Dear Charlie,

(This was actually written sometime in August, a few weeks before Charlie’s birthday.)

Today I asked you who you want to have over for your birthday party.  You named your usual friends, the ones you’ve known since you were all babies and toddlers- Dev, Zoe, Maia, Ella, Sophia.  Then you added, “And Nico, Mama.  I want Nico to come.”

“Nico?”  I mused.  I was surprised because you did not mention any of the other kids in your summer preschool where you have been attending for the last four weeks.  Frankly, I was hoping you would not think to invite any of your classmates.  But you did- you thought of Nico.

I like Nico and I can see how, in the few weeks that you’ve known him, you would want him to come play at your party.  You both really hit it off since the first day you met.  You both bond over the fact that you both speak a different language:  he has taught you to say hello and goodbye in Hebrew (Shalom, Charlie!, he yells every morning when he sees you walk in the classroom.), you have taught him to say window in Bisaya.  You sit next to each other during lunch- you show him your chicken adobo and he shows you his fruit and vegetables.  You tickle each other and tell silly jokes no one else understands or finds funny.  You own the same look:  big big brown eyes, bowl hair cuts, skinny arms and legs, rotund tummies, superheroes briefs exposing butt cracks, and bare feet muddy from digging intricate sand canals.  Yes, I really like Nico.

However, my first thought when you asked to invite Nico was, “Why bother?”  Two weeks from now summer preschool will end, Nico will start kindergarten, and you will be moving on to a different preschool.  I am sure his parents are not going to want to invest in this relationship, either, I thought, as if that was the deciding factor.

I am sad that I think this way, that I only think to put my effort where I can expect some future return.  I know you can’t and don’t really care about the “future”.  All you know and care about is the now.  And right now Nico is your best friend and you want him to be part of your special birthday party.  You probably think Nico will always be around.

I, on the other hand, am hyper aware of the future.  I want to build strong ties and long term meaningful relationships.  Also, my free time is limited.  I have to choose wisely who I spend my scarce precious resource on.  Friendships that won’t last beyond two weeks are not my priority.

I acknowledge that this is a very poor way of thinking and, again, I am sad that I think like this but it is the way it is. So, no, I will not be inviting Nico and, when the time comes when you both have to part ways, I will say Shalom to Nico for you.  Ironically, you won’t remember him but I will.

Happy Birthday, dear Charlie!  You bring so much sunshine into my life.  I love you!

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Dear Jack,

Today, September 17, you turn one.  Just one year old and already you are showing very clear indicators of your personality!

I predict you will be a lot like me.  When you just chill in your stroller, one foot propped up on the cup tray, an arm slung over the side of the stroller, eyes intent on watching the world go by, I see traces of myself in you.  When you smile and laugh at your Kuya Charlie’s antics and funny faces, or at your Papa’s goofy moves which he likes to call his dance, I see myself in you.

However, when you scream your head off the moment something happens that is not to your liking, like when I put you down and you’re not yet ready to let go, or when I take away something from the floor before your pointer finger can hook it in to your mouth, or when your Papa changes your diaper, I don’t see myself in you at all.  It baffles me that you own such intense bursts of temper considering how mellow you are most of the time.  Your Papa thinks  that when you are older, you will probably be very easy going but once wronged, you will make the culprits pay for their indiscretions to you.  However, he doesn’t think you will be one to hold grudges.  I agree.  I think that if anything or anyone manages to frustrate you, you will roar and punch whoever or whatever it is, and then ease back into your quiet space.

Right now you love to use your hands.  You smack and hit your way to what you want or to get rid of what you don’t want.  You love to manipulate buttons, switches, and parts.  When you see another baby playing with a toy that you want, you’d supercrawl towards the baby with your eyes ablaze and your mouth wide open exposing your two bunny rabbit front teeth and you’d swipe the toy away from the defenseless baby’s weak grasp.  You’d bounce on your haunches and raise your prize before hunching over it.  You’d stay immobile but your fingers would devour the buttons and the switches in your intense effort to unlock their mysteries.  When the toy’s light finally goes on, you would look up, pure joy etched all over your plump cheeks.  And then you would hunch over to do it again.  You Papa and I predict you will be an engineer.

These are all just random musings on your first birthday.  Years from now you might prove our predictions wrong, about your mellow personality, your intense temper, and your future career in engineering.  But if you still stay true to what I describe above, then it’s probably true what they say- people are born the way they are!  I love you, baby Jack!  Your calm helps me through my days.  Happy (B)Irthday (you may have eaten your B candle!)

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