I’m developing this site for many purposes, but I find my writing consistently comes back to my family. Even what I have to say about the plight of adjuncts, accelerated remedial courses, and romance novel audiences all somehow loop back to my family. Please allow me to formally introduce them.
Because I’m going to do it anyway.
My son (AKA the Boy, AKA the Alien): my firstborn child is a sweet, usually laughing, ball of imagination. At this point in his life, his imagination is a dominant force for his personality.
He is a Power Ranger.
He has been bitten by a radioactive something and consequently has powers.
His imaginary lion friend has gotten so hungry that he suddenly wants to eat him (and that’s why he’s screaming and running through the house).
His Transformer friends want to come over all the time, but his mom (me) won’t let them come in the house (“They’re too big. They’ll wreck the place. Cars go in the garage.” “Aw, mom!”)
But, most of all, my boy is an Alien.
He very seriously informs people in the checkout line, at the playground, on our walks, at school, at the doctor’s office, and many more places that he is an alien from outer space. The backstory changes from time to time, but is always told with 100% sincerity. I’m pretty sure he believes he is an alien. Tears fill his eyes and his fists clench in frustration if you give him any indication that what he’s saying sounds like fiction.
This plays out in a couple of ways. He loves to tell me about his “rude alien brother” who is always doing terribly naughty things. “Mom, my rude alien brother was burping and burping and not saying excuse me.” Or “My rude alien brother hit me one time, and my alien dad grounded him for a hundred years.”
He also tells me about how he got here. Sometimes he will say he did something bad and his alien family kicked him out of their old house and that’s when I found him. Sometimes he’ll say his alien parents somehow passed away, and that’s why he’s mine now. He usually tears up a little when he tells me about it.
I let him talk about it as much as he likes, and I try to always add the same ending to his alien stories: no one ever gets kicked out of our family, and now that he’s mine, he will always, always be mine- forever.
My daughter (AKA the Girl, AKA the Cat): My daughter is a surprisingly-aware, sweet, team player. She inherited her parents’ touchy-feely-ness and demands constant contact. She watches our faces and tries to make everyone happy.
In a few ways, I feel like I’ve been getting to know my daughter’s personality only recently. I didn’t realize how much my son talked until he went to school this year. I now understand that my daughter is actually not that quiet- she just couldn’t get a word in edgewise. These days, she tells me all about her imaginary scenarios and even cracks jokes.
Her indignant face is something I have always tried to capture on camera, but I haven’t quite gotten it. She’ll be playing, and I’ll say, “Oh, are you playing like a baby?” and she will snap to attention, put her hands on her hips, huff, dismissively wave one finger at me and say, “Mama! Don’t be rude to me! I’m a cat.”
I love her feistiness, and I hope she keeps it. We talk about manners, but she’s still so little that not a lot is sticking. Currently, she’s in love with “bathroom words,” even though she knows she’s only supposed to say them in the bathroom. She says them all the time, everywhere. And did I say she “says” them? I should have said, “shouts.”
Whereas the Boy loves playing alone, the Girl is our little suction cup. If I’m in the kitchen, she’s in the kitchen. If I’m in the bathroom, she’s in the bathroom. Instead of just imagination play with toys, she prefers activities like play-doh, beads, coloring, paint, and, especially, cooking.
She knows that I won’t let her cook on the stove yet, but we bake together. No matter where she is in the house, if I open the mixing bowl cabinet, she’ll scream, “Mama, can I help yooooouuuuuuuu?!” There’s a blur of colors, and I turn to see a little girl already on her stool beside me with a big spoon in hand. She’s my helper.
My husband (AKA Husband (I capitalized it. See?)): Husband is the best man in the world. He came to America to start his life over, several years ago. He says he wasn’t a nice person before he decided to completely start over and change his life.
I never met “that” guy.
Husband left everything behind in Korea and went soul searching. During a visit with his sister in America, he extended his stay to learn English, met me, and we had a whirlwind romance. Now he can never leave.
Ever, ever, ever.
Husband is a full-time father, and the most capable housekeeper in existence. Our daughter gets her super-observant compassion from Husband, and I can see our little boy’s silly exuberance in him every day.
Husband is a caring person, and a lot of that comes from how amazingly observant he is. I know a lot of women who say their loves stopped paying careful attention to them when the initial romance died down.
Husband is the exact opposite.
If I change my hair, he notices. If I skip a meal at work, he somehow has something waiting for me when I get home. I actually have to be careful when I ride beside him in the car. If I’m imagining a scary/dramatic part for one of my books, he will notice the look on my face, and worriedly demand, “Honey! What’s wrong?”
He is a detail-oriented person with a work ethic that makes me tired just thinking about it. For example, I made a to-do list of things that need to be done over the next few weeks.
I cannot show it to Husband.
He will not rest. There will be no free time. Everything will have to wait until that list is accomplished.
But, somehow, this man-on-a-mission personality is different when it comes to our kids. He easily stops everything and plays with them. Not that they don’t drive him crazy (he’s a FULL-TIME dad, for crying out loud), but he is a very good, sweet, and loving father. The kids are convinced that he can do anything and fix anything. And he ALWAYS has batteries.
He also has an unending passion for BJs and Sam’s Club. If he could, I think he would go there every day.
And that’s all three characters.
My family is omnipresent for me. I introduce myself to my students every semester by trying to give them a little context with which to understand me, their new teacher. I am always sure to mention my family, since the topic will come up from time to time, and my loves deserve a proper introduction.