When a child comes to you, you are mistaken to think you have a choice. He has chosen you, the way kitty cats rub their noses against your face while you lay asleep to leave a scent that says, “you are mine.” The way your heart sinks at the sight of a beloved, or swoons over scents that remind you of holidays past: pine, roasted poultry, sugar baking in the oven, gunpowder, crispy paper bills.

You are arrogant, even cruel, to think, “Yes, this one, and not that, pretty please with icing on top.”

No, this is not so. A child comes and that is that. Your lives are linked, from the moment he grabs your finger, and walks with you with tentative steps to make known his presence… Indelibly mark floors and ceilings with his being there, forever altering time and space, and dinner plans.

You do not watch and wait to “see if this works.” Like some Christmas present you received and immediately deemed “for regifting.” He does not come with a gift receipt. No certificate of authenticity, or two-year warranty… just a yellow carbon copy of a transfer form, a Husky garbage bag of clothes and toiletries, a favorite action toy, shoes that are two sizes bigger, and yes, possibilities, and confusion, and night terrors.

About filinthegap

Lani T. Montreal is an educator, writer, performer, and community activist. Her writings have been published and produced in Canada, the U.S., the Philippines and in cyberspace. Among her plays are: Nanay, Panther in the Sky, Gift of Tongue, Looking for Darna, Alien Citizen, Grandmother and I, and her most-toured comedy drama about gender and immigration, titled Sister OutLaw. She is the recipient of the 2016 3Arts Djerassi Residency Fellowship for Playwriting, 2009 3Arts Ragdale Residency Fellowship, the 2001 Samuel Ostrowsky Award for her memoir “Summer Rain,” and was finalist for the 1995 JVO Philippine Award for Excellence in Journalism for her environmental expose “Poison in the River.” Lani holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. She teaches writing at Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago and writes a blog called “Fil-in-the-gap”. ( She lives (and loves) in Albany Park, Chicago with her multi-species, multi-cultural family.
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