Thursday, October 27, 2005


We were walking along the sidewalk towards our favorite, quick Asian spot for dinner. As a family, the four of us tend to glide along in a pod either talking incessantly or encapsulated in a comfortable silence. During a silent moment, as we walked, Mina, who is tiny for a six year old, said, “I wish I had twelve hundred dollars.”

This is classic Mina. We often have no clue why she blurts out things like this, and yesterday my husband only responded by saying, “Me too.” In the past I have asked her, “Where did you hear that?” Or “Where did you learn that?” She usually says, “From my brain.”

I’ve realized that I haven’t written about Mina as much as Maya only because she is so quirky, near complicated. She is a child unlike one I’ve ever met, and I have a profound love for her because of it. I bought her a customized t-shirt a couple months ago that sums up how I feel about her personality. The shirt says, Deep.

It is easy to explain Maya. Maya is simply The Great Kid. She’s social and loving and bright-eyed. She’s beautiful and responsible. She laughs with her head back and from her gut, and that knocks me out.

I can’t seem to give an essence of Mina’s personality in a few sentences. Mina talks half as much as Maya, but seems to have a cult following amongst her peers. I think she used to communicate with our cat when she was two. She created deep art at three. She talks about death openly. She is not dark all the time or brooding, really. She seems to be inside her head a lot, but then mixes it up easily with us and other kids. She remembers the tiniest details from way back, like facts from a museum trip and she’ll rattle them off randomly, unexpectedly. She’ll freak her tiny little booty to music at the mall and will sing in front of a crowd of two hundred. If she doesn’t feel like doing something, I challenge you to get her to do it. She doesn’t like meat much, eats mainly vegetarian, but she craves pork. She will spontaneously hug people she doesn’t know when she gets a good vibe from them, but she doesn’t like being pushed into talking to them. She’d done Tae Kwon Do, like Maya, for a while now, but tells everyone she’s a gymnast. She has a sick tolerance for pain unless she needs a little attention. She is the perfect combo of Husband’s stubbornness and my weirdness and this makes her personality perplexing and unboxable.

Mina was born with the biggest head I’ve ever seen. Her black hair shot straight out of her head like static held in place and no gel on the planet could’ve kept it down. Because she had an issue with swollen right lymph nodes, her huge head would always tilt to the left. Like she had a crooked neck. It was so heartbreaking and cute that I fought the urge to hold her head up with my hand 24 hours a day. By the time she was nearly two, I did not think she could hear well. I expressed this to the pediatrician repeatedly. Mina was also not speaking much and when she did, the words were muted, like a deaf person. Husband and I would perform experiments by sneaking up behind her and we'd snap our fingers near her ears for a reaction. After repeated snaps she would finally turn around and look at us like we were the most annoying people ever. Our experiments went inconclusive. (Of course this gave Maya a new game and she would snappity snap near Mina’s head CONSTANTLY.) Mina responded to us just enough where we couldn’t tell if she was blowing us off or if she was indeed hard of hearing. When she had to take a hearing test before kindergarten, the nurse put on those huge 70’s head phones and whisked her away to the booth. And Mina couldn’t hear one beep. Not One Mother Fucking Beep. I nearly sprinted to the pediatrician’s office to tackle that bitch to tell her, I TOLD YOU. I TOLD YOU, but you said let’s wait and see, YOU FUCKING BITCH. I wanted to rip her own doctor ears off her head because she obviously didn’t use them anyway. And I cried and cried that night for not trusting my instincts more and pushing the issue, and because I let my poor little genius become deaf.

It turned out that massive amounts of fluid in her inner ears caused the hearing loss, and placing draining tubes inside her ears for six months cleared most of it up. Not 100%, but enough that her speech and vocabulary improved almost immediately. She still speaks with a limp. But she’s ambitious with her word usage. She’ll tell Maya she’s being “inappwopwiate.” Out of nowhere, she’ll say things like, “Mami, I wealized today that we are going to the park after school” or “The calcium in broccoli keeps your bones stwong.”

Maya has to work hard for good grades. I tricked her into becoming a voracious reader just by constantly introducing her to great stories. But she works hard to read well and smoothly. She works hard to get B’s and A’s, and doesn’t mind the work because she knows if she doesn’t work she will get D’s. There is no middle ground for Maya, and her work ethic impresses the shit out of me. Mina is lazy with school work. Fights me to do homework. Whines and manipulates. But when I finally get her to sit down, she’s done in a nanosecond. It’s all so easy for her. She’ll look at a word and work it out in her huge head and read it. For kicks, she’ll say, “Mami, how do you make a ‘B’?” And I’ll look at her and say, “Come on, dude.” And then we’ll laugh together like it was an idiot’s joke.

Mandy says, in the hands of other parents, Mina would stir up all kinds of shit. But this little girl has me in ways that no one else does and I constantly want to protect her quirkiness. I scramble to clear a path for her brilliance to come.


Marigoldie said...

You're killing me--all of you Mad Women. Beautiful post.

Michelle Fry said...

Very beautiful. Your girls are so lucky and it sounds like you are so lucky as well. The world needs more strong, brilliant women and I'm happy to hear they are on their way.

Maven said...

Love, love, love this. I love the way kids have their own personalities and agendas, right from the git. And I love parents who respect a kid's way by trying to facilitate it.

Ibarionex R. Perello said...

Lovely post of some wonderful kids. I really love that first shot of Mina.

degan said...

that's so great! what a beautiful little moment, captured.

HollyRhea said...

One of my favorite things is a person who doesn't borrow their personality from anyone else.

I wish she was twenty years older so we could hang out.

Anonymous said...

I love me some Mina. I still have that special dollar in the Princess Jasmine case she gave me. She was like 3 or 4 and I could barely understand her "Mina-ese" but clear as a bell she told me it was good luck and I'll never spend it, ever. That girl is deep.

la vie en rose said...

what a beautiful tribute to your lovely girl. i'm touched. i love how well you know them.

madness rivera said...

Thanks for the great comments. She kill me too. They both do.

I took them to see The Corpse Bride tonight. After the movie, I said what did you guys think? And Mina says, "It was bittersweet." Bittersweet, she says. Holy jesus, I love this kid.

Mama said...

Hi! I'm not even sure how I found your blog, but I'm glad I did. My 4th child (Kallee 6 in Dec) sounds like Mina's twin in so many ways! She is definitely like an old soul. The things that come out of her mouth, she says the same thing! She sings constantly and is the biggest ham. I have often said there is no way my girl could go to school, she'd drive the teachers nuts! (we unschool)

Its great to see how in tune you are to both of your girls and they are very fortunate! Come visit my blog if you'd like...Have a great weekend! ~mama

ps: doesn't it just make you want to rip that ped a new one for missing that?! I am right there with you...they missed my older daughters eyesight from birth to 5 saying she was just very shy. She was *legally blind!* Broke my heart that she suffered for those 1st 5 yrs:(

acumamakiki said...

I love this post. What a beautiful tribute to your amazing, lovely little girl. The quirkiness and creativity she seems to have as an inate sense about her, is wonderful

amstar said...

perfect ingredients for close, authentic friendships with your kids that will last your lifetime. beautiful!

bettyboop said...

yo cuzzo,
that was so sweet. your little mina-i love her too! i've been sitting here at work catching up on all your new stories-it's so fun! so many more comments you're getting too. i can see it now-you the famous writer, responding to each and every fan letter, because that's so you-thoughtful and compassionate. great jamie lee costume, btw, with the combo lucy look.
see you soon!!!