It’s a Snap

Somehow I missed the call. I didn’t notice until I set my phone on the desk and saw the alert flashing that I had a message. My day had been so long and tiresome I almost ignored it, but curiosity got the better of me and I dialed in to voicemail. It was Jordan.

“Dad, I snapped! All by myself. A real snap!”

Her voice oozed with pride. I sat back in my chair and listened to the message over and over, and I thought to myself, “Hot damn!”

Henri-Frederic Amiel was a swiss philosopher and poet of the 19th century. His reputation is so obscure today that only philosophy majors tend to know his name. His one great work, Journal Intime, however, is filled with profound observations that often find their way into term papers and editorial columns. This one is no exception. I reference him now because he wrote something that perfectly heralds Jordan’s small victory.

“What we call little things are merely the causes of great things; they are the beginning, the embryo, and it is the point of departure which, generally speaking, decides the whole future of an existence.”

For the last several days, Jordan has excelled at many “little things”. These victories are subtle to the casual observer but noticeable to her family – spelling words correctly, drawing recognizable pictures, snapping her fingers. We celebrate with measured praise because making too much fuss slows her down. She’s a keen observer of what is and isn’t said by those closest to her. An over-reaction only fortifies her fear that something isn’t right. She doesn’t want to be different. While she loves recognition, too much raises her guard. I know it sounds crazy, but we’ve lived through this phase before.

Still, when she isn’t looking, Nettie and I grin knowingly. The snapping fingers of a child might seem a silly refuge, but until you’ve heard the delight in her voice, you cannot understand how wonderful an accomplishment it is. She managed this feat only a few hours after visiting Childrens Hospital for her weekly labs and an exam with the oncologist. Tomorrow, she begins first grade at a new school with teachers and friends she’s never met before. And in a few days, she’ll return to Childrens for the next dose of chemotherapy. But to her, it’s all a snap. And nothing makes me prouder.