Dear Ethan and Maya,
So, what happened this month? Hmmm…let me think…is it worth mentioning that you have been obsessed about bodies? Like how much you love flashing your tummies to strangers. Or how you touch some baby’s feet in the park? I have no idea how you got to this, but you both are fascinated about naked bodies. When I need to change, I have to sneak in the closet or bathroom without letting you know, and I’d better be quick. Once your radar starts to sense there is a naked body around, you guys will rush over and fight to touch anywhere uncovered on my body with your hands, faces and lips. I know. I know. Inappropriate! But what can I do if your father told you to not touch anybody in the park, but it’s okay to touch daddy and mommy? I think you guys are really listening.
As parents, we have to admit that we are quite unprepared when it comes to this kind of situation. We have no idea how to explain to you that touching your butt when we are playing is okay, but touching my breasts when I am changing is inappropriate. So we think as long as you are not touching any strangers’ breasts, we should be fine for now. And we apply this mentality to everything that we think is still too early to teach you. Like how you come to this world. The other day when your father and I were working in the office, and Ethan, you came over from the playroom and asked me, “Mommy, remember when I was still in your tummy?”
Me, being alert of the next question followed: Yes, of course I do.
You: How did I come out from your tummy?
Having never been this speechless, I glanced over to your father.
Your father: What do you think, Ethan?
You: Hmm…I climbed up to your throat and jumped out from your mouth!
Your father: Here you go!
I didn’t judge your father at all because I think he had done a better job.
Maya, you love to talk! For the past month, you have talked all the talks that you need for the next ten years. Every day I will have your brother ready before I come to get you. And you just wake up and start talking before I come to your room. Sometimes you talk to yourself. Sometimes you talk to us who are outside busy preparing for the morning.
Me: Ethan, go brush your teeth.
You: I want to brush teeth too. Me first!
Me: Want some toast for breakfast, Ethan?
You: NO! I WANT SAUSAGE!
Normally your brother will start being annoying, and he will go: NO! I DON’T WANT SAUSAGE! I WANT ANYTHING BUT SAUSAGE!
Then you scream like a beer-bellied, unemployed pot-head who wants your dinner now: I.WANT.SAUSAGE!!!!
This part of the game is usually where your brother starts crying hysterically, and your father and I just IGNORE everything, and let you yell or bark. Because where are you now, Maya? You are barricaded by an electrically-charged barbwire fence, aka, your crib, waiting to be rescued.
Your mouth is one of the busiest parts of your body. If it’s not eating, it’s talking. It has become extremely unbearable during car rides. Oh, how you try to keep making conversations!
You: Where are we going today?
Me: Because we need some grocery, like vegetables, bread, meat.
Me: Because we need to eat! You want to eat strawberries?
You: YEAH! I LIKE STRAWBERRIES! Can I have THREE strawberries?
Me: You can have as many strawberries as you want.
Me: Because you like strawberries!
You: Oh. Okay!
Five seconds later.
You: Where are we going today?
Now you understand what I am talking about. And If I dare to try to ignore you, you will go MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY WHERE ARE WE GOING TODAY MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY WHY MOMMY NOT TALK TO ME MOMMY WHERE ARE WE GOING TODAY MOMMY MOMMY.
When you are engaged in an activity, you never give up any chance to express how engaging you are. You have to make sure I look you in the eyes while you are telling me, “I am drawing a bear. I am coloring. I am eating noodle. I am helping daddy.” Recently you’ve started to come up with your own phrases. “I have Elmo stickers. I am stickering.” “Mommy, let’s do soccering.”
The house is never quiet when you are around. Like if you are in Walmart, people from outside will know, because of all the “I WANT CHOCOLATE. I WANT FRUITLOOPS. NONONO. I WANT CHEERIOS. I WANT HELLO KITTY SHAMPOO. THE PINK ONE. GO THAT WAY. AND GET SOME TAMPONS!” The other day your father was playing with you in the playroom while I was working in the kitchen. After a while I started to feel uncomfortable because I hadn’t heard a peep for you for an hour or so. Then I realized that your father let you watch Sesame Street on his computer, and I was mad because we are exactly the bad parents who let a computer babysit our daughter. Then he’s all, calm down! Didn’t you enjoy the quiet moment? Plus my computer is very loving.
Ethan, we’ve been pretty hands off in terms of forcing you into activities, mainly because sometimes you would rather stay home to finish an activity book. However, since we live in a hockey city, we love watching NHL, plus you seem to be interested especially when you are watching hockey players fighting on the ice, last winter we decided to let you experience this sport. Our plan was to encourage you to learn skating, and we would see if you liked it and wanted to continue. If you decided not to, NAH! YOU DON’T HAVE A CHOICE!
So far you love it, at least you grew to love it after the first few lessons you kept kneeing on the ice only playing toys or pushing the props, not willing to move your feet. There were more than one occasions where you were whining IT’S SO HARD, I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO ONE-KNEE-UP, I DON’T WANT SKATING ANYMORE. And your father had to poke you in the neck with a knife to get in the car to the damn skating rink.
Now you are able to glide on the ice without any assistance. So, progress! Even though it’s nothing remarkable. Many kids your age are now already fighting to join some hockey leagues. And if I were That Other Kind of Parent I might have you practice between meals and deny your food for days if you are not performing to “standard”.
Last Saturday was your last skating lesson, you came home with a report card from your coach. I high-fived and hugged you. “So you are ready to learn hockey, aren’t you?” And you just smiled and turned away. But I know this is the beginning of something really inspirational.
Ethan, it has become a routine that you sleepover at your grandpa’s for the weekend. Every night I kiss you goodnight and before I leave the room, you ask the same questions.
“Mommy, when I wake up I will go to grandpa’s?” you ask.
“No. Not tomorrow. Thursday after school.” I answer.
“What day is tomorrow?”
“Can it be Thursday tomorrow?”
“But I want to go tomorrow?”
“You are going to have to take that up with astronomy, kid.”
All of these strange and hilarious conversations that come out of your mouths, they become inside jokes between the whole family. And that has brought us closer together, the mutual joy we experience because you both exist. We love to imitate you saying silly things over and over again until we are all blue in the face from laughing so hard. We giggle because it’s marvelously funny, because it’s melody humming inside our chests. Because it’s you.