Sometimes I think about Win Win, a genius two year old, still a baby really, but fluent in English as he had private at home tutors since birth, that I worked with for several hours a day, every day, for a good portion of my time in China. I remember how when I’d open the door he’d come bounding down the hall with his tiny feet yelling, “Ash-a, Ash-a, Ash-a!!!” He already knew the name of every item in the house and in every picture book I could get my hands on, so we worked on spelling and math, and spent a lot of time looking out the window and wondering when it would rain that day, talking about different countries and what grows there, singing songs, talking about who we love (“YOU,” he would say. “And Elmo.”), talking about honesty and kindness. Often he was the only one in the house who spoke English, and would translate for me to the nanny that I needed a glass of water or a towel to clean up a mess he made with the watercolor paints. We grew very close. On my last week with him, I got out our map puzzle, and after we put it together I tried to explain that I would get in a plane and fly back to where I come from, and wouldn’t be back for a very long time. But what was a very long time to him? He didn’t understand, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him we’d never see each other again.
But I still think about him sometimes. I imagine him growing up, as a lanky legged boy studying all hours of the day, as an ambitious teenager, as the young and rich business man he was being slowly molded into. I realized that last week that I genuinely loved him, that this must be what it feels like to be a mother, but it hurt too much to think about it, so I put those thoughts away.
Still. Sometimes, I miss him.