Thursday, August 21, 2008

Camp Mama: The Week in Review

I'm beat. I think preschool teachers should be paid serious ducats for what they do. Now I feel like a cheap shmo for thinking that bringing the teachers coffee in the AM now and again is gesture enough.

I will say, however, that I am as happy as I am tired. It's pretty cool to have the opportunity to spend 5 full days with my kid; I know plenty of people would love to be so lucky, so I'm ever mindful of that fact. Mindful, especially when I'm dealing with a preschooler meltdown over not being allowed a popsicle at 10am and wondering when school starts again.

But the truth is that this has just been the sweetest week (and one more to go next week!). Getting the chance to hang out without a schedule, without having to get a small (non-morning) person up and out and teeth brushed and shoes on early in the morning has just been glorious--for her and for me.

Every morning she wants me to climb in bed with her until breakfast, so we've been able to hang out for more than the usual 6 minutes, which has created some of those will-stay-in-my-memory-forever moments that replay as you walk your kid down the aisle or see her launch into space or whatnot. Those moments that never leave you, even when your kid is now 35 and married. Not specific memories, of course, in the sense of "and then you said x and I said y," but rather, emotional memories, memories that evoke a feeling rather than a specific occurrence.

We've been hosting lots of playdates at our home and at local playgrounds. It has been really neat to see Bambina coming out of her shell in groups. She's extremely out going in small groups but a major wallflower in large ones. The other day at the park some punkass boys were telling her and her friend that they couldn't go in the wooden house. I was so proud when I saw this little 3-foot petite pois say really loudly to a much bigger boy, "You can't keep us out of the house! It's not your house! You have to share!" Of course, the bigger kid protested again and she acquiesced until the Girl Power Mommies got involved (because the boys were starting to wield toy shovels and other tools in the direction of the girls to physically keep them out of the house), but the point was that her first instinct was to stand up for herself even to a kid 6 inches taller and clearly 12 pounds heavier. I seriously teared up watching it, because that is the dynamo powerpunch of a kid that I've known since day one and that had kind of receded a bit over the drama and anxiety of the past year. I'm so glad to see her mojo is coming back, albeit slowly.

We were at the playground yesterday when another Asian girl came up and asked her to play, and off Bambina went. We all ended up back at the swings where the little girl looked me over askance and said, "Who are you?" I said, "I'm Bambina's mommy, E. And what is your name?" From there I met her father, who is originally from China, and it was off to the races. Turns out his wife is from quite near Bambina's hometown (near by Chinese standards, which is 2 hours away), and travels through it on her way home every year. So it was a cool meetup, and I could tell that Bambina was (in her usual pre-adolescent non-committal way) rather pleased to hear that someone knows her hometown and has been there.

Which led us to getting her passport photos taken so she can get the goods to come to China with us next year. Yeah, I know. A 5 year old on a 17-hour flight and in a hotel for 10 days with a new baby. I know. It's madness on its face. But we want her to see China, want her to see her nanny again, and want her to experience the process for Baby Sister as a way of helping her synthesize her own adoption. I get that she's young, but it's never too early, especially since she so badly wants to go. We talked a bit about her special nanny, the one she had bonded with. We've talked about her before, but this was the first time I really laid out (as a result of some questions she was asking) that this particular lady was the first person she bonded with. I told her about how she and the nanny touched foreheads and gazed into each other's eyes before the nanny had to leave back in 2005, and how that showed me how much they had cared for each other. She was delighted that she had had a special nanny (details on how many kids shared that special nanny can wait till later), and really seemed empowered by knowing that someone took care of her, and having the photo of us all together. Seeing her put the small pieces together sometimes breaks my heart (Who tucked me in at night? Did she tuck me in every night?), but then seeing her gain strength from having the information ("I'm going to China to bring home baby sister and to meet her nanny!") reminds me that it's always better to let her know her history (she does after all own it and has a right to it) than make shit up--or more likely avoid discussing--to spare myself some internal angst about watching my sweet, treasured 4-year old try to process not having had a mommy tucking her in as a baby. It's a lot for me to contemplate, never mind being four.

So this has been a week of firsts. Bambina can sight read basic words like "no" and "and" with prompting. Today we were doing our usual monthly review of Vogue Magazine (what she calls "perfume magazines"), tearing out all the perfume pages, rubbing them on our wrists (and she, her feet) to determine whether we're really feeling Armani Code this season or whether Vera Wang Bouquet is a little too pungent for us for late summer. It's a pretty fun ritual we engage in, made all the more fun by her desperate desire for the BBDD to try some too on his wrists. Anyway, I wasn't really looking at her when she said, "Why do all these pages say "Gap" on them? I didn't know what she was talking about till I saw a 7 page ad spread for Gap clothing. I said, "Did you just read that?!" She rolled her eyes, like DUH, and said yes. I recognize that she's not about to breeze through the WSJ Op-Ed section, but it's still pretty damn cool that my 4 year old is starting to recognize words and put them together by sound.

The other first is that we took her training wheels off her bike today. I'm not so sure she's ready, but she insists she is and so goodbye wheels, hello skinned knees. She's definitely not ready for solo work, but she's getting the hang of it. And the BBDD is due a professional back massage any day now after being hunched over her bike for 40 minutes.

So that's what I've been up to instead of reading a single shred of world news or current events and blogging on them. Maybe this weekend. Maybe not. Unless Obama names his VP and McCain remembers how many houses he owns (sorry-how many houses HIS WIFE owns), then I'm back in the saddle ASAP.

Have a great weekend! May you have some happy firsts as well.

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