Rory had a (mostly) glorious day, and we also had our first “adoption moment.” For Rory, it was special snack at school with a mommy visit (Rainbow meringues and rainbow fruit cups, an inspiration, because a) Rory doesn’t really like cupcakes and b) the school expressed some anti-cupcake thoughts, proposing “healthy cupcakes” or maybe “special cheese and crackers.” Neither of those would have worked for Rory, who has had rainbows on her mind ever since Wyatt’s birthday last March, when rainbow cupcakes (which are way more trouble than they’re worth) were served.
Then there was a ride in Mimi’s car (Mimi is a friend, and I don’t really know why her car is so desirable, but I can guarantee that it is so), playtime on the green, then home for cupcakes (thank’s, Lou’s–I have a whole ‘nother cake to bake for a party Saturday and didn’t want to bake anything else today!) and PRESENTS. Then dinner out. All day Rory kept demanding “Where my Happy Birthday?” which I think meant meringue, cupcake and gifts depending on the context. Now it’s “When my happy birthday?” which I believe means party. Saturday ! Saturday!
A small, party related gripe: why do people not rsvp, especially if they are people you don’t know? Rory actually requested two little girls from her class, not family friends, by name and without prompting, a first for her, and I know she’s counting on them. But I have no idea if either is coming.
On, then, to our “adoption moment” of the day. All of those adoption-related questions and comments people often mention–insensitive stuff like “is she yours?” or whatever–they mostly haven’t come up for us, or they’ve rolled off our backs. such that I didn’t actually notice. (Although I do notice people come up to us a LOT more often to tell us we have a “lovely family” now, but hey, I’ll take that.) And you know I don’t think Rory needs any particular special treatment at this point. In fact, quite the opposite. We’ve reached a point where what Rory really needs is the most matter-of-fact life possible, one in which she can stay, for several years, absolutely secure that she is exactly where she needs to be and where she will stay. She needs an occasional special indulgence, just like anyone else (tonight, when the restaurant gave us six chocolate mints, I gave her hers, mine AND Rob’s, and you would have thought I had given her the moon and the stars). But not special treatment.
But still, let us acknowledge and accept a coupe of obvious differences here, people.
The birthday ritual of Montessori (I believe it’s universal) goes as follows: a candle is lit. The children sit in a circle. The birthday child, holding a globe, walks around the circle (with the candle in the middle) once for each year of her life while a sentence is said describing each year. So far, so good. At our Montessori, if a parent is there (I admit to not always being that parent), the parent describes the year–as in, when Lily was born, she lived with Mommy and Daddy and Sam in New Hampshire; when Lily was one, she bit Sam’s nose, when Lily was two, Wyatt was born, etc. Simple stuff. But I think we were the first birthday of the year, and the new Montessori teacher must have done the sentences herself. Now, when I haven’t been able to be there, I’ve written the sentences and given them to the teacher, but I didn’t write anything today. I figured I could handle it. But the new teacher got up, and followed Rory around the circle, and began what I imagine is the same speech she’s given for every kid for years:
“When Rory was born, she was very tiny, and her mommy snuggled her up in a blanket and kept her warm, and took care of her…”
Huh? I didn’t know what to do. Rory looked dubious, and a little frantic, and there was a muttering and stirring among the older kids, who were there last year, and many of whom, I know, have had plenty of questions about precisely where Rory came from and where we got her and how for their parents. Dude, they seemed to be saying but THAT’S her mommy, right there, and she DID NOT. The teacher went on with a perfectly acceptable line about Rory at one learning to walk and say a few words, but her voice trailed off a bit. I suspect the light had dawned, and Rory did not look happy. I’d hesitated, but I leapt in.
“And when Rory was two,” I practically shouted, “she lived in CHINA!” There was much relief among the crowd, and Rory’s shoulders came down out of her ears. The teacher gave me a nod, which you could variously interpret as “yeah, you dope, why weren’t you doing all the talking in the first place,” don’t you know what you’re doing? or perhaps “Thank you…” And I went on as I’d planned, Rory lived with all her friends and her China family, and then Mommy and Daddy and Sam and Lily and Wyatt came to get her, and so on into the usual, very important, ritual schtick.
I don’t know what was going on there. I would imagine the poor teacher didn’t even think about it until she said it, or very possibly was only talking because I didn’t start quickly enough, or maybe thought all of that was pretty innocuous, as it was–it just wasn’t Rory’s story, and Rory likes her story. Maybe she even thought Rory wouldn’t want it mentioned. Who knows. But it was our first real adoption moment, the first time I’ve felt like, whoa, I better get in there before this gets out of control and straighten things out.
And they were. Happy ending, happy birthday.