Dear Js,

Abu left.

On the way to the airport:
J: “Mama, I don’t want Abu to leave us.”
Abu silent

j: “I’m feeling a little sleepy”
closed eyes
J: “but then you won’t be able to say goodbye to Abu.”
j: “at least I can say a quick goodbye.”
yawns
j: “It’s me. But I’m trying to stay awake so I can say bye top Abu. The only one awake is me! The littlest one in the car!”

On the way back from the airport:
J: “Mama I had to keep myself from crying when I said goodbye to Abu”
Mama: “It’s normal to have these feelings.”
J: “You mean when someone you love comes and then goes home after a while? “

You learned how to send emails with your wifi phone. So you sent an email to Abu:
J: “abu i was about to cry when you left so can you come again?”
Abu: “Hi J. I miss you a lot ! I’lll try to visit you again. Right now I’m taking care of my mom because she needs me. Please don’t worry I’ll go back to visit you, j, Daddy and Mom. Today is a shinny beautiful iday in Puerto Rico but it is very hot. Remember to play, eat and sleep.”

Happy birthday
J you turned 5. If 20 is “adult” and you’re an adult-in-progress, then you’re 25% done. 25% til you go out on your own in the world. It seems faster when you put it this way.

And almost overnight, we somehow lost control of you kids. You used to listen. You used to co-operate. Things used to make sense. Now you defy everything. You say no to everything. Everything is a fight that ends in screaming or tantrums — every few minutes. I’ve lost it many times and so has mama. And you know when mama loses it, it’s bad because she’s the more patient one. And then it’s a wasteland because both adults are unhappy and you kids can’t do anything for yourselves.

One day while I was sulking, I realized that every devastating thing a parent has said to a kid is probably true. Such as:
“You ruined my life”
“You’re the worst thing that happened to me”
“You’re the reason dad left for smokes and never came back”
“I gave up everything in my life for you”
“We didn’t plan to have you, you were accidents”
“You’re the cause of most of the problems in this family”
“I can’t stand you. One night, maybe tonight, I’m just not coming home from work. I’ll be gone.”

Terrible things to say to a kid. But I’m sure the feelings where these words come from are felt by every parent at least once. It’s just that you fight not to say it. You think it but you try not to say it.

I didn’t get it as a kid, but it all makes sense now. To a kid it’s emotionally scarring for life, but here’s how it can be true for a parent.

The fact is kids are selfish assholes. Mom cleans and picks up after kid day and then what? Kid plays and whole house is a mess again in 5 minutes. Bathtime. “I don’t want a bath.” Brush your teeth. “I don’t want to brush my teeth.” Bacteria is going to eat holes in your teeth. “I want holes in my teeth.” Wake up at 6am to go to free hockey class — “I don’t want to go to sleep early.” Paid for martial arts class after you said it was the best thing ever and you really want to keep doing it. Then you stopped participating, and spent weeks rolling on the floor, staring at the ceiling, not even stepping on the mat, crying. Even though the whole class was nice and welcoming and encouraging. EVEN THE KIDS. They were like the perfect older brothers and sisters from a movie. That’s what happened at the class. You went for 2 weeks, you liked it. So we signed you up and bought you a gi. Then you shut down. You didn’t want to do anything but sit at the edge of the mat. You didn’t want to line up, do warmups, play games, nothing. Then when you saw j eating Pocky you wanted one but mama said “You can have some later.” You twisted your face and … mmmmwwwaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA” motherfucking tears and gasping. The other kids were wrestling and getting headbutted in the liver and didn’t cry. You could have strawberry Pocky right away and you were wailing and tears streaming down your face. And you complain that you don’t have friends.

And I think one of the reasons is kids are practically born yesterday. As parents we all had a different life before kids, and the truth is that life ends after kids. But to a kid, everything is new. When it’s going well, “It’s the best day of my entire LIFE!” True. But it goes the other way too. Mama, tired after a long day, spends hours cooking a new recipe. And you go, “Blech… these noodles don’t taste good.” Everything can be the best and worst thing in their entire life because they haven’t been here that long yet. And that makes kids such terrible housemates.

