The H.J. and I are sitting in the breakfast nook, he noodling around in his bicycling forum and I noodling around in my Hmong textile search, listening to the absolute sweetest sound. The Big Angel is upstairs, either getting ready to shower or just out of it, and he is singing away. I don’t know the tune and can’t make out any words, but it’s clear he is singing and, knowing him, dancing, too. I love that purity of singing for joy. I feel so lucky to be his mother and to get love someone so much.
Today is the first day I’m sorry my father is dead. Not that I’ve been dancing on his figurative grave, but his death has been more theoretical to me, and I haven’t really felt like “damn, I wish I could tell him X.” Well, that’s not exactly true because right around his sudden and unexpected death I heard a story on “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” which I knew he’d also find amusing. (A work-from-home IBM employee was found to have been subcontracting his work to a man in China while he sat around all day watching cat videos. WWDTM panelist Roy Blount, Jr said “I don’t think I could watch cat videos all day. I mean … well all morning, sure.”)
But today the mail brought the H.J. and me a lovely handwritten note from Mark Morris, creator of the sublime Mark Morris Dance Group, our all-time favorite ballet company. They’d never performed in our state; we’ve now lived here six+ years and the only thing we’ve missed to which we had access in San Francisco, California has been MMDG. Well okay, MMDG and vegan char siu bao at Golden Era on a piss-covered stretch in The Tenderloin. But that’s it!
When I read earlier this year that MMDG would be performing here I literally bounded out of my chair to run, screaming into the other room (and I am forty-four years-old, supposedly past my screaming-like-a-banshee for Duran Duran [which I totally did in the ‘80s] days) to tell the H.J. “they’re coming!” I purchased tickets tout de suite and arranged, months in advance because I was not messing around, a babysitter and a back-up babysitter and then a just-in-case babysitter. We were not going to miss this.
Honestly, just on the significant drive to the venue we were both so happy — hadn’t yet seen any piece of the performance let alone the theater in which it would take place, but still, just the knowledge that we were going to see MMDG delighted us deep down inside. We were happy. The H.J., a study in Korean casual (although he is Japanese his sartorial style tends more toward Korean … North Korean), even dressed up wearing his fancy-occasion hemp jacket we’d purchased when living in Kathmandu. He was excited.
The first time we saw MMDG was in a small coastal college town in California back in 1998: the piece I clearly remembered was “The Office” but the H.J. was crazy for all of it, particularly “Grand Duo.” If you see it (above) you’ll understand why: it makes you want to rush the stage and join the dancers. It’s exuberant. We’ve since seen “Grand Duo” many times, and again it was performed at this September performance. Now we know (a lot but are nowhere near conversant in) ASL (American Sign Language), courtesy of the Little Angel and our kissing every frog to try and help him understand / communicate. Big Angel has had fun learning signs for ideas important / interesting to him … like Weapons of Mass Destruction, Gun, Piss Off, etc. I learned body parts and somehow that led to learning the signs for Penis (and all euphemisms for it) and Vagina (again, and all the other colorful phrases – ASL is a study in economy). The sign for Penis is NOT intuitive, but Vagina makes total sense, and if I were to ask you “what do you think the sign for ‘vagina’ is” you’d probably guess a sign not far off from the real deal.
During the “Polka” piece in “Grand Duo” the H.J. and I noticed that many of the dancers were inadvertently signing Vagina over and over again – there is a fabulous hip-slapping component and if the dancer places his / her hands too close together they get ASL for Vagina. Watching it, already excited because we know this piece, the H.J. and I looked at one another and practically squealed “oh my god – that’s Vagina!” We were in heaven, and as we walked to the car when the performance had sadly concluded, we both said over and over and over again that we “really love Mark Morris” (we meant the whole company, of course including the man himself).
I sent an e-mail to MMDG, so sincerely thanking them for coming to our state, extolling our MMDG love and, bien sur, telling the Vagina story.
