Saturday, September 17, 2016

Terrible Twos and a cookie

Dinner was a small battle with Kiara. We negotiated and renegotiated with every spoon of rice and fish soup. I wanted her to eat, because she hadn't eaten a full lunch. Finally, I offered, "When you finish everything, I'll give you a cookie.

"Cookie!" she said.
"Rice first!"
"Cookie!"
"Open your mouth," I said firmly.

She obeyed.

Twenty minutes later, we were finally down to the last three tablespoons. Already hungry (hangry!), I had portioned out all the food in her bowl so I could correctly predict the end of our shared ordeal.

She refused to eat any more. I reminded her of the cookie.

She said, "No!" Then she pushed my hand away, spilling some food on the iPad.

I pretended I was angry. She still said no. I pleaded. Still no.

Finally, I said, "No cookie for you." Then I handed her leftover food to my mom to eat and left for the kitchen to get my own dinner.

Suddenly, I heard a loud squeal. Of delight. Of victory. Then a loud celebratory shout: "COOKIE! YAY!"

How can you say no to that?

The Terrible Twos tells me, "One only!"

Like her sister before her, my two-year-old niece Kiara isn't allowed chips. But I had some Cheetos and she asked -- no, implored me to give her some. I checked with her dad and was allowed to give her only one piece.

So I handed her a small piece. It was so small it wasn't even half a Cheeto. "One only," I said, my forefinger up to drive home the point.

Kiara nodded and happily ate the Cheeto.

Then she asked for more, threatening me with tears. I told her mom, and her mom said I could give Kiara banana chips instead because she loved them too.

I gave Kiara a newly opened bag of banana chips. She squealed with delight and ran around with the bag, eating chips and showing it to everyone in the house.

She came up to me, beaming, her mouth full of chips.

"May I have some, Kiara?" I asked.
"No!"
"Please? You have to share."

She thought it over. Then she dug out one big chip, bit off half, then handed it to me.

"One only," she said. Forefinger up.

You know, to drive home the point.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

She's so far away

One of the things my best friend and I used to laugh about was how she thought the lyrics to that 1994 Roxette song said, "She's so far away, like China in my eyes." I teased her for years over it, even wrote about it in an article on mondegreens. If you're our common friend, at least from our school days, I've surely told you that story.

Today, Sherwil walked me to the main road from her house in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, just in time to catch the 4.05pm bus back to Manila. I'd just spent two days with her, doing nothing and everything we used to do whenever we would have sleepovers at her parents' house in Muntinlupa.

We resumed a few rituals. We talked non-stop. We messaged friends. We took pictures. She made sure I had enough to eat. I made meaty spaghetti for her. We watched a movie. We slept beside each other (there's no extra room ready in their temporary house, and her husband was sweet enough to let me stay in their room while he spent two nights in his old bedroom in the house next door). We joked about taking baths. (I wanted to; she didn't. True story.)

But there were a few firsts. It was my first visit to her new home. We went to the few touristy spots she'd always been curious to see. I took a picture of her in front of the big sign that spelled out Cabiao, something she'd always wanted to do but couldn't because there was no one to go with who could take a nice picture of her without cringing.

Of course, we argued first about what the sign said: She insisted it said Cabiao, I insisted that it started with a letter N, and it turned out we were both right and talking about two different signs fronting Nabao Lake.

It was also our first sleepover that included a silent third party: her baby in her tummy. My future godchild. Sometimes, we'd talk to the little one.

As I settled in the First North Luzon Transit bus that would take me four to five hours away from my best friend's new home, the song "Vulnerable" started to play. I laughed a little, but also thought about how things have changed since 1994, and how there's a post-Sherwil's Wedding version of us, and how there will be a post-Baby Duque version of us as well.

Right now, she's a long bus or car ride away. When the baby comes, she may be a world away from Emily and me. I'll welcome the change, of course. I already love the little girl. Or boy. (Girl!)

But in a few months, Sherwil will be completely navigating the different world of motherhood, while Emily and I are still single and trying to find our footing in this one.

Girl friends change -- and in many good ways, but few that benefit their single friends -- when they start their own families. I can't help but think she'll be so far away.

You know, like China in my eyes.