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Today was better than yesterday. No one asked Zinashi to share her toys, and in fact, some indulgent mother bought her four new toys at Target. Oh, calm down. They were in the dollar section, and they are cute and wooden, and they all go together as a little set. Sort of. There are three parts of a train that hook together and then an airplane, which she wanted to sleep with at naptime. And I know, I know, I know, Christmas is in two days, and she’ll be getting lots of toys from relatives, but…yeah. When it’s something so small and she gets so excited about it, I figure it’s not the end of the world. We are just figuring out her taste, and it turns out that the one thing I didn’t buy for her is in one of her top three toy categories. She has dolls to dress and undress and feed and pretend to bathe, and she has lots of books, and frankly, I had no idea she would love vehicles so much. So there they were, and they were a dollar each, and I was like, “You know what? YES. Which engine do you like better, the green or the red?” (Red.) She designated one train car to be a gift for Ababi, but it is unclear as of yet whether she meant to give the rest to him or just one car. I’m not pressing for clarification, especially when she pushes the whole thing around the house for half an hour without wanting my help. I will take the opportunity to do something all by myself, thank you very much.
I’ll spend the free time I earned with that purchase just sitting here, eating kettle corn and missing Ethiopia sorely. I don’t even know why or what for or anything at all except I feel an ache for it, and when I was looking at photos from our trip this evening, I very nearly started crying. So let’s all move there, okay? We can have really good macchiatos every morning and find that our pants fit better than ever despite a decided lack of fresh vegetables in our diets.
Or we can just stay here and have Christmas. I’m not sure which you’d pick, but my socks resemble those of the Grinch, so I’m sure you can guess which side of the fence I’m sitting on.
(The side that has no presents wrapped and has to figure out how to make cranberry sauce out of dried cranberries.)
I’ve read so many places that you shouldn’t evaluate anything about your new family for six months, that now I have no idea who said it first. Was it a professional? I sure hope so, because I am taking those words to heart a lot of the time now. And using them as a reminder, really. On days like today, in particular. Zinashi was asked to share her toys at home today, and it didn’t go well. She, um, threw a magnetic hippo photo holder. Not at someone, thank heaven, but in frustration that another kid was touching her stuff. My friend, who was here with her son, assures me that it’s common at Zinashi’s age, and of course I wonder what effect suddenly having your own things has on a small person who has had nothing of her own before now. Do you think it might make the possessiveness a bit more intense? Will I ever stop wondering if what she is experiencing is typical or due mostly to her recent trauma or due entirely to her life circumstances? Probably not.
And right now, honestly, we’ve not yet made it to the three-months-as-family/two-months-home mark. It’s all still so new. Should I expect so much of her so soon? Or, honestly, of myself and Jarod as fledgling parents? I think no. Which is not to say that we don’t make clear how we behave in our family, and that we don’t, as Zinashi’s parents, strive to be respectful and gentle in all our dealings with our little lovely, but just that maybe I could be gentler in my assessment of how it’s going. It’s going fine for two months in. So she doesn’t understand that no one will take her toys from her house without her permission; okay, fine. It’s understandable. So she is having a harder time behaving herself these days; also, fine. We are overwhelmed by the holidays, even though there hasn’t been a ton to do. Well, scratch that. Three holiday gatherings last weekend alone is a ton to do. And we’ll have the same this weekend. That’s a lot of extra stimulation for our small girl. It will do me good to remember that, and to be gentler, and to be kinder, and to hold her tighter when she asks me to rock her to sleep.
These months will pass, and all too quickly. As much as I wish us on the other side of Christmas, not to mention on the other side of our first six months, there is a lot to savor now. Especially the aforementioned rocking her to sleep. I have a feeling that will disappear long before I’m ready. Long, long before I’m ready.
This morning, I had a slow start (like every morning, really, but this time I didn’t bother to rush at the end), and Jarod took his moped to work, leaving before I was all dressed for Old Lady Mary, so we were without a photographer. No matter, I thought, Nicole is going to meet us at OLM’s, and I’ll ask her to take the photo! Except that I’d missed the call that was Nicole saying she wouldn’t make it today, and left the house without so much as taking a mirror photo of the two of us. We arrived at OLM’s, took in all the stuff we’d gotten her both for Christmas and as regular groceries, and proceeded to have a nice chat, during which she admired Zinashi’s look over and over again and did not notice anything at all about my outfit. Well, except that I wasn’t wearing my coat (same song, same dance, stuck on repeat), which I had stashed beneath the stroller so that Zinashi and I could walk in only wearing our holiday finery. The visit went swimmingly, and Mary loved the card with Zinashi’s photo on it, as well as the small bird ornament and giant package of cinnamon danishes we’d brought her. She exclaimed over Zinashi’s headband and her fancy plaid dress and her sweater! The sweater was exclaimed over several times. In fact, the only part that didn’t go well was my daughter leaving her headband on. I figured I could threaten ciao chocolate* and get her to put it back on long enough for a photo on the premises, but she wouldn’t last long after that. So as soon as the visit was through, I asked her to put the headband on and stand in front of the Christmas tree in the lobby. She obliged, sort of.
