Today you turn three years old.
This month you started preschool. This is something we have wanted to get you involved with for a while, mostly because you already know more than I did when I started kindergarten, and I’m pretty sure you are bored at home. We also think that this will be a great opportunity to let you make some friends. And then there’s the real reason we decided to enroll you – every morning when your brother is about to leave for school, you will start putting on your socks and shoes because you want to go too. We have to repeat the cruel fact to you over and over again that you have nowhere to go, except staying home. Sometimes you have a hard time accepting this and you will start bawling and fighting us who are trying to take off your damn shoes. I think we had enough.
We knew that you would immediately love going to preschool. You are familiar with the preschool environment because you used to come with us when we dropped off your brother. You know which way to go after we get off the car, you know the teachers and the kids there, you know where to find your favorite puzzles. In the days leading to your first day, we told you about all the books you’d get to read, about the playground with the slide, and all the drawings and paintings. You hung on every word, nodded vigorously at the thought of all those toys, and then you asked, “And I will watch TV too? Netflix Elmo?”
I’m pretty sure they have a TV, although I’m guessing that most of the other parents would prefer their kids to do more learning than watching TV. But if I find out that the teachers have let you watch an episode or two of “Sesame Street”, I’m sure I won’t write any letters to the government over it. Because I need to save those letters for other more pressing issues, like, Dear Mayor, it’s getting so hard to buy liquor on Sundays. Please fix this.
Your transition into preschool has been bittersweet. Except few mornings that you became inconsolable, you’ve been pretty settled into this change. Every morning when I drop you off, you are all ready to shove me out the door and tell me to go away, like I am crowding you or cramping your toddler-style. Come on, Maya, it’s not like I am going to lick my finger, and use it to wipe a booger off your cheek, all right there in front of your new friends. No! God. No. You won’t be embarrassed by your parents like this because we know that you are totally okay hanging out with a worm of snot wiggling around on your upper lip.
And in fact you won’t be embarrassed by anything or anyone at all. Because you don’t care. Your care-free personality has pretty much summed up the 2-year-old of you. Every time you wake up, your hair is a flame of tangles around your face, your shirt wrapped up above your round pokey belly, and you are ready to party. Like if we are going to the park after your afternoon nap, you will put on your sneakers with no socks and hop in the car right after you jump off your bed. Who cares about public attire.
This morning I asked you how old you were, and you screamed, “TWO!” Your brother knew the alphabets when he was eighteen months old, Maya. You are three and you can’t even count that high. Of course your brother was the one who couldn’t stand that mistake and had all the responsibilities to correct you. He repeated THREE over and over again, until you finally said, “I’m turning two-three!”
Well, PROGRESS. I have no doubt that you will pass the math exams waiting for you in your future, so it doesn’t matter right now that you don’t care if you answer incorrectly when someone asks about your age.
I won’t lie, I was very scared of two. I was terrified of the inevitable tantrums and meltdowns that I had previewed with your stubborn brother. And here on the other side of it I will tell you that the last year with you has been joyous. You’re a lot more spontaneous and easy going than your brother, and I am not dissing him in any way by saying that. You two are just different. Example: your brother is self-motivated to do his activity books. You, I imagine, will indulge yourself with a bunch of wooden sidings you’ve ripped from the back of the neighbor’s house.
You can run fast, jump, ride a tricycle and DANCE. You dance with your arms in the hair, hips to the side, bootie right down to the ground. Most of the time, I can’t help but say, ‘Hey you, I think you are cute again.” And you will scream I AM NOT CUTE AGAIN. Yes you are cute again. No I am not cute again. You continue to scream it until I finally agree to say that you are NOT cute again. Then you ponder a while and say YES I AM CUTE AGAIN.
Dance is your language, spoken so fluently that sometimes when I watch you in those moments where your body is so clearly feeling the music and expressing the happiness in your soul, I’m brought to tears. That’s how I want to live my life, I think.
I envy you, Maya. Not only because you can dance, but also because you’ve made me come to know about myself. You are the child who constantly challenges the most underlying characteristics of my personality. You show me what it’s like to let go when I hate letting go, to shrug if I realize I’m running late when I hate running late, to slow down and explore how something works when I just want it to work. I try these things because I cannot contain your spirit, not that I would want to. But watching you manoeuvre through life makes me think you are on to something.
You take my toys out of my closet and set them on fire, and suddenly, I realize I kind of like them that way. And I would never have known that without you.