Dear Charlie and Jack,

Here’s a (late/early) Father’s Day piece dedicated to your Papa.  So that you’ll know how much your Papa loves you and does for you.


Your Papa is like a solid bookend. He’s there for you in the morning when you start your day, there at night when you end it.

I.           MORNING


Charlie barges in our room.

“Papa, can you get up now?”

“Ok,Charlie… Just give me a few minutes…to wake up.”

“Where are the clock hands, Charlie?  Remember, short hand needs to be pointing at seven, the long one at least at twelve.”

“I know, Mama! It’s already 7:15. Papa, can you get up now?”

“Ok, Charlie…Just give me a few minutes… to say hi to Mama.”

Your Papa wraps his arms around me, plants his head on my chest. (When did his hair turn white? Neither one of us knows.) Charlie piles himself on top and the Mama hug turns into a group hug.

“Ok, now can you get up? Why do you always have to say hi to mama? You already sleep next to her the whole night.  Papa, please! ”

Jack enters the room clutching his Baby Kangaroo, aka Baby Kangy. He jumps on Charlie and joins the group hug.

“Papa, get up!”

“Get up, Papa!”

“Boys, let me say hi to Mama…”

“I love you, guys! I can’t breathe.”


Your Papa finally gets up, congested, still sleepy, and you both follow him to the kitchen. He gives you your choices, the same choices he gives you everyday: 1.) oats with fresh or frozen fruit, whichever’s available 2.) fried egg, but only the whites, as you like it 3.) pancakes 4.) crepes or 5.) french toast.

Don’t Despair by Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs plays in the background. On a loop.

I stay in bed.

“I have to poop,” Jack announces in the middle of breakfast and he scurries to the bathroom.

Charlie stays at the table.

“Papa, Papa, what is 15 times 20 times 25 times infinity times infinity times negative infinity?”

Your Papa mulls over the question as he puts together his own breakfast: yogurt with almond and fruit. He’s still on a self-imposed coffee ban and it makes him sad (when he’s not cranky about it).

“Papa, Papa, did you know…”

Your Papa opens the dishwasher and starts putting away the dry plates and utensils.

“Papa, Papa…Papa! You’re not listening to me! ”

“Papa, I’m done!” Jack singsongs from the bathroom.

“Ok, Jack, I’m coming, Mama’s coming.”

“No! I’m talking to Papa!” Jack gnashes his teeth and hurls me an imaginary bomb as soon as I enter the bathroom. Only your Papa gets to wipe Jack’s royal ass.  “Papa, I want you!”


“Sorry, Papa, he only wants you,”

Your Papa wipes Jack.

After, your Papa changes his clothes for work.  He puts together his salad for lunch.

I take a shower.


“Ok, guys, I’m leaving now!”  (Unfortunately, since school year started last week, we no longer have the luxury of staying at home till 9:00 since Charlie now starts first grade at 8:25 and Jack starts his preschool at 9:00)

“Hug and kiss!”  Charlie yells and jumps away from his Lego bins.


There’s a flurry of hugs and kisses. Your Papa finally extricates himself after 5 minutes.

You both follow him to his car.

There’s another flurry of hugs and kisses.

“Boys, come back, please!” I yell through the screened window.

You both sulk back in.

“I miss, Papa!”

“I miss, Papa!”

“Hey, stop copying me!”

“Hey, stop copying me!”

My phone buzzes. “Have a good morning with the boys! Love you.”

II.           NIGHT

“Papa! What are you doing in your car?”  Charlie raps on your Papa’s window.

“Hi, buddy.  I just got done talking to Grandma.”

Actually, he power naps in his car before he comes in. I keep his secret from you.

Your Papa gives everyone a kiss and then changes out of his gym clothes.

On days when I don’t get dinner together for whatever reason, like when we stay out at the pool or park too late, your Papa, coming home from a long day of nonstop meetings, still manages to put together a tasty dinner.  It’s one of his superpowers.

At the table, Charlie tells his stories, knock knock jokes, and riddles.

“Charlie, chew, please.  And keep your mouth closed.  Don’t talk when your mouth is full.”

“Papa, I need a fork.”

“You’ve got one, Jack.”