And that’s why parents say, “One day when you have your own kids, you’ll understand.” Which is also true. Because it takes a couple of years of being beaten up by the world to understand that having someone love you and sacrifice their day for you is a rare thing.

I think being a good parent has as much to do with what you don’t say to your kids as what you do say. Because not everything you want to say should be said. And again, you only understand this when you’re older.

Example, the other day, you were giving mama a hard time all day, yet mama was patient, fed you, took care of you. I would have said fuck you and left you to fend for yourselves 6 hours ago. But she couldn’t bare letting her kids go to bed hungry and dirty so she kept sacrificing. And yet you said, “You’re a Cheesehead!” Because you didn’t get something you wanted. Oh man. You have no idea how much that hurt her. And it hurt me to see her being hurt and what an ungrateful asshole you are. I tried to keep my distance because if you were born 50 years ago you would have been whipped or flung across the room. And that’s what I wanted to do.

Then I thought, man. And we’re not even suffering as badly as some families. We’re not in financial trouble, I have a job, we can afford to buy good food, no one’s sick, we have a house, etc. And if we’re thinking these thoughts, it must be harder for the parents who are stressed sick.

And fucked up kids must happen when parents give up. You don’t even have to give up all the way. Just give up for a few seconds. That’s long enough to say something that — while true — you probably never wanted to say. And that is enough to scar a person for life.

Fuck this parenting bullshit. That’s what I want to say every now and then. I walk away to take a break. But then I come back. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll come back. Then I can relate to all the dads who never came back. But there’s no reasoning with kids because they just don’t fucking understand anything besides themselves. This is kid logic: “If daddy is upset, it makes me upset. Therefore he is being mean to me and he should apologize.”

You dropped it off and ran away

You dropped it off and ran away


Okay...

Okay…


You gave this to mama but she said this looks like a letter for daddy

You gave this to mama but she said this looks like a letter for daddy


Then you gave me another one

Then you gave me another one


Because it's never your fault

Because it’s never your fault

You gave me that letter and I wanted to slap the shit out of you. Because you were angry at US that you didn’t get to have dessert after dinner or whatever it was about. But then I realized that yelling or beating you would accomplish nothing because you’re still too stupid to understand. You wouldn’t see it as a consequence of your actions but just think I am mean.

Abu phrased it more objectively. She emailed us insights as to why you’ve been more an asshole than usual…

Mama: I had been talking to mom on and off over the last week when I was having a hard time with J and his defiant behavior. Thought you might find her insights interesting.

I hope that you’re feeling better today. The situation that you had with J yesterday is not unusual for his developmental stage. It really got to you because it was unexpected but it has its origins on parenting constructs and his own evolution. J, besides showing lots of physical changes will be showing a lot of behavioral changes. At this stage he will continue to be selfish, this is developmentally normal. Even if he shares with others occasionally he won’t understand or accept others’ point of view. He will start to show more independence even if he shows insecurities around new/unknown people and situations. He needs to feel important to those around him. He prefers praise when he does things right and he is more aware that he can be wrong and makes mistakes. He wants to be autonomous which is a great way to build up his self esteem.

In this stage he is supposed to bounce back quickly from negative feelings. He should be able to control his crying although he can/will use it for attention. He should be coming out of the Oedipus complex stage and should start identifying with his own gender. He will be imitating daddy a lot more going forward. He will start developing his sexual identity and in some cases, some children like to spy on others. In his love, he will be jealous. He will feel love and hostility. It might appear unstable to you as parents but it is normal.

In this stage of initiative vs. guilt he will learn to adjust to the rules of behavior and appearance with the help of you as parents and other models (family, teachers, etc). According to Freud this is the socio-sexual stage. He will identify either with mom or dad and will develop his own sexual image as a boy or girl. Other theories establish that during this stage negativity/opposition/obstinacy will develop.

Stay alert towards:
* ambivalent emotions
* obstinacy and negativism
* sexual curiosity
* fears
* habits that might develop and his independent life
* search for autonomy

Limits and structure are necessary. Yesterday you gave him power through your actions. In the future gently but sternly send him to his room and carry on with your chores. I wrote in a haste because I’m on my way to the doctor. We can talk further if you’d like.

