Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Trip to Shamian Island

Yesterday afternoon, we went to the play room, and while we were there, we met some other adoptive families from other agencies.  One, in particular, was with a 2 year old little girl who proceeded to throw a temper tantrum the likes of which I have never personally witnessed.  After about ten minutes, she calmed down, and was actually a very sweet little girl, her performance notwithstanding.

She was a bit on the extreme end, but something nevertheless that Jenn and I have witnessed to one degree or another with nearly all of the adopted kids we've seen, including Henry (and we'd say all of the kids around whom we've spent more than an hour).  In fact, while we're not yet adoptive parenting experts (tune in next week... har!), we can certainly understand how adopted kids can grow into spoiled brats if their parents aren't very consciously staying on top of things.  It's as though they leave the orphanage and become exposed to new people that want to shower them with love and attention, and they don't know how to respond.  It takes them very little time to display a sense of entitlement, and then it's just a short leap to very manipulative behavior.  We've seen it in our own hotel room.  We're not sure if the shower of love they experience in such a short time is overwhelming for them, or if their little neuropathways aren't hardwired to deal with the new emotions that they're feeling, but we've personally witnessed this entitlement-mentality and manipulative behavior on so many occasions that it's our current working theory.

Again, if you've been keeping up with this little blog, you won't be surprised to see me draw an analogy to our own lives.  How soon after we acknowledge that there is a God (who loves us whether we acknowledge that aspect of His character or not) do we start placing irrational or tedious demands upon Him rather than simply slowing down and experiencing His love?  Even the God-deniers do this.  Like these kids, we often think we know what our Father's love ought to look like, and when our circumstances don't meet our preconceived expectations, or when we hear Him say, "No," we freak out, or pout, or question His love for us.

In just eight days, there have been times when we've had to say, "No," to Henry or do something for/to him (such as give him a bath or change his diaper) and watch him fuss and whine and cry because of his lack of full knowlege of the depth of our love for him... and I imagine our Father has experienced this feeling a time or two throughout human history.  But as Henry gets to know us, and as we get to know our Father, those seemingly uncomfortable or tough times will be seen less as a lack of love and more as a true manifestation of love in the big picture.  Another lesson from adoption...
After Henry took a 3.5 hr nap, Jenn decided to go on the Pearl River dinner cruise, and while Henry made an embarrassing display of begging behavior throughout dinner, and then gave us a total meltdown of crying when his Mommy needed a few minutes to herself, Jenn and I actually enjoyed ourselves.  A few years back, the government spent a bunch of money cleaning up and dressing up the banks of the Pearl River, the fourth-largest river in China.  For the average American, not much, if any, is known about Guangzhou, but it's a huge city and there are a number of areas that look really cool from the water.  For instance Haixinsha Stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2010 Asian Olympics, and Canton Tower is the tallest building in Guangzhou and changes colors by the seconds.

After the cruise, I went to the 7-11 right beside our hotel for some junk food, and it turned out to be nearly fruitless. They didn't even have any Coca-Cola.  Instead, the high-light of my short walk was being approached by what can only be described as a Chinese hooker asking me if I wanted a "pretty lady massage," and then being approached by another hooker-looking "lady" who handed me a business card that read, "Have China Young and beautiful little girl.  Massage Russian Girls.  Si: Beautiful women Sparetime Model.  Young and beautiful young lady..."  You get the drift, and then there was some contact info.  It turned my stomach.

This morning after breakfast, most of our families took some taxis over to Shamian Island.  That's where the White Swan hotel is with the Red Couch (Google it and see how many hits you get), but it's closed until 2014 for total renovation.  That's why we're at The China Hotel.  And while this hotel is very nice, and the staff has been nothing short of friendly and tolerant, we wish we were at the White Swan because Shamian Island is beautiful and a very nice place around which to take a stroll.
I heard another in our tour describe it as "beautiful" yesterday, and I thought to myself, "Could any place in Guangzhou really be described as 'beautiful'?"  But it is.  There is definitely an 1800's to early 1900's Euro feel to the area, it is very clean, and it's clear that they're catering to Western tourists and adoptive families.  And it's also clear that the shop keepers and restaurateurs are very disappointed that the White Swan is closed, and that it's impacting business big-time.
We did some shopping, ate a good Western lunch at Lucy's, and hitched a cab-ride back.  At first, the cabbie appeared to get testy with the amount of people we put in the car (3 Gates & 4 of Kentucky's family), but I had little patience with an Asian telling us we had too many people in a vehicle.  I've seen too many cabs, buses and bicycles over capacity in my 2.5 weeks here to fall for that.  So after a few minutes of the driver rambling in Mandarin, and Mr. Kentucky saying something to him about, "This is how we got here... in a taxi," and my saying something about, "We're going to pay," as I showed him my money, he took off.  Then he pointed to Henry and Littlest Miss Kentucky in the backseat (while he was driving in Guangzhou traffic), and rambled some more, and Mr. Kentucky made sounds that to the untrained ear might have sounded like Mandarin but were, in fact, simply babbling sounds.  At that point, the cabbie said, "I speak English."  We all had a big laugh, and the we asked him some questions only to learn that his vocabulary was limited to, "I speak English." Ah, the humor of a cabbie.
Henry has been Mr. Pleasant today, and we all needed that after last evening.  He let me pick him up out of the crib and hold him for a few minutes first thing this morning, he ate breakfast on my lap and even let me carry him to get more yogurt (which he eats very well with a straw... whooda thunk?) with only minimal fussing, he sat on my lap for about a half-hour while Jenn was in and out of shops (no food was involved!), and he's getting even more playful with both of us.  And the more he interacts with me, the less Jenn feels like his baby sitter and the more she feels like his Mommy... who couldn't understand this?  As time has passed, he's shown more of an interest in playing a little bit more physically, such as mild wrestling behavior and inviting us to tickle him more.  Initially he was ticklish, but he had a short limit on the amount of time he wanted to engage.  Now, he often sets himself up and wants to continue the ticklish play even after we're tired of it.

There's more paperwork on tap today as we prep for the Consulate appointment on Thursday.  I think I'm now going to try and nap.

1 comment:

Marissa D said...

I'm so glad you are sharing your experience, even the not so pretty, politically-correct ones, because they are important! There are great lessons to be learned in every situation, and to brush over everything to make it pretty destroys so many of these lessons. I'm so excited to hear the progress Henry is making, and can't wait to see how he becomes one of the Gates more every single day. Your family is so blessed