Dear Ethan and Maya,
Over this holiday, your toy collection has grown to a staggering level. And how nice it was for our friends and family to scratch their heads to come up with some unique toys for each of you. Two pieces of toy from each of our 6000 family members. Thank you very much. Just if they remember how much housework that I already have to do on a daily basis. And now on top of that I have to clean up thousands of these toys scattered over every corner of the house. Not to mention how frequent I have my foot sliced open stepping into one of them. THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I love them all although I finally realized how much they hate me! I know my job is done, I popped out two kids, and that’s all they wanted. Well, how about I am not going to let them to see you anymore. HOW ABOUT THAT?
Ethan, I will look back on this month of your life as THE MONTH OF SPIDERMAN as you and he have become special buddies. And the fact that you were given over 400 Spiderman toys for the past month, it’s simply too hard for you to not to play with them, not to mention to see one around the house. Often you ask your father to act as the Green Scorpion that you learned from the comic book you borrowed from library. And you will fly the Spiderman in a helicopter or remote-control another Spiderman to crawl against the wall to catch that green monster.
“If I am the Green Scorpion, then who are you, Ethan?” You father asked you.
“My name is not Ethan. I am Mr Spiderman!”
Normally we have to call your name more than five times at 170 decibel before you will actually respond to us. “Ethan. Ethan. Stop. Stop. Stop. STOP IT. STOP. STOP. ETHAN. ETHAN. ETHAN. No. NO. NOOOOOOOOOOO. STOP. Put it back. Put it back. PUT IT BACK. NOW. ETHAN. ETHAN. PUT. IT. BACK. NOW. NOOOOWWWW. PLEASEEEEEEEEEEE. Stop spraying Windex to your sister.”
Last time we tried to call you Mr Spiderman, you came right away holding one each in your two hands and singing “Spiderman. Spiderman does what a spider can.” Maybe we should consider sticking a microchip in Spiderman in case we lose you in a grocery store.
Your obsession with Spiderman surprised me a little at the beginning. I thought you were going to play with Buzz Lightyear or Lightening McQueen for a little while longer, like another ten years. Well, I remember I didn’t get to play with Barbie until I was nine. Same as Spiderman, Barbie lives in a more complicated life compared with Buzz and McQueen. Meaning: you should not be aware of these characters until you are old enough to understand things like, why Barbie’s breasts have to be this huge. But I have been so wrong. Without further introduction, you’ve already started to ask questions like, “Daddy, why don’t you have breasts like mommy?” “Are they only for girls?” “What are they for?” I tried to be not as irresponsible as your father who simply TOLD YOU TO ASK ME!!!!!! I explained to you that boys and girls’ bodies are different, like you have penis and I have breasts.
“Do you use your breasts to pee like I use my penis?” Blink! Blink! And more Blinks! WHAT IS YOUR BRAIN MADE OF??????? How do you come up with that? I am not ready to talk about my vagina yet.
“No. Ethan. When you and Maya were babies, I fed you milk with my breasts. There was milk inside. But it’s all finished now.”
“Why are they still big? What’s inside now?” OH.MY.LORD.
I was too overwhelmed to explain further. You know even a kid notices that. Whoa whooo! But I wanted to let you know that this is GENE. Something that your sister will thank me later in her life.
Maya, for the past two years of your life, your favorite toys have been your brother’s favorite toys. Race cars, train tracks. You wouldn’t care less about stuff animals or dolls. I was told that it’s because younger siblings tend to copy their older siblings despite their genders. Another reason I find more appropriate to your personality is your fondness to irritate your brother. And I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to introduce Barbie to you, cause the 400 Spiderman toys that your brother had received should be enough to sustain your childhood.
Recently you’ve started to pay more attention to the thousands of DUSTED stuffed animals in your room. If this month is the Month of Spiderman for your brother, it will be the Month of Stuffed Animals for you. In the morning you love to kiss and say good morning to each one of them. Then you will pick two or even three to cuddle all morning. During breakfast you will make sure your teddy bear or Elmo is sitting close enough so he can watch you eat. And you constantly ask me to kiss them after you. I am not sure what has changed you. I guess maybe you were traumatized by the creepy Spiderman creeping around the house all day long. Because I was!
A few days ago it was time for you to take a nap, but you were too busy building blocks and wouldn’t want to go to bed. I begged and begged until I picked you up and took you to your room. You cried and tried to fight me to come down to the floor. That’s when you would normally turn to your father or your grandpa for help, but neither one of them was in the house. You were sitting on the floor angrily, refused to move nor looked up to me. Next to you lied Elmo. Out of desperation, you brought Elmo to your chest, stared up to me. You tried to get Elmo on your side to OVERRULE ME.
I was able to get you to bed eventually because mothers always win. But I find it touching for a few reasons. One, how cute is that you reached out to a stuffed animal like that? That you think he’s your close friend who will back you up. Two, this shows that somewhere along the way you’ve learned that two is stronger than one, and you’re starting to realize that you have options. And this is a remarkable progress on your part, because normally you dive head-first into the only option: FALLING APART.
I thought the whole playing stuff animals thing would soften the feisty beast inside you. But. Yes, there is always BUT. One day you were full of wonder and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to your furry buddies and then BAM you were looking your father straight in the face as you took your cup and dumped it on the floor without even breaking any eye contacts. You shot laser beams from your eyes across your father’s face, like, WITNESS THIS. DUDE.
Last Saturday morning, we took you both on a trip to a community centre for your skating and gymnastic lessons. Maya, it was your first gym lesson. When we arrived the gym room, you went ecstatic. You headed straight to the monkey bars and the beam table to explore. At first you acted pretty friendly with other kids in the room until you started to corner a much smaller boy and tried to poke his eyes. I grabbed you away and told you to be gentle which is a really dumb thing to say to kids your age. They think being gentle means to hit a baby harder. The boy’s mother told me he had just turned two, which was a bit surprising to me. Because being three months older, you looked like a giant. I apologized to the boy’s mother because I wouldn’t have blinked an eye if you tried to put his head in your mouth. I told her, “My 4-year-old son is at another side learning to skate. He’s more selective about making new friends. This girl? She will talk to anybody.”
“He will, too,” she pointed to her son. “He’s usually the one initiating things. My older boy is the quiet type. Different personalities?”
I nodded and remembered the months leading up to your birth, Maya, I was wondering if you would be exactly like your brother. Then along the road you both have started to show us how wildly, beautifully, hysterically different from each other. Witnessing those differences emerge is one of the very best things about the years I have spent as a parent. More than often I am amazed by the distinctness of your characters. And when I try to write these memories here, it tends to be overrun by capital letters, and yeah, I’m sorry about that, but your lives? They are lived entirely with the caps lock on.