Attention Chaos! Kina, Lala, and the Three-Body Problem
Mommy spends time with her Mommy, complicating Kina’s position as constant center of the universe
Kina’s Lala is here. Her Mommy’s Mommy, coincidentally, is also here—and it’s been a long time. So in the area grandparental affection, there’s an issue of scarcity and mutual exclusivity that Kina has been wrestling with all day.
There are moments, even without my mother-in-law around, in which Kina doesn’t like us talking to each other. Sometimes she says it’s because it’s distracting. Sometimes she frets that it’s boring. I suspect much of it is about her not being part of the story.
I think readers of this paper can appreciate that Kina is the center of the universe, no? Imagine what it must be like to be the sun—or daughter—when the satellites that orbit you had once themselves been the center of their own respective solar systems, and what it might feel like when two of your satellites begin to orbit each other instead.
It feels like you’re drifting off, and not in the sense that you’re no longer the center, but that you might not be part of the system. This is of course not the case, but how can you really know when you’re six?
I have a theory about why it’s like this here in our house. We’ve spent three years just sort of piled on top of each other here to varying degrees, having survived something unprecedented with each other. Laurea and I put Kina at the center very intentionally—to protect her, and to ward off asteroids. But it’s worn us down sometimes, and we don’t talk about it enough.
We have to be there for each other in order to be there for Kina. We have to be there for our family, not as a solar system but as a cluster of stars.
As I was jotting down notes for today’s newsletter, I wrote this:
love is not a zero sun game
and it’s really not. The love we share for each other, and that each of these three women share with each other, is additive—the product of three luminous stars. My love for my father is a product of his love for his own father. Kina’s love for Laurea reflects Laurea’s love for her own mother.
I don’t expect Kina to grasp or appreciate that when she has to share her Lala for all of five days, but I grasp it when I see three generations of Kina hanging out at the same time, twirling around each other endlessly in mutual admiration.