… and tonight be Christmas Eve…

“We need a sixth child,” was the proclamation that woke me. As I sit here blogging, our grandparents are laughing and Paco concurs, “I WANT.”

So Nino wants to be a Kuya. How’s that for a pro-life 5-year-old? Unfortunately, I think he’s confused by all the jokes being made about Ninong’s “food baby.” He patted Ninong’s tummy and asked, “What’s a baby doing in there??” I’m not sure if that means he knows that only mommies are able to have babies in their tummies, or if he is trying to recalibrate his toddler understanding to accommodate this strange phenomenon… I suppose we haven’t actually tried to properly explain what is meant by “food baby,” but then I’m not sure I’d know where to begin…

We are blessed with the heartrendingly delightful ability to rediscover the world vicariously through regular interaction with children. Narnia, for example, is always new – I’ve been rediscovering the Sacraments in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – but I’m made aware of a different sort of newness when I read Narnia aloud to Nino. His attention span is incredible! He will want me to read up to three chapters in one sitting, and I am blown away by what he remembers. He doesn’t always lie still while I’m reading to him, so I ask him occasionally if I should stop, but he asks me to keep going and later comments and will make references that show that he was paying attention the entire time.

Nino has his favorite parts, and sometimes stops me to tell me something he remembers about the character of current focus. Today, he told me what chapter of The Dawn Treader he wanted me to read, and he went and found the page for me. Dad reminded him that he had already read that chapter to Nino some days ago, but Nino insisted that he wanted me to read it again, because he liked that chapter so much. He stopped me to get some snacks throughout the camera, and would come back and point to a spot on the page and say, “I think you were there.” He was pretty darn close, too.

He’s a little young at present, but I think in a year or two, he’ll be ready for Lord Brocktree. I am ridiculously excited; Nino is picking up on our use of accents when reading, and is beginning to put on a British accent himself sometimes; I can’t wait to read to him about Dotti and King Bucko Bigbones.

Aside from being able to read very well – so well that he can read Mother’s phone notifications (“Mommy, ____ wants to talk to you!”) – Nino is also doing copywork now. He can write his own name from memory, and word by word, recently copied a thank-you letter to his Ninong AJ and Ninang Cynthia. It’s amazing to look at writing samples from all of us kids at that age and note how similarly our letter-forming was in the beginning, and then to see the distinct differences in our handwriting now.

He does mix Tagalog and English – ex: “I’m busog.” – and I always wonder when and how kids begin to understand that they’re learning two separate languages. It’s like, when did Nino finally understand that Ate is not my name? Well, actually, does he understand yet that Ate is not my name? We know he understands Tagalog well enough, because he will respond in English when spoken to in Tagalog, and I know that he can mentally translate, because he’s able to use words interchangeably; he uses ‘busog’ as often as he uses ‘full.’ In some cases, I believe that he understands and prefers some Tagalog words or phrases, such as, “Pogi ako,” which he never says in English, but I’m sure he knows, with his outstanding vocabulary. Per Unc, his word-of-the-day earlier this week was ‘jurisdiction.’

Nino’s logic and ideas regarding morality are too funny for words sometimes! For example, I’ve been told that “bad guys don’t wash their hands before they eat.” He asked us if we were homesick just eighteen minutes after we left the house for Uncle’s.

Since arriving here at Unc’s, Unc has been strangled, climbed on, and buried in pillows while trying to sleep. Nino has been joining his older brothers in gaming, and it amuses aunts, uncles, and grandparents alike to see him play Angry Birds on a 55″ screen. One really can’t help cheering him on.

This trip is going by at just the right pace. Between Mass and cooking and eating and sleeping and gaming and movie watching and picture taking and re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings and lying around chit-chatting… and repeating all those things, uninterrupted by any school- or work-related cares, it’s been perfectly lovely. And hugging. I have to make up for all the hugs I don’t get to give my grandparents and aunts and uncles the rest of the year. I was accustomed to seeing them all much more often in in my childhood than the other kids, so I am, perhaps, a little more keen to catch up on hugs. I don’t get much opportunity the rest of the year to be quite so lambing.

Half the fam will be making a daytrip to NYC tomorrow. Call us crazy, but fortunately it will be more for the bonding time than for the sightseeing. Which is how it ought to be.

Merry Christmas!

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