Now it's our turn

Remember how Maddy went to China last spring?

Well, this week we have the treat of hosting a 12-year-old Chinese student, Yexin.

Like Maddy, she is lovely and curious and bright and a bit shy.
She can't find very much to eat in this new culture. Well, except bread. Yes, like Maddy.
She has one older sister and a younger brother. Maddy, too.
Her English is pretty good (much better than our Chinese, that's for sure) and we're able to make halted conversation, mostly overly gestured and animated questions (me) and short stoic answers (her) about her family and life. She likes bananas, bread, noodles, badminton.
Like Maddy was, she's a little teary about being so far from home.

Yesterday morning when I knocked softly and went in to wake her up, I found her tucked in bed, knees pulled up, with a damp tissue in her hand. She looked at me and smiled weakly.
"You okay?" I asked.
"Yes. Okay."
"Maddy was sad in China, too. It's hard to be far." (With ridiculous gesturing. I can't help myself)
As her American mom, I really want to sweep her up in my arms and dry her tears. Or make her laugh about some silly thing and forget about her sadness. But we don't share a similar language of affection or the nuances of humor. And her shy stiffness in receiving my clumsy hugs tells me she isn't like Maddy in these ways.

But she will be fine. And we might get a laugh out of her yet. You should have seen me last night trying to ask/mime whether she rubbed the shoe of the statue of John Harvard for good luck when she visited Harvard. There's no pretty way to do that.

We will be apple picking and corn mazing and pizza eating and fall leaf gazing and trying to show our best selves until she leaves on Monday. After that, I can't promise anything.

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Elsewhere, I'm posting at Segullah today about another scene in that bedroom with a weepy 12-year-old (some of you might recognize it). Come visit.