Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nine Months.

This week, we marked nine months as a family. Our lives continue to revolve around their small Chinese axis, while the star of the show continues to surprise, delight and occasionally frustrate us.

We had our first parent-teacher conferences this week. I have no recollection of my own as a student, and Lindy conducts hundreds of these a year as a teacher. But for me, this was a chance to learn more about our daughter from a group of people who have invested their time, effort and professional abilities in her success. She is succeeding at school, meeting milestones in nearly every area except language. This is to be expected. We've heard from the group that her progress is notable and what one would expect from a toddler who spoke no English at all a few months ago. While we don't always understand what she says on the first try, she is constantly dropping new words and phrases on us. Case in point: during a wedding reception this past weekend in Ohio, she and Lindy had to leave the long-awaited buffet line for a bathroom break. "Hold my spot!" said the Ya to her parents, again and again. And we did.

Meanwhile, the teachers report that our daughter's math skills are paramount and her empathy is off the charts. They relayed the story yesterday of a classmate having the morning drop-off tantrum, a practice Xiao Ya has all but abandoned. She took this other sobbing student by the hand, led her to the wall where the kids are all pictured with their families and pointed to the right spot. No adult was close enough to hear if words were exchanged, but the reminder that Mom or Dad would be back later apparently calmed the kid down.

We had already travelled to one cousin wedding in Ohio this past September, and the differences between the two, for Ya Ya, were vast. First, she didn't fit in the same dress as before. Second, we learned enough from the prior, taxing, drama-fraught travel experience to limit the number of locations and the moving around this time. Unfortunately, this meant less time around the rest of the family. But on the plus side, she enjoyed the time she spent with everyone much more, and left the wedding reception after eating and dancing because it was bedtime -- not because she wasn't comporting herself as a wedding guest should.

This fall, we have had a plane trip to Michigan and Ohio and a bus trip to New York City, and she takes the actual travel experience very well. We are not averse to the occasional Tic Tac incentive, but have never experienced a meltdown or even had to resort to videos. She can be stubborn, egotistical and overly dramatic at times, but such is life for a toddler. These words could also describe me, along with every other adult member of the family on occasion.

Halloween was awesome in a way I've not experienced since I was much younger, especially given that neither of my parents was fond of the holiday and I married a costume designer. Ya Ya loved dressing up as a Korean pop star -- why shouldn't her first costume with us be of a different gender and ethnicity? -- and was fascinated by the idea that random people would just give her candy. By the time the sugar high from the tiniest of chocolate samples had subsided, I'd gone out to walk the dog as Batman -- awesome -- and we went back to being civilians who had no idea what they were eating for dinner that night.

We are exhausted and often feel more scrambled than deliberate. in short, we are experiencing what all parents feel and what we expected to feel too. Yes, I was that guy this morning. Running across the street with no shoes on, in my Cookie Monster pajama pants, literally seconds before my already-ticketed car was about to be towed. Because I'd forgotten to move it across the street. After having a long conversation with the handyman who came a day early because I didn't get his voice message.

I think the transition between organized, dependable and generally on top of things to one step ahead of the chaos is nearly complete. Sure, it bothers me a little. But I don't think I'm willing to give it up.


Mary said...

Love the update! Welcome to the chaos that is parenthood. I've been doing this for a few years now, and it still knocks me down from time to time. and I LOVE reading, once again, of the parallel tracks our girls are on. Amazing to have come this far, isn't it?

AnnaJ said...

Oh my goodness, I laughed out loud when I saw YaYa's Halloween costume - that is so awesome! You all look terrific.
Egocentric? Not odd at all....and for the next 15-20 years...she will be (this from the mom of a newly turned 18 year old). Moments of self-awareness and compassion will appear. Relish them!. Her school report sounds great - empathic, smart, happy - all wonderful. You and Lindy sound like you are doing well in this new life of a family of 3. So happy for you all.
More more more, please!?

Calista said...

Ha! I totally thought she was Penguin from the Batman series! You guys have this holiday and stride set just right, well done.

Kelly said...

I, too, did a big old LOL at the costume! Xiao Ya makes a great Psy. :) And I love the visual of Batman walking the dog.

Glad to hear the update. Sounds like things are going well, and while it's not always easy, it's usually quite good!

MarthaB said...

Love the update...and that costume, priceless!!!