A few people have emailed me over the past week asking for an update on what we’ve been up to since getting home. In a word: nothing. We’ve been up to nothing. If my identity were at all tied up in my accomplishments as a mother, which, of course, it’s not (dramatic pause). My identity is tied up in Jesus (second dramatic pause). Ok, well, let’s just say that, absolutely, without a doubt, hypothetically, IF some part of my identity were wrapped up in my role as a mother – which, again, we know it’s not – then my title this week would be Queen Nothing.
I wish Nothing included lounging on the couch, eating dark chocolates and sipping even chocolatier mochas, while the boys played harmoniously on the floor, and Autumn and I snuggled together building attachment, by looking longingly into each other’s eyes. (sigh) But our Nothing looked more like this: I picked up blocks, and watched Autumn dump them; I picked up plastic grocery items, and watched Autumn dump them; I watched Autumn dump the contents of the diaper bag as my lower lip and shoulders dragged on the ground because I was so tired of picking up dumped items; I tried to read Autumn a book and she skipped every page to the very end, then threw it on the floor; I listened to my sons talk incessantly about Angry Birds and the three foot high green pig towers they were building in their room because they weren’t allowed to play on the iPad except for (in a whiny voice) one hour on the weekend; I broke up fights between Sheehan and Autumn, Sheehan and Josiah, and Josiah and Autumn; and I relearned that a quiet child is not a content child, but is a mischievous child.
But, I know deep down somewhere hidden in the crevices between my liver and my gallbladder (which we all know is a useless organ anyway…or am I confusing that with the tonsils?) that I’ve accomplished quite a lot this week. I’ve played with my children, I’ve loved them, I’ve trained them, I’ve comforted them, I’ve gotten to know them better, and I’ve worked on that whole bonding and attachment thing.
Other notable Nothings we did this week:
Watched way too much TV. In fact, I’ve watched so much of that Sid the Science Kid that I’ve developed an overwhelming distaste for every character on that show, but especially pink-headed Gerald, who I want to punch in the face because he’s so annoying. Also, Elmo is Autumn’s new BFF.
Played on the playground – discovered that Autumn likes the swings, but only so high before she goes from giddiness to sheer terror.
Got back to a normal sleep schedule in a record eight days (Thanks Steve!). I missed the Chinese cement mattresses so much that I found myself lured into sleeping on Autumn’s bedroom floor a few nights – to simulate that not-so-soft feeling.
Celebrated Autumn’s 3rd Birthday – I hate to say this is nothing because it’s so not nothing, but when you get back from the other side of the world just five days prior and you’re still jet-lagged, then birthdays take a backseat. We did manage to pick up some cupcakes at Dominick’s and throw up some recycled decorations and blow up balloons. We did it while Autumn napped and when she woke up and saw it, she gasped in delight over and over again. It was very cute.
Things we’ve learned about Autumn this week:
Autumn goes by the philosophy of “Touchers, Keepers, Losers, Weepers. She believes that if she touches something, then it’s automatically hers. She pats her chest and says, “Yu-way”, which is how she says her Chinese name. If you remind her that the item belongs to someone else, she stamps her foot and goes into tantrum mode. Items she has touched and therefore claimed, have included: most of the boy’s toys, my phone, everyone else’s plate of food, the iPad, Steve’s shoes, and feminine hygiene products.
She has a great sense of humor and likes to give and receive jokes. She will take something that belongs to someone else and will run away and when you chase her, she thinks it’s funny and she runs all the faster, laughing at you and herself.
She has the gift of encouragement. Every time I successfully use the potty, she shouts, “hao jie la” which means something like, “great job!”
She likes to run around naked. But, who doesn’t?
Her two most favorite things in the world are taking a bath and going outside. Taking a bath is liquid heaven to her. She’d do it twice a day if I’d let her. I have to be very careful about putting on shoes or a sweater near the front door because when she sees that, she thinks it’s time to go (anywhere, but inside) and will start bringing me everything else that I might need to go outside (sunglasses, gloves, purse, coat). If we don’t go outside, then she throws a tantrum. If she puts her coat on in the morning (because she mistakenly thinks she’s going outside), she spends most of the day wearing it and refuses to take it off…unless she’s getting a bath.
Our biggest challenge since we got home has been the adjustment between Sheehan and Autumn. They both want to be #1 and are both stubborn. I made the mistake of leaving the bathroom door open the other day while taking care of business. Autumn ran in and tried to shut the door behind her. Sheehan ran in and put his foot in front of the door to block her from closing it. She started jumping up and down, crying and then screamed at Sheehan. He was determined to not let her close the door. I sat, limp and dumbfounded, at what was unfolding in front of me just out of arm’s reach. She started hitting him and kicking him. He tried hitting her back. I leaned forward swiping at anything, and missing. I yelled at Sheehan to leave the room and then got up and picked up Autumn and placed her outside the bathroom with the door closed, so I could finish. She cried and screamed even louder. I spoke soothingly to her through the door. That didn’t help. Then Sheehan came back and tried to pull her off the door. Josiah was somewhere in the background, singing his made up song, “bu yao (which means “no”), bu-bu yao. Bu yao, bu-bu yoa.” Where was that stinking box of Calgon?! When I opened the door, Autumn stopped crying and shouted, “hao jie la!”
Video from China