Sunday, February 5, 2012

Our 6 year Old Has Been Home 6 Months

It's actually a bit stunning.

She has been our daughter for 6 months.

We met. She cried. She seemed so small and fearful,
but her brave little soul persevered with these two new people 
that called themselves her Baba and her Mama.

The tears welled in me, but I smiled and took her hand.
It was still, and small.
She allowed me to touch her, but pulled her body away in a slight arching if we were too close.
The Baba she was meeting today for the first time had
a compassion in his eyes that I have not seen often in our 26 married years.

Her restless hands kneaded a small, seemingly indestructible, pastry wrapped in clear plastic.
We witnessed her dark eyes cloud as she looked to her travel companion,
the director of her orphanage, for reassurance.
She nodded and smiled as she spoke quietly to Maylin, 
but it did not mask the tears in her own grown up eyes.

Our friend, Peter, is an indispensable part of our story. I cannot imagine
navigating our first hours without his gentle voice and strong arms.
When he wasn't cooing to Maylin about her wonderful new life,
he was hauling all of our packages to free us to hold Maylin.
 He bridged a gap we desperately wanted to cross, but had no language to do so.
Peter began what I call "indoctrination" as soon as he spoke to her:

"Gia: Family." 
He pointed as he said our name then connected us in 
an invisible a circle with his index finger moving past each of us as he repeated: 

"Gia: family. Maylin's family."

He added "Peter ShuShu," (Uncle Peter) to the line up pointing to himself with a twinkle that I'll not forget.

The child who gives me sleepy morning smiles and sneaks behind my computer chair to wrap her arms around me in a python squeeze doesn't even seem like the same child we met in the Sheraton lobby. Her hair has grown into a darling bob, her face has filled ever-so-slightly, and her smile flashes easily. She chatters almost as much as her older brother Matthew and is as silly as her brother Austin.

People who meet her for the first time often ask how old she is.
I tell them "6 years," nearly always adding, "but she's only been home for 6 months."
They simply don't believe she came home without any English 6 months ago.
It's hard for us to believe sometimes, also.

We've seen a lot of things happen in 6 months:

  • 3 of our kids returned to traditional school after schooling at home for several years
  • a daughter went to college for the first time and a son graduated from college
  • In the last 6 months (plus 10 days, if we're technical,) a son got engaged
  • my mother moved from another state to our street
  • I've cried out for wisdom and pleaded for "no reason to need patience"
  • we added a daughter while dear friends lost one
  • Maylin practiced faithfully and performed spectacularly in her first Christmas musical
  • I've made sweet new friendships with women who love Jesus, their husbands and their children
  • Maylin wrote her first English word: Mom. And her own name
  • Maylin learned too many English words to count, including some we wish she hadn't
  • and Flowers From My Father in sweet, unexpected places 

In the last 6 months, Maylin has blossomed into
a sweet, precocious, somewhat bossy, gorgeous, chatty gal
who tells me every morning as we slide a comb through her silky mane,
 "Me long hair now. Boy no long hair."

While on our school-drop-off travels one morning last week, 
we were discussing her need to pack a lunch for the day's events. 
She said she was going to put a "bananoe"and "some chips" in her box. 

"And wun-dut."
Me: "Wun-dut?"
"No, wun-dut," she spoke clearly, if a little exasperated. 
Me, guessing: "a sandwich?"
Maylin, enunciating clearly: "WUN-DUT"
I used some of my paltry Chinese to let her know I was still confused:
"Bu mingbai. I don't understand. Show me at home" 

Shaking her head, she gave me one last chance: "Mama. Cut. Wun-dut."
The light dawned on the ridiculously thick-headed mother: "OH! you mean oranges!"
Still shaking her head, but snickering in complete disbelief, 
Maylin said, "Mommy no know wun-duts!"
Silly me. I don't know the name of the round citrus things in our fruit bowl.

Today was the first time she volunteered specific information about her life in her "first home," as we call it. She put on the shorts that came with her when we met in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. Darling denim short shorts with very Chinese decoration on the rear pockets. "Dodo have same."
Did other kids have the same shorts as these?
 "No. Just me an' Dodo. Same."

Maylin knows it took 5 airplane rides to get to her family. "My home far-far," she says with a little bit of cockiness because she travels like no one else.
I remind her, "This is home. Your first home was far-far, but now you're home always-always with your family."
She scrunched her brows ever-so-slightly as she hugged her knees to her chest
and stated, "This home good. My like it."

Yup, Baby Girl. This Home Good. My like it, too.