Lolas / by Danny Montemayor

Everyone’s attention was on the couch where Johann peaked his little smile which he immediately face-planted into the cushions.  We played this reverse game of peek-a-boo until his heart’s content. Over the table of leftovers, my aunt and uncle commented on their two-year-old son’s impressive growth amidst a particular setback.  “It’s so nice to see him walk and play. He actually learned how to walk pretty late because grandma was always holding him.”  We laughed at the unintentionally restraining love lolas sometimes have for their apo.  Even my grandmother did the same but through candy, which explains why my younger siblings had early tooth decay.  I understand lolas, though.  I understand that kind of love.  I understand that irrepressible desire to care.  I understand the need to feel present in someone’s life.  I understand the need to feel needed. The need to console. The need to embrace. However, I am still trying to wrap my mind around Johann.  I understand him as he is clearly presented: a fun-sized body of warmth and snacks and curiosity.  But outside of his infancy, I began to see him as the people in my life.  I saw him as the friends I wanted to nurture, even from different cities. But they are not small children, and Johann needs space to grow.  I saw him as the girl who listened to me talk about pain and then stared at me like a reflection. I stared back and never wanted to look away.  But she’s uncomfortable with being taken care of, and Johann does not like to be interrupted with care during playtime.  I saw him as the stranger that I shared my years with in a matter of nights. Spending time with Johann can be like that. Children make you slow down, grow backwards, and enter time like a physical space.  That night was my last night seeing Johann and his family until they come back to visit from San Diego.  Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m waiting for someone to come back. I can’t say that I fully comprehend what it is to be a lola waiting for her grandchildren to visit, but I understand why her warmth is ever-present--it’s something that’s appreciated but not needed. 

Children make you slow down, grow backwards, and enter time like a physical space.