“No, I need another one.  A clean one.  For my salad.”  He growls to show he’s serious about getting a clean fork.


Shower/bath time.

Charlie has graduated from baths, it seems. Not even the fizzy color tablets can tempt him in now.

Tooth brush time.

“Did you brush your teeth, Charlie?”


“Why is your toothbrush dry?”

“Ok, ok…”

“Buddy, please tell the truth.  Always.  I want to be able to trust you.”

“Ok, ok. Sorry Papa”

“Jack Jack, are you brushing?”

“No! I don’t want to!”

“Ok, then it’s Papa’s turn.”

“No! I want to do it myself!”

“Ok, I give you five minutes.”

Jack hangs upside down on the red leather couch while chewing on one of his five toothbrushes.

“Ok, Jack jack. Its’ Papa’s turn now.”


“5, 4, 3…”

“No! I don’t want you to count!”

“Ok, Jack jack, I’m going to brush your teeth now.”

Your Papa holds Jack down to brush his teeth. Jack wails in protest.523

“Done. Now go choose your books.”

“Not fair! You poopoo head!”  Big tears roll down from his eyes. ” I wanted to do it myself!” He yawns in the middle of his wail.

When your Papa finally walks away, Jack follows him, “Papa, I want you! Papa!”

“Jack, can I help you?  What can Mama do to help you?”

“No! I’m talking to Papa!” He throws me another bomb.


Your Papa and I start to exchange eye rolls. I grit my teeth, he lets out a heavy sigh. Every night, it’s the same drama.

Amidst Jack’s wailing, your Papa starts to read one of the books that Charlie has chosen. Still sniffling, Jack crawls back on your Papa’s lap and looks at the book.

531 I take out your respective water bottles. I fill Jack’s “aminal” bottle with exactly “lima” cubes of ice, lots of water, and a twist of lemon. He has trained me well.  I don’t bother counting cubes for Charlie. I hope he doesn’t pee during the night.

“Good night, guys!  I love you!”  I miss “reading” to you (i.e. telling you stories in Bisaya.). I haven’t read your night books in a long long time. We made the switch sometime last year so I could take an early break from you and so your Papa could spend more time with you. I remember Jack used to cry for me and I would feel really crummy hiding in our room with the lights off. Now Jack no longer looks for me during bedtime. And he can’t speak Bisaya.

Charlie passes out soon after the books.  He has been nonstop busy since the morning.

Jack, surrounded by his many blankets and books, thumps his feet on the walls.  I don’t know why he still has energy.  He, too, has been nonstop busy since the morning.

Your Papa, under the fuzzy blanket, either next to Jack or on the purple giant bean bag on the ground (or wherever he’s been assigned by Jack) watches some show on his cell phone.

I finish cleaning the kitchen. I start the laundry. Sometimes I go outside and, in the quiet of the night, I water the lawn and listen to the stories swirling in my brain, waiting to be written.


Your Papa staggers out of your bedroom.


Your Papa fills our glasses with water, draw the black out curtains.  I turn off the router, the lights.  We meet in the middle of the bed.

“You are the most beautiful woman in the world, the best friend I could ever ask for.  I thought of you today and felt so grateful that you love me.  And those monsters love you so much.”

“I love you, too!  Very much.”

And though I’m exhausted I sleep with a smile on my face.363


Jack pushes our door open and heads straight to your Papa’s bedside.

“Papa, I want you to sleep with me…”

“Ok, Jack.”  Your Papa doesn’t miss a beat.  Even in his sleep he hears the familiar pitter patter of Jack’s feet.  He gets up, bleary eyed, headphones still stuck in his ears. The Lord of the Rings audio is still playing. He scoops Jack up.

“Papa, put your shirt on!”

“Ok, Jack…”

“And your pants on!”

“Ok, ok. Whatever, Jack.”

I sleep on.

At some point, your Papa makes it back. He learns his lesson and keeps his shirt and pants on.


Once again, Jack pushes our door open and heads straight to your Papa’s bedside.

“Papa, I want you to sleep with me…”

I feel bad and wish I can do something but these days Jack only wants Papa for his needs.  I sleep on.


Charlie barges in our room.

“Papa, can you get up now?”

(Repeat I. MORNING)