Last night was a really rough sleeping night for me. I had a hard time going to sleep, and it seemed like every time I did I was woken up by snoring or coughing. Every single one of us has a wicked cough, which has been made much worse by the smog. The last coughing fit occurred around 5:30 and ended with David waking up, so at the point I pretty much cut my losses and decided we would just start our day. Since I had only gotten about 3 hours of sleep I thought that running on the treadmill might help me wake up a little bit. Brian and I spent some time playing with the boys (Matthew was in our room last night), and then we gave David his first bath. He wasn’t too excited about getting in at first, so I gave him an empty water bottle to play with. He had a great time filling it up and dumping it out, and quickly realized that it would be even more fun to do that game from in the tub so he climbed in on his own. Brian told me to go ahead down to the workout room at that point, so I did. It was kind of spooky going down there, because most of the lights were still off. I actually had to use the flashlight on my phone to read the signs to make sure I knew where I was going. When I found it, I pulled on the door and it was locked. Guess I should have checked the hours. So back up to the room to find out when the fitness center opens. When I got back Brian had already gotten the boys dressed, and David insisted on wearing the same clothes from the day before. He’s a funny little guy! Definitely has opinions on things! Let’s just hope he’s not as opinionated as Caroline about clothing. I discovered the fitness center opened at 7:00, so I waited until 7:15 before going down again. I made it back through the dark, only to find it still locked! Back up to the 15th floor again, and when I got up there I saw my dad heading to workout. I told him not to bother since it was locked. He is smarter than me and suggested that we call the front desk and have them open it. Brian did the honors, and after repeating himself a bunch of times using every synonym for fitness and exercise that he could think of, they said they would open it. We gave them a few minutes to do so and I went back down for the third time. If I had used the stairs instead of the elevator I could have just considered that my workout! I pulled on the door again, and it still wouldn’t open! Then my dad pushed on it, and I discovered that I am a genius and it had been open the whole time. You just had to push, not pull. We spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get the lights on. Since I couldn’t figure out how to push a door, I obviously wasn’t the best person for this task. Finally my dad found a phone down the hall and called the desk again asking for light. In the meantime I hopped on the treadmill in the dark but it wouldn’t turn on. I don’t know why I didn’t give up way before this. Apparently my stubbornness came out. I used an elliptical instead until someone came with a key to open the box on the wall that housed the light switches. At least there was a reason we couldn’t find the lights! With light I found the power switch on the treadmill and turned it on. But, I still couldn’t use it because it wanted me to insert a safety key which was nonexistent before the belt would start! So back to the elliptical with the broken tension knob that made me feel like I was walking uphill through quicksand. I made it 15 minutes before I felt like my legs were going to fall off and I switched to the bike.
Since we had taken so long to actually get started, I quickly realized it was almost breakfast time. I went back to the room and grabbed the girls from my mom (It’s her birthday today, Happy Birthday Mom! Thanks for spending it in China with us!) and quickly got ready. Then we all headed down for another adventure in the breakfast room. The kids have seriously been amazing this trip. I have been impressed by them again and again, and this morning was the first time I started seeing them getting a little tired and weary. Everyone loves David and of course wants to sit by him, so there was a little argument over that and who got to push the elevator buttons. Once we filled them with waffles, dessert cakes, fruit, and eggs, they were much more pleasant!
Today we were meeting Susie in the lobby at 9:30 again to go to a park. We traveled down one of the famous streets of Chengdu until we got to the entrance to the People’s Park. We learned last time we were here that people are required to retire at 50 if they are women and 55 if they are men, and the parks are full of them! When we first walked in there were two groups of women doing some combination of dance and yoga. A few yards down the path were some that were practicing sword fighting which was really cool. Of course none of these were as interesting as the spectacle that we were walking with our two blond and two Chinese kids through the park! We definitely got a lot of smiles and stares. We followed the signs through the park to the kids area and discovered a little amusement park. We were so glad that the kids would have somewhere to run around and play after spending multiple days cooped up!
