Nicholas picked up a book, handed it to me, and told me to read it.
“This,” he would say as he hands a book about trekking on a trail or backyard birdwatching to me.
He pointed out pictures; birds and apples being his top favorites.
Then he gestured that I should read the text, which include recipes of making roasted marshmallows and fruits-on-a-stick. He is fascinated with birds and asked me to read the descriptions written beside pictures of hawks, herons, woodpeckers, and owls. Although I bet he doesn’t understand it yet, I still told him stories about the native birds of Cebu (the Cebu Black Shama or siloy, and the Cebu Flowerpecker among many of them) and how my previous work made me develop an interest in them. I narrated one experience when the Cebu Hawk Owl was publicly introduced and how excited I was to serve as the lady of the ceremony as I showed him photos of the event. He pointed at the owl’s huge eyes and giggled.
We make bird sounds together then I feel silly about it.
You should stop, my brain commanded.
But Nicholas kept on giggling and my heart said, “Go on!”
“Come on, Mama,” he would say in that classic toddler accent and pitch I have learned to decode over the last months.
I became the silly off-pitch songbird again and he chimed in with his version of a bird song.
Antoinette joined the scene and said, “Come, Mama.”
“To where?” I asked.
“Up,” she commanded as she held my hand and motioned for me to get up.
“To where?” I asked again.
“Here. Nemo,” leading me to their tiny netbook placed in the living room. She opened the gadget and presses the on/off button.
She was telling me to play “Finding Nemo”.
“Okay, but first, we read,” I responded.
“Nooooo,” she rolled on the floor, kicked her feet towards me, and screamed like a banshee.
“Spoiled kid,” my husband commented.
“Shhh,” I said. Then… I read the classic Maurice Sendak book the little girl is so familiar with.
Me: “The night Max wore his wolf…”
Me: “And made mischief of one…”
The storytelling went on for 10 minutes as I saw Nicholas on the sofa, flipping pages of “Backyard Birding” with his legs crossed.
Day like this…