I very much needed to get out and about yesterday to take my mind off a "pending package" due to arrive at our adoption agency's offices. For a lunch break, we stopped at the (Very UPscale) Costco cafe. I know, you're all jealous of the decadent life we lead. Anyhoo.... Li'l Empress and I shared a long picnic table with a Chinese mother and her sweet 6 year old daughter (who looked REMARKABLY like my Li'l Empress. It was uncanny, really!). With a five-year old as extroverted as Li'l Empress, there's no chance for an intimate, quiet lunch in a wide-open picnic table corral cafe like that. So as moms do, once the girls broke the ice, we chatted about age, size, etc. It became quickly apparent that she was gently and politely trying to get an idea of our story. Finally, I cut the sweet gal some slack and opened the door with a "when we brought her home from China" kind of comment. It was all she needed to jump right in and ask about adoption. It was a pleasant conversation and I regret that we both were so occupied with watching over our respective daughters that we neglected to get each other's names and phone numbers. But what happened next was one of those brief moments that I just had to capture while I remembered it.
After the pair left our table, Li'l Empress looked at me and said, "Mommy, that little girl looked a lot like I do." Ooooh, I could tell this was gonna be a good one. She looked so pensive when she said it.
"Yes, Li'l Empress, she does. Do you know why she looks so much like you?"
"Noooo...." she looked at me with puzzlement.
"Well, you look so similar because they are Chinese."
"HEY! I am from Chinese, too!" Ummmm, yeah, we're working on that. I'm loathe to correct her often, as it's so stinkin' cute....
"Yes, Li'l E, you are from China and so is that Mommy and her daughter," I purposely separated them as Mommy and daughter to probe a little....
"Like you, Mommy? You are from Chinese, too?" she asked with cutely furrowed brow.
"Well, no, I'm not Chinese. Do I look like that Mommy? Do I look like you?" I poked a little bit more.
"YES!" She grinned mischievously and tilted her little chin up at me, daring me to elaborate. So I did.
"Well, let's see. What color hair did that Chinese mommy and her Chinese daughter have?"
"Mmmmm, black. Like mine. See? But mine is really longer, like Shayne's. Right, Mommy?"
"Yes, their hair was black. Like yours. What color hair do I have, Li'l Empress?"
"You have golden hair. It's short and pokey. And golden." She waved her hands all around her head to indicated said pokey-ness. Seriously? Short and pokey? I didn't ask for a style consultation. Harumph.
"Yup. And what color eyes did that mommy and that daughter have? What color does your Momma have?"
"Mmmmmm, brown. Like me. And you have green." As she pointed to my eyes, she just about bounced off her seat, much to the amusement of the older Indian couple sitting behind her. I think they were listening in!
"Yup. And Li'l Empress, what color skin do you have? What color do I have?"
"I have brown. You have white. Well, pink. Umm, white. Pink. White?" (Yeah, umm, I'm kinda confused about that too, my dear daughter!)
"What color did that Mommy and her daughter have?"
"They have brown, too," she sighed. She was getting bored, I knew I had to wrap this up quickly and lead her to the point.
"That mommy and her daughter look a lot like you, Li'l Empress, because they are Chinese. Remember the momma said she lived in China for a long time when she was little? She was born in China, and so were you. Remember the name of the town where you were born in China?"
"YES! I was borned in Baoji! And Mei Mei is borned in Beijing!" (We had discussed "home towns" earlier with the mother and her daughter, so the towns were fresh in her mind. I promise, she's not ordinarily that "on the ball" with those details!)
"So, that's a big part of the reason that you look a lot like that Chinese mommy and her daughter. You were born in China. You are Chinese too."
"OH! Thanks, Mommy. Can I have some french fries? Some different drink?" And she was done. Just like that.
For which I am ridiculously grateful. I don't know what I would have done if she'd thought deeper and probed more about the birds and the bees of Chinese mommies having Chinese daughters and Pink mommies having Chinese daughters. Costco's cafe is just NOT upscale and intimate enough for THAT talk.
But it didn't stop there.... Nooooo, she had one more observation up her sleeve. One kicker of an observation that burst out of her at the check-out counter. Apparently she'd been thinking still about the conversation at our table. As the lovely Hispanic clerk was checking us out and chatting with me about holiday plans and my cute little shopping helper, Li'l Empress tugged on my coat.
In a really loud voice, she asked me, "Mommy, WHY are there SO! MANY! Spanish and Chinese mommies and kids here today?"
With her hands flailing and the dramatics in her query, you'd think the girl was straight-up Sicilian! (The expressive talking with her hands thing? Perfect argument for the nature v. nurture debate!)
The clerk and I just looked at each other and grinned. Gaped, really. This kid does NOT miss a trick. In addition to her astute observations of the faces around her, apparently, she is already attuned to the many accents she heard while we shopped. It was indeed another melting pot experience with my fellow shoppers at that hour of the day.
I just answered her simply, "Well, Li'l Empress, all kinds of mommies all over town need to shop for their families and this seems like a nice sunny day to do it. They must all have had the same idea as YOUR mommy did."
And then she was done. And again, I was grateful... The clerks on each side of our check-out line grinned at me and one of them said, "Wow. You've got some tough questions coming out of that little one, don't you?"
Heh. He has no idea. No idea at all.