Thanks to you, I’ve been gifted with a memorably cute week, with some trick-or-treating as the grand finale. When Ellis joined our family, Grandma Lee called it while looking at the Kim boys: “Alvin Simon Theodore!” so that’s what y’all went as this Halloween.
Yesterday, the night before Halloween, was my first Parents’ Night. There have been so many moments, following your birth, where I thought, “I have NOW arrived. I am REALLY a mom.” One such moment was when we visited a baby music/dance class at Dragonfly Dulou in Los Feliz, CA on your first trip back to LA, to escape the many snowstorms of NYC. You were ridiculously young to be in the class, even for overeager modern parenting or Korean parenting (achievement-obsessed) standards. Grandma Lee came with me and she cracked up, commenting, “I dunno how much baby Micah enjoyed this class since he’s still a fetus but his Mama was delirious with excitement throughout the whole thing. I was just watching your face.” I nearly teared up as we danced around, making silly sounds and trying out musical toys, looking good and crazy. I AM IN A BABY MUSIC CLASS WITH MY SON! I AM A MAMA. I AM FOREVER CHANGED.
I felt like this again last night, attending PARENTS’ NIGHT as a newbie. Daddy stayed back with you and your brother, while I was gifted with the chance to enjoy a nice walk to your school, in perfect fall weather. I thought, “This is a trip. I am attending my son’s PARENTS’ NIGHT with other PARENTS. I am REALLY a mama now, maybe a year away from wearing jewelry he will make with flour and bake in the oven, under the careful supervision of his teachers.”
Naturally, I sat in the front row. Just so you know, all the cool kids in school sit in the front row, so as not to miss anything the teachers have to say, or get distracted from watching the people who sit in front of you. Reminds me of Grandpa Lee getting pissed when someone too tall sat in front of him at your uncle’s 6th grade graduation. We laughed because Mr. Too Tall happened to be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, his classmate’s very famous daddy. But I digress.
I listened to your teachers explain early childhood development theory, how even during something as simple as snacktime, you are learning so much. I was touched by how much your teachers genuinely desire for you and your little classmates to feel valued as a member of their school community. I soaked up every word, and nearly teared up hearing about the details of your mornings, including how you and your classmates are learning to develop conclusions on your own: “That red paint and yellow paint that Miss B poured separately made the new orange paint!” Miss B also informed us that soon we are going to take a “field trip” around the neighborhood, on a Shape Walk, a trip that will make you guys look for shapes everywhere you go. Mommy and Ellis will go on that little trip with you, if we don’t cramp your style too much. They ended with a slideshow presentation and when I saw you up on the screen, larger than life, I just felt so lucky to be your mama, sitting in that front middle seat in that auditorium.
I have to admit that for a few months, I found myself stuck in a rut of “Get It Over With” parenting. I wanted to get all the tough stuff over with just so I can exhale and rest and tune out, fast forward to the end of the day when I can just have some peace and quiet. Mealtime battles, discipline issues, answering your many questions from the kitchen while nervously running back and forth from the living room to make sure you are not closing Ellis’ eyelids shut, talking about, “You can’t watch TV, baby! It’s mine!”, repeating myself and still not getting listened to. I confess that I just wanted to phone it in. And I sighed. A LOT.
What helped me slowly START getting out of the rut was you. You made me marvel again the way I used to during your earlier years, before I let the wear and tear of daily demands of two toddlers get at me. When you were an infant, or even a less verbal, more baby-like toddler, everything you did was amazing and I had boundless energy because of this marveling and wonder. You helped me remember to marvel again as you’ve been growing up so swiftly these days, sometimes in the course of one day.
Your humor is coming along quite nicely. How did my no-necked, soft little baby with fine wisps of hair, develop such a sense of humor. You think you George W. Bush, giving everyone a nickname? I ask you who you like to play with at school and you get that mischievous smile on your face before you answer, “I play with Carry Up and Phone.” Turns out you like to play with a little girl named Carrie (maybe because you are drawn to her name, as you love to beg Mommy to “Carry Up” especially when she is wearing your little brother and steering the heavy stroller) and a sweet guy named Cameron (“Mommy, I call him Camera, like CameraPhone. I call him Phone now.”)
You love to dance HARD when we play some of your favorite songs. A couple days ago you would mimic Robin Thicke singing “hey hey hey..” in “Blurred Lines,” squealing, “This is my Daddy’s song!” You sing songs that you learned at school, songs that Mommy doesn’t know. I heard you sing the end of one school song, “…October brings the harvest…” and when I tried to learn it you said, “No, Mommy, don’t sing! I sing it.” And of course, “Don’t Sing, Mommy!” is not complete without a “Don’t Dance, Mommy!”
I don’t know where you learn some things that I’ve never heard you say before. A few weeks ago, your teacher told me that you fell off the tricycle during playground time, but that it was a complete accident and that you were fine. I later asked you more about that accident and you finally told me more about what happens at school. You calmly shared that your classmate hits you, but “not everyday, Mommy! He only hit me sometimes.”
Upon hearing that, Micah, Mommy’s body got hot with fury. I wanted to do what I usually want to do when I get furious. Strip off all my clothes and beat my chest, howl, revert to animal DNA.
“Did he hit you today?”
“Yes, he hit me today but he only hit me sometimes, Mommy.”
“Did he hit you in the face?” (Really trying not to rip off my clothes as my body heat rises)
“No, he didn’t Mommy! He hit me in my nose. Are you mad Mommy? Are you mad at me Mommy?”
“OF COURSE NOT, MICAH! Where are you getting this from, Micah? Why would Mommy be mad at YOU for telling me like a big boy what happens at school. Mommy feels mad and sad right now but not at you. I feel mad that I couldn’t protect you. I feel sad that my Micah got hurt and I didn’t even know. I will NEVER be mad when you tell me what happens at school. I sometimes get mad when you don’t listen to Mommy but when you tell me that someone hit you or pushed you, I am only PROUD that you were brave enough to tell me.”
“Is Daddy proud of me, too-oo?”
“OF COURSE, MICAH! DADDY IS SO PROUD OF YOU!”
“Do you love me Mommy? You love me?”
You slay me with these questions. How do you even know to ask such things? Apparently I knew nothing about nearly three-year-olds before I had kids. I didn’t expect such profound questions so early on.
I just wanted to say thanks to you, my dear first baby, Micah, Mommy had an extra full, extra cute week. I love you always and I am proud of you always just because you are you, not because of anything you do. You can ask me about that as much as you want, but I hope you know it and feel it…always.