Yesterday, Benji turned two. All I can say is that from the day he was born, it only got better. Just the thought of him makes me all warm and fuzzy.
Sometimes, when he is sleeping, I look upon him as a baby but I have to admit now, he’s mostly boy. I wanted to mark the milestones he’s hit but they are all a-jumble.
His love for anything on wheels – bus, car, police car, truck, crane, train, and, by extension, plane – has endured from his very first word “ka!” His love for his sister has been tinged with a jealousy so simple that he simply pushes her away or asks one of the helpers to “carry Mimi” but he still rushes to her when she wakes up or if she’s crying and is concerned if she’s not around. He loves books and it gave me a thrill this weekend when in the midst of this dance class he found himself a book and stood in the middle of the pandemonium going through it. He loves dogs (“Goggie touch!” he pleads) and I so badly want the kids to know the joy of growing up with animal as I never did. He is a dreamer, who stares off into space with his mouth open for blessed stretches giving us all a break.
In all this he is mummy’s boy. It is strange – physically, he is a replica of V; mentally, emotionally, he is me.
We celebrated his birthday with a trip to an indoor playroom with slides and balls and lunch at a pizza place with our helpers. They got him a fire trick – with a most annoying alarm that he has learnt to turn on himself – and a bus, both perfect gifts that he is in thrall of. His parents, shamelessly, got him nothing. In the evening, we cut a cake shaped like a police car. The expression on his face when he saw it was priceless and I have a few great photos of him eating it cholatey-faced with the plastic knife. We decorated the house with a very tacky birthday banner (from last year, recycle … or convenience … ever being our watchword) and a few balloons. There were Skype sessions with close family and by the end of it, he was confused about why everyone was singing the same song.
The only off note was that Mimi came down with a fever and by afternoon was very very ill. Last night, I came full circle with her, sleeping sitting down with a child draped on top of me, trying to lay her down, edging my arm from under her head, her waking up, bawling, rock, repeat. But it felt good to do it, to be the one she clings to. I will always panic a little when my kids fall sick, even as I try to present a composed and rational exterior. Today, she is already showing signs of recovery and I am relieved.
Overall, it was a lovely weekend. On Saturday, I went to a trial kids music class and on the way back, we spotted a tram and while V foraged for breakfast, Benji and I hopped on and took a long slow ride together. I loved talking to my son, singing Wheels of the Tram, giggling over silly stuff, holding his hand as he soaked in the buzz of the big city (in this too, he’s my boy). We do something like this every weekend but I’ve never identified how much I cherish it.
Sunday was a wet day and in the evening, Benji and I were the only ones in the park. We hunted for snails and earthworms (none!) and I let him splash in puddles even though it meant we had to go up and change his trousers and shoes halfway through.
In between I got in loads of time with Mimi, who has become quite a mommy lover. She’s crawling confidently and can pull herself up and cruise, as it’s called. God help us when she starts walking but I really find it easier as the kids get more mobile and can entertain themselves.
Last week in the middle of some unnecessary argument with V, he mentioned the kids and I stopped fighting and started smiling. I realised they are my free space, my breath of fresh air, my bouncy ball. They make me happy like nothing else does right now in the most uncomplicated way, simply by their existence.
On Sunday evening, V, a friend, and I went to an exhibition of the terracotta warriors from Xi’an at the Hong Kong Museum of History. I remembered about the audio guide too late and regretted not getting it. I then felt obliged to read the accompanying text to every exhibit, not all of which were significant. But the terracotta warriors were great. I fell a little in love with them and I’m in awe at the attention to detail, whereby even the horses have expressions. The images of people from ancient Chine in animated books and films, these tell us that this was actually how they used to dress and look, not just how we imagined they would have. It’s kind of cool knowing that. This is something that will stay with me for a long time and it was just a bus ride away.