XiXi has had a great afternoon and evening. We went on the Pearl River Dinner Cruise and he was so very excited to get on the boat. His father will be proud to know that this little boy prefers vegetables to all else. With the exception of the duck feast in Kunming, he's had hardly any meat at all since we've known him. Not surprisingly, he likes rice and he likes noodles, but he loves vegetables and fruits. He can eat his weight in bok choy. It's interesting to go through a buffet line with him. Tonight he pointed to something that was covered with holes like swiss cheese, but almost looked like a slice of lunch meat. Whatever it was, he seemed very familiar with it and wanted it on his plate. Our guide said it was a lotus root and he happily scarfed it down.
He loved going out on the deck of the boat and when he went outside, he motioned that he wanted a jacket on. We're all getting very good at charades. We got lots of "wooo-ahhhh's" from him as he marveled at the lights of Guangzhou. He was completely captivated whenever we went under a bridge. It's so fun to see him experience these new things. Tomorrow we go to the zoo and I know he'll love it.
He's called a few of the older girls in our group "Jie Jie" and I kind of worried that he was confused about who his sisters were. Thankfully our guide explained to me that in China, older kids and young adults are always just generically called "Jie Jie" or "Gu Gu". She then asked XiXi if she was a Jie Jie and he shook his head and told her that she's not a Jie Jie, but an Ayi (aunt). She laughed and said she should be offended that she no longer looks young enough to be a big sister; she's graduated to auntie.
We took our oath today at our consulate appointment. I say "we" because when the adults were asked to raise their right arms to take the oath for their children, XiXi raised his arm too. I got a little lump in my throat, knowing that this was our final task in the long process to bring him home. He was so well behaved while we were there and just quietly sat on my lap as we waited for his name to be called. We were told that roughly 73% of the China adoptions done so far in 2011 have been special needs. The wait for a "healthy" child has become ridiculously long and projected to get longer, so I expect that the percentage of special needs adoptions will just get bigger. I think that's absolutely for the best. When we asked at XiXi's orphanage if Chinese people ever adopt, we were told that they do, but it's always healthy infants. There just isn't the strong need for healthy child infant adoption that there was in the past. There's still absolutely a need for special needs and older child adoptions.
XiXi had a great time playing with Rose this afternoon and he entertained us with his Chinese soldier impression. He saluted and then did the funniest straight-legged march. He tried to keep an appropriately serious face as he marched past us, but he just couldn't handle that. He cracks himself up frequently. I can envision future parent-teacher conferences....."We love XiXi, but he is the class clown."
So, all of those things were the "best" of our day. The "worst" came this morning after our consulate appointment in the the form of the biggest tantrum we've seen yet. I'd carried him for a very long time, his preferred mode of transport. Once we got to our hotel lobby, I set him down to walk and he was not pleased. I need to learn how to say, "Mommy's arms need a break," but today I was just using charades to show that he was too heavy and mom's arms were tired. He laid down on the lobby floor and just lost it. Tantrums are especially fun when there's a crowd, especially a crowd of people who don't speak your language and you feel sure they're probably saying, "Look at the horrible American mother." Anyway, I got him up and moving, albeit slowly and beligerantly to the elevator. Back in our room, he screamed and kicked and hit and at one point picked up a chair and threw it an impressive distance. I tried to remain calm, but firm. Slowly, the tantrum subsided and he let me wipe away his tears and give him hugs. I told him that I understood and that I was so sorry that he was sad. He seemed tired, so I laid him down on the couch for a nap and then I went into the bedroom so I could have a mini melt-down as well. I called Lyle on the phone because I really needed a familiar voice. As I was talking to him, XiXi quietly came into the room, carrying a handful of tissues. I absolutely did not want him to see me crying, but he pulled himself up on my lap, wiped my tears with one hand and rubbed my back with the other. "May yo guan xi, MaMa" he said. "It's O.K." He has such a tender heart. I know that he's frustrated and that he's grieving all that's changed in his life--which is basically everything. I'm sure that I'd want to throw some furniture too.
Our guide asked him afterward if he was feeling mad and he said no. She asked him if he was feeling sad and he said no. He told her that he got upset because he wanted something else to eat. She gave him a banana and he was happy as a clam. She told him that I can understand him when he says he wants to "chur" and that he needs to tell me. Later in the day, he whispered in my ear, "Mama, wo sheong chur dong xi." (I want to eat something.) We went and got him a yogurt and he was one happy child.
He was so sweet tonight when we were putting him to bed. When we all knelt down for prayers, he kept reminding me of people I needed to mention. "Da Jie Jie, Rose, Xiao Jie Jie, GuGu, Baba...." and the girls had a hard time keeping a reverant attitude as his cute little voice would yell out another person's name. We said Amen and then he realized that he forgot someone. "Mama!" he said and we had to do a quick mini-prayer to ask for a blessing for Mama.
We so love this boy.