Dear Ethan and Maya,
What is this? A letter? What, you’d given up on the idea that I would ever write one again? Because there is no more poop and boobs to write about? Well, in fact I have tons of other things to work on, like how you love to scratch your butt during dinners, or other body parts close to it. Things like that!
Now you will notice that the letters are written to commemorate the season of the year and not your ages in months. It’s a change I implemented to reflect that the letters will be written to signify the things that we did together as a family during a specific time frame. I also think that it will give a break to people who have been concerned about my counting your ages in months, like it really bothers them when I tell them that my son is 62 months old and they literally cannot go to bed because the math is too complicated to solve!
Speaking of math, Ethan, you continue to thrive at this subject. Can you believe that you are doing fraction now? At grade one? Solving math problems is all you care about now. Like you’re done 9-digit addition and subtraction, almost over multiplication and division, and let’s do fraction now because of all the pie charts that you get to outline and shade and show to your friends during playdates. Playdates are no longer about playing. It’s about lecturing and learning. Grab a piece of paper, write some math problems and that’s how you start your playdates. Some of your friends’ puzzled faces are telling me, “Fraction? What the hell am I supposed to do with this fraction???? I thought I came to a playdate, not Kumon.” And I only hope I could offer a pat on their back or a tight hug, and try, “Ethan, how about a little math and go make noise and smash things. I think that’s what your friends came here for.”
Very soon Maya, you will join your brother to start the school journey. Unlike Ethan, you never spend a second on your playdate not playing. It’s funny to see your brother at age two point to a group of letters and say, “Giraffe!” and being right about what it says, especially given that you at age four would look at those same letters and say, “It says, ‘I DO NOT CARE AT ALL.’” It’s you, my playful Maya, who will mention how much she hates homework if you ask her about school. Having to trace all those letters, add those numbers, plow all those fields, clean out all those toilets, scrub all those floors on her hands and knees. I’m calling it right now that one day I’m going to find you actually trying to get your aunt’s dog to eat those workbooks.
Unlike your MBA graduate father, I sucked at math throughout elementary school and high school. Oh, all those years of pain journalling that have robbed me of everything I learned. Now I know that I have to go through school all over again with you both, I’ve started to look back my school years and question what all the math was supposed to prepare me for. And Maya, I am sure you are the only one who will understand that it’s absolutely nothing, except more math homework. Because you are younger and wiser.
I know you both are doing really well, no matter what it represents. We parents are always given a handful of reminders that the challenges our kids face are real and present, but then the greater truth of watching you learn new things, regardless of your pace and position, is about the most fulfilling thing that my heart can withstand.
Ethan, you’ve started to ask questions about where we all came from. I was pretty prepared to talk about sex with you. So when the first time you asked me how did you go inside my tummy, I thought I did a pretty good job explaining things to you, and figured one of the challenging things that I had to do as a parent was accomplished. Except the next day you asked, “So I came from you, mommy. And you came from your mommy. Where did the FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST MOMMY come from?” Isn’t that the best question? Only if I know the answer! So your father tried to tell you about human evolution. And you were amazed to learn that we were actually all apes. So it’s true, afterall we are all Pokémon.
For a few days, you were quite satisfied with this explanation, until you started to reckon, “So where did the FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST APE come from?” Oh, dear lord! Why weren’t you here when we needed you?
Me: Hmmm…the very first ape evolved from something else.
You: From what?
Me: You know. Evolution is sometimes hard to explain. You will get there when you are older. (Hate me now! I know you will!)
You: I know what evolution is. AND YOU DON’T.
Well, just because you’ve watched a substantial amount of Pokémon, it doesn’t make you a better biologist, Ethan! But you said it with a little too much attitude. And I immediately burst out laughing which is the last thing you want to do to a six-year-old who had too much to ask and was not trying to be funny. Because right then you gave me a look that said PLEASE DIE and whipped your empty cup off to the floor from the kitchen counter. Here you are, Ethan, my magnificent first-born who never settles for mediocrity, who has seriously dropped the bomb and declared that MOM YOU ARE SCREWED!
Maya, I have been trying to slow down my schedules so I can savor the time with you before you start kindergarten. There are still months away, I know, but I also know that it will very soon be a bit of history, when it was only mommy, instead of Vera, Mackenzie, Rebecca…and oh your BFF Olivia.
So we go to malls, grocery stores, library, and stay home watching Netflix, which is your favorite. You love Netflix so much that sometimes when I have to drag you out to run errands, your head will erupt into flames, and the bottom half of your body will collapse across the ottoman, and screams through the fire of your head, “BUT I WANT TO WATCH DORA!” until I mention Apple Store. Oh Apple Store! Suddenly you will remember all the time you get to play games on an iPad at the back of the store. And your tone will change instantly from CURRENTLY DYING to polite conversation over tea at the tennis club. “Mommy! I’m going to the Apple Store with you! I loooooooooooove the Apple Store. But…but…but…can I wear the flower shoes? Can we buy a piggy bank?”
So I bought you a piggy bank, Maya. You’d been requesting for it for a long time because your brother had one. Inherited from his father, Ethan is pretty good at saving. He put the money he got from Christmas, Chinese New Year and birthday in his piggy bank. And what he does with the money is to count it from time to time. So when he realized that you had a piggy bank, he was almost too excited to learn how much you had in it. Except he had no idea how to open it to see the money inside as he couldn’t find the opening underneath the piggy’s belly like most of the piggy banks.
Ethan: How do you open it, Maya?
Maya: I don’t know. Maybe you can’t open it.
Ethan: How do you take the money out?
Maya: Maybe you just keep the money inside forever.
Ethan: What? NO!!!! You gotta be able to open it.
Within a few seconds, you figured it out, Ethan, and you were able to open it from the piggy’s mouth.
I would never forget that moment. The moment when my two very different children interacted and defined their true selves. A communist and a hippie.
You are two very active and fearless kids. Except the time you are asleep, you are running all over the place. Speeding in and out of rooms, up and over everything in your way, climbing up onto whoever sitting on the couch, flying through every obstacle, screaming and smashing things. You are two human wrecking balls, hit yourself on everything and rush into whenever you want to go without even looking back. That’s part of our lives, either the noisy thud of your head against the wall or dead silence as we lose sight of you on a biking trail. I’m always quick to run and make sure you’re okay, you’re not lost, but your father tells me to chill out. And I’m like, what if they really get lost? And he’s all, well we all heard about those stories about missing kids reunite with their parents after 10 years or so!
This is us. A circus of which the music is getting louder and the tricks are getting more death-defying every day. But instead of feeling confused, I feel at home. So blessed. So complete. So right where I’m supposed to be. You are pure joy, a bundle of electrifying awesomeness that just keeps getting more fun.
Although the baby stages of you still seem like yesterday, you are old enough to know that your lives are not only mama and daddy, but friends, school and a lot of explorations out there. You are so ready to hit that note now. And your father and I are so lucky and excited to usher in that monumental phase of your lives and live with you as you fumble your ways to this next phase, and here we are going on this ride together.