“Ima, how do you say ‘tova’ in English?” ‘Favor’, I offer graciously, secretly thrilled that this time the request for the “favor” is to be directed at the English speaker in the household.
“OK”, Sebastian utters, as he runs off. “Aba, can you do me a favor?” “Can you save this playdoh for me? But put the blue one here on the table, and the rest of it up high on top of the piano. And then color this heart with the purple marker and cut it out.
Favors, around here, are plentiful these days. But they seem to be conspicuously unilateral.
Afternoons at the park yield an interesting and very hands-on variety.
“Ima, at yechola laasot li tova?” Yes sir. “Fill the bucket with sand, half-dry half-wet sand, and then smooth it out like this and then bring it to me.”
Ima, at yechola laasot li tova? Of course. Find me big stones and little stones. And then put the big ones here, but take out the most beautiful ones and put those in a separate pile here…
Ima, can you bring me my toys and then put one pile here and one pile there?
Then there’s of course the ubiquitous demands that are less, well, ‘favor’able: I’m thirsty, I’m hungry. I want this, I want that. Right at the moment I’ve sat my tired ass down.
I stand to command.
I recall an entertaining and boisterous dinner theatre show I once saw called Angry Housewives. It had an atonal and very resonant bit that droned, in a whiny sing-songy timbre: “you think I am your slave, you think I am your servant” ad nauseum. It was funny back then.
Sometimes it gets to me: the demands, the negotiations, the dawdling, the whining, the yelling, the clinging, the slave-ing, the servant-ing.
There are moments when I am driven to rocking out another hit tune from “Angry Housewives” – this one intoned in an unruly shriek: “eat your fucking cornflakes!”
Sometimes the violent and furious monster inside of me rips loose. And it scares even me. [Up side is I get lots of opportunities to model apologies once my boiling blood wanes to a simmer.)
And sometimes I turn around to hear Liliana laughing hysterically while Sebastian is animatedly gesturing and singing an improvised song to her. He’s cracking up at his brilliant lyrics (key words include tusik shamen (fat butt), and kaki (poop)). She’s cracking up at him. He feeds off of her, she off of him, in a spiral of unbridled joy and laughter. And I sit satiated, a happy haze filling my chest.
It struck me some days ago that my kids really like one another. Sebastian will lift Liliana up as he balances her clumsily and precariously. The sight of it is so darn cute, I don’t even brace myself for potential falls. She’ll address him with her most searching queries: “Sebastian, are these bubbles yours? Here chamudi (“cutie”). (Surely, if the object at hand were HIS CANDY, her sweet face and her twinkling eyes would betray a rather un-sweet personality). In this case, he’ll oblige, and confide delicately, “yes Liliana,” quickly adding, “but put it here – so Ima doesn’t see”.
I smile to myself. What I hear and don’t see won’t hurt me. The opposite, come to think of it, is also true; seeing and not hearing would be a welcome boon on many occasions. But the point is: the green-eyed monster is put to rest. For a while.
Things are cyclical. Transitory. Temporary. And that’s good. Tomorrow is only and always a day away. Even when it feels like the day is endless, like the fiery monster is about to combust, tomorrow is still only- a day- away.
And when I lay in bed at night (Lance assured me once that “they eventually HAVE to sleep”), I close my eyes and try to recall the hugs and the giggles – to see them, and to hear them. Because the days may be long; But the years are short.