Last night Huyen and I watched the movie BORN AGAIN (from the same writer/director who did ONCE). In the movie there's a father-daughter story line and throughout the film I kept thinking, "What will my relationship be like with Shayna when she's fourteen?". I had this weird warm feeling in my stomach that's hard to put into words. Despite this story line being the minor one in the film, it was the one that touched me the most. It seems so obvious to even say this but Shayna's really changed our lives. Here's the biggest example:
Since graduating college I've been dreaming of having a script of mine made into a film. I'd sold some stuff over the years but none of them ever came that close to going into production (something very common in Hollywood). Well, after thirteen years of writing, my first film went into production this summer. In August I went to Toronto for three weeks to watch the end of filming. Thirteen years of work to see my dream come true for three weeks. Well, I can't tell you how long those three weeks felt as all I wanted to do each day was Skype with Shayna in the morning and night. I don't regret going away for so long but it was definitely hard. It also made me realize that my life dreams really have changed. Yes, I still want to be a successful screenwriter. But more than that, I want to be a good father.
So here's some things that happened over the past three months:
1. Shayna now speaks Vietnamese. She definitely understands both English and Vietnamese but the only English words she really uses are "Daddy" and "Apple." I'm not sure what I have in common with an apple but I'll take it!
2. Shayna had her first stitches. Long story short, she was at school and fell running. Of course it happened five minutes before I picked her up so when I came to school she was covered in blood. I like to think I'm calm and collected in situations like this and handled it very well. I told Huyen right away we needed to go to the best hospital and have a plastic surgeon do the stitches. So we went to the French-Vietnamese hospital and immediately saw a doctor. Shayna couldn't have the stitches that day because she needed to be knocked out. The doctor who we saw had ENT written on his door. I told Huyen, "This guy isn't a plastic surgeon, he's an ear-nose-throat doctor." But she assured me he said he was. But yeah, he wasn't. Let's just say the stitches aren't as nice as the ones I had as a kid. That said, I think the scar is actually pretty cool and definitely makes her look a little tougher.
3. Shayna's terrible at sharing. Terrible. Two days ago she had a big scratch on her face because she saw another kid playing with her favorite toy and wrestled him for it. Apparently she won but yanked it out of the kid's hands so hard it smacked her in the face.
4. Huyen went to China for two weeks right after I returned from Canada, which meant I got to take care of Shayna while completely jet lagged. The good news is that I had help. Su, Huyen's brother, became our personal chef and dishwasher and really made my life a lot easier. But of course Shayna got some weird virus the day after Huyen left. Su and I went to the hospital and I'm still not exactly sure what she had since Su's English isn't exactly fantastic. But luckily the day Shayna missed at school for being sick was the day hand-foot-and-mouth disease broke out in her class. Literally every kid got sick except Shayna and one other. For the next week the teachers outnumbered the kids in the classroom.
5. Shayna can count 1-10 in Vietnamese. She can sort of sing "Happy Birthday." And she can kind of catch a beach ball. She's also 50% potty trained.
6. Speaking of the beach, we took a fantastic five day trip to Phu Quoc Island in the south of Vietnam. This place is about to blow up with tourists starting in November. We flew into the brand-spanking-new international airport which was gorgeous but empty. Next month there will be direct flights there from Russia, Cambodia, Singapore and a few other places. Shayna loved the beach and loved the pool. She swims like her mom though. Not good.
Finally, I'd like to say thanks to all the people who reached out to me after the last post regarding Huyen's mom health. There's been lots of ups and downs since we got here and unfortunately we're currently in a downswing as the cancer has spread to her bones. I've got to say though that Huyen's mom continues to smile every day and keep up a positive attitude. She's truly an amazing person and we're thankful for every day we're getting to spend with her.