I wake you up late, after everyone has gone to school. And you are up quickly and ready; ready for a day together. I know you have dreams of what we will do today. But I also know that our day is already full and planned. I wish, as I usually do, that I had some way of letting you know what lies ahead, of helping you prepare for the day to come. Transitions are always easier when we’re informed.
So we try out Google Translate at a new level. Me, typing “today we are going on a walk with a friend.” Then pressing the Chinese simplified translation button, and the audio button so you can listen. Your response? “Bu hao – no good.” I have to laugh. We go on like this for a while, me telling you the day’s plans: a walk, shopping for sister’s birthday, a trip to your new school for a meeting, dinner with friends who have a dog. You are not excited about any of this. But when I ask, via the screen, if you would like to stay home and play with mama today? Well then your whole face lights up and you say “very good” and I see you sigh and I sign deep too. . . . . I love that you love to be with me.
We walk far, you and I and ayi (auntie) . . . .all the way down the river trail hill and to the little cafe where we share a scone and ayi gives you a beautiful bracelet from the gift shop. Then back up the hill, hot and sweaty, and off to the bookshop, where we shop for big sister’s birthday.
We must hurry now, to your new school, where there is a whole room full of adults, mostly administrators, who kind of scare us with their seriousness. We make a plan for you, little one. Just you, that’s who this whole meeting is about. And someone has the grand plan to run and find a little Chinese girl in your class who is also fluent in Mandarin, and together you two have a little adventure to the chicken house (yes, your school has one) and you find there a newly laid egg. You come back, so perfectly proud and happy, from only your second time, out of my sight, this time with a stranger! And by the time you return, the plans are made, Ava-bird. Tuesday you will start school, full days, with me as your afternoon aide. I think it is a good plan but it also makes me sad. I am not ready to see you begin to grow up. You have only been my baby for three short weeks.
We eat chicken tacos for dinner and you jump on a friends trampoline and for the first time in America you begin to actually play with another child, not just observe. It is Sydney who wakes you from your friendship-sleep. She is slapstick silly, just as you are. I will not forget the sight of you, trying so hard to ride a bike, Baba pushing you crazy and your face one wide sloppy grin. I cannot fail to remember the loud laughter as we pushed you and Sydney, side-by-side, in the play car, wildly around the road. You loved it dear one, just loved. And when Sydney and her brothers agreed to play our knock on the door and then call “Come INE” game with us, well you were overjoyed. I love seeing our friends watch the real you come out and play; the laughing, teasing, jumping, wild, silly you.
At bedtime, you bathe alone, proudly showing me that you have done it by yourself like big sister. We trim your nails and you attempt to floss. And we lay down in bed and you show me your tooth that must be hurting I now know and you tell me “no good.” And I want to cry. That big beautiful smile of yours is filled with dark spaces, I know. There is a lot of work to be done there. But I wish you didn’t hurt, sweet one. I can’t bear to have you hurt.
So I lay my hands on your cheeks and I pray – for perfect healing. For no tooth pain and no more cavities and no distress at all. And as I pray, I remember that moment this morning, as we sat down, just you and I, to our breakfast of fruit and potstickers . . . how you grabbed both my hands in yours and you clearly wanted to be the one to pray. And I said quickly, eagerly, with humor ” xie xie, Yesu!!” And you said it too, all joy, Thank you Jesus!! And we dug in.
Thank you Jesus. For school when I’m not ready for it. For friends who walk long roads with me. For children who welcome those still hard to understand. For healing that has not yet come. For communication that is very much in progress.
Thank you Jesus, for the beauty of this path.
Thank you, that every day is filled with more miracles.