It’s 12:30 on a Monday and I’m sitting in the hot, hot, hot drive-through pick up line at your school. It’s early release day and you sit with all the other third grade and unders, waiting for your ride home. Most of the teachers know me by sight because they know you. You still stand out in a crowd, even though there are so many who look like you – you have your own ways. I see you there, standing up across the road from me, catching sight of our white car and me driving it. See your bam-bam piggy-tails (“TINY tails!” you call them – and they are tiny) waving at me.
Mondays is when we have a few extra hours to ourselves, just you and I with no siblings, and we do one of your favorite things, go food shopping together. It’s like toddler/preschool mommy-me time. We talk about all the names of the fruits and vegetables, I tell you about organic food and why I pay more for it and I marvel that you kind of sort of understand the concept – at least I think maybe you do. Time will tell. You put your favorite things in the the little mini kids cart at Trader Joes and I realize that you really suddenly like a few more things now. We are winning the war against strange tastes, step by step. We gather up your favorites: tomatoes, cucumbers, pork buns and Chinese noodle soups. And also favorites for other family members, things you are learning, slowly, to appreciate. We are all changing, together.
And it’s at our next stop, Costco, that we explore our way through the Christmas decorations already coming out and we talk about what we will do at Christmas time that you tell me how you can’t wait for the snow. I remind you that it will be very cold and you ask me “why?” This is our normal – the things you don’t imagine and the things I try to explain. It’s all a mixed up backward way of learning “normal” but none of us cares to be normal anyway. We find a beautiful Christmas dress in silvers and whites that you fall in love with and since you have told me already that you would like to be a princess for Halloween, we buy it early so that it will be here when we need it. You are taken with the magic of this never-before-seen holiday that involves knocking on doors and receiving candy. Oh how those people will love seeing you in your shining dress with that shining face.
I buy you an ice cream cone and you slurp it loudly all through the store – still so Chinese in your eating mannerisms. I hope you always will be. We walk past rows of toys and at each one you say “oh, so BEAUtiful. . . I WAAANT it!” in the sweetest way and I suddenly realize that you have finally learned to whine. Six months home last week, little soul, and you have learned not only to ask but to whine. A mother has never been prouder but I still say no. That’s how we play the game. 🙂
We head towards home, you dancing, twirling, prancing your joy, making a beautiful spectacle of yourself as usual. Me, glowing in the realization that we have turned another corner and some of the hardest months have passed. More is ahead I know, but for now we are one – heart to heart, sharing the learning, the frustration, the joy, and most of all the wonder of becoming family.