Today the mail brought a handwritten note from Mark Morris, genius, himself, thanking us for our note and, in so many words, laughing with us our Vagina story.
The H.J., he of four words per annum and the mask of stoicism, got a huge grin and rushed to place the note somewhere safe so I could take it to be framed without being mauled by children / animals (as has been known to happen chez nous…).
My father, with whom I had a complicated relationship (who doesn’t?), not only knew how much we enjoyed MMDG, but catholically he would have understood the very special, very real import of receiving this note from Mark Morris himself. When he wasn’t being a jackass (ahem), he let me know he was amazed by me, confounded by my Pollyanna-ish spirit, and in awe of my genuine reaching out to strangers to say “thank you” or some variant. He would’ve really gotten this, and I believe he would’ve understood the warm fuzzy Mark Morris and his assistant, Jenna Nugent, gave me with their generous gesture.
I super-heart MMDG.
Little Angel had an MRI (of his brain) today and before we’d even returned home his neurologist had e-mailed me letting me know the results were GOOD.
He is a freaking champion. He requires general anesthesia so can’t eat anything beforehand, and this is a boy who loves and lives to eat: it’s soothing to his Sensory system. On the considerable drive to hospital he was yelling at me, wildly smacking his hands together, and I knew he was telling me he wanted to eat. As we entered the hospital he loudly yelled out and I pushed him right up to the check-in announcing “Little Angel’s here!”
He’d undergone some deterioration over the summer so his neuro team convened an “emergency” meeting in August. His (primary) diagnosis of Penelope Syndrome / ESES (encephalopathy status epilepticus during slow sleep) was rescinded and instead he was assigned the medical appellation “medical enigma.” I joked about how back in the ‘90s when a grad student in Monterey, California I really liked the band Enigma, but truthfully, both Little Angel himself and his medical issues are confounding, so this is an appropriate term. For a while now I’ve been furious, I mean crazy-angry with other parents I’d found online whose children have Penelope Syndrome: none of their children presented like Little Angel, meaning they still had their ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), and none of them had absolute global aphasia. They may have lost some language skills but by-and-large they were still fine, still able to participate near-appropriately. And now I don’t need to be angry, I don’t need to be green-eyed monster jealous.
When school resumed in late-August his team there all noticed his deterioration, and at first I found succor in that, like “others see it too!” But then I visited and interacted with some of the other also-seriously and multiple disabled children and saw that quite a few of them had made improvements and I felt sad for Little Angel and for our family.
I’ve spent my life as a devout atheist; the Hirsute Japanese (aka my husband) said he was always an agnost until Little Angel’s catastrophic regression, and then he immediately became a hardcore atheist. He was always an atheist but I think such a declarative made him uncomfortable – he barely likes to say “I love you.” With the shit we’ve faced these past few years but really in specific this year I started a serious inner conversation about faith and theism: I found myself feeling there must be a god and it must really hate us to have given us so much heartbreak and heartache.
Kubler-Ross has the five stages of grief but I really live in a world of three: anger, depression, and acceptance. In early-August we found a lump in my breast and I was scared. I started writing letters to the children for the future, writing detailed notes of provenance for all and sundry. From the specialists I received first a “most likely positive,” meaning it looked malignant but more tests were necessary. I am insanely lucky in that those further tests resulted in a definitive negative. One of the MDs posited that it could be as a result of weight gain / stress / age. Ha ha because none of those are going anywhere anytime soon. We received the happy results on a Monday and then that Thursday was Little Angel’s emergency neuro visit where, after watching his deteriorating gait they wanted to test for Parkinson’s and look for brain lesions. I nearly resembled one of the three monkeys I so desperately wanted to clap my hands over my ears. But I didn’t. I listened but did the smartest and most un-me thing ever: I chose to do no research on either of those until we heard a definitive diagnosis. Life is shitty enough without adding the freak-out of “oh my god my seven year-old might have Parkinson’s!”
