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“This Is the Best Day of My Life”
Kid, four years old, is having a great year
There have been days this year in which I’ve wondered just how worse than average my days have become. As a person with forty-six years of life behind him, there is a lot to compete with: the deaths of people close to me, various breakups, business failures, three years of middle school. Kina, by contrast, has had none of this, and so it’s all the more surprising that yesterday was the best day of Kina’s short life, since so many of her days are, by our standards, outstanding.
While the rest of us have been living in a maelstrom of existential crises, our intrepid publisher has, for the most part, been doted on hand and foot—in part because her parents need somebody in the house to have a reasonably good year, and she claims to be having a good year, as it turns out, which is comforting. We know there are exceptions: the foreshortened first year of school, the second year of school experienced largely over Zoom, a dearth of playdates, less time with grandparents. But here we are, in the last days of 2020; Kina has her first Christmas tree, not one but two karaoke microphones, a selection of warm blankets, a car in which to ride around and nap, and two parents who adore her. On most days, she sees a playground, and we are lucky to be able to feed her a quantity and variety of food that even a hearty adult would find gluttonous. Kina, by most measures, is having the time of her life.
In some ways, I’m jealous. Imagine if yesterday had been the best day of your life. I suppose her standards are still comparatively low; when you’re only about fifteen hundred days into your life, any given day stands a real chance. She’s had so few truly exceptional days, when I think about the great days I’ve had: falling in love, getting hitched, hearing the Tallis Scholars in Berlin while riding trains solo through Europe, taking a nacho tour with friends, holding Kina for the first time. It stands to reason that a good Caesar salad and an hour in a playground with a trampoline would fly up the ratings, day-in-the-life wise.
I often wonder what Kina will remember of this year, but I hope she will know how fortunate and protected from [waves maniacally in all directions] she was. We may have to sit her down and tell her, because her greatest gift this year has been her ignorance. She knows about the Coronavirus, of course, hence the admonition in today’s paper not to invite too many people to whatever pretend event she wanted us to keep small, but she is unaware of the scale of loss the world has felt. She does not know anything at all about D. T***p. Her loved ones are, thank god, all safe. She is safe and so are we—lucky, again, in so many ways as a family this year. We have been spared, and so, in turn, has she. What does it mean to be four when your parents are behind on rent, unable to afford food, living in fear of their own government, of a virus with which they’re forced to work, of the people who (ostensibly) are sworn to protect them? What will I remember of this year? That sense of fortune, and the deep sadness of knowing how poorly-distributed fortune—by definition—is.
Today, we ate some matzoh ball soup in the cold, bundled up in a roadside shelter half a block from the Manhattan Bridge. Kina played on three separate playgrounds. She bickered and frolicked with her friend Futura. She paid a virtual visit to a farm and virtually pet a pig on the head. She got her hair braided. I don’t want to speak for her, but today might just be the best day of Kina’s life. I’ll ask her tomorrow and let you know.