Dear Jack,

Your Uncle Von once commented that he thought the reason why you stay up so late, much later than your Kuya Charlie, is because night time is when you finally reign supreme. When Kuya Charlie falls asleep, you cease to be his “Baby Lion”. When you’re in your room, away from our watchful eyes, you’re no longer my “Thing 2” or your Papa’s Destructo. By yourself, you can play with the toys without having to wait forever for your turn. You don’t need to deal with anybody else’s bullshit (by hitting or throwing things at them).

Though I didn’t tell him, I thought your Uncle Von was full of crap. Didn’t he know? Jack-Jack, aka Baby Lion, aka Thing #2, aka Destructo, always rules.

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(A while back I bought you this Dr. Seuss Thing #2 hoodie from Goodwill because I thought you’d like it- it’s red, your favorite color- and  it was only $1.00. For some reason, though you’re not very picky with what you wear, you don’t like this hoodie at all.)

But this morning, at 4:30, I woke up thinking of last night’s exchange which went something like this:
Who’s got candy? I asked, hearing candy being unwrapped. We had just finished having dinner at Tita Olly’s and we were driving home.
Me.
-Jack, no candy at night. You know that. Give it to me, please.
-But I want to eat my candy.
-I know, booboo. But it’s late. No more candy. Give it to me, please.
-But I want to eat my candy.
-You can have it tomorrow. Give it to me now, please.
-But I want to..
-Jack, listen to Mama. Your Kuya Charlie joined the conversation.
But I want to…
-If I spit out my candy, do you promise you won’t eat yours?
-Wait a minute… Charlie, you have a candy in your mouth?
-Yes…
-Charlie, you know you’re not supposed to eat candy without asking permission. You know better than that, Charlie, come on…
You popped the candy in your mouth and started slurping on the candy.
-Guys, spit out the candies now, right now!
I imagined myself hitting the brakes in the middle of the freeway and reaching inside your mouths to hook the candies out.
-But Mama, it’s not fair! Charlie’s is already small!
I clamped my mouth shut and took deep breaths as I listened to you slurp your candy some more. And then, without my saying any more, you took the candy out with a sigh of satisfaction. In a few minutes, you were asleep.

A few weeks ago, at the family New Year’s party, somebody’s Iphone was made available for the kids to play with. Of course, the big kids played first. There were many of them. There was also no adult supervision so nobody kept track of how long each big kid played. You waited. Patiently. Finally, one of the big kids handed you the phone. It was almost unbelievable. Eyes bright and with a very happy smile, you sat in the corner to play. That was when Papa arrived, saw you in the corner hunched over the phone, and immediately sequestered the phone away from you. How you cried! Papa hugged you and consoled you, not realizing that he was taking away the precious phone you’ve been waiting for for hours. (He feels bad about it now. He didn’t find out until much later how long you waited. It’s probably good that you didn’t fry any more brain cells over the IPhone but still…)

At Applegate Nursery School last year (2014), you and a group of other 4 year olds trike raced towards the big tree in the middle of the yard. When the group reached the tree, every kid declared themselves “first” and proceeded to bicker over who’s really first. When you reached the tree, however, you got out of your trike with a huge grin on your face, jumped up and down with your hands waving in the air, and said, “I’m second! Yey, I’m second!”

At home, you’re Charlie’s sidekick. While he’s playing Plants vs. Zombies , you wait for your turn, sitting on the purple beanbag with the unattached controller in your hands. At the dining table, you listen to Charlie ask his million questions about Harry Potter and Hogswart and The Force. When I pick you up from school, I hustle you over to Charlie’s school so we can hang out at the park where he plays. There, you play with him and his friends, unless they’re fooling around with big sticks or tackling each other on the ground in which case you’re left on your own to spin on the pole by yourself. I take you to watch Charlie’s soccer games, concert, capoeira events. I even take you to Charlie’s dental visits.

At 6:30 this morning, I started thinking of your Kuya Charlie, of the privilege that he has just because he was born first. He’s never had to wait for his turn with you. He gets to lead and you follow; he chooses and you live with his choices (movies, games to play, friends over).

Then I started to think of myself, of my privilege of being born the first girl after two boys. How did that shape me? What did I get away with that my siblings didn’t? What did I take for granted as mine, unquestionably, just because? Did my parents hold my siblings in their hearts as dearly as they held me? Do they now?

I didn’t want to think too deeply about these things but I felt that I should and the weight of that obligation was oppressive. I was glad to hear the alarm clock go off at 7:00, giving me the permission to get up, shower, and legitimately close the doors of my mind to those heavy thoughts.

Apparently, for better or worse, the order in which you were born matters. As your mom, I’m trying to be mindful of how my actions affect the way you and your Kuya Charlie see yourselves and the world, and the confidence with which you live your lives.

But first or second born, you are very special, Jack-Jack and I love you!

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