Thursday, May 7, 2009

All About Anna


Three years ago today, Aaron and I were heading to the Beijing hospital on a bus to have our little Anna.
And she was little! Six and a half pounds.

Being little hasn't slowed Anna down at all. She crawled at six months. Walked at ten months. Can climb up on virtually anything in our house as long as she can get a toe-hold. (We're enrolling her in gymnastics immediately upon our arrival in the United States.)

Even now that she's three, she's still little. Since she dresses herself, I often find her walking around the house in Sophie's clothes. They weigh almost the same. I think Anna just has longer legs and arms. My sister fondly calls her our primordial dwarf.

This morning she held out her arms and looked down at herself, her face flushed with disappointment. "Mommy, I'm still not big! I'm still little!"

Now she's sitting next to me on the couch while I type this entry, sucking her thumb (I guess three-year-olds still do that) and holding onto the tag of my shirt with her other hand (Anna's unique weird habit) and begging me to write: "Lucy loves me," because Lucy is her best friend.
"Please, Mommy! Please, Mommy! Type 'Lucy loves me.'"

The other day, Gabe had his friend Jackson over and I sent them outside to run around. There's a big triangle-shaped planter below our bedroom window; it's a great place for the kids to go when they're getting too feisty for the house.

"I want to go too!" Anna cried, so I let her. Maybe against my better judgment.

I stood at the window and watched them all. The boys had their light sabers and were busy fighting. Anna was wandering around with an extra light saber, off in her own little world.

A man came up to her. He had a camera. He squatted down next to Anna, asking if he could take her picture. Anna reached into the planter and started throwing dirt and torn-up grass at him. The man eventually gave up and left.

Then Anna disappeared behind one of the corners of the planter and I couldn't see her.

"Gabe, where's Anna?" I called from the window.

"She's back here," Gabe said, pointing, and went back to his light saber duel.

A few moments later I saw Anna. She was standing, with no shoes on, with her dress pulled up around her waist -- and no underwear.

"Anna!" I hollered. "What're you doing?"

I heard her scrawny voice: "I went poo poo!"

Thankfully Aaron had just come home, so I grabbed a handful of tissues and clamored down the stairs and around the back to the triangle planter.

The boys were already congregating around the outdoor toilet, grinning. Anna was still standing there with her dress hiked up and her shoes off. Most of the poop looked like rabbit pellets, but there was one enormous turd, too.

I took a deep breath, wiped her bottom, and gathered up the poops as best I could in the tissues. It was probably a lot like cleaning up after your dog.

And that's how Anna lost her privilege of going outside to play with the big boys.

To understand the context completely, though, you have to realize that pooping outside works in China. Honestly, my foreign friends and I are the only ones who would care that my daughter just pooped on the sidewalk. Our Chinese friends wouldn't give it a second thought. Their kids pee and poop wherever they feel like it: at the foot of a playground slide, in the aisle of a crowded train, down the front steps of a shop. Hey, when the kid needs to go, they go!

This is an adjustment my now three year old is going to have to make when we move. A whole new world, with all new rules.

And, Grandma Nai Nai, if your garden experiences an unsurpassed amount of growth this summer while we're staying with you, we may be able to guess the reason why.

(Happy Birthday, my sweet, incorrigible Anna!)

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