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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blooming Daisies

Subtitled Only I Don't Mean Blooming (Part 1 of 2)

September tends to be Adoption Month around our house, along with late February/ early March. I know why it happens in late winter every year: our annual Chinese New Year celebration typically kicks off a month of adoption-related processing, traveling through the anniversary of the Tongginator's adoption day, her birthday and the anniversary of her finding day, which all happen within one week of each other. It's a month of tearful talks; behavioral challenges as the Tongginator processes her life story anew; and many hugs as the Tongginator and I grow closer together as mom and daughter.

Because when she's honest with me, I know her better.

And that means I can love her better.

I'm not exactly sure what it is about September, except that new classmates bring new questions. And also that Saturday Chinese class begins again after a summer break. September is also just a little over six months after the previous adoption processing time, which sounds about right within the child development scale. During the months in between, the Tongginator hardly discusses "adoption stuff" with me. Her lifebook often collects dust. She skips through spring and summer, smelling the daisies, with little desire to talk about her first year in China, or her first family, or about being Chinese-American with Caucasian parents.

And then September hits.

And sometimes it hits with a bang.

This year, it began with Daisies. No, I'm not talking about my favorite flower... I'm talking about those other Daisies. You know, the ones I'm not exactly thrilled about because they camp and do crafts and sell Girl Scout cookies and such. THOSE Daisies. THEM.

(They CAMP, y'all!)

This week the Tongginator's troop planned to talk about being brave and courageous. The leaders sent an email asking parents to help their girls think of a time when they felt brave and courageous. I expected the Tongginator to mention the first time she put her face under water at the pool. Or maybe her first day of kindergarten. Or possibly the time she told the neighborhood bully, "I don't understand why you are treating me this way, but I don't like it. It's unkind and I want you to leave me alone." But she didn't. Nope, y'all, she came up with something entirely different. And what she said was...

"I think I must have been brave when somebody left me on the street in China when I was just a tiny baby."

(I know.)

(We got through it, y'all.)

I did not cry. I did not make that moment in time more about me than about her. I did not change the subject. Instead, I sat there for a few seconds, silently watching her as she carefully analyzed my expression. I kept my face thoughtful, then slowly nodded and said, "you know, Tongginator, I think you must have been very brave and courageous that day. Because you survived it. And that was a really hard thing. I'm so sorry that happened to you."

And then we sat together, holding hands.

She wanted to read her lifebook. It was 8:05 in the morning; we had to leave for the bus stop by 8:35; and I still sported scary hair and holey pajamas. But we read her lifebook. And - for the first time and despite numerous talks - the Tongginator developmentally processed that the picture on her finding page is a photograph of the actual place where she was found. And I asked her how she was feeling. And I held her as she answered.

And yes, I went to the bus stop looking like Lindsey Lohan entering rehab. (Oops. Did I say that out loud?) And yes, I felt like it, too. But the Tongginator? Despite her tears and oh-so-tight hugs just minutes before, the Tongginator went off to school smiling. Because she is the TONGGINATOR.

Part 2, or How I Terrified Random Daisy Mom In Charge of the Courage Lesson, tomorrow.


Number 6 and no more counting! said...


Aus said...

Can't wait to hear the rest!

And that was one thing that I DIDN'T factor into my thinking when we started adopting - isn't it always when you are short of time / energy / food / whatever when the ogre rears it's head?

Thanks for caring more about T than about your hair....thanks for 'getting it'.

(And camping is fun!!)

hugs - aus and co.

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

She never ceases to amaze me.

Now I will be looking like Lindsey Lohan as I drive Nick to school with makeup running down my face.



Laurie said...

Really, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for sharing these very private, very special moments with us.

autumnesf said...

Tonnginator is going to ROCK the camping. She will make most of her troop mates look like the true whimps they are. Hah!

But oh my! Can't wait for the next installment of this story!!

MM does not really process her story. She's not real interested still. This bothers me..but at the same time I dont want to push and push. So our realization issues have been pretty minor. But at least she does talk about her birth mom sometimes in off hand comments.

Stefanie said...

Goodness gracious. Your girl is so wise... and so incredibly introspective. It must be a huge challenge to focus solely on her as she processes this and goes through the emotions associated with the realization that her 'beginning' is not like most, is full of losses and sorrow... and not visibly grieve to see her struggle.
You are one good mama, and I am sure that as you endure together, facing sorrows together, you are building one heck of a bond :)

lmgnyc said...

FWIW, that's what I look like every morning at the school bus stop. ;-)

It's amazing to me how some of our girls are so aware of their stories and some are blissfully unaware. Why is that?

Good job Tonggu Momma, you handle these things soooooooo well.

Elizabeth@Romans8:15 said...

Wow. That's all I can say, wow.

Is it odd that I am completely impressed and in awe of how she handled the bully? She is my hero.

gabe said...

I read your blog almost every day and I have only commented once. . .I think that makes me a stalker!!

Anyhoo. . .I may just tatoo that phrase "Because when she's honest with me I know her better" on my forehead.

I have two sons and three daughters. I find it much easier for the boys to be honest with me. They are just a little less complicated. . .

My older daughter and I are working on a journal where she can write to me about how she is feeling, because she is has such a hard time verbalizing her feelings. Wish me luck!

LucisMomma said...

Wow. My 14 yo DS just read the line that T said. He says she is just like his little sister. Because she talks like that.

