I’ve grown to like shows in which young children play a prominent role in a story that isn’t for kids. Usagi Drop is my my favorite among the trio I’ve watched in the past year, joined by Kurenai and Aishiteruze Baby. The latter was the one I liked least; honestly, I barely made it through the show. Still, I thought Yuzuzu was a terrific character and, maybe even more significantly, I enjoyed that the series took some themes and storylines pretty seriously – chief among them, child abuse and the episodes focusing on Yuzuyu’s friend, Shouta.
In episodes 15 and 16, we find that Shouta is being abused by his mother. It’s an unusual twist, not only because abuse is usually depicted as being perpetrated by the father, but because the children in the show are usually so happy-go-lucky. The episodes are dramatic and uncomfortable, maybe particularly because they feel real.
The abuse isn’t just a plot point to create drama and add to the plot; Shouta’s family situation is developed well and shown to be complicated. His mother is stressed out largely because of lack of money. Drowning in a sea of stress, she’s changed into someone she never wanted to become. And further complicating the situation, her emotions are frequently mixed, as are Shou’s – he’s both scared of his mother and loving toward her.
Aishiteruze Baby presents the situation for what it would be in real life – a tangled and layered one. Kippei can’t just solve her problems with his naive ways. On the other hand, he attempts to do the right thing – to help.
Generally, I’m very quick to judge when I hear about child abuse. And to be sure, adults need to be held accountable and most of all, children need to be protected. But not all cases are sensationalistic and involve parents who are monsters.
I fully understand Shou’s mom and how she became what she became. Like Kippei, most people without children have no idea what it’s like to raise children. I’ve had people tell me, “Oh, I’m practically a parent because I raised my siblings/I babysit all the time/I’m always around kids,” and my ungracious sides comes out and wants to say, “No you don’t, you silly, silly person.” My thoughts have been confirmed when a couple of said people eventually had kids and changed their thinking entirely.
To have children is to become an adult. While you can generally coast through, living a life of selfishness when you’re alone, or even to a great extent when you’re married without kids, you can’t do the same when you have children. The responsibility of caring for one so little can be overwhelming. The stress of work, family, and finances can make life extremely difficult and can easily change us something we never wanted to be.
Unfortunately, without support from a spouse, friends, parents, church, or community, a mom or dad can become an island. And that’s a situation that’s almost never good. Unless you’re the resilient type (and even if you are), you’re likely to become even more burdened and pained, and thus become more irritable, angry, and maybe even violent.
But this is where love comes in.* While Kippei was too immature to engage Shou’s mom the right way, his heart was right – he wanted to help Shou. And his “meddling” perhaps helped spark changes in Shou’s family for the better.
We, too, can be that spark. There are people in all our lives that are in need of love to help heal a variety of situations, but because of thoughtlessness, laziness, ignorance, or fear, we don’t reach out to them. We let people suffer when we just might be able to provide some assistance, be it little or large.
Love is a powerful catalyst – the most powerful of actions we can do. But it’s weak and ineffectual if there’s no one to show it. And if love isn’t demonstrated, well, it’s like that tree in the forest: no sound is made, but the tree still falls.
Is there anyone in your life that you could show some love to? Is there a reason you haven’t thus far? Will you try to show them love?