He doesn’t. He remains his own unique self, one we cannot figure out but hot damn he is just adorable. He is physically beautiful with his chubby cheeks and long, curly hair, engaging smile and desire for cuddles.
The HJ made a celebratory dinner of (vegetable) tempura which we all adore and of which I eat too much … and then wonder why I don’t feel good. But it’s worth it.
After dropping Big Angel off at his chess club, Little Angel and I went to the nursery a few towns away for zinnias and gomphrena to supplement their window boxes. The Icelandic Poppies, pansies, primroses and English daisies had given their all and it was time. On the drive home the love theme from Les Parapluies de Cherbourg came on, along to which I mightily sang.
I was transported back to the mid 1990s when I lived and worked in Japan. My local library there had recently been rebuilt and had a fine and comfy AV station. One weekend day I settled in to watch Les Parapluies de Cherbourg; I’d never before seen it but of course was taken with the elaborate hair and clothing styles, even though it’s a sad, frustrating story. And of course I fell in love with the love theme; what a beautiful melody.
I’d done my undergrad in France, studying both Art and Slavic Languages and Literature. However in between France and Japan I’d lived and studied in Viet Nam and Russia, studied and backpacked throughout Latin and South Americas, and worked in Poland and China. Watching Les Parapluies in French with Japanese subtitles delighted me how much I understood: I was (and remain) a better writer than reader in Japanese due to my limited circle of kanji knowledge. Once outside that circle I stumble and fall, so reading the movie wasn’t beneficial.
In the town of Kanuma-shi, a stop or two before the templed town of Nikko, was a small umbrella shop, right across from the train station. Espying the parapluies of Kanuma-shi is a sweet yet foreign memory. It feels longer ago than it was, as if it occurred in a different dimension, a different lifetime, not just a different century.
In Japan I reconnected with my Japanese boyfriend from Hanoi, Nobu. I had certainly loved him as only the young and naïve can, so ferociously and completely. Seeing him again in Tokyo I thought my heart would burst right out of my chest, flying toward him like a butterfly: I completely understood Ciocio-san. He wasn’t the same, however: being back in his home country, especially one as strict and controlled as Japan, had made my Nobu of Hanoi go into deep underground hiding. The veneer of Japanese expectation was very thick. Nobu’s father was dying from stomach cancer, so I spent quite a bit of time sitting with his parents in hospital; his mother was so sweet, so tender. His father and I read Little House on the Prairie together, which I hadn’t read since I was a young girl. Explaining pioneer, settler terms in Japanese was an exercise in creativity.
I was not a proponent of marriage for multiple reasons, and Nobu and I had obliquely discussed it. Rather, we’d talked about it in only the abstract, never overtly regarding the two of us. But I would’ve married him in a heartbeat, my liberal, feminist, humanist theories be damned. Imagine my surprise when late one Sunday morning, in bed, he told me that we couldn’t get together the following weekend because he was getting married … to another woman. I was struck speechless, beyond confused. He explained that it was expected of him, that in order to continue to move up the business ladder he needed to have a wife, specifically a quiet, by-the-books Japanese wife. As in Not Me, not the vivacious, gesticulating, curvy and fair Caucasian. To further demonstrate how much he’d changed since we’d loved one another in Hanoi, he thought we could continue our relationship after his marriage, during which “of course” he’d have sex with his wife and “of course” they’d have a child. Of course?
I fled. I fled and I cried and I cried and I went into a downward spiral. I am not an ice cream lover so I didn’t put my heart back together utilizing that old chestnut. Instead, my best friend in Tokyo, a Quebecois man, appointed me the librarian of the GLBT society of Japan: I traipsed through ni-chome, the gay red light district of Shinjuku, purchasing gay porn to send to whomever in the country requested it. It got me outside my apartment and outside my head, because I had aucune idée about gay porn. Fascinating, eye-opening stuff!