Hugs to all,
Abu

Later that night you wrote this sign and stuck it on your bed

Later that night you wrote this sign and stuck it on your bed

"i am a bad boy"

“i am a bad boy”

Because a kid’s world is full of feelings and extremes. Your day swings up and down where everything is the best in the world or the worst in the world. And since we’ve been yelling at you more frequently lately, you decided that must mean you’re the worst boy in the world.

Stupid kids.

One thing I realized is that kids are annoying only if you want to do something else that doesn’t include kids. Like if you want to make some plans about not being a doormat for the rest of your life. If you have no delusion about accomplishing something else, SURE a kid is lovely. It’s great. Like last Saturday, I took a nap and cuddled with j. Then we woke up and we played whatever she wanted to play. Then she went shopping with mama and I was with you J. We made a rubber band car and it worked and you put stickers on it and it was great. You can be a kid’s best friend if you have no plans to do any adult things for the rest of your life.

Stupid dog. Our neighbor kid threw his styrofoam plane over our fence. Mama left them a note saying come by whenever to pick up your plane. So the kid came over and waved the note at the door. Mama was running errands and it was just Abu and you kids at home. Abu thought oh how cute the kid came to pick up his plane, so she opened the door. And Kimi launched at him and snapped and barked. He ran and she chased. She chased him all the way back to his house. Abu tried to run after Kimi but she was too fast. Then j cried because she couldn’t put her shoes on and thought Abu was leaving her. Meanwhile our ex-Marine neighbor said he was in the house and he heard 2 girls screaming. Then he heard barking and he recognized it. When he ran out he saw Kimi chasing a mother and her daughter down the street. He yelled at Kimi to stop it and go home. Miraculously, she listened. When mama came home later, Abu said, “That’s it, I’m going home.” We felt horrible and we went right to our neighbor to apologize. The kid was awesome. We were bracing for impact from his parents but they were all smiling. He told us his story like it was an adventure, “She chased me all the way back home! And she was all the way under my feet!” And the dad said something like, “Don’t worry, that’s what kids do.”

Genes for good. Mama sent her spit kit to U of M to contribute to their research. In exchange, they sent here these:

Ancestry pie chart

Ancestry pie chart


PCA plot 1

PCA plot 1


PCA plot 2

PCA plot 2


Chromosome rainbow

Chromosome rainbow

New elliptical

Mama put it together. It took a few evenings since it came in pieces. It was a good deal, $270? They’re usually more expensive so if we ended up not using it we could sell it easily. Mama set it up in the garage. Got the TV going and eveyrthing. I took a peek from my camera. I had it rigged up to “burn-in” test my wifi switch.

What I’ve been working on
Clusters at work.


And my WIFI switch. I finally solved it. First I fixed the crashes. For weeks I couldn’t figure out why my sprinkler was immortal but this new switch couldn’t stay alive for more than a day. It turned out it had nothing to do with my code. It was just the IDE version I was using. I switched from 1.0.5 to 1.0.6 and it’s now solid. The old libraries that came with 1.0.5 must’ve been the problem. The other key thing I solved is getting the switch to respond instantly. The key was using a protocol called MQTT. I installed a private MQTT broker at home. UI clients and switches connect to that MQTT broker. MQTT is a publish/subscribe system. Publishers publish to topics and Subscribers listen to topics and respond. Everything fit in a box small enough to go into a wall switch box/conduit.

Wifi Switch electronics

Wifi Switch electronics


I'm testing this camera

I’m testing this camera


Small enough to fit in a wall switch box/conduit

Small enough to fit in a wall switch box/conduit

The creative struggle puts me into waves of depression. I get a high when I finally solve whatever I’m working on. But while I’m solving it, it can feel like all hope is lost and I can’t see past it. The momenst of clarity can come in the shower or on a walk. But it’s a cycle that continues. If I were a writer I’d be an alcoholic. It definitely helps. But I also write code so I can’t.

