The Arm Curl

This morning, I watched in surprise as my half asleep 14-year-old, ate her breakfast; spoon in her right hand, left arm curled around her cereal bowl. I had not seen that in a while.

For a short period of time, after Callie first came home from Russia as a three- year- old, she would move all her dishes so they would touch. Her glass would have to touch her plate, the bowl would have to touch the plate. As she became westernized it did not take her long to decide this combination looked like the famous Mouse.

The arm curl lasted longer. The arm curl was designed to protect her food from other children. In an orphanage food can mean the difference between life and death. Any crumbs that fell on the table would get the finger lick. That’s where you lick your fingers, touch the crumbs so they stick and then you put them in your mouth. Any food that fell on the ground was also fair game. I like to think they used the 5 second rule in the baby house, but the reality is that they simply could not afford to waste food. At 40 months, Callie weighed less than 25 pounds.

Callie ate almost everything and while she would not overeat, she would eat until she could not eat anymore. Then she went through a phase of having a few bites of food and not wanting to eat her complete meal. She had to become acclimated to having enough food when she was hungry. Her body had to adjust to the differences in being hungry versus, the reality of knowing what true hunger feels like: that gnawing always feeling hungry, feeling.

She grew 5 inches the first year home and has already beaten her growth prediction by 4 inches. But some things from early childhood you never outgrow. My left handed child still holds her silverware in the right hand and days like today the subconscious take over and without realizing it, we see the arm curl.    

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