Monday, December 10, 2007

We go for a walk

On Sunday, I decided that I wanted to spend some time with Maia by myself and to give Kristina a break. I had been working on a case on my computer, and watching football, and thinking that I was wasting time that I could be spending with her. So she and I went out together at around 2 or so.

Her thought was to go to Manoa Park.

"But there isn't anybody there," I said.

"But they have lots of playgrounds," she said. That's true. "Manoa Park" is really Manoa Elementary School, and there are a lot of monkey bars and climbing structures on the campus.

"Daddy," she said, "can we go to the candy store?"

There's a candy store at the bottom of our hill. I knew that resistance was futile, and I wasn't sure where we were going anyhow, so I took her there.

She bought two ropey fruit things and some sour drops. I got her a Twix because I figured she'd like the chocolate, caramel and cookie combination. I was right.

"Daddy," she said, "'ets go for a walk." She tends to drop initial "ls".

"Are you sure you want to go for a walk here?" I asked. She insisted, and so off we went, down the hill and towards the overpass over the freeway. There's a park at the other end of the overpass.

Maia has always loved speed and thrills. She will watch NASCAR on television.

"Look how fast they're going!" she kept saying. "Look how fast they're going!"

Looking down on the cars, whipping by below, they did seem to be going awfully fast.

"Don't you want to go, Maia?" I finally asked. We had watched for at least ten minutes, and for some reason, I was beginning to get apprehensive about being up on the overpass--as though we might fall off or something. I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and was a little dizzy.

"No, I want to watch," she said. "This is my choice."

I had never heard her use a construction like that before. We stayed until she was ready to move on, my misgivings notwithstanding.

We walked to the park then.

She played on the monkey bars, and the slide, and then she wanted to climb up on my belly and for us to go down the slide together.

Today, I had a feeling like I had had on that overpass. I have been participating in an online discussion about international adoption. I have always felt a little guilty about having removed Maia from Kazakshtan and its language and culture, because I have always thought that she will want to return there someday and look up her birth parents and her two brothers. The difference in language and culture will pose obstacles for her. And I had said so in the online discussion.

But today, I wondered what it would have been like for her if she had grown up in orphanages in Shymkent, and then had been turned onto the streets when she reached 18, knowing that there was a family in that city that she had come from, but that she wasn't to approach it--that she had no rights in it. And then that queasy feeling came over me again. A kind of unwelcome apprehension of how fragile life is, of how little separates us from those speeding cars below or being alone and unknown.

Maia wanted to draw after dinner tonight, and these are the pictures we drew. She drew the one on the left--that's Maia in the picture, pretending to be a "bugeee" (a "lady bugee"), and there's a pokemon with her, too. I drew Maia on her bike, and she added a picture of me to the composition--a "Happy Face Daddy," she said, and she gave me a cup of coffee.

John, Monday, December 10, 2007


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