Happiness can be simple

“The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires. The slightest observation, however, might satisfy him, that, in all the ordinary situations of human life, a well-disposed mind may be equally calm, equally cheerful, and equally contented. Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others: but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence or of justice; or to corrupt the future tranquillity of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from the horror of our own injustice.”
– Adam Smith

New developments
From Mama: “J dreamed with you.” And wants me to tell you about it. In his dream you were talking to him. You said that earth was not surrounded by space. It was just surrounded by endless sky. Then he started to hypothesize about what would that mean and what it would look like. He’s trying to go back to sleep now 😊. These lovely, crazy kids ❤

Dinosaur obstacle course. Note from one of your teachers: “Hi! I wanted to make sure I shared the photograph of J’s dinosaur obstacle course that he built with bristle blocks in the grove area yesterday. He asked me to take a photo of it and send it over. Here is his message to you: “I love you. I hope to see you soon. This is my obstacle course for the dinosaurs.” Look at his happy smile!”

Dimetrodon. “Dad did you know a dimetrodon is not a dinosaur?” The next day, teacher Ally went with you to look up the size of dimetrodon – 11 ft. Then you drew and cut out a life size dimetrodon. On the drive back home you fell asleep in the car hugging your folded dimetrodon. Teacher asked you to share it in class but you didn’t want to. You made a plan to take it back another day.

There has been an outbreak of children falling off the swing I made. You’ve never fallen off swings before, so my theory is you must be getting too relaxed… and letting go the rope. It’s just a stick and not a seat so if you let go off you go. The scoreboard is now J = 2(3?) and j = 1. Actually add 0.5 for J because you swung under it with your hands and bumped your head on the ground leaning back. I made a new rope ladder / swing because I was tired of you two fighting over that one swing. No one has fallen from that… yet. Hopefully all the rope ladder falls will be low ones.

As I mentioned above you’ve started BJJ classes. J has been going for a month and j will be joining next week. You’re technically too young but you’re keen and the instructors say it’s okay. All the kids are so nice. They treat you like a little brother and are very encouraging. But it hasn’t been easy. You say you want to keep going but when you get there you don’t want to join in. Then you come back and promise you’ll join in next time, but next time comes and it’s the same thing.

I get messages like these from mama while I’m at work:
“no go”
“He didn’t even line up, he is not doing warm up.”
“Mama success!”

Finally

Finally

Then…

Subject: “FYI”
J is being difficult again today:

– hit j
– ran too far ahead when we were out and refused to follow my instructions to stop and stay close
– did not eat his lunch
– doesn’t listen/answer when i talk to him
– refusing to participate in BJJ even from this time in the afternoon

I am going to take him to BJJ with the rules that:

– he cannot sit next to me
– he must stay on the mat at all times unless teacher calls for a water break
– if he doesn’t at least try everything all the books will go away tonight

I love him but I am done being his doormat. At some point I got to start setting some boundaries and if what I’m doing is not working, it must change. Still planning on being as gentle and kind as I can but limits will be set and enforced.

Wish me luck and I hope your day is going better than mine heh.

The whole class tries to help. Sometimes you hold the whole class up because they wait for you. For weeks, nothing. I said if you don’t do anything again we’re stopping. You did nothing again, so I said that’s it, no more. The next Thursday mama decided to give you another shot anyway. Mama started the day not talking about it, then in the afternoon took mat out helped J practice. You even taught j how to roll. Did all the drills and warmups. When you came back, I was already expecting to hear about what an asshole you were again. But mama said, “Want to tell daddy about class?” You jumped into me and said, “At class I did everything except running.” I hugged you. Mama said, “He even sparred. When you said you were going to the whole class cheered and clapped. J: “I was surprised when they did that.”

j: “My had is starting to hurt”
Me: “your hand?”
j: “my head”
Mama helped take off your bun, “I know, you’re not used to having your hair up yet”

J: You got a Paw Patrol backpack as a birthday gift. You had a Paw Patrol birthday cake. You have Paw Patrol socks.

We invented a game called Sockey and even Abu played it. It’s Soccer + Hockey with PVC pipes.