I’d already taken a sabbatical during which I’d lived and worked in Krakow, Poland, and I think Nobu’s breaking of my heart was the final nail in the coffin of my time in Japan. I took a job in Beijing, teaching pedagogy. I did return to Tokyo to work on my PhD, but then, ultimately, I needed to leave Japan. My life there was too tainted with Nobu. An American man, a Caucasian American man, was taken with me but he met me through a lesbian couple whom I’d met through the GLBT society, so he assumed I was a lesbian as well. I hadn’t realized until later that he was into me, and I regretted not letting him know I was straight so maybe I could’ve exorcised some of the Nobu nostalgia.
My Quebecois friend and I went to Kobe together; it was summer, hot and humid. We went to the Häagen-Dazs shop where all the ice creams were labeled, of course, in Japanese. All but one: it was a beautiful pale green color and it was written in the roman alphabet “GREEN TEA.” The shop didn’t want the foreigners to think it was mint based upon its pretty color. Q’s Japanese was and is stellar, so when we got the front of the queue he loudly requested “mint-o, onegaishimasu.” (mint, please) Because I am a 100% horrible person I laughed so hard something came out my nose; those sweet, polite ice cream workers were confused and flustered, trying to appease the enormous lumberjack (Q) and his little convulsing friend (me).
The H.J. put the window boxes up outside the boys’ bedroom windows a few years ago, solely at my behest. He also rigged an elaborate system of automatic irrigation for them. He did it all for me.
He may be and often is an Olympic-class jackass, but he never led me on. He never loved me while marrying another. He may be a slob, but even after fifteen years, he tells me daily he loves me and how he cannot believe he gets to be married to someone so beautiful.
That’s gotta be worth something.
It’s been a stressful week, hopefully ending on a smoother note.
Something is going on with Little Angel; for the past fortnight every afternoon he has an hours-long epic meltdown – loud, crazy, frantic screaming and crying. He’s clearly in distress but I cannot figure out what it is. We are having extremely hot weather, however that’s not been a Sensory trigger of his in the past. People change, though, especially growing children. I am unable to comfort him, and lord knows I am trying, hard. Holding him, rocking him, singing to him, swinging. He’s not hungry; he’s not thirsty; he doesn’t appear to be hurt. I put him in his crib in his darkened room with his noise machine and ceiling fan both on, but he continues to scream. I have no doubt he and I are really ready to be done with this. He is seven years-old and this is like having a colicky baby. I am physically and psychically spent. I want to weep from sadness and exhaustion.
I am so sad about what he must be feeling and unable to express.
I recently heard a TED talk about the developing child’s brain and became infuriated with what I was hearing; I wanted to rip the radio out of my car. Of course the researcher, Alison Gopnik of UCBerkeley, was talking about a typically developing child’s brain but fuuuuuck all I could hear was what Little Angel ISN’T. And I was pissed, why wasn’t this “expert” also acknowledging the atypical child, whose brains face huge, insurmountable challenges???
I know why – because it’s important to so few of us as to be nonexistent. We are the anomaly, not the norm. But it’s important TO ME. It is tantamount TO US. This is primarily what I can see right now: my Little Angel blinders are so thick and long. The researcher made a snide, throwaway comment that for her (typical) twenty-three year-old son she is still “popping those worms into his mouth,” implying she is still actively developing his brain and mothering him.
Shut the fuck up, Alison Gopnik. What do you really know about forever popping worms into your growing infant’s mouth? Come spend some time chez nous with Little Angel, carrying him up and down the stairs, hand-feeding him, divining his every need and then see how humorous it is to make fun of your able adult child, myopic bitch.
Don’t bother telling me I’m the myopic bitch because I don’t want to hear it and I don’t care.
The H.J. is t-h-i-s close to no longer having the pleasure of my company. In truth, he and I have some remarkable lifestyle differences which occasionally make me wonder if we should have chosen to be together long-term. Now that I’ve written that out I realize that’s a canard for in the truly important ways we are du même avis, but in one huge and important (to me) way, we are vitally different. I don’t know how much longer I can live his way, for his way has steamrolled me and my needs.
