November 21, 2009

Lao San

In this language, the third child is called Lao San. "San," pronounced, "Sahn," means three. Everywhere we go, we hear people exclaiming, with awe and delight, "SANGE," pronounced, "sahn-guh." The "ge" is added to make it a measurement.

In this country, there is a policy in place to keep families from having more than one child. Most families hope their one child will be a son. Our three children, so close in age (not to mention their foreign looks), and the fact that they are all boys, makes us something to wonder at as we scoot by in our oversized motorbike-for-five. Everywhere we go, we are bathed in a constant stream of exclamations of "Sange!" We smile and wave, like we are in a parade, and Daniel says, warmly, "Here come the Sanges!"

Our Lao San, named Yong Gan (which means "brave"), is for us the extra log thrown on the fire. His pudgy little presence in our family brings a boost of light and warmth to our home. The boys make their hourly visits to his blanket on the floor, pressing a kiss against his cheek or giving him their finger to wrap his hand around. Brave is as easy a baby as there ever was. The other day, he silently allowed Bright to pick him up and drag him half by his neck across the room, up the landing, and into the office where I was.

Often, when I am holding him close, or nursing him in the predawn hours, I feel a sort of pang in my chest that I can only describe as love. I remember when Bright was our only child and I wondered how I could ever love another as much as I loved him. Some people say that there is a space in a mother's heart set aside for each child. I think I have a separate whole heart for all them.