Curious convos
j, stomping away: “I’m not talking anymore”
J: “You’re just like you dad”

j: “I want more egg. More white. The egg frame.”

Me: you can go to mars one day; make a house
j: I will make a house made of ceilings. with a ceiling door. and ceiling paintings

Emails from Bao phone
“I hope you’re back from work so we can play!?!?!?!?!!?!!?!?!?!!!????????????????”
“Hhgjbghhhbbvggggggggfggggffffffffgggfffgfggttttttttggg”
While I’m on my computer taking a break from you kids, “i am ready to make the ladder”
“can you blow my helicopter?” (balloon copter party favor)
“wake up!”
“wake up so we can play!”
“wake up!”
“c3po”
“Hi i love you .”
“can we take kimi for a walk in the front yard?”
(to j:) “Hvvbvbbvvbbbbbcbv hbv hvbvvnjhhhhhhhhhhbbbbbhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhcuyhbbbbhghhpouhiihjnjhhhgyggghyhhgihggggggggygjhggjhhj.”
“show j the message i sent to her”
“can you spin me ultra fast?”
“now you can show j the message!”

Mother’s day secret
J (whispering): come over here. I have a secret to tell you that you cannot tell mama. Want me to tell you what it is?
Me: Okay.
J: Bring your ear to my mouth.
Me: Okay, but please don’t shout.
J: We were supposed to make a surprise for mama for mother’s day. I want to make a bird with 3 popsicle sticks and a head and 2 buttons for eyes and 3 feathers. And a sign and a letter and a a picnic and cake.
Me: Let’s do it one a time. How about we start with the bird.
J: I’ll show you how to make a bird.
(Later, after making the bir…)
J: I feel like we need more than a bird.
(Later, after making the bird and a letter and a sign…)
J: I feel like we need more than a bird and letter and sign.

This week in pictures

I wanted to make sure I shared the photograph of Joshua's dinosaur obstacle course that he built with bristle blocks in the grove area yesterday. He asked me to take a photo of it and send it over. Here is his message to you: "I love you. I hope to see you soon. This is my obstacle course for the dinosaurs."

I wanted to make sure I shared the photograph of Joshua’s dinosaur obstacle course that he built with bristle blocks in the grove area yesterday. He asked me to take a photo of it and send it over. Here is his message to you:
“I love you. I hope to see you soon. This is my obstacle course for the dinosaurs.”

Bunk bed lights

Bunk bed lights

Dimetrodon

Dimetrodon

"Turtle bread success"

“Turtle bread success”

"I'm climbing to the top of Mt Everest!"

“I’m climbing to the top of Mt Everest!”

New park near house

New park near house

"J loves it, j won't let go of mic"

“J loves it, j won’t let go of mic”


Karaoke

Karaoke

Sleeping with Abu

Sleeping with Abu

Firefighters

Firefighters

Puzzle ball - "I'm never going to do this!" You say that because that's what J says

Puzzle ball – “I’m never going to do this!” You say that because that’s what J says

Bunk buddies

Bunk buddies

Bunk buddies

Bunk buddies

Skating

Skating

Happy cake day

Happy cake day


Water break

Water break

"I'm making a nest"

“I’m making a nest”


Asleep in your pillow fort

Asleep in your pillow fort

Tea party. Neighbors let us have their daughters tea set, which she outgrew

Tea party. Neighbors let us have their daughters tea set, which she outgrew

You didn't want to tear your wrappers

You didn’t want to tear your wrappers

Opening presents

Opening presents

More presents

More presents

Paw Patrol

Paw Patrol

Splashing at a park

Splashing at a park

Mama made this cake.

Mama made this cake.

