Sunday, October 30, 2011
How long has it been?
How long has it been since you last played Candy Land? Princess Lolly, Queen Frostine, and all.... Considering I have a high school graduate, senior, and tenth grader at home... it's been way too long for me. Thankfully, I had saved it. All part of the joy of moving in to the auntie-ing or grandmothering stage of life. A couple of weeks ago we had the privilege of caring for a Chinese friend's little girl while she and her husband needed to be away. I thought Jia Yuan would feel disoriented and frightened staying in our home for a few days and nights, but she showed no real fear and only a slight, temporary shyness. She slept in my second son's full-sized bed (which is a bit tight for him). The next day she asked, "Am I sleeping in 2nd brother's bed. The tall one?... No wonder it is so long and wide." I cannot imagine how I would feel thrust into a home were the language sounded like loud white noise; and the main staples were milk, cereal, peanut butter, and bread instead of rice and vegetables; and household rituals and customs seemed odd. Especially when I was five years old. We did try to accommodate as much as we knew how, but for all our efforts it was really she who bridged the cultural gaps (our little white poodle helped a lot too). I returned to my young mother days, playing blocks and cars while sitting bent knee-ed on the floor and listening to simple songs sang full-heartedly and with joy. It's way harder to get back up from the carpet than it used to be and I was thoroughly tired by the end of the day. But we enjoyed walks to the playground and digging in the complex sandbox. She was much neater in the sand than any boy I ever produced (and tidy in the apartment as well, for that matter). It was a surprise gift to relive the sweetness of seeing the world through the eyes of a small child and to have the responsibility of her care. It's priceless to have a preschooler to make memories with again, if even just for a little while... and a girl at that! And it's nice to be able to give her back in to a loving family. I get the best of both worlds.