Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Making Peace

In the excitement of Phoebe's party, Miranda refused a nap. Her grandparents were visiting and there was just too much going on, so we let us stay up for "Quiet Time" with the adults. She did fine through the party until she had a major meltdown in the bathtub later that evening. After a bath long enough to make prunes of her fingers, Mark insisted that it was time to get out. Some protests later, he resorted to our usual technique of "I'll count to three, and you can either do it yourself, or I'll do it for you on three." Miranda opted to dig in her heels, and what followed was one of the top 5 ever Miranda Meltdowns, with her poor grandparents in the house to witness it.

After about 20 minutes of sobbing and screaming, Mark took Phoebe to bed and I took Miranda. She finally stopped crying and settled into bed for nighttime reading. We snuggled and I wiped her nose. Three books later, when I tucked her in and kissed her on the cheek, she looked up and quietly said, "I want Papa."

I fetched Mark from Phoebe's room and told him Miranda wanted to talk. Sure enough, that's exactly what she wanted to do. In quiet clear words, she recounted the events. "I wanted to stay in the tub. . . I cried and cried." Mark explained why he did what he did and told her he loved her. He kissed her goodnight, and that was the end of that. He came downstairs looking a little perplexed and very touched.

If the rest of us would insist on making peace and talking it out before we turn out the lights, I think the world would be a different place. Two years old. Quite amazing.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


At long last, we had a party for Phoebe. In the words of the invitation:

"This party is for Phoebe-- to say Happy 2nd Birthday, and Welcome Home. Party day will be just around the time of our one year anniversary of getting Phoebe's referral-- the day when we finally saw her picture at the end of our long wait. It will also be almost 10 months since the day she was placed in our arms. So much has happened since then! She has learned to walk and talk, to laugh ("funny!") and sing-- and to love and trust. We want to celebrate the person she is and how blessed we are to have her as our daughter."

We dedicated her that morning at the unitarian church, surrounded by my parent, my sister and her family, and a congregation that has become our home over the last year. Mark and I made these promises to our daughter:

"We are your parents and we will care for you.
We promise to reveal the adventure of life.
We promise to learn from your challenges and inspirations.
We promise to tell you the simple truth.
We promise to pay attention to your small moments.
We promise to open our hearts fully to your love.
We promise to hold your birth parents in a special place in our hearts with deep gratitude for bringing you life.
We promise to teach you about our sisters and brothers around the world.
We love you with all our hearts, and dedicate ourselves to do all that we can to share with you the beauty and goodness of life."

When the white rose touched Phoebe, she gave a perplexed cockeyed look and promptly wiped off its wetness. Little Miranda, with her hand in her mouth for comfort in front of the crowd, managed to whisper "yes" when asked if she would do her best to be a good big sister to Phoebe. My parents promised to share their stories with her as they guide her on her path. And our family and congregation offered their support and encouragement.
We had great Open House party that lasted all day long on Sunday, with a brief intermission for naptime. We have been in Salem for just a year and a half now, and I am so happy to have a great network of friends who make this a wonderful place to be. My sister Lauren and her famil drove all the way from Pennsylvania to join us, which meant the world to me. Phoebe was able to be part of her party in a way she couldn't possibly have done last summer. She ambled about with her little friends-- neighbors, church friends, the twins who met their parents on our same trip to China, companions from storytime and Book Buddies-- thoroughly tearing about the playroom with nothing but glee. She looked a bit shocked and overwhelmed when 45 people surrounded her in song as the cake came out, but held it together in a chair by herself until we blew out the candles together. Boy does this kiddo have a sweet tooth! After 2 pieces of cake and a few cookies, I caught her standing on a chair in the kitchen swiping frosting off the leftover cake. When I interrupted her adventures she just said in the most polite voice possible, "More cake, please."
I am completely in love with this child. Oh, Phoebe Ling, I hope by the day you read this blog yourself, printed in book that you can keep forever, you will be able to say, yes, my parents kept those promises to me. We will do our best.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Signs of Spring

Winter in New England, not an easy thing. But this past weekend was a gift-- 56 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. By the end of the weekend, there were hints of flowers peeking up from the ground, and at long last the piles of dirty snow had mostly disappeared. The town came to life, with the playground crawling with kids burning off months of pent-up energy. I'm not naive enough to think that Spring has come-- this is early March, I know. I imagine there will still be another snow storm or two, and some very cold days. But it won't last. The worst is over. Soon we'll be walking in sandals and hanging laundry out on the line again.

The girls were giddy with excitement. First we got out the tricycles. Last Spring Miranda got hers, but by the end of the summer she still hadn't figured it out. This weekend she discovered that her legs are long enough to reach the pedals and she has enough power to propel forward. The Common has long straight paved paths through the middle, and after a few minutes of false starts and pedaling backwards, she figured it out. "Look! I can do it!" She was off, and so happy to be independently moving. Phoebe needs a little more help from behind to keep moving in the right direction, and some guidance with the handlebars to stay on track, but I promise if you give her another month or two she'll be on her way. So there we were, riding trikes to the Common. No stroller, no Ergo. Big girls on trikes.

And then on Sunday we took a bike ride to the beach about a mile from our house. Last year we tried this, but Phoebe was scared and intimidated and really didn't enjoy the outing at all. This time, it was great fun, with Phoebe narrating the whole way: "Motorcycle!! Bike!! Truck!! Water!!" We parked the bikes and had the beach to ourselves. The girls grabbed their shovels and buckets, and took off on their own little beach adventures. Mark and I, parents of girls who grew up over the winter, stood back with the sun on our faces and the quiet waves of the harbor before us. We talked about where we are now, and were we are going in the next few years. Spring does this sort of thing to people.

It's like coming out of the dark. When added Phoebe to the family, we spent a good deal of time hunkering down and being, well, a family of four. We walked on eggshells last summer, constantly wondering if Phoebe was overstimulated, insecure, scared, overwhelmed. I remember avoiding the Laurie Berkner music video-- Miranda's favorite-- because it was just too action-packed for Phoebe to handle. We kept outings short, our body contact maximized, and our separations minimal. And now, Spring comes, and suddenly, Phoebe is a well-adjusted kid.

It's a funny thing about adopting a toddler. Last year at this time, we were expecting a baby. I had saved all of Miranda's baby clothes from sizes 3-6 months up, and all the baby paraphernalia. Phoebe was older than we expected, and bigger and sturdier than we imagined. So here we are, less than a year later, with a kid who wears underpants, speaks in sentences, sleeps in a big girl bed, and rides a tricycle. Our baby days are over. There's great celebration as we hit each milestone. I love to hear Phoebe shout "I did it!" But when Miranda curls up in my arms and says, "I'm your little teeny tiny baby" when she wants to cuddle, I can't help but miss those early days.

Hurry, hurry Spring! I think we are in for one very fun summer around here.