In the early morning dimness of our little vacation condo in Englewood, Florida, I had risen the earliest of the whole family. I’m sure it was 6:00am or so, and I was around 7 years old. I turned on Nickelodeon and found old black and white episodes of Flipper. I sat on the floor in front of the TV with the volume turned down, so as not to wake my brother on the pull out sofa, my parents in their master bedroom, or my grandparents in the other little bedroom. I must have had eyes locked on the TV as kids do, because I didn’t notice my Grandpa had woken up and come out fully clothed for the day. When he was right beside me I looked up and we may have exchanged hushed morning greetings, he might have said that he had something for me, but my memory on that part is fuzzy. What I do remember is that he poured a bottle that was full of pennies and other coins over top of my head and they glinted in the light of the TV screen like jewels as they fell and slid over my hair and rained into my lap and gathered around my criss-crossed legs. I remember laughing and that I was filled with delight and wonder, not just at the gift of money, but at the way it was given, with mischief and whimsy and joy, they were like pennies from heaven. I wasn’t consciously thinking this, but my 7-year-old heart knew it loved my Grandpa and that it was loved in return.
Our little son just turned 3 years old last week and has been home with us from China for just over 2 weeks. He has a sweet little voice that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Now and then he repeats these two words in a happy little rhythm and sometimes in a sing-song, “Mama, Baba, Mama, Baba, Mama, Baba.” It makes me want to laugh and cry. He is happy when he says or sings this. This is the first time he has had and known a mama and baba (mandarin for daddy).
I tell him I love him a hundred times a day in both mandarin and english and he is already replying in both languages as well. When he says the phrase in English it sounds like, “wood you.” Sometimes he says it spontaneously, like he is just thinking about it and decides to say it out loud to me in his little voice just while he is riding in the car seat or playing near me or sitting in my lap. This is the first time he has been a part of this verbal exchange of love with a mama and baba.
There are a thousand more little things that he does and says right now that I’m listing and recording that make me laugh and cry and sigh with delight and wonder and love. And yes, he is also a normal toddler who does normal toddler things like cry and test boundaries and tantrum and run away from us because it’s funny to be chased. And yes, there will be some hard days. But there were many hard days for all of us before we became a family, and now, this adoption of our son, this little family we have, is like a precious gift bestowed with a wink and smile, like being showered with pennies from heaven.
All photos taken by our dear friend, the uber talented Erin Martinez. Check her out on IG @erinjoyphoto.