It’s always tricky to understand how things work in China, even with a guide translating for us, so we bought tickets for something. We thought it might be for the rides, but it was actually to have unlimited time in what they called the play castle. That was fine, the kids went in and played in a ball pit, swings, climbing tunnel, and other fun things. Of course Lily had to go to the bathroom right when we got there, so I took her off to find that while Brian took the others to play. When I walked into the bathroom there was a woman coming out of the first stall which was handicapped, and I noticed that it had a regular toilet! This information came in super handy so I snagged it and took Lily in there. Of course we couldn’t get out of there without Lily loudly declaring “Ewww, stinky!”. So glad most people don’t understand English!
Back at the play area David seemed to be a little unsure of everything. I tried to go in there to help him out, but quickly got yelled at because I didn’t take off my shoes. I didn’t have socks on and didn’t want to walk around barefoot, so Brian went in instead. Poor little guy definitely wasn’t quite sure about playing on all these crazy contraptions. Back when we just had David’s picture and a little information his orphanage had told us that he was timid. This was the first sign we saw of that. It definitely held true for the rest of the day! Brian ended up taking him out of there, and he was happy just to be held and watch his siblings play.
The Chinese people really care about cleanliness and appearance (and warm clothes as mentioned earlier) and of course today I had forgotten to bring a hair tie for Lily. All of a sudden I notice this Chinese woman chasing after her and sticking a hair clip in her hair! You have to laugh and not take it personally because everyone is just trying to be helpful, but that would totally never happen in the US! We are silent judgers there, but in China everyone just goes ahead and fixes the problem or tells you about it! In some ways it’s kind of refreshing. Another funny thing that happened, whenever the kids came out of the play castle and walked off the mat without their shoes on, the Chinese ladies working there would get all stressed out! They would tell them to put their shoes on, even if it was just to walk over to the backpack for a sip of water or to give someone a hug! And if they walked back on the mat with their shoes on, watch out! They also wiped Caroline down when she came out of there all sweaty. Susie was wiping her back with a tissue while she got water.
After letting them play for a while we decided to try some of the rides. We bought some more tickets and the kids wanted to ride on this big yellow car first. Susie kept asking David if he wanted to play in the castle or do any of the rides, and he kept shaking his head no. So we sent the other three on it. They very quickly became the most popular ride in the park! People gathered around just to watch them on the rides. If you looked at Matthew or Caroline’s faces you would think they were having a terrible time, but really they were trying to hide from all the stares. Poor kids! Lily however was loving it! Surprise, surprise ;o) After the yellow car we went to another car ride we thought David might like, but he still wasn’t having it. Caroline spent that whole ride looking away from all the onlookers. As we walked toward the third ride, my dad and I looked behind us and saw a group of people literally following us around. It was hilarious! The kids were interested in going on a ride with swings that goes around in a circle, similar to the one in the kid section at Busch Gardens. These swings looked bigger though, like they could hold an adult, so we told them that they were too little for that ride. Plus last time we were in China we learned that the rides and things aren’t quite as tame (or safe in my opinion) as rides in the U.S. Boy am I glad we did! A few minutes later that ride turned on, and it was crazy fast and high! I think I would have been scared on that thing! We let them do one last ride – Matthew and Lily went on a caterpillar roller coaster and Caroline went back on the cars again with Brian – and then have some more playtime in the castle. At this point I started to feel a little sick. I think the Hot Pot lunch from the day before was starting to make my stomach a little angry. It’s never comforting to feel sick when the only bathroom nearby is full of squatty potties.
It was getting close to lunch time and I wasn’t feeling any better, so we decided it was time to go. We walked back through the park and found our van, but we wanted to spend a little time walking around the streets right outside. There were a few shops and lots of hot pot restaurants, but I was definitely not going in there! We walked for a bit and then drove back to the hotel. We had already decided yesterday that we were going to eat lunch at McDonald’s. Once we got back we walked back down to the plaza. Susie had showed me the first day where it was on the directory, but the names are all in Mandarin and 3 days later I couldn’t remember which one it was! We decided to just walk toward where we thought it might be, and hope for the best. This plaza has 4 stories and we really didn’t want to walk all of them! Right as we were about to get on the escalator my dad saw two girls with McDonald’s cups and asked them where it was. Score! I was never so happy to walk into a McDonald’s before. I’m pretty sure that I will eat at McDonald’s more times in this two weeks than I will eat there in as many years at home! McDonald’s doesn’t agree with me on a good day, so I went with the ever-nutritious ice option and got a McFlurry. The kids devoured their chicken nuggets and fries. We teased mom about how excited she was that this was her birthday lunch! This never would have flown at home ;o) I was thrilled to discover that the happy meal toy was a megaphone. That will not be annoying at all in a tiny hotel room! At least it will provide the kids with some entertainment.
