Tonight Fang Fang ended with quiet hitching wailing tears and something else that makes my throat tighten up every time I see her do it. When this child is jussst about asleep, laying on her side in my arms, she does that pseudo-sucking thing tiny babies do when they’ve finished nursing and are about to conk out. She makes quiet little clicking noises, purses her heart-shaped lips, and this is when she likes to rub her little soothie blanket. Sometimes she’ll pat my chest or play with my necklace, but I am secondary to what is happening in her own private world.
It’s the self-soothing-ness of it that kills me. We confirmed at her health check yesterday that she had two separate surgeries in her first year of life. Imagine soothing yourself through all that without the stability of one caring mother. Different nurses, different smells. It’s not the way it should have been.
Were her tears tonight just tiredness, overwhelm from a long fun day, or part of the grieving we were told to expect? We attribute extra meaning to her reactions and each time she does anything new. We have to; it’s all we have. It’s probably not fair or reasonable, but we’re only human. Humans crave context, and with her first 18 months we’ll probably never really have any.
In the hotel pool today she started out timidly clinging and even whimpering a bit, but was soon making up another new game (a daddy game!) and kicking her legs. Had she been in a pool before? Or can I imagine that she feels so comfortable with us now that even in a strange situation she will find courage in our arms? I wonder how long it will be before I stop wanting to shout to everyone (and post here) “LOOK! Did you see that? Do you know what it MEANS?”
Soon she’ll just be any toddler reacting the way toddlers do. Tendencies will be attributed to her personality and not her past, and we will let some of her whims go unanswered. Tantrums won’t be so fraught. The curves of her face will be as familiar as my own.
We have completed all the tasks we wanted done here. She trusts us enough to travel like any one year old (be afraid, fellow travelers!) and we’re ready to go. Waiting on the Embassy so we can leave in 4 more days feels so artificial now, disconnected from the rest of the journey.
Tonight we even managed to buy her some Chinese New Year outfits called “silks”, a doll wearing her own tiny red silks and two bracelets my gorgeous daughter and I picked out together. We found these tourist treasures when we wandered into a low-rent indoor flea market and got it all for less than a meal at Red Robin. I swear I am so bad at bartering and Primrose was so charming that the lady started lowering the price her dang self. Our loot is ready for the luggage and if I ruled the world we’d be heading back to hug our boys and see her with them.
I love being in China but there is more giving left: we get to finally place the three Ward siblings together. Their relationship will probably last even longer than ours and have facets ours never will. They will surely roll their eyes in unison at their doofy parents, together in a way that was set before we sent the first page of our application.