Dear Ethan and Maya,
November came and it is officially cold and rainy. And gloomy. One of the thousands of questions that we have to keep answering you when it’s sunny is “Do we play pool today?” Sunny day to you is simply playing pool, staying outside, SUMMER. You go to bed with strong day light, you wake up to a welcoming sun. You don’t have to understand why there is no sunset in summer. Because you don’t need to understand. Just enjoy being children who don’t require to understand things. So if I really let you out and play in an outdoor pool, and if your bodies freeze that your limbs fall off, the only thing that you have to understand is I love you, and I will let you do anything you want.
One thing that we miss doing outside is playing hide-and-seek. Ethan, you love running laps around the house, sometimes chanting the theme songs of Cars or Sesame Street. I remember last summer when you turned all the lap running into hide-and-seek, and one time when we were hanging at your aunt Karin’s backyard after dinner, and you initiated to play the game with her. You chose the same spot to hide every time. And when Karin finished counting and pretended to look for you, within five seconds you became very impatient and announced I AM HERE! Because you wanted nothing more than for her to find you. That was YOUR way to play hide-and-seek. And we all enjoyed that moment. We all laughed so hard that we almost had heart attack.
And this is what really confuses Koby when he’s around. Like why are THE HUMANS running in circles? There must be a good reason why they do it. Over and over again. But Koby is a chill-out dog, and he will just look for a spot that doesn’t require him to get involved and hide however long until you disappear. Which is incredibly smart! Not as dumb as your sister who will feverishly follow right behind you, like, WHERE ARE YOU GOING? WHERE ARE YOU GOING? IS THERE FOOD? And when you found a spot to hide, she will just stand there to peek inside, like, DID YOU FIND SOMETHING? OH, YOU MUST HAVE FOUND CANDY!
One night last week, you both brought this game inside the house. And that was the most laughter-filled evening that we’ve ever had so far. Ethan, this time you were creative, and you took Maya to hide in all possible corners in the house, behind the kitchen counter, inside the walk-in closet, under the dinning table. As this game only requires hiding, but no seeking, every time your father was done counting, he would simply go to your calling “WE ARE HERE”, and pretended to sweat so much to find you. And when it’s your turn to look for your father, you two ducklings just stood dumbfounded in the middle of the living room, one pressing the forefinger to the lips, one flipping the head around, like, hmmmm…daddy is not right here out in the open, this game is getting too complicated. And next, Ethan, you would start yelling WHERE ARE YOU DADDY? Demanding your father to follow your rule to announce his position. Then you would turn to Maya, “I know where daddy is. Let’s go find him.” When you finally waddled over to find him, you would start to squeal triumphantly, “I GOT YOU! I WON!”
I enjoyed that evening so much not only because it was fun to watch all this happen, but also because it signifies one of those rare moments where you both don’t try to kill each others. I know I am saying that again. But this is exactly what we are dealing with all the time. Last week you both started to fight over cartoon shows. One of our ultimate nightmares. Did I see that coming? TOTALLY. Did I expect that it would possibly involve a smashed couch and a dislocated television? Somebody should’ve told me! Why am I trapped with these two stubborn creatures? Why am I involved?
Our normal morning is to fight you both to finish your breakfast. Or Maya, I would say, to force you to look at us to finish our breakfast. Because shockingly you’ve started that annoying eating disorder like all two-year-olds do, despite the fact that you had been such a good eater. And now I figure the only reason why you ate so much before is to prepare for this non-eating ritual. But I am cooler than that now, thanks to the training your brother gave me. I am done with jabbing my thigh with a fork or banging my head against the wall. You don’t finish your breakfast? You don’t get to watch your favorite Sesame Street! And that morning when we decided to let your brother watch Tom and Jerry after he finished his food, you collapsed into a furious, erratic heap. You screamed your lung out for ELMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO when you saw your father was operating the remote hoping he would not be this cruel and turn on Sesame Street for you. Except WE ARE CRUEL AND VERY MEAN. What happened next was the growling alien head tore it way out of your chest and bit off your brother’s arm when your brother started to hum along the theme song of Tom and Jerry. Totally natural reaction for you. A bit dramatic though.
