Time is going faster now. The first four days felt like several years worth of loving, laughing, crying and groaning, but now we begin to operate in something like real time again. Eating noodles around our hotel desk, our new dinner table, I manage to ask the kids about their highs – we get through two or three before a Jing Yun interruption distracts us all. It feels a little like normal.
He is always with me now, sometimes questioning, often whining or jumping, mostly wanting to cuddle. When I lay down on the bed he appears almost instantly, curling up inside the spoon of my body like he has always known that place. I have named him my konlong baobei (dinosaur baby) because of the noises he makes and every time I call him that he melts. He holds my arms wrapped tightly around him at every chance he gets. When he grows wild in the dining room or the book store I have only to pick him up in my arms or on my lap and he will grow quiet, soft and mellow, breathing in my scent, soaking in my touch. This gives me no end of joy.
In the pool I play the baby game with him and Ava too, taking turns holding them in my arms and bouncing up and down the length of the pool, simulating the pacing we do with our young babies. He cannot get enough and insists on repeating it again and again.
At bedtime I bring the twins to my bed and they lay out their animal pillows, their fleece blankets and their stuffed animals. I lay down in the middle and they turn their bodies towards me like flowers to the sun. I read the books in order, Ava’s special adoption stories that we bonded over 18 months ago, and the three I have added for Jing Yun. Stories with animals and familiar objects easy to learn in two languages, stories of kissing and hugging, stories with singing and rhymes. Already he is beginning to help me read, repeating some of the lines with me. At the end of the last book we take in a picture of a kangaroo jumping on a trampoline and we tell him we have a trampoline too. “At our home?” he asks in Mandarin, and I say yes, at our home. He begins to tell me about the kangaroo, how it carries it’s baby in it’s belly. Ava helps me some with understanding his high speed Mandarin. Then he tells me ” you have a baby in your belly too Mama, I think I feel it there.” I don’t know whether to take this as some prophetic sign of merely an indication of how very much I need to begin working out, but somehow the intimacy and intensity of it takes my breath away. I tell him no, no baby, but he insists. Yes, one more. I laugh and we turn the page.
It is during our story times that I best see his heart. He surprises me, this wild man, with the strength of his tenderness. He touches the pages eagerly, softly, often repeating “how ke ai” (so cute!) as he points to the baby penguin, the baby swan and the baby leopard. He asks me about the ones that are shown drinking their mother’s milk and touches my breast wonderingly and kindly. He is concerned any time a mother or father is missing from the animal pictures and asks me where they are.
Our hotel rooms are tiny and very cramped with a whole lot of living. Sometimes the mess and the lack of cleanliness and the take out dim sum grow really very old. But mostly I remember the great privilege of being here, of these moments together, all six of us, learning a new rhythm as a family. It’s our baby moon and it’s mighty beautiful in all of it’s messy.