Ethan (22 months)

Dear Ethan,

You turn 22 months old today.

Over these couple weeks, you’ve eventually found somebody that you love after your grandpa: yourself. You love how we shower you with positive feedbacks after we put some new clothes on you. You will pat your shirt on your chest and giggle maniacally when you hear us say, “Wow, Ethan, you look so handsome!”. Now anytime you see us taking your pictures or videos, you will try to come over and grab our camera, and see what shows on the screen. When you see yourself on it, you gaze at it with a big grin and say your name “Eton! Eton!” over and over again. One of the routines that truly proves how obsessed you are to yourself is everyday after your father showers you, he will wrap you with a big towel like how Dalai Lama put on his saffron robe. I have no idea why you love to be wrapped like that so much. But your father just can’t help but have to do it EVERY TIME, let you come over to show me while I’m cleaning dishes, before he can peacefully put pajamas on you. Sometimes, you are simply too indulged to be in the wrap that you keep running around the house with it and refuse to take it off. And that’s the moment your father either fiercely snatch you in his arms and take you to change or beg me for a dirty fork and jab it through his neck.


Your love for yourself, though, hasn’t diminished your love for your grandpa one little bit. And I believe I’ve already mentioned thousands of reasons why. In your world, “grandpa” simply equals to nothing but “ANYTHING I WANT!”. When you get a chance to meet other grandpas of your friends as you grow up, I don’t think you can accept that if anyone of them does not do anything their grandchild wants. Because it’s senseless to you. “My grandpa let me drive his car when I was not even 2, taught me how to screw the Vancouver traffic system, and he took me in the bathroom to play pee-ka-boo with grandma while she’s taking a shower. What? Your grandpa doesn’t let you do these? NO WAY! IT’S ABSURD! Double check with your parents if he’s really your grandpa or call 911.”

Within our house, accompanied with your screams, there are also my frequent yells to your father after he has done something unacceptable like forgetting to change your diaper genie refills or farting as he walks past me and crop-dusting it through the house, so the smell fills every corner of it. Now, remember, in our house we live by one rule: whenever you fart, you stay where it starts. Being said that, Ethan, if I could give you any life advice, I would still suggest you to choose a partner who is not afraid to fart out loud. Life is too short to be uptight about such tiny thing. We might as well just enjoy the beauty behind it. And for this particular case, it’s how you call your father the way I call him. Whenever you hear me cry for your father, you follow me saying “Looooooooooo Gunggggggg” (“husband” in Chinese) continuously. As much as it sounds extremely fascinating, it usually works better than my call. Your father will pop out from nowhere very quickly. Sometimes with a couple additional fart bombs.


You’re in this stage of life where the only way to communicate with us is by complaining. And that’s the thing about kids. You can simply yell and scream for whatever unsatisfactory and get away with it without any consequences because you don’t know any better. But when you are an adult, and you have to deal with dumb and mean people at work just because you need money to pay bills, sometimes it’s just not nice to complain all the time. And you have to learn to suck it.

If I could describe our day yesterday, I would say both your father and me were VERY CLOSE TO HELL. It started after we took you to a park, and had to take you away from the slide after you played 900 times. SINCE THEN, you became a completely irritable person. Nothing can help you forget that air is touching your skin and causing misery. You cried ALL DAY LONG! You struggled so hard trying to get yourself out of your car seat straps while your father’s driving. We were being racked by your agonizing bawls for quite some time before you felt exhausted and fell asleep. We thought it would help to let you sleep a little longer by taking a long drive to somewhere far to have lunch. Yes, WE THOUGHT! We WISHED! And finally I believe what most parents wish from their kids will not come true! NEVER! Now, since you constantly refuse to sit tight and eat, your portable DVD player with Sesame Street videos is the only solution for us to stop your screams and have a peaceful meal without being kicked out by the restaurant owners or other patrons. However, more than often, particularly in the situation where your screams are causing vexations, the battery for the DVD player goes DEAD! And that’s the moment we are completely screwed. So, this time we had the DVD player fully charged in the car on our way to lunch. It worked the first 5 minutes we were seated. Then you started to scream shoving off anything I could give you and throwing them on the floor. At once you almost dashed the DVD player which was showing Elmo the God! We had to chow down our bowl of hot noodle as soon as possible, preferably within 30 seconds, before you yelled like a psycho and threw every spoon of noodle that we tried to put in your mouth to other customers’ tables. Eventually we had to take turns to bring you outside on the street to calm you down. And in front of everyone in the restaurant, we couldn’t be prouder at having been manipulated by a human being who’s not even able to wipe his own ass.

After lunch, I couldn’t feel like going home anymore. But, we tried to put ourselves closer to hell by doing grocery shopping. As usual, we knew it wouldn’t be easy for us because you would be strapped in the shopping cart not being allowed to sweep everything on the shelf. In an attempt to refrain your screaming, your father handed you a box of Cheerio, and this worked during the first 10 seconds until you demanded to open the box. It’s not helping even I gave you the little box of Cheerio I took with me. You wanted THAT big box, you wanted the Cheerio inside NOW, THIS INSTANT. Then your father said to you loud enough so that anyone in the parking lot outside the grocery store could hear, “Ethan, you have to pay for things. YOU UNDERSTAND?” I was teasing him in silence that why you would need to understand that when your parents are too stupid to bring you to this world to ruin their own lives. At the checkout counter, the lady running the checkout stand could tell by the look on my face that she had better scan that box of Cheerio faster than any Cheerio has the right to be scanned. She then tried to hand you back the box, but I stopped her and warned her, “I’m sure you don’t want to be in the situation that some trembling kid screams and demands to have the box opened, and you are not allowed to help as his parents don’t want to waste that $2.99 on the floor.”


Just like that, we spent our whole evening as one great family in your roll-over-the-floor screams, your father’s fiery outbreaks and my completely breakdowns……After a good night sleep, you seemed better this morning though you threw your bottle again for no reason. Then it brought me to the thoughts when we didn’t have you, thoughts comparable to what someone who never owned a pet feels when they see an adorable puppy on the street, and they want to cuddle it and take it home right away. At that moment, they never realize it will shit all over the place, eat their couch and bite their arms. And Ethan, I do think if you don’t bite my arms enough to bleed to death by tomorrow, I will get someone to do it for you.

However, I’ve also realized motherhood is not at all like the image I had in my head before. It’s so different, so surprising. When I thought you were such a harmonious and happy kid that so-called “Terrible Two” would not hit you whatsoever, I’ve seen the worst of you. Yet, the most marvellous surprise is my relationship with you is pushing me to become a more patient person, a much bigger person than I thought possible. You have helped me to see the parents I used to judge, including mine, are some of the most long-suffering people on Earth. Having you made me feel more human than anything I’ve ever done, made me feel less alone among strangers.


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