Your brother pushed you away. Feeling upset that you bit him, but he knew he won. He just forgivingly smooched over to HIS SPOT – the middle seat of the couch. He insists to sit in this spot every time he’s watching TV, so he can face straight to the television. Moving any left or right is unacceptable to him. If you happen to need to cross in front of the television, you’d better army-crawl on the floor, considered the bullets you have to dodge shooting from his eyes.
You wouldn’t stop screaming for EELLLLLLMMMMMOOOOOO. Until the moment your father put down the remote, and you knew it’s over. No point to scream anymore. You then CALMLY paced to the television and lounged your back on the TV stand, your upper body blocking your brother from watching the television. BLOCKING HIS SPLENDID VIEW TO HIS FAVORITE SHOW. Since when we have such thing at home? Your brother became a burning ring of fire, jumping and rolling and screaming on the couch. This is the moment I normally clear my throat and yell RUN FOR YOUR LIVES. Seriously, when your brother is on fire, every one is burnt. But Maya, you just kept your posture and stood there like an evilly possessed innocent girl, shooting fire balls back to your brother. TELL ME WHO’S THE WINNER! I have to say, Maya, you totally rocks! Just if I know how to win over you, bitch!
Ethan, a few months ago you dreadfully transitioned from taking an hour afternoon nap to not taking a nap at all. And we decided to push your bed time from 9AM to 8AM considering you might get tired earlier. Except you don’t seem to need any sleep for the rest of your life. Every evening we have to go through the run of putting you to bed, then you come out to pee, go back to bed, come out to check out what’s on TV, go back to bed, want to kiss or hug us for the 16th time, go to bed, pick a toy to sleep with, go back in, want an explanation of the sound from the dishwasher. It has become a routine. And your father has to make sure you have done everything that you can possibly come up with before your bedtime.
There are many mornings when you will come over to our room around 6AM requesting to sleep in our bed, or to lie down beside us. We will tell you that it’s not the time to wake up yet, then we get up UNWILLINGLY and take you back to your room. Just a few more minutes later, you will come back because you know we don’t want to get up over and over again, and you will eventually get to stay in our bed. Depending on your mood, sometimes you will sleep for another hour. Most of the time, you will either bring up some really noisy toy to play with for the next hour, or if you get really bored, you will start practicing wrestling or judo until we can’t stand taking your feet in the face anymore. AND HELL WE ALL GET UP!
One morning last week I was at work, your father texted me, ” This morning your son didn’t come over to our room until 7.30AM.”
“And he came over only to ask me to go back to his room to wake him up!”
“WHAT?????” I know it happens to all families – wake up your children with a kiss and a nice “Good morning.” But our normal morning is judo kicks. IN THE FACE. If I could wake up one day NOT to the sound of your annoying scream, I think I would have a pretty successful morning.
The next morning, you came out at 5AM just to pee before you went right back to sleep. 7AM came and you weren’t awake. 7.30AM came and you were awake. 7.45AM, 7. 50AM, 8AM. I turned to your asleep father, “Hm……do you think he’s dead?”
Then I paced close to the door of your room, just realized that you were awake talking to yourself. I gently opened the door, you welcomed me with a big grin on your morning handsome face. We hugged for a long time, because I know this stuff doesn’t happen in real life. In fact it didn’t happen again the next morning.
I instantly snapped out of it and started to think about this strange dynamic between parents and kids. You get so frustrated with your children when they wake up early, and then you get just as frustrated when they sleep in and scare you to death. I know you are not doing either on purpose, but the irrational part of my brain is like why are you doing this to me when you know how much I love you?
And I am telling you kids, once you have children you live inside that question for the rest of your life.