Wednesday, March 29, 2017

An important bit of nothing

Today we readopted Lotus.

We filled out more paperwork.

We went to a court and a judge
smiled at our daughter
and pronounced her our daughter
and forever more.

When she asked,
we tried to explain?
Why did we do this?

Lotus is an American citizen
since after a flight
from China to New York
we placed her foot on the ground
Of JFK Terminal.

Lotus has been our daughter
since we dipped her foot
in red ink
and placed it on the paper
Making a blood-red footprint
that says
She is ours.

How do I tell you
My daughter,
My child,
My very own,
That our country elected a tyrant.
Who hates you?

How do I say that
I worried that
that tyrant might write
new laws. And those laws
would call
you an immigrant
and take you from me.

How do I say
that I waited because
I wanted to honor
your China Mommy.
I am saddened because
the birth certificate that
will come from the capital city
of our state
will not have her name.

All I can say
that it was for a piece of paper.
And would you like cake?

And my child will hug me.
And ask if she can
lick the beater when
we make the icing.

I say no.
We will share.
Because we are family.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Microblog Monday - And You

And You*

When I get angry at Lotus, 
or she's done something she knows 
she's not supposed to,
she will cry. 

"I want my mommy!" She'll say. 
She will say this clutching to me.
Her face
buried into my very ample stomach
and breasts. 

"I want Mommy." She cries. 

"I'm right here." I say, holding her close.
"I'm here, baby."
"I'm not leaving."

What she means sometimes is
she wants mommy, 
the one who isn't mad at her,
and is fun.

And I generally get this through my brain,
and I rock her,
and she stops crying,
and she says sorry,
and we're okay. 

Sometimes she cries for mommy
as I am holding her
and I realize there's another woman she's crying for.
a woman who she lived with for five days.

A woman whose heartbeat she heard,
while she was getting ready to be born.

A woman who chose to give birth to her, 
and then made the 
to leave her to be found 
and cuddled 
and loved 
by strangers. 

Lotus cries for that mommy. 
She misses her.
That woman who looks at the world 
from eyes that are like her own.
That woman who,
I imagine,
Aches for my crying little girl
in ways I cannot imagine.
And I don't want to . 

When Lotus does this
We hug each other very hard
and send our love out
and hope China Mommy
can feel it
can understand 
this is the best I can do 
to pay the enormous debt that I owe 
this woman with 
my daughter's face. 

And one time
After being scolded
Lotus said she wanted mommy.
I realized and asked.
"China Mommy?"
She nodded.

She raised her head 
tears soaking  er face
tears soaking my breast
to look me in the eye. 

"I want China Mommy." she said 
lifting her hand to my chin
"And You."

Her head returned
just above my heart
as more tears fell. 

I held her,
and rocked her, 
and internally praised her intelligence. 
Because my four-and-a-half-year-old daughter
summed up adoption angst
in two words. 

* The style of this post is a tribute to the book Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I am in the middle of this amazing book told in verse so I tried to do a blog post in verse.  Was I successful?  Let me know. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Microblog Monday - Loving My Neighbor

Growing up, our next door neighbors were our dearest friends. I called them Aunt K and Uncle B. If my mother wasn't home when I got off the bus from school I went next door and played in their basement. Uncle B. taught me how to hammer a nail--including how to swear if I missed and hit my thumb. I was told that the words "Shit! Goddamnit! Shit!" in that order was the only way to respond when I missed the nail and hit my fingers. That being said--those words were only for that occasion. I believed that until I got to middle school.

Our neighbors were Catholic and we were Jewish. Every Christmas morning for years we went over there for breakfast where Santa had dropped a bunch of gifts under their tree. Because my parents were on vacation out of the country, Aunt K and Uncle B knew that I became engaged to D before my parents did. I grieved when Uncle B passed away and I still stay in touch with Aunt K.

