Apparently, I was too precious to touch.
Whoosh... gurgle gurgle.
I was the eldest grandson, a child that both Iyo and Min Tamaki took care of everyday after school while my parents worked.
Despite being half-White, my two Japanese grandparents took care of me without blinking an eye. Keep in mind these were two Japanese Americans who lived through the U.S. internment camps of World War II. Two people thrown into desolate racetracks and desert camps only several decades earlier to test their "loyalty" as Americans.
And now these two people were charged with watching over John, a pale curly-haired child kindly referred to by my cousins as, "White Boy".
Whoosh... gurgle gurgle.
In fact, "White Boy" couldn't even call his own grandparents by the proper Japanese titles, "Oba-chan" (Grandmother) and "Oji-Chan" (Grandfather). Instead, my toddler slang seamlessly recycled the Japanese words into "Baba" and "Jiji". And yet, to my cousins’ dismay, I would just get away with this improper Japanese. My grandparents even adopted the nicknames "Baba" and "Jiji" and referred to each other as such till the end of their lives. Thus ironically, "Baba" and "Jiji" ultimately became the names embraced by all within the family.
Whoosh... gurgle gurgle. "Still nothing" whispers Baba to Jiji.
Each afternoon I would take a nap in Baba and Jiji's bed, twisting like a clock until I was sleeping perpendicular on the mattress. And when forced to wake me up from my slumber, my grandparents didn't have the heart to touch me.
No no, that would be cruel and heartbreaking. They couldn't bear to shake me... they couldn't bear to shout.
So instead... they flushed.
Whoosh... gurgle gurgle. Rattle, rattle...
The bathroom door a mere seven feet away, the toilet a few feet past that. It was... in range.
Whoosh... gurgle gurgle. Whoosh... gurgle gurgle.
Suddenly a stir... "Quick, flush again!" Whoosh... gurgle gurgle.
Eyes opening... and... "He's awake! John's awake!"
The flushes became the preferred unit of measurement for how tired I was. "You must have been sleepy! It took SEVEN flushes to wake you up!!!", they exclaimed. "SEVEN FLUSHES!!!"
And this was completely normal to me...
Years later, at my grandfather's funeral, I tried to explain their care, their love...
"What is love?", I asked.
Love is Baba and Jiji terrified of waking up their grandson. Love is a White Boy too precious to touch. Love is seven flushes.