His file said he was quiet, shy.
That he hated loud noises, startled easily and didn’t enjoy rough play of any kind.
That he was an introvert who preferred to blend into the background and not attract the attention of others.
That he didn’t like to stand out.
And then he walked into this family, and apparently his entire history went out the window.
In his short nearly three days in our family, Long Long, as we’ve been calling him (a combination of the first name we’ll be using for him and the nickname his foster mother used), has been anything BUT quiet, shy and introverted.
Since we returned to the hotel room on Day 1 and three older Ge Ge cracked his shy shell wide open, this tiny boy (the 3Ts we brought are totally falling off his little hips) has been an equally loud, raucous, boisterous and enthusiastic member of this team of rough-housing boys who all don’t know how to use an inside voice.
This guy has squealed in excitement as his brothers have built Lego castles and puzzle maps with him, and he’s shouted commands at this team of boys who are all so smitten that they have allowed a 3-year-old to direct their steps.
When Super-Spouse or I have carried this tiny commander in the Ergo (the easiest way to transport this sweet guy here, since he doesn’t have the ability to walk on his own), Superhero 4 has giggled in delight and then spun himself to the right and the left calling out at the top of his lungs for the boys he just revels in calling brothers.
Although he hasn’t learned the boys’ individual names, he points to each boy and says, “Ge Ge, Ge Ge, Ge Ge” (Chinese for big brother). He yells, “Ge Ge,” then points for them to color. “Ge Ge,” then jumps on top of their backs to initiate the wrestling that he has already decided he absolutely loves. “Ge Ge,” then dumps out the entire bag of Legos, just so he can clean them up (and Mama said “HALLELUJAH” for our first boy who just LOVES to put away!). And when Ge Ge are too far from his side, he yells for them to return to him … or to see the adorable new thing he might be doing.
(The person who wrote in his file that he doesn’t enjoy being the center of attention was either blind or a straight-up liar. This guy is THRIVING in his temporary role as the star.)
Yesterday, our team rented bicycles and biked about 10 miles around the East Lake Greenway, this unbelievably beautiful paved bicycle path that runs along the famous East Lake (more on our Wuhan City adventures tomorrow). When brothers biked too far ahead of the bike where he was sitting with Ba Ba, Superhero 4 hollered at the top of his lungs for them to return. And like little smitten puppies, they circled around and did.
Earlier this week, Superhero 2 started singing in the car. When Superhero 4 discovered this, he joined in with the sweetest little voice and some clapping to his “la la las.” That then became their thing, and every time we now enter the minivan our agency uses to transport us around the city, this sweet boy looks to Superhero 2 and starts singing and clapping and waiting for him to join in. His singing voice is so little and PRECIOUS, and hearing him hum and chant pretty much melts our whole team’s hearts.
I’m pretty sure this former big foster brother ADORES being a Di Di (little brother), and these boys, who I thank God DAILY that we brought with us to China, already adore him and fight over who gets to read to, sit next to or sleep with him in bed at night.
He 100 percent already looks, acts and EATS like (we have found just one food this totally adventurous, huge-appetited eater won’t just demolish at the dinner table) one of the team.
I confess, this sweet-looking boy DID hack a lugey in the car and spit it directly into two brothers’ eyes, which may or may not have reduced the number of times that they continued fighting for the position next to him in the car. And we have dealt with the normal spitting and hitting that we confronted when we brought home Superman three years ago. And maybe one totally not mal-intentioned bite that brought Superhero 2 to tears.
But since Monday afternoon, we haven’t experienced any more major meltdowns. Superhero 4 hasn’t broken down again in grief or despair. And when Ba Ba, who he now CALLS Ba Ba (Chinese word for daddy) with a twinkle in his eye, put him in the Ergo backpack style instead of on his chest (something he hates as much as brushing his teeth), this sweet boy who has been a part of our family for only three short days starting crying out for Mama … and when I looked around to see who he was calling for, realized his arms were outstretched to ME.
And I melted on the floor right there.
Although this little brother called Ge Ge by their names Day 1 and Ba Ba by his name Day 2, I braced myself for months of waiting before this sweet boy who was so attached to his foster mama would be emotionally prepared to use that special title for me.
And then he did.
And then he used it again.
And then, when I told him, “Wo ai ni” (Chinese for “I love you”), he said it back … with “Mama” on the end.
I can’t even.
We know there are bumps and bruises (and probably more hack-a-lugeys) in the future, and we know there are challenging roads ahead, but today, for now, we are just enjoying this sweet, sweet spot where this boy we all madly love seems to accept us and call us by name.
Only by the grace of God.