Well, Christmas is coming ... I thought I would take this opportunity to update you all on where we are with Lin, and where I thought we'd be by this time.
November 17th marked 5 months since Lin became an American citizen. In those first weeks home I set my sites on Christmas, as the time when we would have met certain milestones. For example, I thought by Christmas maybe Lin would have a friend her own age. I thought by Christmas she would be fairly fluent in English, at least in her ability to understand every day conversation. I thought by Christmas our new routine as a family of 4 would be running smoothly.
I was kinda right...
First of all, Lin's English. It's great. Truly great. I definitely feel like she understands most of what I'm saying, and she communicates with us almost exclusively in English. Now, with that said, I would describe our communication as being very much like having a young toddler in the house. Lin speaks in words and phrases. She will say a full sentence occasionally, but it is extremely rare that she says anything really grammatically correct. I understand her when she talks because I'm used to the words she uses and the pattern of her speech, and that goes for Lin as well -- she understand us, but may not know what someone else is saying. When we are around other people I still feel it necessary to be Lin's translator. I guess, without knowing what to expect ahead-of-time, I'd say the communication was never as difficult as I'd feared. It is often inconvenient, but never a total roadblock that we can't get around.
I was wrong in hoping that Lin would have a friend by now. She just can't communicate with other kids yet. I know a lot of that has to do with her age. If she were a couple years younger and in elementary school, she would play with other kids at recess. As a 13-year-old in middle school, there is never an opportunity for playtime. She routinely sees a couple girls (Sophie and Anna -- I've mentioned them before) but that's because I'm making the effort, not because Lin is expressing any real interest in interacting with them. But we're at a point now where Lin at least will talk about them on occasion. For example, last week Anna was not at our tennis lesson because of an orthodontist appointment, so yesterday when I said "maybe Anna will be at tennis tomorrow," Lin said "Anna no teeth tomorrow?" It's such a little thing, but I was so happy that Lin remembered, first of all, who Anna is (it's sometimes a struggle for Lin to remember American names and faces), and secondly, why she had not been at tennis last week. This is a step forward.
As far as our routine as a family... I guess I've decided that maybe family life is never supposed to feel routine. Maybe family life is just meant to be chaotic. Right now we're struggling quite a bit with Ruby and her 3-year-old temper tantrums. She is just so often mad about something, and it usually involves Lin (why does Lin get to go outside? Why does Lin get to watch TV? Why is Lin on the couch?). And I feel so bad for Lin when Ruby starts up, because I just think, what must Lin be thinking right now as her kid sister is screaming her head off in the other room? I get it, it must be so hard for Ruby right now. To not only have a new sibling to deal with, but a new sibling that's older than her on top of it. The girl is just really out-of-sorts and I'm trying very hard to figure out how to deal with it. One thing I think might help is if Lin put some effort into playing with Ruby. It is still the case that the girls merely co-exist, but never really interact in a positive way. I'm wondering what would happen if Lin just got down on the floor and acted silly with Ruby. Maybe I'll suggest it today...
So that's where we are... I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! We're adding fried rice and stir-fried noodles to our Thanksgiving dinner this year -- I can't wait!
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