Saturday, April 2, 2011

Zai Jian, Kunming/ Ni Hao Guangzhou (part one)

We are ensconced in the lap of luxury. XiXi wasn't the only one letting a stunned "Woooo-Ahhhh" when we walked through the doors of the Garden Hotel last night. Opulent is the word that comes to mind. He is going to be seriously disappointed in his digs at home. When we arrived at the airport, I was so happy to see our guide Rebecca, from Cholita's adoption trip. It's always nice to see a familiar face, but when you arrive in a foreign city without your husband and toting a tired and overly-worked-up Yi man that you've only known for 4 days and who doesn't speak your language, I swear, I saw her face and heard the Hallelujah chorus.

Lyle, Bruder, and Cholita left yesterday morning for home and the rest of us started our day with the usual breakfast buffet and a trip to Green Lake Park. When we came back to the hotel the phone rang and XiXi ran to answer it, "Hway?" he said. I pulled it away from him and he looked seriously ticked. He was pretty sure the call was for him. It was our guide, "Eileen, we have very big problem," she said. Apparently in the chaos of Gotcha' Day, I hadn't noticed that a zero was left off my passport number and Lyle's as well. Actually, I think I did notice, but since it was the first number and they did that with both of our passports, I just thought that leaving off the zeros was what they were supposed to do. I thought wrong. "You cannot take baby out of China," Helen said. "This big problem. I go many offices. You pay lots of money." It wasn't what I wanted to hear on our travel day, but after many offices and lots of money, it was all resolved.

My computer isn't working so I'm in the business center, trying to type as fast as I can to save yuan. There's so much I want to say and pictures I want to share, but I'm running short on yuan, so I'll do my best. Ignore typos please.

Fei Ji La!
XiXi was so very excited about the airplane trip. He told many people, "Wo men yao zuo fei ji la!" (We're going on an airplane!) He plastered his body against the window at the airport and pushed more than one person jockeying for the best "fei ji la" viewing location. I think one of the funniest things I've ever witnessed was XiXi being frisked by security. You'd think the kid was an experienced international traveler the way he jumped up on the platform and spread eagled it for a thorough pat-down. He loved wearing his backpack and pulling his rolling bag through the airport. He really is so good. When it was time to get on our plane, I was happy to see that we weren't using an accordion walkway but climbing stairs directly onto the plane. He could hardly stand the excitement. He got on and promptly made himself comfortable in the first class section and wasn't too please to go to the very last row of the plane. Every time we passed an available seat, he tried to get comfy, but we'd have to move him. Once we go to our row, we made sure to give him a window seat. I use the word "seat" very loosely because he felt he had better viewing while standing. We gestured that he needed to sit down and put his seatbelt on and he told us something in Mandarin that we're sure meant, "Are you kidding? And miss the view? I don't think so." The steward then walked by and had a word with him and XiXi promptly sat down and put his seatbelt on. Maybe it was the uniform. Anyway, for all of the rest of my days, even when I'm old and senile, I'll remember XiXi's face at takeoff. He just lit up. He was so very excited. He really did a fantastic job on the plane. Afterward I asked him if he liked it and he gave an enthusiastic nod. I'm still not looking forward to the plane ride home. I don't think he has any clue whatsoever just how much Fei ji la he's going to have in the near future.

Poor XiXi. While I think he was somewhat amused by our language at the beginning, the language honeymoon has ended. With translation from guides, I've learned more of what he's saying to us and so often it's just normal, everyday requests or questions that I'd love to answer for him, but I can't and he gets frustrated. Who wouldn't? For example, he might drop his sticker on the ground as we're out for a walk and he might say in a very mannerly voice, "Mom, I dropped my sticker. Can I please go back and get it?" I don't know what he's saying, so I might just respond with a "Oh, really?" and we keep walking. He says louder, "Hey MOM! I want to go get that!" I still don't know what he's saying, but I can tell he's getting upset so maybe I'll offer him a drink. He'll violently shake his head no and try to pull me the other way. I might tell him that we're going to lunch and not back to the hotel. And then he'll throw a mini-fit and run to get his sticker. "Oh, is that what you wanted?" If I knew what he was saying I could have avoided the whole thing.

This morning at breakfast, Rebecca and Lily (our agency's China representative) had a long conversation with him. They said that he has a strong Yunnan dialect, but that they can understand him. Lily told him that when he wants more to drink, he can show me his empty cup and that when he wants more food he can pretend like he's eating. They've been through this a time or two and said he's doing fantastic. I know that's true, but it's tough to see him frustrated.

Hyper-vigilant Parenting
Do you know how it gets exhausting to watch other people's kids? I don't think it's because other people's kids are any weirder than my own, it's just that I'm accustomed to my own kid's brand of weirdness. I'm still figuring out XiXi's brand of weirdness and as I figure that out, I'm overly cautious and it's ticking him off. He really is VERY self-sufficient. I cut his omelet this morning and he nearly fell apart. I took that one and gave him mine and he expertly cut it. At the Stone Forest, I'd let Cholita wander away from us a bit because I knew she wouldn't go far, but I kept him on a short tether because I don't know yet if he's the kind of kid who will bolt. Last night at the airport, he was fascinated by the baggage carousel and really wanted to help get the bags off. I wasn't sure if he'd get hurt, so I didn't let him and he pouted. When he saw the stroller coming, I figured that was light enough that he'd be fine and he went a got it off the carousel, unfolded it, snapped it open, and looked as proud as a peacock. When he was playing with a baby in our group, I kind of hovered because I don't know for sure if he'll be gentle. He was perfectly gentle, but again, these are things I'm learning. And while I'm kind of testing him out, he's doing the same with us. We're mutually dipping our toes into uncharted waters. It's exciting, but also tiring.

So much more to say, but I've got to run to a meeting........


Amy said...

Eileen, it sounds as if Xi Xi is doing so well! What an amazing little Yi much confidence and so very self sufficient. I love the image of Xi Xi hopping right into position at the airport...what a cutie!

We loved the Garden Hotel too, Eileen. Oh I remember how wonderful it was each evening to walk back into that gorgeous entry. We visited the Friendship store across the street daily for supplies. You've probably found these already, but out through the back (down the corridor with the boutiques), there is a little 2nd floor Italian restaurant on the main street that also has fried rices and seafood...can't remember if there was duck on the menu :), but worth a shot and didn't cost much yuan at all...also a Starbucks, Subway, McDonalds and Pizza Hut along the adjacent street if the girls get to hankering some more familiar fare. There is a really delicious Italian restaurant near the Friendship Store. Not quite as kid friendly and definitely more yuan, but delicious.
Praying for no more paperwork glitches and for Xi Xi and you as you continue to learn to translate his needs/wants. You are an awesome mama, Eileen. And your Xi Xi is some kinda awesome, too. You have hit the jackpot with each other!
Love and Prayers...

Shirley said...

I am sure it is frustrating, but it sounds like you are doing a great job. Someday soon you will look back and laugh with him about not being a le to understand each other!

Eileen said...

Glad you guys made it. We miss you already. Enjoy the wonders of the Garden Hotel.