Monday, March 7, 2011

she did it again, with ice cream


(pentax k1000, fuji superia 400)

i don't know what to say. words are taken from me. i am robbed of them so often in her presence. i mean, it was just an innocent children's book, you know the one: the h*ngry caterpillar. a favorite of mine and now, she is asking for it night after night which makes me smile. she reminds me of the butterfly on the last page, all hand painted & colorful & beautiful & new to the world & ready to fly, but having come from. she's no idea how that once caterpillar struggled for those wings. maybe one day she'll get the analogy to her own life, or see herself the way that i do.

but tonight, it wasn't about the butterfly. we were on that page where the ravenous caterpillar eats his way through everything in sight, including an ice cream cone. and as baba and i continue our back and forth, naming each delicacy, and are just about to the lollipop, she stops and points back to the ice cream and says, "we call this one 'bing-ji-ling'..." (or so it sounds to me, something like this in spelling). and in our excitement we ask her to repeat this word, and in her shyness about her first language, at first she only replies, "that's how we say it in china". and so i ask, "can you teach me? because i know i'm not saying it right" and so she says it again.

and after we say our goodnights and thank her for sharing this special word with us, i google "ice cream" in Mandarin to find this, simplified:


there, inside her heart, her head, in words and phrases, these past weeks... they surface, they bubble up, unexpected.

language is a mystery to me. we will do everything in our power to preserve hers.


  1. dang if you didn't make me cry again... The heavens knew what they were doing when they had you three find each other.


  2. I really like the way that she says, "We say it like this". The 'we' there is a precious identification that E is so fortunate to have.

  3. What a sweet book, it was Will's favorite for a long time.
    It's pretty amazing what will trigger a memory.
    And now and then he'll speak a word or two of Mandarin. He's also pretty shy when I ask him to repeat it for me. Very happy you're keeping her first language...

  4. wow...I love this!!! I love how she remembers, when she remembers & that she shares with the 2 of you...fabulous!!

  5. "language is a mystery to me. we will do everything in our power to preserve hers."

    And now is the time to do it. At this stage of her life she is like a sponge, ready to take all in. Years from now she will thank you for it:0)

  6. That is so wonderful that she wants to share it with you. The best. Treasure it and keep it up.

    Even if only through playtime in Chinese with someone else who is Chinese.

  7. Interesting that she used that term, 冰淇淋. There is another commonly used term in China, 雪糕 (xuě gāo) which translates literally to snow cake. Here's a nifty site that my kids and I use to look up Chinese words

  8. I don't think she has lost her first language yet but there is an element of embarrasment about speaking it. I think she is now beginning to realize it is safe to share her language that it is speacial. Keep at it K, it is one of the greatest gifts you can give her.

  9. We finally found a Chinese School for Lila to attend on Sundays so she and her daddy are both learning Mandarin together. I feel she has lost so much of China I want her to know her native tounge. I wish she could remember like E

  10. That is so neat that her Chinese is still there, tucked away for safe keeping and surfacing when it's ready. What a treasure. I hope you're able to find a way to locate a school to help her keep her Chinese. I've looked locally for something for us and it just doesn't seem to exist her. Sad.

  11. I know about bing! :-)