Dear Ethan and Maya,
Last month I spent a few weeks off from work. And I was able to experience what most of the mothers do – get everyone fed and dressed and out the door to school. I should thank your father for doing this all along when I had to head out to work in the morning. And I think he’s pretty grateful over these few weeks. Every morning he enjoyed sleeping in before spending hours in the bathroom while I was up unloading the dishwasher, preparing breakfast and getting you both ready. Sometimes when you became uncooperative, and unnecessarily threw tantrums over some minor incidents, like fighting for an avocado just because you both wanted to have the label on it, and at one point when neither one of you could get the label off that avocado, you started to HARASS that ripe fruit. Pinching, squeezing, tossing it until an avocado bomb bursting in air and splashing all over your bodies. That morning it felt more like a revenge that your father had planned for months.
On top of everything, we have the grueling potty training. Maya, how many mornings do we have to sit in the bathroom and contemplate poop? And how many times do you refuse to go, start screaming and sneak out from the toilet? EVERY DAMN TIME. Considered the fact that I had to drive your brother to school, sometimes I had to decide to try again later. And here I am telling you if one day you become a parent, you’d better be prepared to spend a large percentage of your life thinking about your children’s poop for at least the first five year. Like 100%.
Ethan, sometimes you are too hooked with your 400 workbooks or the label on an avocado that I have to tell you 600 times before you actually start to drag your body to brush teeth or get dressed. But I have to thank you for being a functioning four-year-old who can take care of those things yourself. And this is important. Imagine one day you have five kids to get ready for school in the morning, and all I have to do is to call your wife everyday to remind her to refill her birth control prescription.
Being a kid these days is totally complicated. When I was a child, my mother used to put me at her mother’s or sister’s during weekends. And we spent the whole weekends running around the neighborhood playing with other kids because they were always around. And it’s like going to Disneyland. Sleepover at grandma’s? YEAH! I will see you next year, mom. And the key activity of a sleepover – NOT SLEEP AT ALL.
Now we have to coordinate with your aunts or cousins to determine a time and place and there are cars and drop-offs and pick-ups. Before all that, we have to assess whether or not the activities that you are going to engage will sound exciting enough to you. Because after warranting all these work, you may say No. I Don’t Want To Go Out. I Want To Stay Home And Play Lego. I am already exhausted simply from typing all that.
Ethan last time when we asked you if you wanted to sleepover at your father’s sister, Karin’s house. And we thought you’d perk up, but instead you started to grown frown.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I don’t want a sleepover!” You announced, your arms crossed tightly across your chest.
“Why not? Ethan. You used to love it.”
“I don’t like sleepovers anymore. I want to ONLY play there, then I come home and sleep in my room! Okay?”
Okay! Except we are extremely disappointed. My mother used to put me away, so she could go to disco to spend some nights out. Now we don’t have this privilege anymore. Because we are stuck with you. All we have to do is to put you to bed before any parties even start, then we scratch our butts until the next morning. That’s what we are allowed to do.
Something happened this month, some switch was flipped, and you both have started to become allies and less hostile foes. Never been this cooperative and supportive to each other. Like last time, Maya, I was mad at you because you shove your bowl of cereal off the floor. For ten minutes, I had refused to let you hold my hand although you tried so hard to pretend how sorry you were. In came your brother, who gently reached his arm to you and said, ”Come Maya.” He pulled you over and hugged you dearly. You both went off chuckling wickedly and left me wondering not only your father, but you both have started your revenge on me too.
When you are not fighting, you are onto something evil – drawing on the walls, throwing toys down the stairs, jumping over my bed. Last time you were playing “Olympics”. And when the silent had gone longer that appropriate, I ran into your room. You know what you were doing, Ethan? Teaching your sister how to split her legs, balance on the bed frame and the chair. You said she wanted to do gymnastic.
The other morning during breakfast, you both were busy making mess and noise and NOT EATING. For a long while, that annoyance feeling was wandering inside my head while I swallowed that piece of toast and drained that cup of coffee. Until we were about halfway through our breakfast when it reached a natural, pleasant, comfortable silence where I was able to seriously taste the coffee inside my coffee. And Maya, you suddenly looked at me with a tiny piece of toast mushed in your hand, crumbs all over your face, and yelled, “FUCK!”
That sip of coffee was going to flush out from my ears.
Blink. Blink Blink. Your father and I did not know what to say, I mean, I was one part mortified to the point of being paralyzed, and one part relieved at your choice of location to exhibit your fabulous swearing ability. Like I’m just managed to handle your brother’s frequent public report about his penis. I don’t think I am up for you to cuss in front of the grocery store patrons.
I turned my head to glare at you, Ethan, because I knew it was you. You smiled wickedly before you proclaimed, “Maya, don’t say FUCK. FUCK is a bad word.” BLINK! BLINK!! BLINK!!!!!!!!!!! You didn’t show her how to change her own diaper. You didn’t teach her how to load the dishwasher. You didn’t even teach her to say something better like Show Mommy Some Love And Poop In The Potty! But THIS? How dare you! How dare you think you’d get away from it! It was weeks ago, and now you are still chained in the garage. With your lips glued.
Being said that, I have to say THIS IS GREAT! Because you’ve finally started to enjoy each other’s company. Sometimes in the middle of the unhinged chaos that is our lives, I will see you both passing pieces of puzzle and putting them together without any complains. The other night, Maya, you were sitting in a laundry basket while your brother was pushing you through the living room. And you both cracked up as you purposefully hit against the wall, like a bumper car. And my involuntary reaction is to stop. This is it. I want to squeeze the air and snuggle it so tightly. Because this is my family. And I want to tell the stupid teenage of me that it is amazing. It is amazing to have a family. Why didn’t I get that?