Tuesday, January 05, 2010

First New Years and First Surgery

So, I thought I'd go ahead and talk about New Years since it's fading from my mind and I don't want to lose the experience.

Just so that the non-Chinese among us don't start thinking it was wonderful for JJ, don't forget the our New Year isn't JJ's New Year. And his New Year celebration is, frankly speaking, more spectacular than ours. That is, if you like LOTS O' FOOD, fire crackers. Lion Dances, in addition to fireworks. JJ's New Year arrives on February 14th this year. On Valentine's Day. I can't tell you how much more symbolic and significant it is to have your New Year fall on the day your adopted country celebrates the meaning of Love collectively.

And No, he did not stay up and watch the fireworks. He was sound asleep.

And No, having a large group of people over to the house wasn't much new for him since we have lots of people at our house for much of the year.

And No, he didn't know how special it was to have Peter and Elizabeth together, and Aunt Karen and Uncle Dave and Lauren and Brian and Jordan because he has met so many new people, and I am sure it's all blurred together for him.

The most significant moment was when we returned from shopping two days before New Years. We parked across the street from the house because we were expecting a lot of cars to get into the driveway. We got out, JJ looked up, and he saw Aunt Amanda on the porch. OMG. You could have put out a fire with his gasp. His eyes lit up and filled with love (seriously), and he smiled, and jogged off to greet her. Of course, giving Mama a heart attack because he had to cross the street.

Anyway, I think that at this point Aunt Amanda is his most significant playmate. She is like ... Ummmm... 4 years old when they get together. Ok. Maybe not 4. I'll be generous. 6. She turns into a 6 year old and I find myself scolding her as much as JJ when they are together. And her reaction just makes JJ laugh and laugh.

Anyway, on New Years Eve, we had the requisite boiled lobster dinner as we always do. Not sure if JJ liked it. But he did eat it. He said he liked it. But he didn't emit the usual "hao chi, hao chi, hao chi" or "yummy yummy yummy" followed by a spontaneous "um um um". This is what he does when he brushes his teeth with bubble gum flavored toothpaste or drinks bubble gum flavored medicine. Yup. Every night before bed ... "Hao chi hao chi hao chi" (delicious delicious delicious) with a toothbrush in his mouth. Anyway, once he understands how expensive lobster can be, he will be enthralled with it, I'm sure. :o)

The same day that Amanda arrived, we went by the agency to deliver a donation for their good work to help the orphanages in China. The Agency director talked to JJ a lot. I had tried to tell him before we went who Auntie Lillian was. It took about 30 minutes and I am not sure it was adequate enough for the message to stick because of my limited Chinese.

I told him that Auntie Lillian was important. She did very good work. And she told Mama and Baba that he was in China. She showed us his picture and said do we want to get him from China and we said yes. And then Aunt Lillian helped us go to China on the fei ji (flying chicken aka airplane) to go to him and then come back to America, JJ, Mama and Baba all together with all the Mama and Baba's and Mei Mei's he saw. This took about 30 minutes. Searching for words I knew, putting it together so he understood. And in the end his eyes lit up, and he recounted it back to me to show he understood.

Aunt Lillian explained to him what the donation was. And did he want to help his friends in his orphanage (he did) and what should she buy the orphanage to help? His answer? Winter coats. Not the latest toys but winter coats.

He seems so much older than his 8 1/2 years sometimes. And sometime when I look at him, I can see flickers of what I think is required to gain "wisdom" in one's life. It will be interesting to see what unfolds. For me, it is less about providing a good home and raising a child. It is more about raising a self-less being who can know empathy and compassion, who can give back to the world, in a karmic and universal way. To make the world a little bit better for future generations and for the sake of our humanity, through the "power or one." And to make sure that the strength of his character along with his sense of humor can help him find the right path to his destiny.

On Monday, Jan 4th, JJ went in for his first procedure. It was day surgery to overlook something that China either purposely overlooked or didn't catch. He was pretty good through the no food time zone, the waiting, the prep, the waiting, the operation, the recovery, etc. We again had an interpreter but she was more instructional than comforting since he seemed to be ok. As ok as one can be when nervous about an operation.

We met him in recovery. And the first thing he saw when he opened his eyes were Mama and Baba. Such a tiny little thing. We had been warned that he would be noises from the anesthesia and most kids get sick. JJ? He stuck it through. He turned green and gray, alternating with a dull, pale flesh tone. He breathed through an oxygen mask when he needed to. Drank tiny bits of water and managed his nausea. I will say it was quite impressive. He puts most of us to shame. I think it also helps that he seems to have a higher pain threshold just like Baba. We knew he was turning the corner when the green started disappearing from the gray pall.

We were also warned that he would not want to eat, that he would get car sick on the way home, not to start solid food for two days.

Ok. JJ missed that bulletin. Seriously. Car ride was a piece o' cake. He wanted solid food almost immediately so we started him with a banana and some rice concoction I made up. Then it was onto noodles and noodle soup. And he never got sick once.

He recovered on the couch during the day and we put him to bed upstairs as always. The first few days, walking was a mess! Forget the stairs!! At one point Mama carried him up the stairs and put him in bed. And boy was he impressed!! Baba just laughed. And I told JJ "Mama is not only smart, she is very very strong." It's important that he knows women are not weaklings. And it is a good start to him realizing that Mama is not going to tolerate him bringing home some simpy, lame, life-sucking, weakling of a girl in the future. Ahem.

JJ is such a funny kid. He always had his happy face on. Even when in pain and the medication wore off. He would start laughing, and then cover his mouth to suppress it because it made him hurt. And then I would look at him and laugh and he'd laugh harder. Then he point to me to stop and keep laughing until I left the room. 5 minutes later, I'd poke my head in and the same thing would happen.

He also learned that when he cried a little because of the pain, something which he can't help, Mama's heart opened and I would hug him and kiss his face and tell him "I know I know." And boy does he love those kisses!

By Thursday, JJ was able to walk from the living room to the bathroom unassisted. It was painfully slow but it was a huge success. Ms Chen the Nanny started coming from Tuesday and JJ did some studying while lying on the couch.

Then Thursday afternoon, I leave for a 2-week business trip to India. Which will lead us to yet another post called "First Mama's Out of Country Business Trip" which I am sure will be short since I am not there, while I am here, to capture all the moments that I cannot observe since I am not there. Got that? You have to read it slowly.

Ok. That's it for now.

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