Dear Ethan and Maya,
Sometimes I think I would dig myself into your noses and pull your brains out of it when I tried to clean out your boogers. The clearing out of little children’s nasal passage isn’t something I signed up for when I decided to procreate. Neither the horrifying clipping of your nails. These things are more to torture mothers than to help keep babies clean.
Maya, you might think over the past two years I’ve been dealing with Ethan, I should be pretty prepared for you. But you should see how I do it on your brother, your hyper-active brother whom I have serious difficulty to restrain him from moving when I try to get the job done. And the force I apply on him is so violently severe that it may cause fracture on his neck or fingers. Not that you are as restless, but your nails are so much softer, and I’m completely mortified by the real possibility that I may cut you and cause you to bleed, something I have done on more than one occasion. And I AM SORRY. Now, to minimize the casualty, I will clip your fingernails when you are asleep. The whole process involves cutting off all audio sound, turning on all the lights, and holding my breath until near suffocation. It usually takes at least an hour to finish all ten fingers. Besides the fact that I need to wipe my sweat, I also take the time to admire every adorable joint and knuckle in your beautiful hands, definitely your father’s gene.
The other thing that I didn’t sign up for is potty training. Ethan, you used to sit on your small potty that your grandmother bought you, the one that plays music when you go in the potty. The design is supposed to award children for success, so there is no need for parents to force the issue because you are supposed to take the initiative yourself. And of course it is never applicable to you who loves the break the nature, and we have to force the issue. You are always given choices of coming to sit on your potty or not watching “Monsters Inc” three times a day. You did pee into it before you played with your wet penis, and reached books with your urinated hands. But you barely take a dump into it. In fact, you’ve been introduced the concept of toilet for quite some time now. We’ve been talking to you, showing you your messy stinky soiled diaper, threatening you it’s going to be your responsibility to handle it, because my stomach can’t take it anymore. We also let you follow us to see how we go potty where you are completely excited about the wiping and flushing parts. So we bought you a small toilet seat that we attached onto the big potty, hoping you might be fascinated by the idea of being a big boy using big potty. And it worked the first time I put you on, you pooped a big one that you were so eager to do the flushing afterwards. Honestly I thought I got that mother wisdom again suggesting the toilet seat idea. I was so ecstatic and I yelled so loud that our neighbors might have heard me. And again, how dumb I am because THAT’S IT so far! You haven’t pooped in there since then. You are okay coming to the potty because we will sing you all the 20 songs in your Elmo music book at least three times. And the forth time, you get us to come up with new lyrics, like senseless syllables, so you will remain sitting there for another 15 minutes until you beg us to let you go. Most of the time, after we put your diaper on, you will poop within minutes. Well, you can’t stand having anything messy on your body that you request us to wipe your hands and mouth all the time, but you are happy with your butt fully bundled up with your feces?
I was told that it is important to talk to your baby to help develop her language skill. And Maya, that is what I always forget to do. Can you imagine that you try to talk to a person who refuses to answer you or give you any indication that she can differentiate your voice from the sound of the washing machine? So, to prevent myself from going hours without saying anything, which has happened all the time, I have started to describe everything I do, non-stop, hours and hours:
Right now, Maya, I am going to do the 600th load of laundry. The one that you just came up with including your poopy onesy, drooling bib, milk-stained burp towel……and that could probably sum up your daily activities – EAT AND SHIT. Now, the detergent is in, very soon it will be foaming, and the machine will be running like an angry cat. While we are waiting for the laundry, why don’t we go turn on the TV and watch the Food Network channel, and try to see what I have not made and forced your brother to eat. Nah, I will never do force-eating, like your grandma forced your brother to eat figs, seven a day. I will also never force you to show cleavage while you are cooking like those chefs on food shows. Not that I’m against cleavage showing, I mean at least you have something to show, and you don’t have to cry endlessly complaining your boobs aren’t big enough. Please, God, give you ones with decent size. But when you are stirring that pot of lamb stew, the last thing you want is to have sizzling hot sauce spilled on your bare chest.
That’s how my day goes, really, with blow-by-blow commentary on everything I do during the day. And all I want is that one or two words will sneak into your head, and maybe your first word will be “artichoke”, or “simmering”, or maybe “cleavage”.
Part of our “superior parenting” is to introduce you to TV, Ethan. I said “superior” because it works on controlling your every tantrum. Our “strategy” is ask you to calm down, so you can pick a show to watch. And that’s how you know YOU HAVE CHOICES. Last time when I refused to pour you the fourth cup of apple juice, you became so upset that you tried to strain your every muscle in your body to open the refrigerator and get that box of apple juice yourself. Except that you couldn’t. And you screamed. In a moment of exasperation, I poured you another cup. The light of success was beaming from your two huge eyeballs, your half mouth drinking that goddamn apple juice, another half grinning. Then you came to grab my hand and requested to watch Monsters Inc. I said no. Cars. No. Elmo. No. Toy Story 2. No. Thomas the Train. No. Toy Story 3. Each pause stretched like a rubber band stressing the possibilities. Then we got you to sit on the couch and turned on the show for you. By that time, you were almost done with your drink, you held your empty cup to me and shouted, “Apple juice.” I ignored you. Apple juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu! No. Orange juuuuuuuuuuuuuu! No. Millllllllllllllllllllk. No. Oh my god. Your brain could barely wrap itself around the possibilities.
Your father and I shook our heads feeling sad about how much longer both of you will be manipulating us for. And how long it is going to take for us to remember those damn Sesame Street songs BACKWARDS. But more importantly whenever I think about sitting next to you singing or reading that same book over 400 times, I’m reminded that you have made me live my life differently, more slowly. I can’t pass the kids cloth section in the store without stopping to see if they have anything pretty. I can’t go by a park without thinking if you like to play that slide. I’m no longer against the idea of having pets because you are thrilled to be around them. You have slowed me down and brought me closer to the kid I used to be. And, Ethan, not only do I forgive you for making me learn those damn Elmo songs, I thank you for that. Because, Maya, every time I sing you the song, you smile with open mouth and wide eyes. Your limbs wriggle with excitement and you squint your forehead with glee. Ethan, you’ve taught me how to make Maya laugh. Very soon, you will do it yourself.