Dominic and I don’t like each other very much. He is three, and I don’t like kids. And because he is three, he freely discriminates against anything or anyone that emanates femininity.
This excludes his grandmother, who dotes on him endlessly, and his mother, whom he treats like a servant. Dominic gets whatever he wants by crying and commanding. ¡Hagas mi teta! ¡Dame la pilota! ¡Silencio, no puedo escuchar la television! The exclamation points only punctuate the endless streams of wailing. And always there are choruses of Maaaaamiiiiiis being sung like litanies to a hispanic Virgin.
But there is a longing in Dominic’s infantile screams. His grandmother is tired of raising children. She is too old for playtime. His mother has a day job and night classes. He sees her for three hours a day at most. His father lives six hours away in a city on the coast. Now when he calls, Dominic doesn’t even want to talk to him. His favorite uncle joined the air force last fall. When Dominic plays with his plastic planes, he dreamily imagines himself with a co-pilot.
One day I watched from the street as he stood on our top floor balcony, screaming out for a mother who never came. The sadness carried down the block and around the next corner.
He’s good at playing by himself. He throws a plastic rubber ball against the wall and giggles. He makes a game of taking everything out of his toy basket and smiling as our empleada picks it up the next morning. Sometimes when he’s lonely enough, he overlooks my girlish attributes and asks me if I want to join.
And when I say it’s time to stop, he never complains, Not too much, anyways. He begs for a minute, ¡Quiero jugar más!, but when it’s over, he knows it. And what does it matter, really? He’s good at playing by himself.
There is something incredibly sad about a three-year-old who is so content with solitude.