Dear Ethan and Maya,
Thanks to the provincial teachers strike that cancelled your summer camp, your summer holidays have gone halfway, and you’ve done nothing productive or meaningful. Thankfully we have a big group of wonderful family members who love to hang out with you both although they are fully aware that you can bite.
When Maya goes to day care, Ethan, you will go to your grandparents. And I think you enjoy it way more than anything else. Because going to grandpas means that you will be taken to the mall that has Apple Store.
“Mommy, what am I going to do tomorrow?” you ask.
“You will go to grandpa’s house.”
Right that moment, no matter how bad a day you are having, your tone will change instantly from CURRENTLY DYING to polite conversation over tea at the tennis club. “Maya, I’m going to grandpa’s house, and he will take me to the Apple Store, and I get to play iPaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.”
And Maya, last time you jumped right out from nowhere after you heard your brother, and asked, “Are you going to stay there for a long time?” And jokingly I threatened to leave your brother there forever. “FOREVER?” you asked, and just as I was about to assure you that I was only kidding, your brother dropped his spoon, wiggled her fingers in the air and shouted, “I WOULD LOVE TO STAY THERE FOREVER!
Back in late May, you spent several days with your grandparents and your father’s sister, aunt Karin while your father and I took a trip to San Diego to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Our anniversary was a week ago, we moved the celebration earlier because Kaman was coming over from Hong Kong last month and we thought we should be around when she’s still new to this country. When we returned you both were happier to see us than you’ve ever been. You took turns to show us the new toys and books that your aunt bought you. We were told that you both were nothing but well behaved and delightful the entire time we were gone, and you remained that way for, oh, an hour. Right up until your father said it’s time to go to bed. Maybe because you were exhausted from having to hold your shit together for so many days or you really needed that extra five minutes to play, but something switched and you both started to whine about how your new toys were going to disappear after you went to bed and you did not want them to disappear, but they would be gone whatsoever AND IT WOULD MAKE YOU SAD! SAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDD! I kept reassuring you that your toys would not be going anywhere except sitting on your desks, but WHEN I FALL ASLEEP THEY WILL BE GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE! Before you started to turn the initial fear of disappearing toys into WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE, we carried you both to your rooms, dangled your toys outside the window and made you lie down on your beds before we said good night and closed the doors.
Just when we started to think how awful we are as parents, Maya, you yelled from your room, “I need to get a blue pillow for my bed like Queen Elsa’s.” I asked you from the small opening of the door, “Why is that important?” And you simply said, “Because you need to listen to me.” I looked at your father who was standing next to me, and we knew what we’d done was absolutely marvellous.
This summer has been a total blur, lots of playdates, biking, beaches and pool parties at the backyard. Let me rephrase that. PLENTY OF pool parties. So much that you both spend too much time under the sun and became too tan. Not you, Maya, you will still be as white as Queen Elsa. Don’t worry! But Ethan, you are so dark that people have started to tell me that “your son looks like a Thai.”
Every day we will have the pool ready at the backyard. Or I will have your father to get the pool ready, but he seems to have a hard time doing it every single day because he has what I call a lawn brain, the situation that occurs when a person’s brain cells are too focused on the grass growing that his brain doesn’t have enough cells to complete simple tasks, like putting up the pool so his kids can play instead of being bored inside the house. I will consider it a good day that he spends that long period of time cleaning the dishes instead of gazing at his beloved lawn.
Last month, your father offhandedly bought another gadget that mounts an iPad in the backseat of our car so you could watch shows on the road. He simply thought it would be a good way to stop his yelling over your tantrums, especially when it’s a long drive. When you were first introduced to this idea, every car ride was extremely peaceful that I had to turn to check if you guys were still breathing. Your father couldn’t be more proud until we started to have the same conversation every time when we are about to go out – is it going to be a long ride so we can watch iPad? Not really. Is it a little bit long? Not at all. How many minutes? 20? Half an hour? IT’S GOING TO BE JUST THREE MINUTES BEFORE WE GET TO THE GROCERY STORE AND YOU CAN’T EVEN FINISH THE OPENING CREDIT. FORGET IT!!!
Sometimes you become so upset that I will tell you to go take that up with your father, he’s the one who came up with this brilliant idea, and while you are at it, could you please tell him that he’s been in the bathroom for too long, can he even feel his legs anymore? Some people run marathons faster than your father uses the toilet.
I don’t have anything specific to tell you each individually because these few months you both have gotten along pretty nicely. Being each other’s company and sharing imaginations is what you do most of time. Sometimes when Maya needs to take an afternoon nap where Ethan, you have to be alone for an hour or two, you feel lost. You do nothing but keep asking how much longer is Maya going to sleep for? Can I wake her up now? Is she going to have dinner with us? Can we play after she wakes up?
One of the many things that I really enjoy seeing you both doing is when you have to pick a show on Netflix that you both like to watch. Amongst a couple fights, it has been pretty negotiable between you both.
I know kids need to go outside more, read more books and get their hands dirty in mud and grass and paint. They need to hug chickens and milk cows. I know this already. But that moment you both are snuggling up in the couch, sharing a blanket, watching that specific show that you both agree…You remain in this embrace for a good hour. You will get around to hugging those chickens, but for right now I’m thrilled that the television brought you together like this. And I just wanted to thank Netflix.