Dear Jan Andres,
Yesterday, Facebook reminded me of your second birthday last year. We had a little party in your play school, with all your tiny friends gathered around your George Pig cake. Then on the weekend, we went to a kiddie farm in Tagaytay where you played with the animals, ran to your heart’s content and frolicked without fear or worry. It was less than a month before our world would be changed forever, but our photos showed no hint of the dark clouds looming in the distance. You ran through the wide green spaces with playful abandon, not knowing that soon we would have to lock you up in the confines of our urban home.
What a trooper you’ve been this past year, Jan Andres. Maybe it was because you were (and still are, really) too young to process any of these overwhelming changes, but I prefer to think that it’s because you just intuitively know what the people around you need, and you give it with such earnestness, innocence and love. Once last year, I can never forget, I was lying in bed and feeling sad, you lay down beside me hoping for attention. I didn’t turn to you and then after a few moments I heard you whisper, “the gentle seeds of patience”. I know, I know, that’s the title of a book you’ve been reading, but it was still startling to hear you say that — you who have only been in this world for all of thirty months and yet know how to draw from your limited well of words to make human connection.
It hasn’t been easy of course. You aren’t always easy, and I am not about to romanticize you as this docile, well-behaved toddler just because I’m your mom LOL. You have pretty clear ideas about what you want, and are not afraid to express it. You demand attention, and demand it frequently. Sometimes, it can be exhausting. I have to teach myself to be gentle and intentional with you, to learn how to set limits with you but at the same time be your safest space. Sometimes I wonder how other parents do it: tempering the desire to spoil their children with toys and gifts and endless attention to assuage the guilt of keeping them locked up, with the crucial need to ensure this pandemic doesn’t create a generation of self-entitled, sociophobic brats.
I think the answer is in trusting your kids more. Learning to trust you, learning to trust the process, learning to trust that, yes, the gentle seeds of patience will grow magnificently if we let the earth do its work. Several months ago, I was a little disappointed when you told me you weren’t ready to give up your slide. It was not a toy you played with frequently and frankly, it had gotten too small for you. You said you were ready to give it away, but at the last minute, you stopped me by going into a tantrum. Of course I respected your desire, but a very small part of me wondered if I hadn’t been modeling generosity enough. But a month later, you came to me and said “let us give the slide to the babies”. Then just a few days ago, with no prodding and no recent prior conversation, you pulled me to your cabinet of baby toys, and you said “these toys are for the babies.” That didn’t just amaze me, Jan, that taught me that I needed to trust you more. And that kindness is best sown and nurtured with gentle hands.
I do not know when this pandemic ends, and like the rest of the world, I hope it will be soon. This has been, after all, my most difficult year in all my 40 years in this world. At the same time, I say thank you for the chance to bear witness to your life in ways that would not have been possible without this global health crisis. It has been a profoundly transformative year, and the parts of it that are beautiful are because of you.
I love you, Jan Andres.