Even though I am the only child of my mother and father, I always considered myself as a middle child of sorts amongst an older wave of cousins within my extended family. In my younger years, I looked up to three cousins several years my senior, while I huffed my chest at the fact that I was (barely) older than the other three, born only several months after me. I’ve since been fortunate to have had even more cousins added to our humble unit, but the seven of us were my formative circle, the family with whom I grew up.
The eldest, Isabelle, despite being an only child like me, took up the mantle similar to an eldest child, bearing the responsibility of setting the example, yet paving the way with her rebellion, much like her mother, who was also amongst the eldest of her many siblings. The eldest male, Mikelle, perhaps set forth on his own individual journey, far from the expectations of what was originally the traditions of our asian family – as any tiger parent would agree, it’s doctor or bust – yet completely his own, and has grown into them in the best way possible. Jenny, two years older than me, perhaps came closest to that idealized image of success that our parents ingrained into our upbringing, and was the golden standard for that particular image; however, her accomplishments were entirely her own, and fully deserved.
Leah, the third of us three only-children, came up from modest beginnings to realize a completely different sort of success, much like her mother, who sacrificed everything to provide a comforting life for her daughter when she immigrated to Canada. Mikelle’s younger sister, Gliselle, only 6 months younger than I, was the jewel of her family, her second name aptly named Princess. She traveled not too far behind her brother on a similar, yet somewhat charted journey, much like that of my mom’s younger siblings. Christopher Jencen, the youngest, the “baby” of the group, and little brother of Jenny, found his way beyond the spoiled upbringing so typical of youngest children. He made use of this privilege and became his own independent person.
At the middle of all of that was me, always on my own, and always unsure of where I fell in the wide spectrum of personalities and temperaments that my cousins represented. We were the children of the oldest siblings amongst my mom’s family, and together under a single roof during many a family gathering, and we weren’t any different from them.
Frankly, we were idiots. We all always were. We acted goofy and made no apology for every fart, burp and smell emitted from whichever convenient orifice. We had our stupid in-jokes that nobody else got and laughed at ourselves without any restraint, much to the confusion of anyone in the outside world who had the misfortune of seeing that large Filipino family on one of their many outings. No single person was above the rest, despite their age or occupation; everyone had their moments worthy of lower pegs.
I never considered myself as anything particularly special within the family; I was merely there. I always went off on my own, often stuck in my own world. As kids, while the rest of us played some dumb imaginary game involving lava on the floor or whatever made-up Mario Bros scenario, I eschewed jumping from couch to couch with a sock hanging out from the back of my pyjamas – they were the next best thing to having real raccoon tails – in favour of playing a game of keep-ups with a balloon. It was my own balloon, and I batted it around everywhere, never touching the floor.
My mom will never admit it, but that’s pretty much how she fit into her siblings as well. While everyone contributed their own unique dynamic with each other, she was pretty much off by herself as well, especially in her teens, when she met my father, the youngest and aloof as well. They were loners who belonged to each other, and somehow I wonder if I’ve gone and done the same in my life.
I’ve found my loner. There’s nothing idiotic about that, but the way I act around Emily is fondly reminiscent of the stupid things I did when I was around my family. She’s told me numerous stories about times where she would trail off from her friends and simply stare at something, or randomly draw on a chalkboard sign at a bar, or simply going back to her own place to paint while the rest of her drunken party raged on into the night. She understands what it’s like to be so incredibly unique that it often doesn’t seem to fit within a social dynamic.
All that matters is that we fit with each other, our own brand of idiot blood born from different families, and I wonder how that will play out amongst our children-to-be. Even though our wedding is only a few months away, I’m already looking ahead to our middle child, who we’ve predicted to be a boy in between two girls, Karen and Sophie. His tentative name, as dumb as it sounds, is scarra. We couldn’t think of any suitable boys’ names, so we stuck with the in-game name of a professional League of Legends player from Team Dignitas, William Li. We could have simply called him William, but Emily and I are idiots, and scarra he shall be.
Will ‘scarra’ stick? Probably not, but I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if he turns out as ludicrous as his tentative namesake. In a unit of three children, two of which are girls from what I envision to be opposite temperaments – Karen the steady, emotional rock, and Sophie the lackadaisical prodigy – for scarra to be in the middle, yet so far removed in his own world, would be a blessing, and I would treasure and nurture his oddities. They will be forever a part of him, and he will forever be a part of me. He will be a manifestation of my idiot blood, flowing freely from one eccentric generation to another.