Dear Ethan and Maya,
First of all, I apologize for missing a letter last month. It’s the first time I didn’t manage to spare time to write you a letter. And in fact it’s been bugging me all along. What will you be thinking? You didn’t grow much last month? You spent the whole month throwing tantrums and your mother finally felt too bored to write about it? The world stopped revolving because, just like your parents, it can’t stand your grunting anymore? I could come up with some elaborate excuse for why it wasn’t ever written in the first place, but I know you guys don’t want to hear all that crap. I got busy. Life sort of turned on its head recently and I just didn’t get to it. My new bakery business is really coming along, and I am thrilled. I can’t promise that it won’t happen again, but I have a feeling that if either one of you gets arrested in high school for spray-painting the four-letter word on the wall of the cafeteria, it won’t be because last month’s letter is missing. It will be because we didn’t do a good enough job of teaching you how not to get caught.
You can also blame entirely on the savage way this summer holiday disrupted our lives. Last two months have been an endless string of wedding, family parties, dinners, family trip and friends gatherings, plus late bedtimes and missed meals. I am not complaining. I do love my family and friends dearly. And I think this is one of the many reasons your father and I decided to move here to raise our family, to be near his family.
Some family members flew over to visit. I am glad that you’ve got a chance to spend time with them, especially your cousin Pearlie, because knowing her gives me a sense of peace when it comes to figuring out why the world would ever stop revolving. Well, it’s not your grunting anymore. It’s her screaming, her smashing your Legos and her pulling your hair. I know. I know. You are still recovering. Considered the bloodshed that you both have created in the house, I didn’t anticipate any of these. I was more thinking about how you both would team up to bully her because she’s smaller. First time she stepped into our house, she started to go through your rooms and toys right away. At one point in the playroom when she snatched whatever you had in your hands, you both looked at each other puzzled, like WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED? And that really surprised me. Because normally it’s either Maya, you bite her back, or Ethan, you start crying hysterically. But none of these happened. I think one of the reasons is that we don’t usually have other kids in the house. Our friends’ kids are older than you are. When it comes to deal with another kid who looks like a walking baby, you are clueless. And I was secretly thinking maybe I should have Pearlie stay in our house. So whenever she’s around, you both would sit in a corner and mumble incoherently. Because she would hold you down and fart in your faces.
Days went by, we saw Pearlie more often. Sometimes, Maya, you couldn’t take it anymore and you started to fight back. While Ethan, except the few times when Pearlie put her fingerprints on your precious Legos and you collapsed, mostly you were drawn closer to Pearlie. Interestingly, I saw the care from a brother to his little sister that I haven’t seen between you and Maya. You were so passionate yet very gentle to Pearlie. Always you called out PEARLIE! COME! when you wanted to show her your toys. I asked you once if you loved Maya or Pearlie more.
You: Because Pearlie is cute.
Me: (I have to say I love the way you said “cute” because it’s so cute) Don’t you think Maya is cute too?
You: But Pearlie is new. Mommy, did Pearlie come from your tummy?
That made me think about what I’ve always thought about – having a third child. I always fancy a family of three children. Maybe I grew up with my brother, and I want something different from my own childhood. But after the experience I’ve had with you both, with the daily blood spatter. Plus the few days we had Pearlie stay in our house, more blood spatter. I am not sure if I could handle three kids. Well, I know I will always want to put the shiny, bald heads of infants in my mouth. The baby itch. But I am aged. I am too exhausted to keep wiping away the blood in the house all day long.
I guess the most significant thing that happened in the last two months was how you adore the president suite we stayed for Pheona’s wedding and the Whistler trip we took with your father’s family. The very first wedding you went to was at an aquarium. Yeah! People have their wedding at an aquarium. When you were told that we were going to Pheona’s wedding, all you could think about was to go to an aquarium. “No, Ethan, people get married at an aquarium, in a zoo, under the sea. But we are going to a hotel. People get married in different places.”
“Why not aquarium?” You were confused.
“Well, maybe Pheona doesn’t want the sharks and elephants to be around when she’s reading her vow? Cause it would be very distracting.”
You seemed convinced. When we arrived at the hotel room, you both just kept running right in, searching every corner of the suite before throwing yourselves head-first onto the couch and the bed. “Are we going to live here?” That was so refreshingly innocent of you, Ethan, to be able to overlook the fact that it costs a fortune to stay in this president suite, and be all, “I want to live here forever.” Oh My God! How excited you were to stay in a bed that wasn’t your own! Maybe you both really deserve to live there just because of how well-groomed you look at the wedding. I would say you just did an okay job as a ring bearer and flower girl, but anytime you walked past somebody, a guest, a stranger, ANYONE, they wouldn’t take their eyes off you. I know kids look adorable in weddings. Everyone loves them! But I just wanted to thank you. Cause it was also a proud day for me.
We spent a weekend with the whole family in Whistler after the wedding. High on the list of things that would have prevented us from joining was the long drive up to the mountain. Two hours. Totally nothing, right?! But not for us! If there is an ultimate penalty for a prisoner, I would highly recommend a 15-minute car ride with you both. TOGETHER! The intense screaming, the never-ending fighting, the way you refuse to listen to any of our suggestions to make things better. Both your father and I will yell from the front seat – we are almost there, stop asking why it is taking so long! You don’t drink with this bottle, you will get all wet! Stop crying! Crying won’t dry your shirt. Maya, one of your favorite activities is to kick your brother. I am not even kidding, this kicking thing goes on forever. The screaming about “MOMMY! MAYA IS KICKING ME AGAIN!” and “MAYA, PUT YOUR LEG BACK!” and “NO! I DON’T WANT TO” goes forever, until you are so exhausted from fussing that you pass out. Then a stop at the traffic light wakes you up, and for a few quiet seconds you look around like, hmm, where am I, what’s going on? Until you realize, wait, wasn’t I in the middle of doing something? Something important? Oh yeah, right! I was in the middle of letting them know that AHHHHH! I DON’T WANT TO PUT MY LEG BACK!
You. Crazy. Lady.
The trip didn’t look much different from our regular family gatherings, except we had to be together with 600 people for three days – actually, not just people, FAMILY people, two very different things. It’s not like we could just say “I Gotta Go! Wonderful dinner! See you guys!” when your grandpa starts to yell about how stupid your grandma is because he just feels like yelling at her AGAIN. No. You would have to listen to this shit for three days.
Turned out we survived. And most importantly, we had great fun. Ethan and Maya, you teamed up with Pearlie to entertain the rest of us delightfully. We just couldn’t get enough of you guys. And I think that’s the whole point of the trip – to have all the kids confided in a big vacation house so adults could be near you and hold you and flick your hair whenever we wanted. Every night after dinner, we gathered in the living room watching you kids running around. You would start dancing to the music although it was way over your bedtime. It didn’t matter that you weren’t anywhere dancing to the right key. The music just electrified every joint in your bodies. And it filled the entire house with the sound of giggles.
I know people like us don’t vacation anymore, because once you have kids, you don’t go anywhere, you suffer. You have given us pause here and there, have made us wonder, how do we keep on doing this? But I have to say, more than anything, you have made us more capable of loving, have made our family more united. We are more willing to get together no matter how busy our lives are, how far apart we are, because we are desperate to share something – the way kids make us feel.