Saturday, May 3, 2008

ET phones home

Originally posted Aug 10, 2005

Ya know what they say, "'Home' is where the heart is."

... and, meaning no disrespect to the Lone Star State, my heart is not in Texas; it's where my dear, dear family is, and they are currently in the Philippines.

So, I've made it a little ritual of mine to call 'home' around 10 pm here (10 am there), and yesterday when I phoned, I received a pleasant shock: "Um, hello?" asked a little girl's voice. It was Elena Marie who answered the phone! (Diane later told me that, as Elena Marie runs at top speed to be the one to answer it anyway, she has been granted permission to do so as long as she says hello.) She informed me they were going to a party, as it is Tata Omar's birthday.

Happy birthday, Omar!

... so after we had a nice little conversation (our conversations are getting longer, as I believe she is becoming accustomed to talking with her papa on the telephone (our first one ended rather quickly)), I asked her to allow me to talk with her mama.

Surprise #2: she handed the phone off to Isabel (Isabel has this very keen sense of when I'm on the phone and is then very insistent on "quantity time"). My conversations with Isabel are usually a one-sided affair: I say, "Hello" and ask about what she's been doing that day. Her side of the conversation is an occasionally reverentially whispered "Paaaahhhhpaaahhh!" or a muted giggle. She is content with this. I may have some misplaced empathetic pangs at her inability to say more of what is on her mind, but she would be happy just to walk about all day, phone glued to her ear, listening to her papa's voice.

In fact, when Diane tries to "distract" the phone away, Isabel will have none of it, so when the phone is finally wrestled away, there is a rather large amount of emotional fall-out to deal with.

Poor kiddo.

Poor me! My heart goes *squish-squish* when these incidents occur, and it seems to be getting harder, not easier, for me to face stoicly.

Ah, well, perhaps it's the price of fatherhood; if so, it's a price I pay gladly ... I just love'm to pieces!


As it's the monsoon over there, the ladies went hat-shopping so as to help them in their daily promenades. They sent me a picture (which I have not attached out of respect of your inboxen sizes) of them on the patio, beaming in their hats. Elena Marie is wearing a chalk-purple baseball cap along with a wide, happy, smile; Diane, a straw sombrero with an even bigger smile, and li'l Iz, a proper white tea hat with a tyrian purple band with a hint of a knowing grin.

Gosh! Looking at this picture, Elena Marie looks ready to break out into the world on her own -- skipping the girl and pre-teen years and moving right into adolescence. She has been working hard this last year to be helpful and to do things independently: reading, cooking, cleaning up. She seeks to participate with her parents in their activities, at first for the attention, but now it's something more ...

... and Isabel, seeing her older sister do things that please her parents, is right there, engaging in the participation as well.

I'm a bit torn, perhaps a bit admiringly and perhaps a bit heart-broken: they are so happy doing these new activities! These very activities that push them into a greater maturity, too. Sometimes I cry out (internally): "revel in your very precious, diaphanous childhood" as I also, in counterpoint, delight in their striving and growing.

This is also part of the deal: children grow. Also, our family is not known for its complacency.


Up all last night (still on Philippine time...) but working on acclimatization here: still at work, fighting the sleep, hoping that my sleeping tonight, through the night, will accelerate my return to normalcy (does anyone else read the sardonic grin in that previous statement? "Yeah, that Doug Auclair: I'd describe him as a normal guy ... yeah ..."); thank goodness the folks at work are, first and foremost, a bit quirky themselves, but also very tolerant of my rather long list of "interesting" behaviors. I did use some of the wakeful time to continue work on a paper ("A logical perspective of imperative programming") that I'm rather delighted working on. Writing papers is alway fun and always much more work than I set out to do ... so I usually have three unfinished fragments for every paper I do complete. I'm determined to see this one to completion, and have not started work on the "next big thing" (an artificial neural system that will "recognize" symbols from "optical" inputs), intentionally delaying work on that system until I finish this paper.


So, there it is: I'm catching up on household work, catching up on my research, getting back into the swing of things at work, and have had a lovely conversation with my hatted ladies.

A blessed day, with still more blessings waiting for me to find.

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