Mian, mian! (Noodle, noodle!)

Even when you aren’t aware, babies and toddlers are constantly taking in all the information around them, from your words (in whatever language) to your facial expressions to your actions. These tiny humans really are little sponges. That’s why as their parents, it is our job to try to do as much as possible to teach them, whether it’s with language or through our actions. They will do as we do, not do as we say, as every parent so wisely knows. Today, we all had the day off as it was President’s Day, and we went out for ramen in the neighborhood and went to a playground afterwards with Kaia. At the ramen shop, as Kaia was getting reunited with her beloved noodles once again, I asked her what these were while Chris started swinging them in the air from his chopsticks. Instead of responding in English with noodles, she let out a little giggle and grinned, exclaiming, “Mian! Mian!” She was saying noodles in Chinese. My heart almost burst.

Even when I don’t think she’s paying attention or listening to me, she actually is. And it’s in these moments when it’s evident. It reminded me of the time when I was patting her dry after a bath on the bathroom floor while she wiggled around on top of her towel, and out of nowhere, she started singing the “Lao Shu Ai Da Mi / Mouse Love Big Rice” Mandarin song chorus that I realized she was always listening when I was singing to her. She sang it with the right tune and almost all the right words. She was really paying attention and taking it all in.

She also has her very affectionate moments after refusing hugs and kisses when I ask for them, whether in English or Chinese. While I was stir frying sugar snap peas with king oyster mushrooms this late afternoon, she came over and insisted that I hold her up because she wanted to see the stove action. I held her up to see, and she said she wanted some snap peas and mushrooms. When I tried to put her down to scoop out the stir-fry from the pan, she insisted I hold and hug her as she nestled her face into my neck. I couldn’t help but think it was so sweet, so I stopped what I was doing and just sat with her on the kitchen floor, hugging her close. These are the moments, I thought. I have to embrace them while I can because one day, they will be no more, as she will be all grown up and running away from me.

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