Today is Y.'s 10th birthday. She has been eagerly anticipating it for weeks now, and knows exactly what she wants and how she wants to celebrate. What a change from a year ago when she had been home just a month and life was still so overwhelming and confusing. We will be celebrating tomorrow night, because J. teaches his night class on Tuesdays, and Y. decided that she wanted to do the day after. She did have her birthday donuts this morning, though.
Last year, we asked through a friend acting as interpreter, what Y. missed most in regards to food, and then she also helped us find that for Y. This year, no interpreter needed. She wants chicken and jiaozi (dumplings), and a fancy cake like H. had for her birthday. That's pretty easy, as it was a store bought and decorated cake.
Last year, I guessed at what Y. would like to receive as birthday presents, and opening the gifts was exciting, but she really didn't do much with the gifts afterwards. It has just been in the past month or so that I have seen her get her gifts from last year out and play with them. I think I mentioned before that she told me, "You gave me these presents for my birthday last year, but I don't know why." If this one statement doesn't sum up the confusion children can experience due to the transition of family, language, and culture, I don't know what does. This year, she knows exactly what items she would like to receive for her birthday, and is greatly anticipating opening her presents.
Last year, Y. still had little stamina, lost her balance and fell a lot (including down the stairs a few time... scary), and needed to use a walker to navigate distances longer across the rooms at home. This year, she can walk blocks and blocks without walker or crutches, jumps on the trampoline, and can do five sit-ups. For a child with no core muscle strength at all a year ago, this is pretty darn good.
Last year we were still in the very early stages of getting to know one another. Things were headed in a positive direction, but we were still all very much in the lingering house guest phase of adopting a child. This year, we all feel much more comfortable. Y. feels like our daughter and I'm pretty sure to Y., we feel like her parents. She is opening up about things in her past, she accepts comfort, she laughs, and she can pitch the occasional fit as well. We are all in a very good place together these days.
Y. is a joy. She is bright and caring and funny. She loves playing with her brothers and sisters and joins right in with their pretend games without any hesitation. She is uncannily like me, especially with her need to be right and her like to win tendencies. It's actually amazing we don't clash more than we do. J. did mention that adolescence could be a challenge, though. The scarier thought is that she will be just one of a few people who could have challenging adolescences, though. I'm not going to ask for trouble at this point in life.
Happy Birthday, Y.! I love you so very much. You add much joy and love to our lives.
And to think we could have missed this.