I am an organized neatnik. He is my polar opposite. We have a three-car garage and it is inaccessible due to his shit being strewn about.
Five years ago I took the then-wee children on a dinosaur digging expedition, leaving him to sort out the garage. The point of this trip was crystal clear: he and I were on the same page as to what the children and I would be returning. Instead, he spent the week lying on the sofa with our dog watching the Beijing Olympics. The dig was a hard trip, strenuous and a lot of work (not the dig itself but the managing two small children, especially Little Angel, of course). After the long drive home I was so excited to open the garage door only to see … nothing had changed. Not a thing. We wearily fell into the house, and in addition to his dog-cuddling and velo viewing he’d clearly also been doing some serious frying because the kitchen was covered with grease. Perhaps his favorite food is korokke, a Japanese deep-fried potato croquette; he’d made it in abundance that way, and not cleaned up once. The cooktop, the backsplash, the cabinets, all covered with grease: thinking about it now makes me want to vomit concomitant to rip his head off with my bare hands. Food was out on the counters and the sink was filled with disgusting dishes. Welcome home, beloved family!
Nothing has changed.
Thursday a dead tree was cut down and the beautiful, big hydrangeas underneath are now exposed to full sun. They are rather unhappy, getting burnt. I could not even retrieve an umbrella from the garage (to shade the hydrangeas) because he has left so much stuff on the floor the door to the garage cannot be fully opened.
I’ve had it and it makes me hate him and deny all the good and wonderful things about him, and there are many. I mean, I am not stupid and I would not deign to be with a man who was not worthy of me. Lions don’t mate with mice, after all! (courtesy of Francoise Gilot Salk) But damn, I am now at the point where it is no longer want but serious, vital need: I need him to clean out and up the garage or he’ll have to leave and I’ll set fire to the garage and all his stuff.
I told him this and he laughed. I believe it was uncomfortable laughter, or at least I hope it was. I cogently explained that this is it, and he got huffy with me. Sometimes love isn’t enough. I need respect.
I need a break!
A few summers ago we went to a mountain resort: the first day there the H.J. and I agreed that we could each have our own afternoon, indulging in whatever we wanted. Little Angel can never be left untended, even for us to go to the bathroom. I said I had been fantasizing about swimming in the warm therapeutic pool and reading under the shade. Somehow during that trip I wasn’t allowed to get my afternoon, but he got his right away: he went on a monster mountain bike ride that first and second day. I stood my ground and said “I want to go swimming” but he always found a way to leave the children with me, so that’s what I did: swam with the boys. It in no way, shape or form resembled my quiet adult-only fantasy.
The day after we returned home I booked a trip for myself for a week to the Turks + Caicos. I’d never been but the white beaches and turquoise water looked inviting, and let’s face it, I was giving the H.J. a big middle finger. I told him “because you refused to honor my one afternoon I’m taking a whole week, you asshole.” He wondered what he’d do with the children, to which I responded “not my problem.” Of course before I left I had everything micromanaged for the children because while it ostensibly helped him out all I cared about was that my children were cared for, and I wasn’t going to leave it to him to fuck up.
That’s unfair, of course, as he adores our children and wouldn’t deliberately ignore them, but is minimally (if at all) involved in their educations / therapies / medical visits / extracurriculars, so he doesn’t know their schedules, when to be and where to be and why to be. He is infinitely more involved now than he was then, and I’ve no doubt that trip was the beginning of a turning point for him.
Turns out I’m not a lazy beach gal, and I’m definitely not a T+C lover. What a bore! In the past when I’ve stayed or lived on the beach I was never one for spending days upon days out there: too boring. I could do one afternoon, but then I need to do something, preferably cultural. But I’m glad I did it: I’m glad I took a stand and took my trip. He still, a few years later, doesn’t understand that it would be better for him (and our family) to allow me my one afternoon (or whatever) instead of me leaving the country for a week.
