Saturday, August 23, 2014

Traveling through and moving toward home.

Yesterday was our big travel day from Wuhan to Guangzhou. It started out well, with breakfast and an outing to the department store one metro stop away. Primrose adores the Metro because it has both escalators and lots of people.  

We got on the train fairly easily and a guy immediately insisted on giving me his seat. I tried “Bu, xie xie” (No, thank you) because we were only going one stop but I just didn’t have enough Mandarin to explain that and he was insistent. This has happened just about every time we have been on a crowded train. I hope Americans in a city of 10 million like Wuhan would be as gracious.

The offered seat was great, but it slowed us down on getting off and the next stop (our stop!) was a transfer station. A second too late to the door to get off, we were turned into salmon swimming against the crowd; huge dopey foreign salmon carrying a stroller and a sweetheart. We pushed and made it off without maiming anyone and Primrose didn’t so much as bat one of her gorgeously long eyelashes.

The department store was worth every bit of stranger full-body-contact. It has been my favorite place to shop so far. They have the cutest little outfits, and if you look in the clearance bin at the cheaper shops they aren’t usually more than $10-18 US dollars. You do have to have cash, though, because no matter what they say, our Visa cards won't work here.
Of course, this Ward can rock any look.
After a brief nap it was time to meet all five other families in our group in the hotel lobby and start our trek. The little Wuhan girls love to be together, each one shrieking joyfully or otherwise greeting their fellow adoptees and American sisters with lots of exuberance. The hotel lobby has a neat display of air plants and glass tear-shaped hanging flasks with Beta fish in them. It’s super cool and one of Fang Fang’s many favorite things. She shouted and pointed every time we went through there, which was a whole big bunch of times. We finally loaded the energetic lot on our bus and headed one last time to the Child Welfare Institute to pick up the kids’ Chinese passports.

The director of the institute is Ms. Hu- and she works with Ms. “She”, so you could probably get some comedic mileage out of those names without even breaking a sweat. Thanking Ms. Hu I found myself tearing up a bit. It’s ridiculous to say Thank You in this situation, but it’s all I got.

From there it was on to the airport on a verrry long bus ride over the Yangtze and through the projects. The whole way there, Primrose was pointing to all the cars! and lights! and bridges!! and more cars!!! she could see. She wanted to go from the left side to the right side of the bus just to be sure not to miss a thing.

Once at the airport, the lateness of our lunch and the shortness of her nap started showing. She threw a couple of fits with the jagged squeaky inhales and also started playing run-away games in the enormous marble-floored ticketing terminal.  When we were finally able to check in, we headed straight up to a ramen shop to see if that might help. It most definitely did. Between Primrose and Isaac, we now have two children and one parent (moi) with the tendency to get hangry. We’re going to need a bigger snack bag.
The bottom floor of the department store building. People dress nicely here.
Even the airplane was full of women in semi-formal little dresses with high heels. 
In terms of food, she likes hers spicy and varied. She ate almost a whole dish of spicy pickled relish meant to be an amuse-bouche for the table (which she demanded by pointing and grunting AGGGHHH!), hot and dry noodles (a Wuhan speciality), plus the noodles, part of a carrot disk and some bok choi from my ramen soup. She thinks I’m funny when I say something is “hot hot hot!” and will squint her eyes and say “ta-ta-ta” while shoveling it in her mouth. They grow them tough here, I tell you. 

Everyone knows waiting with (or near) toddlers is not really all that much fun, and waiting with newly adopted toddlers is an even more advanced level of parenting challenge. Thankfully, our flight was neither canceled nor delayed by the recent not-military-exercises-no-not-at-all going on in Southeastern China. Primrose continued to point and shout at all the new things she saw. It was a crap ton of new things, in case you were wondering.

According to our guide, our brilliant daughter has invented a word already. Da-WOOOOOO! Give it a try, it’s a great conveyor of enthusiasm of all kinds. I swear to Buffy, it sounds like she may be part werewolf when she makes it da da DA WOOOO!!! She often accompanies it with stiff-armed pointing and sometimes an excited foot shuffle. She continued to babble and point as we boarded the plane, then passed out asleep for most of the 90 minute flight, then continued the point-and-shout all the way through baggage claim, onto the tour bus, through the city and into our hotel room in Guangzhou.

Some neat signs of trust have started to develop in our relationship with her. She still prefers that I hold her, but she immediately asks where Baba is whenever J is out of sight now. She likes to peek over the bus seats to check on him if he’s in another row, and he is allowed to pick her up to help her reach stuff or for other brief moments. She loves his phone (duh!) and when he opens Bejewelled for her, she will play with that as though they are besties already.

This morning she woke up with a bit of a cold, probably because today was the day for our medical check-out appointments. She passed with flying colors anyway, and it was so AMAZING to see all the families with their new members at the clinic I could get sloppy tears just thinking about it now. There must have been 40 adoptees there. In that big group of weirdo foreigners, Primrose was happy as a clam, running up to those in our Wuhan group and then branching out to greet the rest of the parents and kids new to us. I was almost wishing we had more time to meet and talk to them all, there were so many that seemed like kindred spirits.

Here in China we feel free to chat up the adopting families we see in this beautiful hotel and out on the streets. When we’re back in the states, things become a bit more sensitive and not everyone will be as ready to gush over their kids and share their raw, life-changing experiences. I love the atmosphere here, the crowds of kids with all kinds of special needs, the knowing smiles when a kid throws a fit or does something cute for the first time. It’s an open-hearted community from all walks of life. What a blessing to be counted among them.

Here she is using food as a sauce delivery system, a time-honored tradition that runs very deep with my people. Both Toby and I are very happy they sell Ketchup at Costco, sincerely.

Now on our sixth day whole day together, I can say we have had a wonderful experience with FangFang so far and we were indeed made for each other. She is younger than many of the kids in our group, and I think that has helped her open up to us so quickly. The first few days were hard for her, but she’s so little that with distraction and some semblance of routine she is righting herself pretty quickly. If you’re the praying type, I’m sure the families adopting older toddlers/preschoolers would love some thrown their way. They are doing well, too, and I deeply respect the parenting I see going on, but it’s a bit more intense a transition for all involved.

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