Our room looks out over the hotel pool. Let me say that for the most part, we have been looking out the window, because it has been raining off and on every day since Sunday. So we look out the window.

“Yo yo ma!” Shi Hui exclaimed late yesterday morning. Well, that’s about what our western ears heard. And indeed, a man was swimming in the pool. Quick exchange on the translator program on the iPad, and Shi Hui, Mom, and Dad were off to the pool.

The shallow end was deeper than she was used to. Shi Hui is a splasher not a swimmer (YMCA, here we come). But she sat expectantly on the side, and got less and less worried when Ellen carried her into the water, until finally her arms were extended in the all too familiar, “I’m ready right now for you to carry me out again” gesture.

And we brought a ball. Yes, play time, but also pragmatic dad time. Catch. Throw. Catch to the right. Catch to the left. Ball lands short and splashes? Laughter. Ball sails wide to the right? Jumping up and chasing. Ball bounces off the top of the head? Laughter. Basic motor skills? Check. Semi-advanced motor skills? Check. Resilience? Check. Fun-having-ability? Check. Check. Check.

It started to rain, which to the practiced swimmer is just more water, but somewhere, Shi Hui must have learned about rain and lightning, so she gestured us out. Seriously.

On the way to the lockers there is a foot bath, and the water is cold. I put my feet in a clutched myself, shivering mightily. Shi Hui laughed at her silly papa, and then extended her arms up. “If it’s cold, you had better carry me.” Of course.

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Brian Brennan

I am a writer and a teacher. I have lived in Philadelphia, Binghamton, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Norfolk, and Northern Virginia. I have sailed on the ocean and flown over the North Pole. I write fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

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