I went out Thursday evening, day I told him “ça suffit, man,” and when I returned he’d made a teensy bit of headway in the garage, but he’d made it. He’d done something. As I’ve hired Stacey the cleaning lady to help me, I extended the same offer to him: what can we do to make it easier for you to get through this project? We’ll see.
I cannot hold my breath or even cross my fingers for he has proven over and over that he does not believe in following through. I’m going to follow through, though. If he doesn’t finish cleaning out the garage he’ll have to leave. I hope he makes the right choice.
This morning he took Little Angel to his SI-OT via warm water so I can get some things done around the house. It’s a start.
If I don’t wear eye make-up I look like a block of tofu with hair. That is not a compliment. Luckily I am a big fan of eye make-up so I rarely look like the food I love to eat.
My husband is that most unusual of creatures: a hirsute Japanese man. He has a full beard and a mildly hairy chest. I like it. A lot. He looks like the ubiquitous indigenous person: wherever we go locals assume he’s one of theirs. Nepali? Tibetan? Mexican? Indian? Hawaiian? Thai? Native American Indian? Peruvian? He always answers “yes.”
During our time in Kathmandu I bought the traditional green glass bead necklace which indicates “married.” To me it was a beautiful necklace but as I wore it when I was out and about with him everyone assumed Blondie’d married a local. He loved it and I kept on smiling.
He is the Woody Allen of Japanese: a self-hating Japanese. When we go back to the Nut Hut he puts on a thick American accent and loudly speaks English. That leaves me to do all the pera-peraing (speaking in Japanese). Since I’m the blue-eyed blonde everyone compliments my Japanese (which at this point is less than so-so), and that works out great because I love hearing that I’m making sense!
(In Vietnamese, Nhật Bản is the word for “Japan”: you just use Nhật and then the [Viet] word for “food,” “person,” “language,” etc. to indicate “Japanese.” It sounds like /nyut/, which with my Valley Girl accent I colloquialized to /nut/. My boyfriend while I lived in Hanoi was Japanese, so I called him and his cohorts “The Nuts.” In Japanese [the language], the name of the country sounds like Nihon, but the /h/ has some lip in it, which is why in the olden days it was written as Nippon. From Nippon you can easily hear how Nhật Bản came to be.)
In reality he developed a slight surfer dude accent which is truly ironic as he is not comfortable in the water, not at all a strong swimmer. I am a water baby. I have been so proud of him for literally, at times, jumping in with me to various bodies of water even with his discomfort. I’d’ve been happy to swim / snorkel / float solo, but he wants to be with me.
He eats nearly all noodle dishes with chopsticks, including spaghetti with (vegan) meatballs. He also prefers to eat salad with chopsticks and we’ve even espied him eating cereal with chopsticks. Cereal with chopsticks! Have you ever?
Our children are what is called hapa. It now means part-Asian part-other. It’s borrowed from the Hawaiian hapa haole, which means half-white half-Hawaiian, but the hapa (as in part-Asian part-other) community appropriated it back in the late 1980s, I think. The old term, “Eurasian,” is now considered an epithet and highly offensive.
Our eldest child is more ha than pa, which is gibberish but a popular joke chez nous. He is definitely more Asian than Caucasian. He has my pinky toe so I know he’s mine. He also likes sweets so I really know he’s mine. He was born without any freckles or birthmarks, and he is so excited whenever he develops a new freckle; I think he’s up to thirteen.
Our youngest is more pa than ha. He was born a towhead with blue eyes, but the eyes quickly changed to brown and his hair is now a light brown. It’s also long and has huge sinuous curls. The curls make no sense because his daddy is Japanese, after all! His eyes are big and round and strangers never think he’s Asian.
Today I picked up my new reading glasses – middle-age, mine eyes. The optometrist I go to is in a hip and posh area of town (they take our insurance, have a terrific selection of frames and parking is always easy), and working in it are a bunch of young attractive people. One in particular I noticed as he made me think both of my sons and a previous paramour. A gorgeous young man with intricate tattoos and other accoutrements which made me make assumptions about him. He’s a bad-ass. He’s judgmental. He’s rough. He’ll think I’m an uncool old woman. Whatever.