We just started Daisies, too, in an effort to give our DD some more friendships to explore. The Supreme Leader (uh, I mean Troop Leader) has not brought up the courage thing. Maybe that's in the talk for next week (I know they have a handbook to go by, last week was our first and it was so blase'). BTW, I thought about you and providing a more diverse group of kids for our DD since we live in a small town with most of her friends being white. This group is 1/2 black, 1/2 white and DD (I *know* that adds up to more than 100 percent, lol).

LucisMomma said...

and the Lindsay Lohan comment is hilarious. I have liked her work in the past, and hope she is getting her act together, finally.

mamam2roo said...

See, THIS is the reason I read your blog. Thank you for this. It helps me to peek in on other people's process so I can prepare, and learn and soak it all in for when those moments happen at our house. Thank you for sharing this part of your lives with us. It really is important. And to do it with the grace and humor that you do? You are a gem. And the Tongginator is definitely courageous and brave and pretty darn awesome.

L said...

Just tears this morning, hugs to you both. Thank you for sharing your experiences, you are helping to prepare others for this walk in what you share. I think a lot about your posts throughout the day. Thank you.

sara said...

Oh that gave me chills. What a smart, sensitive, thoughtful, brave and couragous girl you have!

Debby said...

Wow, What a girl. Sure made me want to cry but like you said it was not about your feelings but hers. She is wise beyond her years. Soimportant that you can go through this with her. I love that girl.

Saint Louis Family Robinson said...

Oh so much to say! But I'll leave it with saying Thanks! for sharing this story and I can't wait to hear Part 2!

Patricia/NYC said...

No words...just HUGS...to both of you!

Colin and Jill Canada said...

I'll tell you what and you know it already...

That girl of yours is incredible!
And so is her Momma.


Beach Mama said...

That girl of yours is brave and courageous all of the time! My girls do not (at this time) have the same deep, feelings about their younger lives in CXhina as your child does. I'm glad you share these stories because I know I am going to deal with them at some time.

I cannot wait for Part 2!

Chris said...

Wow...these leaves me speechless...

Your T, she is one amazing and brave little girl!

The things our little ones have to process....it just doesn't seem right!

However, the processing is all a part of the healing...I hope?

These moments do allow us to 'know' our children better. These moments of extreme vulnerability witness to the fact that our kids trust us enough to share the deepest parts of their souls...

Yesterday, my post was about Avery who finally had the courage to reveal why she doesn't like her Chinese name....it left me grief-stricken....for her!

Yes, our girls are among the bravest people I know!

Thanks for sharing!

Rachel@just another day in paradise said...

posts like this scare the fire out of me, because I always manage to say or do the wrong thing. . .and that's when it's random talk with a stranger and not a swerious discussion with my child. . . [curls up in fetal position]

Gayla said...

So glad I read this today. My girl (adopted at 3 1/2, only home for 6 months) has just started processing all that she has been through, and I *hope* that she will someday get to the place your daughter is now. A really beautiful story.

Lisa said...

Ya know, it occurs to me that just that moment was an act of courage and trust too....bravery....trust from TG that she will be heard, can share even the hardest truths with you and won't be turned away or invalidated.

I think you are both brave!!!!!!!

Dawn said...

Little T is one incredible little girl. I do hope you continue this blog for at least 20 more years because I simply MUST know what happens to her as an adult.

And, YOU, my friend, are one awesome momma!!!

Looking forward to hearing more about your Daisy encounter. LOL

heather said...


Good work momma!!!!

And seriously, thanks for sharing these moments to help us mommas with younger ones get ready for the tougher stuff!

prechrswife said...

Wow, what a moment! You never know when or where these comments/questions are going to come.

LOL at the Lindsey Lohan comparison, and I'm looking forward to Part 2!

The Ferrill's said...

I love reading this, it challenges me in areas I need to be challenged. Thank you!
Catching up on all your posts and the "ripple" one had me singing praises! I love how the Lord uses His children for His purposes and I'm GLAD you shared it with us. It's what I call a "faith-building" story. Awesome!

Sharie said...

We usually have a rough time of it this time of year too with Amelia's birthday, but this year has been quiet. Tonight we went out to see if we could get a view of the moon, and I asked her who else might be looking at the moon for the moon festival and she said, "China?" And that was that. I think she's processing so much with the change to Kindergarten she doesn't have the energy for anything else. It is amazing how their little minds work.

The Drinkwaters said...

"I did not cry. I did not make that moment in time more about me than about her. I did not change the subject. Instead, I sat there for a few seconds, silently watching her as she carefully analyzed my expression."

- Wow! Rock on Tonggu Mama! That must have been hard, but you really put your daughter first.

Suzy said...

Ok, TM. If your big girl can own that, I think you're just gonna have to put on your big girl panties & go camping. Ugh. Ugh for heavy emotional baggage, Ugh for having to camp with sensory issues, and just UGH! for tough times. And I have an inkling that the Tongginator is going to set the camping world on its ear. I can just see the Barefoot Contessa campfire episode while wearing fairy wings & lots of bling. I smile just imagining it...

Patty O. said...

Well, I cried a bit for you. Wow.

And wow, how did you hold it together? And how did you keep it from being about you? That is something I have been struggling with, letting my kids express themselves and just validating them.

Actually, I have you to thank for helping me see that I need to do this. Your blog has really taught me a lot in this area.

And yes, I realize I made this about me. Sorry!