10 March 2010

Bad Neighbors

Today while the kids were playing in the front yard, the slightly older girls (6.5) from across the street came to join the fun. Trinh was just about to get onto her scooter when Comet (not her real name) swiped it, pushed Trinhity away and took off down the sidewalk.

The Mama-san caught the last bit of that episode and saw Trinh's long face. She asked what happened, and Trinh replied, "Mommy, she took my scooter. I was playing with it and she just took it. She didn't ask or anything."

The Mama-san called after the little hoodlum, who blatantly ignored her. The girls' father was standing next to Trinhity in our driveway, mere feet from the scene of the crime; he said nothing. Finally, after the Mama-san yelled several times, Comet reluctantly came back...but not before completing her loop. She didn't bring the scooter to Trinhity; she drove it past Trinhity.

Trinh politely said, "Thank you." These are the things that make you proud of your children's fine character.

Then, seconds later when Trinhity finally laid hands on her scooter again, she turned around and declared to the father, "And that's why my Daddy doesn't like these kids!"

These are the things that make you...uh...er....

09 March 2010

from out of the mouth of babes

Today at one point the Mama-san asked Trinh if she was OK, if she was having fun. She replied, "I always have fun, Mommy."

"You are just like your Daddy."

"I'm just like Mommy too. I can get out of hard conversations!"

07 March 2010

The Twinkle

Last Friday Trinhity took her first placement test at school, and she got an 86.5%. We were pleased, but the question about which level of kindergarten (yes, there are several) she should enter still generated considerable discussion.

Several of those conversations were held in her presence. She's all ears, no matter what she's doing, so we're always very careful to ensure that she's either directly included in any of those discussions or at least that we don't say anything around her that we know will give her cause to fret. Perhaps not all kids are so completely tuned in, but it's clear that not all adults are attuned to this dynamic.

At least, that's what I suspect triggered her teary confession tonight where, after several other melodramatic episodes, she sobbed that she was afraid she wasn't smart enough.

"Oh baby," I said, "most of us are afraid that we aren't smart enough, and anyone who thinks they are probably isn't."

"Daddy, who do you know thinks they're smart but isn't?" Oh boy.

I tried to dodge that one by saying, "Well, I can think of a few people, but I know that you're very, very intelligent. Do you know how I know? Because when I caught you as you came out of your Mama's belly and looked into your eyes, you looked right back at me. You looked deep inside me, and in your eyes I saw a wise soul, a person with depth and sparkling intelligence, someone who was already processing the world and making connections...even in your first few seconds of life."

All of that is true, btw. She replied, "Daddy, when I looked deep inside you, what did I see?"

Aw, hell. Wasn't ready for that one. "Uh, you saw my inner child." NICE. "Daddy, what's an inner child? Does that mean I'm your outer child?" Oh geez.

A couple minutes later after trying valiantly to explain "young at heart" and "old soul" in terms understandable by a 4.5 year old, I got back to telling her she was smart. "And do you know what I see? I see a twinkle in your eyes, a bright sparkle that tells me how intelligent you are."

At this point she's staring into my eyes, almost back to being silly and playful, when she says quite seriously, "Daddy...I'm looking into your eyes, but I don't see any sparkles."

Fercrissakes. Then, to top it off: "No, wait! I do see something! Oh...that's just the reflection from the light in the bathroom. It's nothing."

I know you won't believe this, but...

At breakfast this morning: "Daddy, I know you won't believe this, but I actually think you're an amazing cook."

I'm left to wonder what the Mama-san must say about my cooking when I'm not here...

Five minutes later: "Daddy, even though you're silly most of the time, I think I still like you."

Great. Interesting. I wonder what else the day has in store...

02 March 2010

The Face

Tonight the Mama-san told me that earlier in the week Trinhity asked her, "Mommy, what does God look like?" It's a grand question, of course. I'd like to know myself.

"Mommy, is God a boy or a girl?" Again, something I've wondered myself. Mama answered, "Well, God is probably both a boy and a girl, but also neither." A worthy answer, and ironic: it's a dichotomy that perhaps only a child would truly be able to grasp.

Trinh replied, "OK. But I think He's a boy." She went on, "I'm going to draw a picture of him. But Mommy, all my pictures of boys look the same. Except for Tai Tai because his hair goes up. But all the other boys, their hair goes down. I'll have to draw God so He looks like all the other boys."

Me, all I could think of was Borges:
...Mankind has lost a face, an irretrievable face, and all have longed to be that pilgrim — imagined in the Empyrean, beneath the Rose — who in Rome sees the Veronica and murmurs in faith, “Lord Jesus, my God, true God, is this then what Thy face was like?”

...If we truly knew what it was like, the key to the parables would be ours and we would know whether the son of the carpenter was also the Son of God.

...Perhaps a feature of the crucified face lurks in every mirror; perhaps the face died, was erased, so that God may be all of us.

Who knows but that tonight we may see it in the labyrinth of dreams, and tomorrow not know we saw it.
[shamefully excerpted from Paradiso, XXXI, 108 by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Mildred Boyer, from the compilation in Dreamtigers. The full text, which you really should read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest, and which I probably should never have dared abstract, is here.]