I like the weird grimace at all, but I thought I’d at least try for a smile, and when I requested one, she decided to point to her teeth.
Yes, Zinashi, those are what you use to smile with, but that’s not a smile. What? You’d rather not smile? Okay, fine. Wait, what? You want to take a picture? Okay, great. Can you take a picture of Mami for the internet?
Legs and shoes, and then a few photos of her finger in front of the lens. Let’s try again! I’ll crouch down.
Good enough! Let’s go! What do you mean MORE!?? Oh, all right, one more.
And from there she proceeded to take about twelve more photos of her finger in front of the lens. For the record, she thinks they’re all fantastic.
For the record, I think she’s fantastic. Not that you didn’t already know that. She went on to charm everyone in the lobby and the majority of people doing holiday food shopping at Whole Foods. Well done, little cricket, well done.
She chose to wear her dress to sleep in for her nap, and I rocked her to sleep wearing mine, but it didn’t take me long to change for a workout and decide to slip into something more comfortable afterwards. I am now transformed from Vintage LBD Mom into Yoga Pant Mom. But it can’t be helped; I’m not going to scrub the crusted over scrambled egg pan wearing something so cute. At least, not this time.
*When Zinashi is being a little bit naughty, our current useful tool is to take away something she likes. When we first met, she said ciao instead of good-bye, and so it stuck within our discipline system. This morning she decided to hit the cat immediately upon waking, and her brand new big machina, her bear, and Baby Coco all had to ciao**. Such is life, and guess who has been very nice to the cat ever since?
**Actually, only the big machina would have had to ciao, but she also bit Ababi and refused to say she was sorry (to Ababi or to the cat) for a short period of time***, thus three of her prized possessions exited to the coat closet. She has been asking about them all day. I doubt she’ll begin her day by hitting the cat tomorrow.
***So much for your impression of our girl as an angel, huh? She’s a three-year-old. What can we do? You know, aside from making it clear that hitting the cat and biting Ababi are unacceptable? Nothing, really. We love her regardless and think that she’s a very good girl.
Our daughter’s first English word was glasses. I wear disposable lenses, and I’d brought a new pair of contacts with me to put in once we reached Ethiopia, but had kept my old pair in for the flight. I figured it would be good to start fresh. And then Zinashi was with us before I remembered to change, and I was worried that she would find it strange that the new mom-lady was suddenly wearing glasses, so I made a big deal of explaining that I was wearing glasses like Ababi was wearing glasses and blah, blah, blah (I’m sure that’s what she heard), suddenly she looked at me and whispered, glasses. Small and sweet and perfect, before she had her full voice and volume. When I put in the contacts later that day, she seemed curious about where my glasses went. I had no idea how to explain contacts in Amharic, so I just pointed to my bag, where I had indeed stowed the glasses.
After that day, I didn’t wear my glasses again. I can sleep in my contacts just fine, so I do, and it’s just much easier that way. I wore that same pair of lenses the whole time we were in Ethiopia (aside from that first day), and when I got home, I didn’t think to take them out right away, even though a month had passed. Pretty soon I developed a strange attachment to them. These were the lenses through which I saw Ethiopia, through which I looked at my daughter as she got comfortable with us, through which I saw our homecoming and so many of Zinashi’s firsts. I know it’s odd, and that these lenses are not my eyes, and that it’s a little bit yucky to leave them in so long, but…I just couldn’t remove them. Tonight I finally cried uncle when they were all dried out and cloudy, and my eyes were starting to itch. I’m wearing my glasses, the same glasses that prompted our daughter’s first English word, and so I guess that’s all right. She’ll see me in them in the morning, before I slip in the fresh contacts I’ve got waiting for me, and be excited.
Now, if I can just bring myself to throw away the old lenses. I’m pretty sure it would be creepy to keep them, wouldn’t it?
I mean, wouldn’t it?
Somebody better say yes, or I’ll end up squirreling them away in a tiny jewel box or something.
(Gross, Mary. GROSS.)