In just a few days you're going to have a new baby sister, but today is your day. I know you're still disappointed that you're not going to have a brother, but I have been so impressed with how helpful you have been to your mom and Eva and me. You are a really good big brother—having a little sister is frustrating sometimes, but you are always looking out for Eva and trying to do things for her, and I am so proud whenever I see that.
This past year has been a big one for you. You started school and had a great kindergarten year. You made lots of new friends, but still kept in touch with some of your old pre-school buddies. You have made a lot of progress in learning to read and write, and I've been so proud of how hard you've worked at it, even though you don't always want to. You work hard at practicing lots of things: swimming, tying your shoes, karate. You even do a great job of keeping your room clean.
We went to Legoland this weekend for your birthday, and what I really love about how grown up you've gotten is how much fun we have together now. We had a blast going on the waterslides together, and going on rides, and looking for the little people in Miniland. I love that you get so excited about things like explaining the Star Wars scenes to your uncle, or explaining Pokemon to your grandfather. I hope that you never lose that enthusiasm.
Today is your birthday, and I hope it's a great one. Happy birthday, pal. I love you.
Soundtrack: "Trees to Stone (Instrumental)" by Fremont. Used with permission.
Little fingers, how did you wind up there? Were you reaching for something as your eyelids drooped? It almost looks like you are pushing your pillow away, holding it back from your face. Of course, by the time I come back, after putting my camera away, you'll have moved. I wonder if you'll ever sleep still. But then, I suppose I don't, either.
I fret a lot about how to raise my daughter to be a strong, empowered individual, a person who doesn't value herself solely based on her appearance, and so I used to imagine my daughter as a tomboy. As it turns out, what she really loves is nail polish and dresses and princesses and pink. Maybe this will change when she gets older. Maybe not. Ultimately, it's not up to me to decide what femininity or even feminism means to her. In the meantime, at least I can be happy that we like the same snacks.
I've been getting up earlier for the past couple of months, which means I've been able to take Jason to school in the mornings. I like having the little bit of extra time with him, and getting to see him with his friends and in his new environment. Walking back to my car by myself after the bell rings, though, is a little... lonely, I suppose.
I don't know if I ever feel more Japanese—and simultaneously less Japanese—than I do when I'm at my grandmother's house. More because almost everything I learned about being Japanese I learned from her, in her house. Less because it reminds me how little of my heritage I have in my own daily life.
I took this picture when we were visiting her for Christmas Eve. She didn't have this picture on her wall when I was a kid; I don't remember exactly when she got it. When we were young, my brother and cousins and I would take over her bedroom TV for our video game systems—at first an Atari, then a Nintendo, and so on—and the four of us would hole up in there until just before dinner while the adults did adult things out in the living room. Sometimes we'd watch movies: I remember once my dad's younger cousin came in while we were watching a VHS copy of The Neverending Story, only staying for the opening credits because he liked the song.
It seems smaller now, that room, and a lot quieter. But it makes me glad that my kids have gotten to see it and make some of their own memories there.
Half My Life
In about seven hours--at the time I'm writing this--I will have been with Juliette for half of my life. When we started dating, I was seventeen, a senior in high school. Now I'm thirty-four, and we have a mortgage, a dog, two kids, and a third on the way. She has seen every step of my adult life, and then some--and I hers. Seventeen years ago, we couldn't have known what we were getting into, where we'd be a whole lifetime hence, and now here we are, and what a life it is. I'm thankful every day to have gotten to share my life with her, and to get to keep on doing so.
Before I lived with you I never made the bed.
I never really cared how the bed looked, whether I was in it or not, and in any case I didn't see the point in spending the time straightening up a bed I was just going to mess up again half a day hence, and which no one who didn't live with me would be seeing.
Honestly, I still don't really see the point.
But you like the bed to be made, and so I do. Every day.
It's not my favorite part of my day, and it's not the worst. I don't take any joy or pride in the work or the result. It still doesn't matter to me. But it's because it doesn't matter to me that I do it, because it's something I do only for you, only because you like it. It's something I can do, a small thing, to make you happy and let you know that you are loved.
If there's one thing I do like about making the bed, it's getting to see the evidence that you were beside me in the night. When you're not here, I wake up in the morning to find your side unmussed, unrumpled, un-slept in--of course. It makes the job easier, but it makes me sad.
Tomorrow when I get up, you'll most likely be gone already, taking Jason to school or running an errand. When I strip the comforter, I'll look and see the morning light caressing the wrinkled topsheet, and I'll think of us together. And then I'll run my hands across the fabric, smoothing it out, fluffing and stacking the pillows, pulling the blanket straight. Because that's the way you like it, and because I love you.