“When is Daddy coming?”

It’s been almost a week and a half since Chris left for Australia. To keep in touch with us and to get some contact with Kaia, he’s been calling on FaceTime most nights. She always gets excited, but at the same time, she gets very upset when it’s time to hang up. The other night, she also got to interact with Chris’s mom, and she had a melt down afterwards. That night, she didn’t fall asleep until past 9:30. That was brutal.

This morning when she was eating breakfast, she asked, “When is Daddy coming?” I wondered if she meant, “coming back,” but she did mean to say that she wants Daddy to come. So it made me think about the phrase her former nanny used to always say, and what I also hear the daycare teachers say, “Mommy/Daddy always comes back.” Once upon a time as a baby, she did not understand that when an object gets covered that it’s actually still there, and that you just need to lift the cover or blanket to see it again. As young babies, they also don’t understand that when mommy or daddy leave the room that they are not gone forever, that they will, in fact, come back. And then as she got a little older, “peek-a-boo” becomes exciting because there’s the realization (and developmental milestone) that people/objects that you cannot see, CAN actually still be there. She still loves peekaboo, and I’ll be honest: I love playing it with her, especially when I’m in one room and she’s in another further away.

So it’s hard to confirm, but maybe she does understand when I tell her that Daddy “went to Australia to see Suma, Topa, and Shushu, and that he will be back soon.” First, she would say, “I want to see Suma, Topa, and Shushu,” too! Then she would whine, “I want Da-TEE!”

In just a day, she can change dramatically. She can do new things with her feet and hands. She can jump higher or do a more complex physical move. She can also say more complex sentences and new words and actually understand what they mean – in English and Chinese. Just today, she said a full Chinese sentence that I say a lot, but before, I wasn’t ever 100 percent certain she understood. But she said it in the totally correct context. I was overjoyed. Chris realizes this as he’s away and hears her say new things over FaceTime. I’m lucky to be able to work full time, have a flexible schedule, and witness as many of her moments as possible in her development.

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