Dear Ethan and Maya,
I know that posting about you has been really light recently, and that’s due in no small part to the fact that I have about 16 different things in the air right now and I’m desperately trying not to let anything hit the ground. Running a website and a bakery already requires double of my time, and my body doesn’t have the energy it needs to run the daily routine of our family. When you both are around I only have two hands and you seem to have hundreds. The work of running a family on top of everything can totally obstruct the joy, and when it does, I will see myself repeating myself in an attempt to maintain some order during the whole day, and I don’t enjoy that!
Writing to you has helped me find the humor in this job. I find so much enjoyment in sitting down and trying to figure out a way to tell a story that you both will one day laugh at. And that really helps me get through those rough days.
This month we’ve all started to see a lot of sibling time between you both. And I have to give credit to you, Ethan, for being a very mature big brother. You often like to sit with Maya and watch entire episodes of Barney, and although you are probably not too proud to admit it, you can sing along to every song almost better than Maya does. In fact, whenever Barney starts to ask the audience to sing along, you will stand up and get ready, although occasionally you will grunt, “Not again?!” which I think shows incredible restraint on yourself. Because I will usually be tempted to throw a rock at Barney’s head.
Every morning when your father and I try to steal that additional 15 minutes of sleep, or an hour or two, instead of bugging us to leave the bed, you both will happily entertain each other. Recently you’ve started to play “Princess Elsa” game. And yes, Ethan, I am sorry to tell you this, but you love that movie too. For several minutes you act out the various part of the movie, like Princess Elsa building the ice castle while singing and dancing, and shooting the ice lasers to the bad guys. You always forget the name, but Olaf the Snowman is always one of your key roles. Like you will begin all of his adventure with Princess Anna with a destination in mind, like the beach, or the big mountain, or sometimes even rehab, oh, no, you haven’t acted out that part yet.
“Frozen” hit kids and spread like the plague. When our neighbors’ kids come over for a playdate, five minutes in, you kids are sitting properly on the couch and starting to watch that movie. The fourteenth time. And when their mother comes over to check out her kids, I have to shrug my shoulders and calmly explain, “They did just tell me to let it go.”
Maya, you even requested me to do Princess Elsa’s hair one morning. Now I have to stop and mention again about my experience of brushing your hair every morning – I’d look like Edward Scissorhands carving a vomiting hippopotamus out of your head. Every day you wake up and it’s like I have to call a landscaper right now. It’s nuts! And when I try to detangle it, you will scream, “Mom, LET IT GO!” I have no choice but just tie it whatever I can, and leave it to your loving teacher at pre-school to figure it all out.
Preschool could not be going better, although there are mornings when I have to dissuade you from bringing along some of “your stuff”. You seem to be really excited every morning when you realized that’s a school day. No more anxiety. I also think your teachers really like you because they’ve always got a story for us when we come to pick you up. Just last week one of them looked up from a group of kids to say hello to you in the morning, and when you waved hello back to her she told us that you are always polite, always saying thank you and asking please in the right circumstances, always eager to share and take the lead to engage other kids who are shy. You are a very popular kid. On the way home, I asked you, “So Maya, looks like everyone loves to play with you, doesn’t it?”
You: YES! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVERYONE! Ben, Olivia, Emily, Chelsea, Connor…
Me: Really? But why?
You: Because I am funny. I am always joking.
Me (almost burst out laughing): Can you tell me a joke?
You: Hmmm…I was joking with Olivia today, but she didn’t like it. But I was just joking.
Me: This is your joke?
You: Yes. But I was just joking!
How could you be not popular?!
Maya, you seem much more invigorated by life as you grow. And you are much more inspired to create stories and tell wild, imaginative tales. Your favourite stories are silly stories, all of them involving anything and anyone. At night after we read you a book, we will snuggle together for a few minutes and talk about our day. You love it so much when I talk about purple big house (!) or green dinosaur (!!) or skinny but fat grandma (!!!), because HOW SILLY IS THAT? Quite silly, apparently. One night we were both laughing so hard that your father asked what we’d been doing in there. And I was all SKINNY BUT FAT GRANDMA, GET IT? And he was all, what? And I was all obviously you had to be your daughter to understand.
Ethan, your teacher says you are terrific in class too. And you never seem to want the school day to end. You want extra five minutes on the playground with your friends. You want a playdate at your best friend’s house. When we decide it’s time to go home, you will become incredibly grumpy, like, do you know how hard it is to have kept it together for six hours? I am so going to let it out now because I won’t be able to see my friends until the next day.
And this is you. Like this morning we were still snuggling in my bed, your head touching mine. But as I was walking you into the school building, you refused to hold my hand out of embarrassment. And all I could think of was the warmth of your forehead on my pillow this very morning. The warmth from the child hidden inside you.
This month the list of words you can read has multiplied quite a bit, and often you’re spelling words out loud at random times. Like, oooh, look, there’s a cat. C-A-T. Or I love you, mom. L-O-V-E. You love to draw. And your drawings always tell elaborated stories. You still enjoy doing math. And you are really good at it now that you don’t want any help from us at all. Maybe because you are just like me, you like to perform things well. On your own. And if you accidentally confuse addition with subtraction and all the answers are wrong, you will want to tear up that specific page, and declare that you will never be able to do math ever in the rest of your life. I SO UNDERSTAND. This frustrates your father to no end, and in moments like this I have to step in because I know exactly how you are feeling. It’s called the We’re Going To Die Homeless And Alone.
Spring is here. For weeks you’ve begged us to let you go outside, and we’ve said we had to wait until it got sunny and warmer. You would wake up in the morning, look hopefully out your bedroom window and ask today? Is it warm today? And I had to say, no, not today, even though there are kids right now sunbathing in Hawaii, today the kids in Vancouver are totally screwed because of the annoying rain.
Your father and I have always wanted to live in a house with a backyard, ideally lots of family nearby, beautiful landscapes to explore throughout the year, west side of the city. But neither of us were willing to sell drugs to fulfil that desire. So we made sacrifices here and there, took a hard look at how we really wanted to live, and here we live in a suburb. Neither of us ever thought we’d be here, family keeps complaining how far we are. But now that we are here, and we couldn’t be happier.
Last Sunday the sky started to clear up, the sun came out and it’s so warm. You just couldn’t wait and spend most of the day out at the backyard. At one point, you both came back inside the kitchen to show me a ladybug that you held with a leave. You both fought to tell me the story about how it flew all the way from Brazil (?) to our house. Before you finished, the ladybug flew away.
Ethan, you took Maya’s hand and ran outside trying to chase after it. Except it’s gone. “Bye, ladybug,” you said. You both waved at it, “Let’s look for another one!” I could feel my heart expanding so wide that it filled every corner of my chest.