Wouldn’t you know he was the one who helped me look at frames.
Here’re the assumptions I hadn’t made about him: he’s lovely. He’s thoughtful. He’s gentle. He’s sensitive. He has an open heart. He has a hurt heart. When he asked me for what I was looking in a frame I answered simply: “pretty.” He introspectively smiled and got right to work. I wasn’t gum on the bottom of his shoe: I was me. He saw me. I could feel he saw ME. Sometimes I forget to truly see ME, to embrace ME. I love me, am my own favorite person, find myself the most interesting person I know, but I get caught up in the daily minutiae and fall prey to insecurities. It’s so stupid because I am more than all that. I wish I didn’t lose sight of what makes me ME and how much I love, like, admire and respect myself.
His facial structure reminded me a bit of Big Angel, albeit a more Caucasian version. It turns out this sweet young man’s father is hapa (half-Hawaiian, half-Caucasian), which would also make him hapa.
His (tattoo) sleeves reminded me of my soon-to-be twenty-four year-old nephew, much of whose body (at least what I’ve seen) is magnificently, intricately, colorfully inked. I told this young man that he reminded me of two boys I love (son and nephew), and then I listened to him quietly, painfully tell me about himself.
So each time I’ve gone back to the office to check on frame color and then this morning to pick them up I’ve made sure to go in while he’s there. I really liked this boy and what he made me think and reevaluate, both in terms of remembering ME but also my snap judgment of him.
Today I picked up the frames and am wearing them right now. I hope I am able to associate the warm fuzzy of this young man with these frames so when I put them on I’ll think of him and his internal + external beauty.
The Little Angel delighted me this morning. I was making peanut butter pancakes for us – my breakfast, his first snack of the morning. I’d gotten the big bag of chocolate chips out of the cupboard (to sprinkle on the cooking pancakes, of course) and he made a beeline for the bag, swatting at it, trying to divine a chocolate chip out.
Most of my teeth are sweet, a few savory. I don’t like sweet for the sake of sweet: if I can’t taste the underlying flavor (especially chocolate!) then I’m not interested. The Big Angel likes to occasionally suck on a sugar cube, but that wouldn’t hold any appeal for me because I need the underlying flavor. Eating is not important to Big Angel: we have to frequently ask him if he’s hungry and he’ll absentmindedly reply “oh yeah, I’d forgotten to eat.” I cannot even imagine such a concept.
It would appear none of Little Angel’s teeth are sweet as he doesn’t seek sweets; he often avoids them. He is a hardcore noodle, rice and chip man: he is half-Japanese, after all! Prior to his catastrophic regression his favorite food was broccoli with lots of butter, salt and pepper: he would just turn to us and repeatedly ask for “brok-ly brok-ly brok-ly.” He liked to speak in triplicate. He loved (and still loves) seeing fish in a fish tank, and would go right up to the fish tank, yelling “sakana sakana sakana!” (Japanese for “fish”) Now he bangs his open palm on the glass, so excited, and he squeals, I guess you’d call it. While he is nonverbal he is very vocal. And loud. For my birthday a few years ago my parents had a CD made of voicemails the Little Angel had left (when I’d call them and have him speak into the phone): it took me a few months to steel myself to play it and even then, I was unable to listen the whole way through. It upset me too much to hear what he and we had lost. It’s also difficult for me to look at pictures of him prior to his regression: he was so appropriate, so on-target. The H.J., for whatever reason, had left up on my computer screen a page of pictures of the children prior to Little Angel’s regression (before age three and a half years): he was standing at the easel, waterpainting, smiling at the camera; he and Big Angel were playing games together; he, Big Angel and a pre-teen neighbor were looking at images on the back of a camera. Seeing them was like a horrible auto accident: I couldn’t not look. I paid a heavy price the following weeks, deeply depressed. Melancholy.