Birthday friends

Birthday friends

Happy birthday Abu

Happy birthday Abu

It's getting a little warmer

It’s getting a little warmer

naptime

naptime

Mama made you guys a castle

Mama made you guys a castle

"Turtle bread success"

“Turtle bread success”

Monkeys

Monkeys climbing

Monkeys swinging

Monkeys swinging

Chase & Zuma

Chase & Zuma

I showed you how to pierce tomatoes

I showed you how to pierce tomatoes

5 and 3

5 and 3

Closely watching other kids who were near your cake

Closely watching other kids who were near your cake

Wagon engine

Wagon engine

"Waiting for J, long nap while it rains"

“Waiting for J, long nap while it rains”

Jedi birthday party. You wear that costume almost every day at home now

Jedi birthday party. You wear that costume almost every day at home now

Lady bug ride

Lady bug ride

Brosis playing after school

Brosis playing after school

Mama planned a trip for us to a park. When we got there the Ranger stopped us and said it was full. So we kept driving until we saw a lake. There were 2 families fishing. We found our spot and watched them fish while we had sandwiches for lunch. This was where we found sticks for our new rope ladder.

Mama planned a trip for us to a park. When we got there the Ranger stopped us and said it was full. So we kept driving until we saw a lake. There were 2 families fishing. We found our spot and watched them fish while we had sandwiches for lunch. This was where we found sticks for our new rope ladder.

New rope ladder swing

New rope ladder swing

Helping mix batter

Helping mix batter. You brought your Liopleurodons to help.


j asked me to carry but you didn't tell me mama said no sitting there

j asked me to carry but you didn’t tell me mama said no sitting there


j: "ooooooo"  J reading everywhere as usual

j: “ooooooo”
J reading everywhere as usual

First hockey class

First hockey class

"I think when you’re done and you open it, you need to put more chocolate. because I like chocolate"

“I think when you’re done and you open it, you need to put more chocolate. because I like chocolate”


J is now in charge of feeding the fish and Kimi

J is now in charge of feeding the fish and Kimi


Fish pastries

Fish pastries


J: "I know this has Nutella because HERE" Me: "Are you sure? Red bean has the same color as Nutella" J: "OH..."

J: “I know this has Nutella because HERE”
Me: “Are you sure? Red bean has the same color as Nutella”
J: “OH…”


Kimi: "Did they drop anything?"

Kimi: “Did they drop anything?”


Kimi: "Did they drop anything?"

Kimi: “Did they drop anything?”


Yum

Yum

"I'm trying to write Happy Mother's Day"

“I’m trying to write Happy Mother’s Day”

Story from school Page 1

Story book you made at school


Page 1

Page 1


Page 2

Page 2


Page 3

Page 3


Page 4

Page 4


Page 5

Page 5

At home with mama

At home with mama

Front rolls

Plane

Ballerina


Down by the corner at the pizza shop

Happy Birthday

Dimetrodon

Geese

Hot hot day

Friend’s foam party

1st day with Hockey stick

Happy birthday

I need a pillow

Slide

Frisbee

Blossom festival

“I think when you’re done and you open it you need to put more chocolate
because I like chocolate”

Interesting things
Firekites
Baboon magic trick.
“What is a photocopier?” Court transcript.
MRI of opera singer singing.
“Dragon girls” in Wushu school.
Navy Seals parachute into stadium.
Drone fishing Tuna.
RC Helicopter or UFO?.
Freestyle rollerblade.
Freeline skates.
One Youtuber saves Wimbledon fan Football Club.
The greatest beer run.
King of the jungle.
Bicycle burnout.
Coracle.
Animation.
Falcon 9 historic barge landing.
Metal clock from scratch.
Spintop snipers.
How to take apart and put together Jeep in under 4 mins.
How to convert Jeep into raft and cross river.
Jeep in a box
This Einstein story makes Science exciting.

Today in history: SpaceX landed their Falcon 9 rocket on an ocean barge the 2nd time.

Roses are in bloom. Mama trimmed them. They bloomed harder.

The other day we visited our old house to pick up some mail. I was shocked. The houses looked closer together than I remembered. They looked smaller too. I felt uncomfortable. I knew it was smaller, but I didn’t expect feeling shocked. It’s interesting because after a few months in our new house, we’re starting to think it could use an extra room. But we got used to an ever smaller house before. Just a reminder that we’re fantastic at getting used to anything, and we always want more. Meanwhile, termites are attacking some wood in grandma/grandpa’s house. Fortunately most of their house is concrete.

Love,

Dad