It has not escaped my attention that this space has really become Q's space. Visually, of course, it's mine, because I create it on a daily basis. But more and more of it has become about and because of the Q. Most of you don't seem to mind, which is fortunate! You have all been very patient and indulgent with my slow but sure descent into complete fixation on my daughter. I'm sure it's obvious that The Q is the great love of my life, and that her joy spills over through me into blogland. The Q has an energy and a joie de vivre that is magnetic, and I've seen her cast her spell on people from 2 to 70.
A couple of times I've been tagged with "memes" of various kinds, and I rarely do them since this blog is over-full with content to begin with. But I thought some of you would enjoy getting to know the Q a little better. So, for what it's worth, here is a collection of facts about the Q, from the profound to the ridiculous:
- The Q was born in Eastern China, and was found at three days of age, wrapped in a small pink quilt, on the steps of the local SWI (orphanage). She was almost a year old when we first met her, after many months of waiting. The first photos we saw of her were from about the age of 6 mos, and were a bit "mugshot-ish", but what stood out were a pair of the most enormous and arrestingly-exotic eyes we'd ever seen - eyes which appeared to take up her entire face. Even in China her eyes were considered remarkable, and were often commented upon while we were there. One of the first things my husband said when we received her photos from the adoption agency was "Do you think she'll grow into those eyes?"
- Later, I was able to obtain a copy of the paper in which her "finding ad" was placed (it's the law in China that children found without parents must have their picture posted in the paper for a certain amount of time before they are officially declared orphaned and adoptable). That tiny picture of a three-day-old Q is the earliest picture that we have of her. It's only about the size of a postage stamp, so you can't see much detail, but those huge eyes, so startled and alarmed in that tiny newborn face, are plain to see. I ache for her three-day-old self when I see that picture - swaddled tightly in a blanket to keep her still, neck craned to the left in a defensive and self-preservative gesture, still not sure what fate had befallen her...and, those bottomless eyes.
I would come to call them her Mata Hari eyes, because she uses them to such devious and knowing effect that they stop people in their tracks everywhere we go. I once saw a grown man trip over a park bench when Q suddenly turned her gaze on him, and I'm ashamed to tell you how many balloons, lollipops, cupcakes, toys and other treats they have earned her from total strangers.
- The Q likes "purple" icecream the best. Apparently any variation of purple will do. Though today she picked "fluffernutter" with rainbow sprinkles, a departure.
- The Q has an "American" name, but her Chinese name - given to her by the orphanage - is also a part of her legal name. We wanted her to have a choice later in life. Though we love the American name that we chose for her, though she knows it and though it suits her, we have never managed to switch over from her Chinese "milk name", hence the "Q" which is her initial.
- The Q was a late decision for both my husband and myself, and we are constantly amazed and humbled by how close we came to never having a child. Neither my husband nor I ever intended to nor had the desire to have children, and I really owe it to him for first planting the idea in my head, about two years after we first met. Any number of circumstances stood against the likelihood of our ever meeting the Q, and we thank our lucky stars every day. I still wake with a sense of wide-eyed wonder that I have this amazing human being in my life. A thrill goes through me the first time I see her shining, expectant little face each morning, cheeks stretched and rosy with the grin she has prepared in expectation of my arrival. Sometimes I'm so wildly in love with her that it actually makes me giddy - which is to say that my head actually spins momentarily when a fresh wave of love for her overcomes me.
- The Q is a tomboy who never met a ball sport she didn't like. Her most recent acquisition is baseball (after basketball and soccer). I have never watched team sports, nor does my husband, so I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that this was hardwired in her. This is "nature" as opposed to "nurture". I have never had even the faintest desire to go see a baseball game in the stadium, but this summer we will do just that...and I have to admit, knowing how beside-herself the Q will be, I am actually quite excited!
- The Q was born with a severe unilateral cleft lip and palate. This is a condition (among a few other medical needs) that we specifically chose as options we were open to. When we first started the adoption process, we didn't even know about the "special needs" program, but as soon as we heard about it we switched into it. We wanted to adopt a child who would have had less of a chance of finding a loving home and the necessary medical care. Q has had two major surgeries since coming home a year and a half ago. She will have many more in her young life, but she is brave and dauntless, and is doing beautifully.
- The Q's favorite phrase this week is "Really?? Oh MAN!"
- The Q doesn't like dolls.
- The Q likes to stick a pencil behind her ear, lean casually in a doorway, and cross her legs at the ankle, just like Daddy. She also likes to "shave" next to Daddy in the bathroom, with her own play shaving set. Needless to say, she has a bit of daddy worship going on.
- The Q does like belts, balloons, balls, and bunnies. I'm not sure if it's the "b" words that are attracting her, or if it's just an odd coincidence. She also loves trucks and taxicabs, which she learned to hail in NYC (the cabs, not the trucks). She becomes indignant when Denver cabs (which do not stop if you flag them on the street - you have to order them) fail to notice her signals.
- Children born with cleft generally have a difficult road in learning to pronounce many sounds, so speech therapy is an integral part of their early years. Many need multiple surgeries to adjust and re-adjust the muscles in their soft palate to the point where they can pronounce all the necessary sounds properly. Q is in speech therapy once and sometimes twice a week. She speaks a combination of ASL (sign language), elaborate charades, partially-spoken words, and her own invented words. Cognitively and developmentally, she is far above average according to her therapists. I love her invented words and will be sorry to hear them go as she becomes more comfortable with spoken language.
- Q is very tall for her age - around the 90th percentile on the US charts - which means she is taller than some four-year-olds at only two and a half.
- Q is extremely social and loves to meet new people. She is very direct with people and is generally the one to initiate interaction with anyone new. She is also extremely athletic and has boundless energy. She loves classes, so we have her in several, including gymnastics, music, and swimming. She is eager to start karate, and I personally am very much looking forward to her aging into rock climbing classes, because she's a natural at the climbing wall, and is totally fearless.
- Q is a good traveler and loves to experience new places. The one thing we have yet to do with her is a camping trip, and I can't wait to take her into the desert! She's going to love it.
- Oh, and one last thing...many have wondered about the name of this blog and its significance. I think that some French-speakers have assumed that I don't know the meaning of the words. In fact, I do, and I chose it deliberately, odd as that may seem. In a very early post, when I first started the blog, I explained the origins of the title. It was actually culled from a headline that I particularly liked in a French design magazine. I found it significant for a number of reasons. For one thing, I wanted to distinguish this blog from the adoption blog that I ran during our wait to adopt the Q. Many adoption blogs are overly sugary and adorned with ladybugs, flowers, and bright prints. Our story was different, and rather than "sugary", I liked the idea of "salty". Also, I was once diagnosed by a doctor as needing more salt in my diet (a rare diagnosis, I believe) which struck me as funny. And, I have a French relative who was the owner of a salt farm in the south of France. So at the time, the phrase had many associations which seemed significant to me without being too obvious. Since then it has gained another level of meaning. My daughter from the start was never a big fan of sweets. Rather than craving sugar, she has always craved salt, and will actually tip over salt shakers in order to dispense salt crystals into her palm. She will eat anything dipped in sea salt, and will lap up salt crystals until we stop her (which we inevitably feel compelled to do). So Une Envie de Sel began with a private significance in my world, and came full circle to have a private significance in the Q's world.
hat: Petit Nord
shirt: Gap kids
jeans: L'atelier de Marie et Rose-Alice
pool sandals: Target
balloon: Little Man icecream