Sera just amazes me on a daily basis. We usually get to school around 6:50-7:00 AM every morning. We go into the daycare and visit with the woman who works in Sera's room and her 2-year-old son until 7:10-7:15 when the students arrive with their children. Sera knows that I leave within 5 minutes of everyone else getting there.
This morning, one of the little girls came to me to get her coat off. As soon as I had the coat off, Sera walked up to me and said, "bye-bye." I told her she was right, it was time for me to go. Then I asked if I could have a kiss. She tilted her head up, kissed the air, and waved. I laughed and gave her a kiss and left. I pass by the department chair's office on my way out the door. I stopped and laughingly told her that Sera had kicked me out. She commented on how wonderful that was. She said that showed that Sera was secure and knew that she could trust me to come back. Whenever I leave Sera, I kiss her, tell her to have fun with her friends, and that I'll be back in the afternoon to pick her up.
This afternoon when I picked her up. I got my usual joyful greeting. After I picked her up and kissed her, I put her back down so I could sign out and get her coat. She had a different plan. We've been walking a lot lately and she's learning to hold my hand. It's usually me holding her wrist to make sure she doesn't take off into the parking lot or something. Today, she grabbed my hand and started walking towards the door. She was pulling me as she walked. She had never done that before and thought it was hysterical. She's becoming such a big girl.
She and Jim dropped me off at Target and headed out to buy his weekly supply at the comic book store. The couple who own the store had their son while we were in China, so we're always sharing stories. I bit the bullet at Target and bought a potty chair. They didn't have a big selection, so I just bought what they had. I figure I'll need one for each floor, but one will get us started.
We decided to stop at our favorite local Chinese restaurant for dinner. We have a gazillion Chinese restaurants here in the Midwest and most of them are awful. They have these awful buffets filled with pre-cooked and frozen Chinese-style foods. They're just gross. We have one near our house that's owned by a young Chinese couple. The husband does all the cooking along with two other men. They don't speak any English that I've ever heard. The wife runs the front. She waits on the tables and acts as cashier. Occasionally, they'll hire a local high school kid to wait tables, too. They have two young children. Their daughter just started school. Their son is a toddler. They sent him back to China about a year ago to live with family. He'll be there about another year and come home. This is not unusual, and they did the same with their daughter.
We used to stop at this place for lunch after our Mandarin class. She would practice with us and help correct our pronounciation. When we got a referral, we went to this restaurant to celebrate and share our picture. When we came home from China, this was one of the first restaurants we brought Sera to eat.
The last time we were there, we forgot Sera's sippy cup. It was waiting for us tonight. As soon as we were spotted, the cup was handed over to me.
We almost always order off the menu. I love their Szechuan Shrimp, and Sera loves their Mai Fun Noodles. We usually eat there when the place is empty as we'll often stop for dinner on the way home after work. Most people aren't eating dinner at 4:30 PM. Tonight, we showed up around the time most people eat. I'd never seen the place so busy before. Every table was full and people were lined up waiting for to-go orders. We had planned to split an entree, but Jim checked out the buffet and told me I might want to consider it. He knows how I feel about buffets. If he thought I'd like it, I'd give it a try.
It was fantastic. Every item I tried was freshly made, not the nasty pre-cooked frozen slop. The dumplings were good. The chicken and broccoli was delicious, and the fried shrimp were even good. I love shrimp so much that I'll even eat buffet fried shrimp. They're usually popcorn and the only flavor is the breading. Not these, I'd say they were 35-40s. They also had a big bowl of boiled shrimp available, and they weren't overboiled.
I fixed Sera a plate with noodles, mushrooms, melon, Mandarin oranges, and jello cubes. I gave her some of the chicken and carrots from my plate. She chowed. She was eating everything on her plate, when I picked up a fried shrimp and bit it off the tail.
When Sera wants something, she reaches towards it and says, "thank you." I've offered Sera shrimp every single time I've eaten it. It's one of my favorites, so of course I want her to love it, too. She's rejected it every time. Tonight, she reached for my shrimp saying thank you. I asked her if she wanted a bite, and she said yes. I let her bite off the end of a shrimp and she reached for more. I ended up cutting up four shrimp and putting them on her plate. She ate them all. Then she went for Jim's and ate four more. I went back to the buffet and got some more. She ate them, too. In fact, when we were leaving she reached back towards the table and took one last bite for the road.
I'm not a huge buffet fan, but I have to say, it sure makes eating out a lot easier with a toddler. We all get our food right away. We can pick and choose things she'll like and give her the variety she likes. We don't feed her just one thing at home, why would she like that at restaurant? Most kid meals have one item with french fries. She's not a huge french fry fan, so I usually get her steamed vegetables. That's hit or miss at best. Some places do a great job. Some places serve vegetable mush. Some serve them practically raw. And some serve them with no seasonings of any sort. Sera doesn't do bland.
As to be expected, showing up during a busy time meant we got lots of attention. A woman came up to me while I was getting our food and asked if she could ask me a question. I knew what was coming. She asked me if it was difficult to adopt a child like that. I'll admit that I was startled by her phrasing. My first instinct was too recoil and correct her. Then I looked at her. She had a friendly face and warm eyes. Her hair was badly in need of styling (but then so is mine) and her clothes looked worn. Her speech pattern and choice of words told me that she wasn't a highly educated woman. I realized that she meant no harm. I answered her question and the ones that followed. It turns out that she adopted her daughter 11 years ago. Her daughter is multi-racial. Her next words hurt when she said that back then no one wanted kids like that and she was glad to see more families with children "like that." Her word choices were hard to hear. I was so grateful that neither her daughter nor mine heard her, but I could also tell her heart was in the right place. We parted and I went back to my family. I know we'll have many encounters in the future, and it will always be hard.
If you are one of the two people left in the world who hasn't been here (FreeRice) yet? Well, don't say I didn't warn you. It's addictive!