“I can’t believe how much she has changed!” I have heard that statement from Little Monkey’s ballet teacher and then again at library story time. Folks who haven’t seen much of our Little Monkey over the summer are amazed by the changes. They are TOTALLY right. It seems like her face is less round and more grown up, the shyness is evaporating, and her language skills are multiplying by the hour. At the one year mark of joining our family, I feel like we are seeing a whole new side of her personality –
bossy confident, defiant comfortable, talkative expressive – you get the idea!
There is a down side to her adjustments and comfort. She actually is forgetting China and loosing her ability to express herself in Chinese. She now sings “Jesus loves Me” with great ease and can’t remember the words to “Liang Zhi Laohu.” Am I sad about that?….I guess not. Little Monkey now will come up with an English word faster than the Chinese. Okay, I am sad about that one….come on, I spent four years trying to learn Chinese. I was hoping to save her the pain later on in life! Just months ago I would ask her to remind me of a Chinese word and she was the one telling us vivid stories from her foster home and life in China. I will treasure the stories and memories that she has shared with us. You can imagine my surprise (and dismay) when her little voice came from the back of the van asking me to tell her a “China story.”
It’s not easy to find a balance. We prayed that she would adjust to her new life in our family, but we hate that it may happen at the expense of her culture and background. She is forgetting what life in China was like and only remembers the stories and photos based on my retelling of her stories. The inevitable (?) has begun.
We try hard (and would love any other ideas you all might share with us)! We cook Chinese food once a week, go to cultural events in our area, have Chinese friends, have Chinese lessons, celebrate Chinese holidays – I even have learned how to cook tofu! It is what all the books state we should do as a multi-cultural family, but I still wonder where her identity will land and if it is enough.
As I am typing this she has run in asking for dinner. “Can I have rice and a peanut butter & jelly sandwich?” I guess that is the answer isn’t it. She will be a blend of both worlds.