So, Lucy and I have a little game we have been playing where we pretend to call someone on the telephone. Usually I am supposed to place the call… ring, ring, ring… and say hello to the recipient on the other end of the line. Then I pass the phone to her and she says hello and passes it back and then proceeds to tell me what else I should tell them. I think I am learning all kinds of interesting things by being part of these phone calls that I may not otherwise be privy to! Recently, we started out calling Hanna, Spencer, Becca, Baba… then we moved on to calling people in China. We called Baoji Mama and Baba (her foster parents in Baoji) and some other familiar names of her friends. Then things started to get interesting and she started asking me to call other friends from China with names I was not yet familiar with… some of them were younger children, some older, some had been adopted. It is amazing to me how well we can communicate in our combination of Chinese and English after only 3 months and how quickly more and more of the balance of our communication continues to lean toward English. Sometimes we talk around ideas or use a translator app on my phone like Google Translate or Pleco to help us get over a hurdle. On this particular day, as we continued to make calls, I used the English word “adopted” and she stopped and asked what I meant. “Remember that Baba Mama came to China to find Lucy? Remember that we signed papers together? Remember the blue thumbprints and your hand print that we put on the papers?”
Nods and agreement from Lucy to all of this. “Lucy, do you understand? Now I am your mama. No more new mamas.” Yes, she nodded and asked to tell me something in Chinese using the translator app. I found it on my phone and we both patiently waited for the little ding that indicates she should start talking. Then I held the phone and waited for the English word to appear…
Back in China, in the world that Lucy knew, all the female caregivers were called “mama” and all the male caregivers “baba.” These caregivers have come and gone in Lucy’s life and have not been “forever and always.” When I caught my breath, I couldn’t help but be amazed and be so blessed. As I type tonight, I am thinking of how easy it is for things to be lost in translation even among speakers of a common language and
of the other game called “telephone” that demonstrates this so well!
I am so grateful that this truth is taking hold in Lucy.
May she truly feel it in the depth of her heart.
She has a family forever and always.