Joy asked Tina if she finished one particular art project. Tina replied yes with a bit of impatience. She complied with Joy’s instructions by giving me high-five and pointing out her paintings on the wall. Tina knew that Joy was jesting with her when she claimed that the mouth should be on the forehead in the painting. Joy tried to speak more English with Tina, but when Tina did not reply immediately, she repeated her commands or questions in Chinese. When she asked again in Chinese what Tina did in this room, Tina replied “Chang Ge (singing).” Monday is the word Tina just learned and she says it a lot. She was a bit shy when Joy encouraged her to sing.
Joy picked one of Tina’s artworks to engage her. Tina stood next to Joy, leaning onto and touching her most of the time.
Tina was drawn to Joy’s interaction with the little girl whose name also happened to be Joy. Noelle, the younger Joy’s foster mom, said “Tina, aren’t you a big girl?” Tina replied with a yes. Meanwhile, she maintained physical contact with Joy while listening attentively to her speaking. Later, she interrupted the conversation between Joy and Noelle to get Joy’s attention by calling her ma. Then she required my attention by addressing me “big sister”. “Let it go, let it go…” she started to sing the chorus from the movie Frozen. According to Joy, it is Tina’s favorite song. Tina felt a bit embarrassed after her belt-out and pressed her face to Joy’s thighs. With Joy’s encouragement, she resumed singing a bit. She laughed along with Joy as the other Joy was having some funny verbal exchanges with her foster mom Noelle. Tina understood Noelle’s question in English and confirmed with yes that she likes the movie Frozen. She playfully tried to hide her face from my camera, then switched to sing “Mondays, Tuesdays…” and demanded Joy’s attention by calling her ma and patting her. After Joy joined her, she was contented
and snuggled into Joy’s arms.
Tina enjoyed herself singing with Joy. She was in a good mood and switched
from one song to another.
Tina was patting the other Joy and announcing her affection “I love you…”
Tina asked me to videotape some of her dance moves and I happily obliged. When I asked if I could ask her a few questions, she appeared a bit reluctant. I asked if she liked to sing in Chinese. She replied “maybe” in English. She leaned against Joy most of the time and looked very comfortable with her. Instead of following our lead, she sang the ABC song. Meanwhile, she still kept paying attention to the other Joy.
“After a while, she seemed to be more comfortable with me around and started to ask me to search songs she named and play for her on my phone. After listening to each song she requested, she would sing herself. Tina would always try to redirect Joy’s attention to her by calling her ma and doing something different, even when she was playing with me.”
Tina was singing “Mom is the best in the world”. As soon as she finished, she
demanded applauses from Joy.
Tina was singing “Little Swallow” and playing with Joy’s hair. She constantly
sought Joy’s approval.
After listening to “Happy Birthday” on my phone, Tina wanted to sing it. She
started singing in Chinese, then switched to English. Again, her focus would return to
Joy from time to time.
Tina enjoyed Joy’s version “I like to eat buns.” It is a song they sing together when Joy teaches her play the violin. But this time she was more interested in listening to the songs on my phone. During my whole conversation with Joy, Tina would always cut in and demanded me to play another song for her or Joy to listen. Joy told her it was not polite to interrupt and waited a few seconds before satisfying her needs.
When it was time for me to leave, Tina gave me a big hug and asked me to stay. I promised that I would visit her again soon.
Tina started to live with Joy and her family (Joy’s husband, two boys and one girl) in late March. When the family was away for summer, Tina
stayed with two other foster families she has been with before.