Ok, this is totally unrelated but let’s talk for a minute about horn honking. To the Chinese, honking a horn is second nature. It’s just a part of driving. But here’s the crazy thing. No one is ever angry honking. For all of the honking we hear, we have yet to see one finger point, fist raise, or angry scowl. It’s almost like the honk is a way of saying “Hey, here I am. I’m going to try not to hit you but you might want to move out of the way because there are no guarantees.” Today there was one guy on a scooter just laying on his horn the entire time he drove down the road and there wasn’t even anyone around him!
My parents decided to stay at the plaza and walk around for a bit while Brian and I took the kids back to the hotel. David has not been really wanting to go to me as much as either Brian or my dad, so I wanted to get some quality play time with him without any of the guys around. Brian left to go work out and I played with the kids. Unfortunately my stomach didn’t quite agree with this plan, and I started to feel worse and worse. By the time Brian got back I crawled into bed and spent the rest of the day there. He took three kids next door for a while so Matthew and I could nap for a bit. At one point I was laying there alternating between coughing fits and stomach cramps. It was miserable, and I was super frustrated because what I wanted to be doing was bonding with my new son! I did eventually fall asleep and I vaguely remember my parents coming back, and at some point Brian ordered room service for the kids and put a movie on for them, but I was pretty much useless. Thankfully my husband is awesome and managed getting all four kids fed, entertained, and ready for bed. I slept pretty much until 3am which is when I started writing this blog post! I guess when you fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon, you can’t really sleep much past that! I’m feeling much better now and hope to be able to eat breakfast in a few hours. I think my cough is almost gone too. And, we travel to Guangzhou later! Things are definitely looking up!
Things this time with David are so different than they were with Lily. There are so many things to think about with a newly adopted child related to attachment, and since this time has been so different I sometimes worry if I’m doing something wrong. But it also really helps to have traveled this path before and remember that these two weeks are all about survival. He will eventually attach to all of us. At this point it seems like David definitely prefers his siblings and men, which is to be expected since he was used to men and those were the last caretakers he was with. He definitely has started pushing the boundaries and trying to figure out where the lines are. It seems that he does this the most with me, and my interactions with him fall more along these lines. He does it with Brian too, but he also plays with him more. His interactions with the kids are all about play, and I think he has bonded with them the quickest and the most. I’m so thankful that we were able to bring them, because I think that has really made the transition much easier for David. He also thinks Daideo is pretty fun to play with, and enjoys being held by him. While sometimes it’s hard to see him not want to come to me as much, I know that when we get home he will be with me all day every day and we will have plenty of time to bond. Brian will go back to work in two days, so I really want them to have this time to bond well. Since I’m so used to running the household, it’s hard for me to take a step back and let Brian kind of take the reins with David. I’m still being intentional and sitting by him at meals, or holding his hand, or playing with him, but I’m also not going to fight him if he doesn’t want me to hold him or carry him. And let me be clear, he definitely will come to me and play with me and smile at me and let me carry him. He just prefers Brian or my dad. So it’s not really a big deal or catastrophic or detrimental at all, it’s just different! Also, we have totally uncovered our secret weapon in getting him to do what we want. Lily. He will do anything she does. When we were at the Panda Park, every time she took off her hat, he took of his a second later. And when she put hers on, so did he. I am totally going to be exploiting that as often as possible!
This trip has also been really good for my relationship with Lily. She is definitely the child that makes me the craziest and pushes my buttons the most, and I often get frustrated with her. But watching her interact with her new brother has really been amazing. She is totally in her element and has become even more precious to me than she was before. Plus, I can actually talk to her, so in some ways she seems easier than David does (I know, this is a shocking sentence and even I can’t believe I just wrote it. I’m sure that the second she has a screaming fit I will completely recant it.) Overall it’s amazing to see how adopting David has already enriched our family. Even though it is hard and will be hard and still seems like a crazy idea, I can see why this was in God’s plan for us. I have found that usually when God calls us to do something, it never makes sense. But it is always worth it.