What do you want to be when you grow up?
I swing on my hammock.
She perches on our wooden-crates-for-seats. Fidgets. Bounces. Twirls her hair. Chats and giggles.
At 9 years old, she is the same age as my daughter.
But when I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, I realize she is not my daughter. Not at all. She sees the world through a different set of eyes.
"I want to serve ice in drinks," she says. "You know, to guests. At night."
She picks up a piece of lego and turns it over. Humming.
"You mean in a restaurant? Like a waitress?" I prompt.
"No, you know! At night. You know. Karaoke. I can get a big salary! Maybe $200 or even $300 a month."
Oh God. She wants to be a karaoke hostess. My heart sinks with sadness.
God have mercy.
Known as beer girls, these young Cambodian women serve beer to groups of men out for a good time at karaoke bars. Because they sell beer on commission, they are strongly encouraged to drink with the customers, and often end up coerced into much more than they bargained for. I'll spare you the details. But it's not a career to aspire to.
I don't have words for her right now. Truth is I don't know what to say that would even be age-appropriate.
All I have to offer at this moment is silent prayer.
Prayer that she would break free from the patterns of those who have gone before her, the only role models she knows.
Prayer that she would see the lies for what they are - that this is NOT all she can aspire to.
Prayer that she would know the "good news" that she is a beloved daughter of God (not just the daughter of a man who never bothers to come around and see her) - and that this truth would set her free.
No she is not my daughter.
But she is a daughter of God.