Ordained Strength

Seattle, USA
February 18, 2009

This weekend, Greg and Louise drove me and my bags across town to my new housesitting gig. Their family chose to spend Sunday afternoon out at Lincoln Park, just down the street from my new location. I'm sure they chose to drive out to that particular park more for my convenience moving house than selecting the ideal place for their children to play that day. I was seated in the middle of the mini-van surrounded by their kids.

Tai is their youngest: he comprehends everything but can say little. His side of any conversation tends to be mostly growls and roars.

My Hanh is the eldest. She articulates sheer energy with attitude. Among other activities, she's been practicing up for a handstand competition rematch with me. (One Sunday Dinner some weeks ago, I discovered something in myself: I was not above taking-on an elementary-school student who off-handedly declared herself to be "the absolute best" at gymnastics. Nobody else could perform a handstand longer than she could!)

I may have beaten her time by a few seconds that night, but she's utterly bested me. A couple days ago My Hanh asked if I could touch my nose with one hand while performing a handstand.

"Uh... no. I've never even heard of that one. I don't think I can do that."

"Watch me! See!"

"Wow! This is what they teach you in gymnastics class?" I wasn't faking how impressed I was.

"No. I made it up, myself!"


Early that same morning, well before we drove to the park, My Hanh had long been out-of-bed and active. She called to invite me across to their home for pancakes. And could I please, please bring that karaoke microphone so that she could show her friend and they could sing together?

I didn't hear her phone message until long after the breakfast dishes had been cleared away. My waking schedule is several hours behind My Hanh's: how I wish I had the energy of a 7-year old...

At one point along our ride, apropos of nothing, My Hanh asked me a question:

"Do you have a job?"

It seemed more an observation than a question.

"Nope. I don't," I answered matter-of-factly.

"Why not?", My Hanh probed. That sounded more like a genuine question.

"Well, because I had a job before. And I just spend my money really, really slowly--so I don't have to have one now."

I turned to Tai who was buckled into the child car-seat next to me.

"What do you think, Mr. Tai? Is that a good approach? Spend your money slowly so you don't have to work?"

Without hesitation, Tai held my gaze while shaking his head:


Greg and Louise burst into laughter.