Little Angel will close his lips and turn his head if we offer him sweets, like cookies and cakes; he has no use for frozen sweets like ice cream or popsicles. I feel as if I am on the qui vive for sweets for him, not because he needs them but because I want to bake something special for him, especially for his birthday. This year we had a rice, onion and broccoli bake, which isn’t exactly the same as presenting a decadent sweet … although it probably was the same to him, come to think of it. Just me and my unimportant conventions.
Other than the fact that I was there when he came out of my body and he has my pinky toe, I could be unconvinced that child is mine. How could someone be genetically related to me who doesn’t crave sweets?
So to see him go after that bag of chocolate chips, even if he only ate five (one at a time which I had laid on the countertop), filled me with effervescence.
I was already in a chipper mood as I was pleased with my outfit – color-coordinated bra and all. I put on an orange dress and huge turquoise slab earrings; I adore blue and orange together. But then I realized I wanted to wear lavender sandals and color-wise that just didn’t make sense – the lavender was too mild a shade to play well with the turquoise. So off went the turquoise earrings and on went jade discs, which were of relative depth to the sandals, plus everyone knows green and purple is a lovely marriage.
When I was pregnant with Big Angel I’d heard all kinds of talk about how the husband should present the wife with a gift after the baby is born. Not wanting to be left out I nattered at the H.J. about this, and in hospital he and brand-new Big Angel presented me with these jade earrings.
But all I cared about was having the Big Angel. I am a serious jewelry whore: I am head-over-heels in love with jewelry. But my most prized jewel (whatever it might be that day) could never compare to what I felt holding that magnificent Big Angel. Even now that he’s a big boy, every piece of jewelry is insignificant. He and Little Angel are my sun, my moon, my stars. They are my everything.
I kept the earrings, though. Don’t be daft! And the H.J. found another pair of lovely earrings to give me when Little Angel was born. Both sets of earrings are magnificent but I especially love wearing them because they remind me of my two most treasured days
Big Angel has spent the week white water kayaking, and today Little Angel and I went on quite a drive to see a Developmental Optometrist. While not (yet) fascinating, it was certainly illuminating and could prove both helpful and quite a challenge. He is slightly farsighted and has very subtle (so subtle it is difficult to detect to the untrained observer) intermittent esotropia: that means occasionally his right eye will slightly, almost imperceptibly wander in as it’s tired from all the focusing it’s been doing.
His craniosacral + physical therapist (one-in-the-same) are concerned about his depth perception, assuming it has to do with both his inability to descend and also to avoid obstacles. This is what spurred me to find the Developmental OD. He gave me some exercises to do with Little Angel and I’ll also pass them on to his therapists and education team. For example, instead of holding something right in front of Little Angel’s face for him to see it, we should hold it to the side to make his eye muscles practice looking hard to the side, up, down. I did that this afternoon with his snack because he is highly motivated around food!
On the considerable drive home we stopped to purchase another pair of swim trunks for Big Angel. A classically beautiful in the Nantucket sense woman helped us; she asked me about Little Angel so I gave her a little information. She got emotional and went on about god and god’s wisdom and god this and god that.
My back got tight and straight because I do not appreciate talk like that. I unequivocally do not believe in god; the H.J. goes even further because he wouldn’t say he doesn’t “believe” in god. He calmly yet firmly states there is no god, so “belief” has nothing to do with it.
I believe in the connectedness of man, of living things. I know this woman was being kind and loving, but I don’t want to hear it. Her god cannot exist for a family like mine because it doesn’t make sense: if her god loves us so much, why would all this have happened? I am unwilling to get into a philosophical / theological argument with myself here, just suffice to say it deeply bothered me when she brought up her god stuff. My displeasure also bothered me, because she was not proselytizing: she was trying to share kindness and that is always, always welcome. I wish I could’ve heard only that and somehow tuned out the god stuff.
Big Angel did get a darling pair of swim trunks, though. He’s wearing them right now.