Things that bring us happiness these days tend to revolve around Kai. His name in Japanese means “The World”, so he’s our world after all.
We’re happy all of the time because we have Kai. Happiness tends to be an enveloping state of mind. But there are little moments that happen throughout that are just simply moments of joy.
You can put a finger on it.
What’s your finger on?
Last weekend when we went to visit my parents at their home, my father looked a little worse for wear because of Parkinson’s. His stiffness and gait was more pronounced than it had ever been.
As it was a hot day, Kai was a little more than cranky when we arrived, and Naomi and I had wanted to let his grandpa hold him, if that was at all possible, for a little while.
It was possible, as grandpa was seated on a wide armchair, so he didn’t really have to carry Kai, who was all of 8kg last week, but just allow him to settle across his lap.
We were kind of worried Kai would start wailing once we placed him there, and were at the ready to pick him up again if he did.
More than the opposite happened. First, Kai smiled at his grandpa, and grandpa reciprocated the best his facial muscles knew how.
Then Kai laughed. For a baby who’s only started how to chuckle a few days earlier, he let out a stream of chuckles, complete with deep audible intakes of breath in between.
Grandpa really, really smiled, and then as he cradled Kai in his arms, they both gurgled and cooed nonsense to each other.
Kai’s starting to drool a lot these days, and he’s making a mess of grandpa’s hands and arms just as grandpa is doing the same to himself because of Parkinson’s Disease.
It’s a slimy, icky, gummy, grinny, gurgly bonding session between Kai and his grandpa, who suddenly looks like he’s turned back a decade.
Yesterday afternoon, as I was struggling to put words to a song and a skit, the baby monitor I had on the desk crackled to life, its blue lights flickering and its speaker letting me listen to Naomi’s mother patting Kai and singing twinkle twinkle little star, which is the only song she sings to him.
But because she’s trying to put him to bed, she’s singing it lullabye style, which is slower and softer and doesn’t have any hand actions because you are carrying the baby after all.
She sings and pats for a good five minutes or so, and Kai doesn’t sound like he’s anywhere near sleeping, and keeps gurgling and cooing at Twinkle Twinkle Grandma, who is tiring quickly.
The patting stops for a moment, and then starts again, so I think she’s put him down in his cot and then resumed patting and singing.
Kai’s still gurgling, and Grandma gets a little impatient and tells him in Mandarin and Taiwanese to “quickly go to sleep”. She sings another few bars, and then says again “go to sleep, go to sleep”.
The patting becomes erratic and the singing stops, but the verbal urging picks up and Grandma says, “Come on Kai, go to sleep, go to sleep”, and starts to snort loudly and sharply in between saying “go to sleep”.
This snorting startles me for a few seconds before I realise she’s merely trying to mimic snoring in the hope that Kai picks up the cue, since he’s already missed the verbal and singing ones.
The snorting continues for a few minutes as I listen in, trying to control my laughter. Then abrubtly, it stops, and I hear in Mandarin a very resigned, “OK, since you don’t want to sleep, so be it. Grandma wants to sleep”.
Within seconds, real snoring is heard – a lot more rhythmic than the imitation ones, and in several more minutes, Kai stops gurgling. Some more rustling is heard, then all becomes quiet.