didn’t want to miss out on many moments with Ale. We wanted Ale to learn directly from our imperfect life. We wanted Ale to know imperfection. Ale should not be indoctrinated with true happiness obtained from heroic stories found in school textbooks. The ideal happiness designed to imprison the desire for happiness itself. Ale had to be aware that happiness is the integration of feelings of accepting imperfection.

Ale started talking a lot. He often expressed small protests. I was grateful that God gave him the freedom to think and express his opinions as early as possible. Mischievous behavior of young children was also not uncommon in all his playfulness. We told each other many stories, about success, failure, and the spirit of never giving up. Even though Ale didn’t have many life experiences yet, he started telling stories about everything he experienced. About his encounters with insects and worms in the backyard. About the banana leaves he used as toys. He described in detail what happened and what he felt. Ale was smart enough to describe something.

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