Being the last child of 5, my parents were tired of ‘capturing every moment’ and I was shafted in the ten volume home videos. But on the very last tape, there’s me getting rag-dolled around by my father, getting changed on his lap. I didn’t cry, didn’t wriggle, didn’t play, didn’t giggle. I let my father do what he had to do without any bother from me. Afterwards, he held my hands between his index finger and thumb above my head and led me to try to walk. I started to trot along, holding on to my dad’s hands as my mother encouraged me to keep going. Soon, Joey comes into the shot in front of me, on my path to attempt to walk. The next thing the audience hears is a high-pitched screech like a predatory bird — it was me. I yelled at Joey to get out-of-the-way, because I was walking.
Growing up, my parents told me about my baby and early toddler stages. They said I was the easiest, that I didn’t cry, that I always laughed, that I was really low-maintenance. They said they’d give me a bottle and leave me alone and I’ll be alright. But it wasn’t until I watched this video that I really knew what I was like as a baby. I seemed low-maintenance, and there’s other proof that I was a happy child from other evidence, such as the following photo where I’m seen dancing by candlelight in Vietnam.
I grew from a baby into my teen years as my mother’s boy. She says that Joey was my father’s son, so I’m her’s. And from what I remember, her and I had many good times, whether it was going to garage sales, going shopping, going to bed or even brushing our teeth together. Despite me being a low-maintenance baby, my later toddler years were different in which I learned more emotions. I don’t want to blame my mother for it, but I had the free range of any emotion I wanted and half of them involved a pout and maybe a tear.
I cried on my first day of Preschool, resulting in my admission to Bible School instead. Knowing basic English because I was raised with only speaking Vietnamese in the house, I kept to myself in but I would give a tight hug to parents and teachers I would recognise. At home, I would still be the baby boy, being overly emotional with everything.
I was excited to advance to Kindergarten because I shared recess with Joey and we could play like we did at home. What younger brother didn’t want to play with his older brother anytime he could? Joey was in the third grade, and he got to play kickball. Being his brother, I get to play too.
So Joey and I were playing outfield in our first game together. After a few kickers, I didn’t have to do anything because it was out-of-bounds, the ball didn’t go my way or they had a strike out. But then it happened. Some kid kicked the ball and it was aiming right at me in midair. I could either (1) catch the ball and make Joey proud, (2) miss the catch and embarrass Joey or (3) just pretend I didn’t see it, let it hit me without an attempted catch and still embarrass Joey. I must’ve still been deciding, which ultimately led to the latter.
And that’s when I blacked out.
I was knocked to the hot black top parking lot ground. As I opened my eyes, I looked up to see a bunch of kids looking down at me. Tears started to swell and I gave a moan out of pain or embarrassment, I don’t know which. I saw Joey closest to me in the midst of the crowd and I thought he’d help me up and comfort me. Instead, he looked at me in a way that would make Damien look like a saint and said,
C’mon, you crybaby. Everyone’s looking. Get up. Quit crying. Get up. Everyone’s staring at you.
He turned his back and walked away as the crowd dispersed.
I picked myself up and sucked it up.
That’s the day I (re)learned not to cry.