“I think that now, I thinking in English in my head. It very strange!”
Funny. The Russian and English and the language of your country all rumbling around in my head? They make me feel like we are home together, carving out a space for this family, connecting in those secret ways of mothers and children.
Only two days, and already we have our sly looks and our knowing glances. We went to a party, and we were a team in a game that included drawing pictures and writing English sentences. I’m pretty sure that we had more fun whispering together than was polite to the rest of the room. But by the end of the night, the girl who said she would go but would not speak, who would watch me play but would not participate, was pulling the paper out of my hands to draw the picture the “right” way, telling the rest of the room that my animal drawings were horrible, engaging with the children and speaking Russian for them to run off and repeat.
And I see this girl, so much like me it hurts, hungering for connection, acceptance.
It is so important to say yes, yes, yes to these ones as well. I think that when we are correcting little ones, it is easy to see that we are saying no, no, no. We work to create “yes” opportunities.
With a teen, this can be harder. I don’t need to tell her, “No, no, don’t stand on the counter” or “No, no, you need shoes for biking.” Instead, the no’s are implicit. It is in the quiet glance shyly looking for approval. It is in the item picked up in the market, longingly examined, and then set back down without a request. It can be easy to miss the opportunities.
She is saying no for me because she has trained herself that it is not even okay to ask anymore.
Today, we went shopping. I dropped a chunk of change for sure. And I know she was watching me. I heard the intake of the breath at the first store. I tried not to make mine outward. She needs these things. They are simple things. A shirt, a sweater, a pair of pants. She came with only an extra shirt. This is necessary. But she knows math, and can quickly figure out the expense.
And she didn’t want to ask for sunglasses.
Thankfully, the chaperone was with us, and Sunshine whispered her secret request. Yes, yes, yes, sunglasses!
Yes, yes, yes, to every item you show me, my girl. There is no money in the world enough to buy that look on your face.
She has given up so much in her life. Sporting opportunities to do right by her sisters. Her own hopes in order to keep herself and others safe. She was on her way to championships, high levels of competition. And she lost it all when she lost her family to their own demons. How can I deny her a shirt, a pair of pants, sunglasses?
And soon will come the testing. The words with the sideways glance to see how I react. The pout when a necessary no happens. I already see her poking a bit, watching my face.
“You write these notes, Google translate? They are bad writing. You write words end with –s…for a man. Words in this language end with –a, for a girl. But ok. But bad writing.”
I laughed harder than she expected. My dear one is out-Grammar-Nazi-ing the Grammar Nazi!! I love it. So much of my own heart I see in this girl.
And so she gets a new note. I do not stop. This time, she gets one with the bonus of a horribly drawn animal at the bottom.
I do not stop. I will not stop. Yes, yes, yes. You are beautiful. You are brave. You are a joy to be together with.
You are my girl. Forever.