Because we had such wonderful neighbors I learned how to be a good neighbor. Our across the street neighbors (our house was at the end of a street) were not as wonderful. They loved leaving their car right behind ours even though multiple cars could and did fit into their driveway. They were snobs and told my mother to "watch out for the silver" when I invited my multi-racial group of friends over. But they were our neighbors. Many was the time I would come home and mom had made chicken soup. On the kitchen table was one or two extra containers filled with my mom's chicken soup. She'd tell me to take them next door or across the street because they were sick. If there was death it was a macaroni casserole with our name in masking tape at the bottom of the Corningware pan. This was reciprocated. When I was sixteen, I vented to Aunt K about my crush and how he didn't know I existed and on and on and on.  After giving me a wonderful and nonjudgmental ear, I came home on a very cold day to see a pint of Haagen Daaz chocolate chocolate chip ice cream on our front stoop. "In case of heartbreak," the note read. "open pint. Take spoon. Ingest."

I am lucky that the streak has continued. We have wonderful neighbors. Our next door neighbors teach Lotus about flowers and plan to teach her about gardening. Across the street comes over with their snowblower--often--to dig us out. We say thanks with chocolate chip cookies and brownies.

Love your neighbor is at the center of just about every religion. Help your neighbor.Take care of each other. This is why the Republican Health Don'tCare plan astounds me.

Republicans are supposed to be moral. Where is the morality of telling people that if you aren't white you don't deserve health care? Where is the morality of taking health care from people who need it most. Republicans are churchgoers far more then Democrats. Were they absent when they taught that page from the Bible?

Health insurance is moral to me.  If I am healthy I want the money I pay into insurance to go to help someone who is sick or who, God forbid, has a sick child. If you want health insurance to only cover you, and not your neighbor you have no right to call yourself a good person--regardless of religious denomination. One man asked why men need to be paying for pre-natal care. Was he immaculately conceived? Isn't it a good thing as a nation to have a healthy populace?

I will be calling my congressman and senators and explaining that I want my neighbors healthy. I want my family healthy and I will work like hell to unseat anyone who votes for this bill. I hope all the Americans reading this.

That being said--what are other neighborly things that you like to do?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Microblog Monday - If you become a teacher by your pupils you'll be taught

For the past year, one of the ways  I have been earning money is by tutoring.

I love it. I love talking with the kids and listening to them.

My favorite pupils are siblings.  The boy is a seventh grader. The girl is a high school sophomore. They are wonderful. They are first generation Chinese immigrants and after they learned that I am raising a Chinese daughter, we set aside five minutes from each lesson so they can teach me "things that a stupid American wouldn't know to teach her Chinese daughter."  (Their words, not mine, but I'm not offended.)

They also talk about how they feel and I am watching them grow, and change.

The boy. I'll call him, Rob, was monosyllabic when we met. Now he talks to me in multisyllabic words. Part of that is trust. I say with only a little pride that he trusts me. I've watched him going from regular teenage boy to activist. We cut tutoring short a few weeks ago so he could go protest at the airports.

Another boy I tutored will run for President of the United States. This is what he says and I believe him. I would vote for him--he's more mature than the person in the White House now.

Then there is the teaching of a little girl which is part of my job as mother. Since I'm not earning as much we've cut down on her Pre-K classes. She goes 3 days a week and then the other two we have as "girls days." Sometimes we sit cuddled in front of the TV.  Sometimes we go to the playground. Often we go to the library. And then there are days I teach her. I teach her about baking. I teach her about mitzvoth. I teach her about me.

And I learn.

I learn that sometimes she misses her China Mommy even though she doesn't remember her. Sometimes she wants her China Mommy, but she wants me too. I learn that sometimes it's okay just to be sad for a while. I learn that hugs are really great.

I've been debating of turning this love of individualized teaching to teaching in front of a classroom and I'm not sure. Until I am though, I like what is happening now. I like helping the kids through frustrations and I become hopeful that they will make the world they inherit better.