Somali and the Forest Spirit is a series that aired in the winter 2020 season about a golem father and their human daughter. A golem is an artificially created living creature that, in this universe, protects the forest. The nameless one found a human child, Somali, in shackles lost in the woods. After finding Somali, the golem chooses to protect her and help her find other humans.
Where are the other humans? That is a series mystery, as humans were mostly wiped out during a war against monsters.
On their journey to find humans, Somali and the golem find themselves in a small town short on supplies. To raise money for supplies, the golem offers to work for a tavern owned by a rabbit-esque creature named Kokilia. While the golem works, Somali plays with Kokilia’s son, Kikila. The two generally play at the tavern, but one day venture out into town to purchase supplies.
During the visit, Kikila encourages Somali to go with him underground. There are beautiful flowers there, including one that is believed to grant one wish if it can successfully be brought alive to the surface. Somali finds the flower, but returns sick.
The golem tries to care for Somali and eventually finds someone in town who can make medicine for her. While the golem watches over the sickly, sleeping child, Kokilia asks them how they’re holding up. The golem blames themself for Somali getting sick. They feel fully at fault as though they should have been monitoring everything Somali was doing.
Kokilia then turns to the golem and says, “Mr. Golem…there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. I make mistakes of my own from time to time. Sometimes I let my anger get the best of me. Sometimes I leave him [Kikila] bawling his eyes out, but whenever I mess up, I always take him in my arms and say, ‘I’m sorry.’ I make sure he knows I care about him. It’s how both parent and child grow. It’s what the relationship is about.”
Despite being an emotionless, created thing, the golem takes some comfort in these words. So do I.
Much like the golem, I am an imperfect parent. As humans are imperfect, so too will we be imperfect parents. But it can be discouraging when you clearly see yourself making a mistake.
Recently one of my daughters stepped on a nail. Most likely, it was my fault the nail as it appears the nail came into the yard from the garage when I pulled out the lawnmower. When my actions cause my child pain, it hurts me as well.
Parenthood is not an easy job. It is messy and requires a lot from a person. As each of us are imperfect, sometimes our best just doesn’t feel good enough. However, we keep striving with the love we have for our children.
As parents we need to be honest, acknowledge our mistakes, love our children more than ourselves, and strive to be better. Examples of parenthood in our culture and in anime show us bits and pieces of these things we need to do. They even give us examples, like Kokilia and even the golem, of how that growth can occur. Yet, no parent, save one, has ever been perfect.
A Perfect Father
The one perfect father, of course, is the Lord Himself. On Crosswalk.com, Cindi McMenamin wrote a piece on the 10 ways the Lord is a perfect Father. She points with scripture toward the many ways the Lord is a perfect parent, which gives me ideas of how to improve myself. I want to walk through a few examples:
The Lord has infinite patience and kindness — When we approach our children, do we approach them with kindness and love? Are we patient, even when we feel annoyed? Kokilia points out that he does not always act with forbearance; I know I don’t either. How do we improve patience? Prayer. Calmness. And remembering that we imperfect parents created imperfect children that share the same need we have for love, patience, and compassion.
The Lord has our best interest in mind — Who am I thinking of when I do things for my children? My own benefit or theirs? When I work, am I working to help them or help myself? This is an area where the golem shines. They always has Somali’s best interest at heart, as shown throughout the series. While they may not feel love, the golem displays it in their steadfast approach to protect Somali. I try the same way with my children, attempting to provide for them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I provide food and shelter, but also try to serve as an example for them. It’s not easy. I am a flawed man, but I try to show them my best.
You will never have to earn the Lord’s love — Does our love for our children change based on their behavior? I like to think it doesn’t for me. While my actions may be different for each of my children, that is based more on their ages, personalities, and preferences than any difference in love. Do they need to earn their love? Some parents may act that way. They may think to themselves, “What can these children do for me?” before deciding whether to show them love.
Kokilia loves his son regardless of the situation.
The golem tries to show their version of love regardless.
And regardless, the Lord loves His children.
Love of a Parent
Maybe that is the ultimate lesson in parenting—love above all. If you love your children perfectly, you will want what’s best for them. If you love them perfectly, you will inherently be patient and kind. If you love them perfectly, they will never feel the need to earn your love.
That’s what me, Kokilia, and even the golem are striving to reach—a perfect love for our children. And even though we’ll fail, time and time again, may we never cease striving to that end.
Somali and the Forest Spirit can be streamed on Crunchyroll.