Dear Ethan and Maya,
I have written a lot about your love to music. And the importance of having music playing in the car is like having enough oxygen to inhale when locked in a sealed room. The first thing that you care about once you get in the car is you get to have your preferred songs played. No way can we trick you about Bruno Mars with Maroon 5. And when you bark your order to play track no. 12, we have to play it right away, because you are in the mood for NOTHING but track no. 12. And yes, in fact, I am very proud that we don’t have to play kid’s songs in the car. We’ve worked hard to expose you to an array of genres, including songs that need parental guidance. So you understand that instead of just swearing, you should try rapping to get your points across.
Ethan, your talent for music has grown so significantly that you’ve started to pick up song lyrics. You can sing the whole “Enter Sandman”, even the words that you don’t understand. And when you get to the part where you are unsure about the lyrics you will look over your shoulder and muffle the sound coming out of your mouth as if you are the first person in history to think that will fool anyone. Even for some new songs that you only hear the chorus for the first time, you are able to sing along to the chorus when it comes to that apart again. What a total show off.
A few days ago after picking you up from school, before I asked you how your day was, you started to give command, “I want Maroon 5. The old one. Not the new one. OKAAAAY?” As the first track “Moves Like Jagger” had began to play, I started to hear you singing along the song. Except you were also “beatboxing” in rhythm to your own singing. I didn’t want to startle you out of this impromptu recital, so I lowered the music a little in order to hear you more clearly. You were rattling every drum beats in a perfect rhythm from start to finish. I wanted to pull over and call your father to tell him, “Your child knows time signatures. INNATELY. Maybe the years that you spent on playing drum really helped.” Now who cares about vocabularies. When you grow up to be a drummer you won’t need words.
If I have to pick one thing that I hate about parenting, it would be potty train. And eating. And discipline. And sibling sharing. And probably PARENTING. Yes. What I hate about parenting is parenting. Was I told that I shouldn’t have kids? YES! But I am stubborn. Stupid. And I love screwing myself.
Maya, I have had this potty train idea in my head for quite some time. And the fact that your brother was pretty good at potty training has convinced me that you should be easy too. When we first showed you the toilet while your brother was pooping, you were so excited to go on there. And when we put on an additional cushiony seat for you, you were fascinated. Because it wasn’t just an ordinary toilet, it was a toilet with a cushiony seat. You wanted to kiss it. YOU WANTED TO KISS A TOILET.
For a while, you loved the idea of “Go Potty”, because it’s when I would sit with you in the bathroom reading your favorite books. 400 of them. Recently you’ve started to refuse to go potty. Sometimes you will gleefully play along and sit on it, but it’s only because you know that the moment I turn my back to grab your books you will be going to hop up and run around the house with your bare butt. And nobody will understand how frustrated and desperate I am, because changing your soiled diapers has never been fun. And I know nothing of this is fun. Who would love to be a mother for wrapping up pounds of soil diapers every day? But your case is extremely un-fun because sometimes you don’t like to chew your food. And all I have to do besides getting up close and personal to your feces, I will have to pull a spring of vegetables out of your butt. Call it Poo Veggi. Nice to meet you, but yes, I am frustrated.
Yesterday after dropping your brother off to school, we had brunch with your aunt Karin and cousin Pheona. You were so blissful and adorable. All along you sat tight to finish your food, sang and wobbled your body. Everyone was so delighted to see you that they kept saying how much they love your personality. You would have caused every waitress there with a ticking biological clock to strip naked and have sex with the chef inside the kitchen.
But what they don’t see is the soft and sweet two-year-old you with the adorable lisp have started to grow horns and webs between your toes. And it has hit suddenly, out of nowhere. On the way to your grandparents’ house for dinner last week, your brother asked for his pair of sunglasses even though it was cloudy and rainy. I gave them to him without hesitation because I know kids think differently. Of course I had to give you yours too, Maya. You know, world peace. You both were having fun wearing your shades upside down and giggling so much until you started to drop them. I was patient enough to twist my body backward and lean down to reach and pick them up for you. But after the 70th time, I was done. I put them back in the compartment. You started to cry and scream SUNGAASSISS! MY SUNGAASSISS! NOW! MY SUNGAASSISS! NOW!
I know at one point you will give in and shut up. So I usually ignore you. But your father was having a heartache that I didn’t let you drop your glasses, and I didn’t pick them up for you enough. So he opened the compartment and returned the sunglasses to you. Except he didn’t realize the cute and affectionate side of you have shifted to a wave of mean and abusive outbursts, in a lot of wanting things, but not wanting things, and then wanting things again. Your father tried to hand you your glasses. You groaned, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” He took them back. You yelled, “MY SUNGAASSISS!!!!!” THE SUNGLASSES. THEY ARE WANTED, BUT DO NOT GIVE THEM TO ME BECAUSE I DO NOT WANT THEM. A lot of this is just because you are two. And you know what two-year-olds are good at? Violently hammering away their parents’ ability to remain civilized.
Ethan, remember your buddy Spiderman? The character that you used to be so crazy about that you have 400 of them in different formats at home? No, you don’t. Because you’ve been occupied by something else that not only can fly you up to the top of a building, but to the Sun and other planets. Thanks to Solar System. Because I had enough of Spiderman. But no thanks, because I cannot answer the thousand of questions that you throw out to my face every single day.
The first time you mentioned about Solar System, and asked me if you could go to Mars, I started to panic. And did I warn you not to throw any complicated questions when I was navigating the car in a rain storm in rush hour? So I explained Solar System in an absentminded, stream of consciousness kind of way: “It’s like, a bunch of planets gathered together up up in the sky. And only astronauts can go there.”
You sat with that for a second, “When I become an astronaut, I can go to Mars? Because my favorite planet is Mars. But I also like Mercury….and…Venue, Earth, Mars…..and….Satrun….nono…Jupiter, Saturn……and….Uranus….Neptune…..I like all of the planets.”
You remember all the planets. IN ORDER! I was impressed. “So where is the Sun?”
“Sun is not a planet. Sun is a star” Super impressed, but was also ashamed of myself.
Next day you came into our office and told your father that you were going to go to Mars cause I said astronauts could go to Mars.
He looked at me astounded, “You do know that no one has gone to Mars yet?”
“Well, I thought astronauts could go anywhere in the space.” I was trying to hide from the fact that I was busted for bull-shitting you.
It took your father a few attempts to explain it correctly to you. And I have no excuse other than sometimes the science I learned over 20 years ago is lodged in the part of my brain that is now getting occupied by a circle of guys, like Ryan Gosling, and the latitude and longitude of where their dates came from.
This month you both have established a habit to answer anything with Not Again?! Finish your cereal, Maya. NOT AGAIN?! Clean up, please. NOT AGAIN?! Wash your hands before you come over for lunch. NOT AGAIN?! Maya, if you don’t start going to potty and keep pooping in your diaper, you’d better get your brother to wipe your butt. NOT AGAIN?!
The other day after dinner, we all sat down on the couch reading one your favorite books that show all kinds of fruits. We went through each page and pretend eating that fruit. One of you would pretend to grab that pear from the book and feed three of us. At one point, each of you grabbed a teddy bear and started to feed each other’s bear and got them to kiss each other. When the whole scene began to melt me and I said, “Hey, I think that’s cute. Are you being cute again?” And you both screamed NOT AGAIN?!