I guess they’re the same in any species…

Dear J,

Sorry I took so long to write… I have no excuses. I’ve been lazy and I’ve been putting it off. But I promised I’ll write every week, so I told myself I’m going to sit down for at least 15 minutes today to write to you…

… which, by the way, is an awesome tip for you today (I’ve been using it myself): No matter what you’re trying to do, you should never rely on your willpower. There’s nothing more futile than relying on willpower to get something done. Willpower is like your scumbag friend who abandons you when you need him the most.

The trick is to be sneaky and make tiny tweaks to your existing routine — add just one extra baby step to an existing routine. Each baby step, repeated over time, slowly but surely carves out a new habit.

Okay. You know, it’s annoying to get interrupted when you’re trying to concentrate. I’ve been getting interrupted a lot lately, because you’re now a word geyser. I guess it’s not as bad as when you were a baby and you’d yell at us until our ears bled, ignoring all our attempts to comfort you.

At least now we can somewhat have conversations, and even discussions and negotiations. Except that the only person you want us to talk to is you. Your mom and I haven’t been able to complete most of our sentences, let alone have a decent conversation whenever you’re around.

You are now shouting your entire vocabulary to us, and you will keep repeating your words until we acknowledge each one. You also know when we understand what you say (and when we’re just pretending), and you will keep trying until you are sure we get you.

I guess what I learned about being a dad is that I’m not really that patient, because I do a lot of yelling out loud silently inside, while trying very hard not to let any curse words escape. I’m tired, but I can’t complain because your mom always sleeps less than I do. You’re lucky your mom is patient. Especially with your tantrum throwing, face planting, floor rolling… when you try to mash complex sentences and we don’t understand your gibberish.

(Funny thing the other day: At bath time mama said “OH MY GOD I’M SO SLEEPY”. You were putting a cap as a hat on octopus and you repeated “OMAGOK I-MO SLEEPY! OMAGOK? OMAGOK?” It’s only a matter of time until your mama stubs her toe again and you learn your new favorite word ¡coño! … which I’ll cover up as long as I can by singing “ponyo, ponyo, ponyo, fishy in the sea…”)

All this talking has thrown your brain into overdrive. You know what you want to say and you go postal when you can’t. It fascinates me. No one is forcing you to be frustrated… to cream your brain trying to learn. But Something primal makes you desperate to communicate. The insane rate at which you’re learning overwhelms you at night — you often wake up screaming and calling for mama.

Like tonight. Mama was tired, so I went to your room to put you back to sleep. I swung the door open and you screamed even louder. You sat up, reached up and called for mama. I said it was papa, but you screamed Mama. Fine. I picked you up, and you yelled MAMA into my ear. My chest tightened; I told myself it’s not right to yell at or throw a baby. So I reminded you we loved you, and that everything was okay.

You started to calm down as you followed my voice in your head. I told you where you were, what around you in the dark, and that it was night time… and everyone sleeps at night. I went through your favorite things: Airplanes sleeping. Cars sleeping. Train sleeping. Shoes sleeping. Mama sleeping. Kimi sleeping. Then I said ‘nite nite’ to everything you knew.

After being silent for a while, you stammered, “G-g-g- oonuk Airplane?”
“Good night airplane,” I said.

“goonye train?”
“Good night train.”

“goonye car?”
“Good night car.”

Then you said, “Goodnye daddy. goonye mama.”

When you were a baby you were afraid we’d drop you. When I moved with you in my arms, you’d tense your whole body and jerk your limbs. But you trust me more now. You stay relaxed even if I spin you around or trip over things in the dark.

I rocked you to sleep. My back hurt. You didn’t want us to leave you. Just when I thought you were drifting off, I inched back to your crib. But you said No and tightened one arm around my neck, grabbed my sleeve with the other and climbed your legs up like a monkey. You pulled me close and I felt you breathe in and out.

Eventually you took a deep breath and let out a big sigh, and relaxed your head on my shoulder. There was something special about that simple moment.

(Oops, it’s getting late. I’ll have to continue tomorrow. Tomorrow we’ll talk about how words are amazing.)


P.S. your current girlfriends are Anna, Natalie and Myra. Anna’s our neighbor. She gave you a big kiss on your cheek coming back home from the park one day. You got shy whenever we teased you about it after.

Myra and Natalie are your friends at daycare. Every night and every weekend, you will ask us about them. Myra? Natalie? Myra? Natalie? “Tomorrow”, we say. Or “Monday”. And you repeat after us (“To-MORROW”) and nod. Your teachers say you like them because they’re the oldest in your class, so they’re the most outgoing and frequently interact with you and invite you to play.

Funny thing is you can’t stop talking about them, but when you finally meet them, you freeze up, put on a serious face and pretend to be cool. But of course, we know the truth. Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with us… and their parents. Oops. He he.