Something unexpected has happened lately, which is that Kai has started reading my Journey Mama books. And rather than having the response that I might have imagined he would have, which is maybe a kind of teenaged embarrassment, he is riveted by stories of his life and his sibings’ lives. He loves reading about himself as a little kid. He tells me about things I wrote, daily coming up with new tidbits. “Leafy didn’t know what a milk jug was!” It’s always a surprise, because my memory is like a sieve. Starting the blog is the best thing I ever did, because all of our moments would be gone if it wasn’t for writing it all down.
And it makes me remember to write it all down now, even though I don’t do it from the sheer necessity of having to make sense of toddler madness, or the drive of needing my crazy to be understood. Because, as we sit around the table together, there are so many hilarious and precious things, so many things that are funny or cute or amazing, and I will forget all about them if I don’t write about them, don’t take the time to marvel over the shiny pile of stones we have been building out here in our wilderness. Like the way I was gone for a week (on a writing retreat of my own making—big sigh of happiness) and I knew on the bus coming home that Isaac would be so very happy to see me, and he might also say that he was “prying for me.” But he didn’t, and when I asked him if he was prying for me, he said, “No Mama, I wasn’t crying for you,” and I realized that his days of switching c’s out for p’s are over and the next time he sees his uncle and cousin who have the same name, he will call them Quran, instead of Poran. The thought made me sad. (I’m the opposite of Chinua, who is always teaching the kids to speak properly. “Don’t tell him popporn isn’t right,” I’m thinking violently, while Chinua is transforming our children into articulate beings. I’m wishing Kenya still said “wheats,” instead of feet.)
The way that Isaac makes little fans with his hands around his face when he’s pretending to be a baby, looking more like a star-nosed mole than a baby.
The thirteen-year-old voice breaking that is going on around here, and that I swear is more adorable than any other stage of life. Voice! Breaking! Cracking while laughing, while shrieking, while playing with a baby brother!
Kenya making her best poker face while Kai tells me that “Kenya says that when you make a poker face, you feel dead inside.” Kenya in general, her goofiness, funny faces, silly moods.
Kai telling me that he read that I had a hallucination of the kids throwing berries over me and me dumping yogurt over store employee’s heads.
“That wasn’t a hallucination,” I said. “That was imagination. There’s a difference.” But it prompted a discussion of my hatred of big stores, which led to us discussing how it was harder to re enter the US and Canada from India because there were no big stores where we lived at all (“We thought the purple store was big!” Kenya marveled) but here in Thailand we’ll go into a store like Tesco Lotus, a big giant store with a whole lot of the same things they sell everywhere, occasionally, if we are in Chiang Mai.
“I still hate Tesco,” I said. “It makes me confused and sleepy.”
“You hate Tesco?” Leafy asked, incredulous.
“You only like Tesco because they have that game on the trial tablets,” Kai said, his voice dripping with scorn.
“Well, you have to admit, Kai, that video game is awesome.” Could I ever properly communicate Leafy’s perfect delivery, his comedic timing and goofiness which cracks us up several times a day?
Isaac dive bombing somersaults onto the mattress that serves as a seating area on our floor, forcing us to watch him again and again.
Solomon doing jumping push ups several times a day, then checking out his biceps and asking me if he can try to pick me up? (No thanks, I don’t want a broken head.)
The way I call Chinua "Storm crow" with such delight sometimes now, because of the gray beard that he is growing out. (It's a Lord of the RIngs reference.)
Holding onto Chinua on the scooter on the way to our Thai class, that we take together, romantically.
Isaac being a general pest in the studio while I’m working, but singing to himself so sweetly that I take a really long time to eject him, waiting until he is messing with his dad’s computer and needs to be removed from the premises.
Before I left for my retreat, I was very, very tired. Life had caught up to me and I was dragging myself around, wishing every day was over long before it was. And my friend Tj is right, sometimes you need to think about leaving and sometimes you need to think about staying. I needed that time away. I needed the quiet. And I was a little nervous about coming back, worried that I would get tired out by all the different hats I wear. But our first dinner back together, I laughed more times than I had all week, and I sighed at drama, and I scolded when needed, and gave lots of hugs, and was alive, basically, the way challenging, incredible families make you alive.