Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yellow Crane Tower magic!

Today was so much better I’m almost afraid to post it in case it breaks the spell. We woke up late after a long night. Primrose made little noises off and on all night, crying so briefly I didn’t have time to comfort her before she had dozed off again. It was a weird cry, without inflection almost as if it was just sleep-crying.

She sleeps restlessly, mostly wedging herself sideways in the very old-school crib. J pointed out she was probably cold last night, since she kept sprawling out from under her blankets and we have A/C which her foster family is unlikely to have had.

We were the last ones down to breakfast and looking around the room I realized in some ways we have had a better time than some. Every kid seems to have accepted one parent for the time being, and out of six children (five if you exempt the 13 year old) only one has chosen the dad rather than the mom. Some of the kids are extremely set about that, and do not want anything at all to do with the opposite parent.

Primrose lets J feed her, doesn’t cry when I walk away briefly, and will sometimes hand him stuff if I ask her to “give this to Ba-ba”. She allows him to carry her favorite things (a bunny, a toy cell phone) some of the time.

We have the room entry freak-out dilemna solved, perhaps. Like any kid, she likes to hold the key card herself and push the door open. Then she toddles right in without so much as a whimper, especially if J hangs back a minute.

We spent the whole morning at the Yellow Crane Tower, which was totally worth the buckets of sweat and general exhaustion afterward. Primrose is such a little stud- she walked her own self all over the grounds of this beautiful tourist trap. In fact, because some of the older kids were distracted by a friend having a melt-down, she made it all the way up to the bottom of the tower first out of the whole party. I’d say she walked at least a mile and a lot of it was gently uphill. Then she downed almost half a Gatorade and started rubbing her eyes and staring off into space. Clueing in that she was tired, I sat on the stone benches at the bottom of the 5-story tower with her while J climbed up to the top and the famous view. We played (PLAYED!!!) a little game she invented with a water bottle and then I hummed to her until she fell asleep.

Top of the beautiful Yellow Crane Tower.
The story of the tower is lovely. One hot day, a Taoist monk made his way to a humble wine shop and asked for a drink. The owner obliged, and in gratitude the monk drew a picture of a crane on the wall with a bit of soft yellow brick. Whenever anyone clapped, the crane would miraculously flap its wings. The humble wine shop soon grew to a booming restaurant thanks to the magic crane picture. Soon thereafter the monk returned, played his flute for the crane and it hopped off the wall. He jumped aboard and was carried off to eternity playing his flute all the way.

We have found the people here to be so incredibly kind and truly curious. I lost count of the number of people fawning over her, smiling and saying “Hello”. J was asked to be in pictures with a bunch of people at the tower park, like the super hot rock star that he is. We noticed that when people stare, often if we smile or say hello then they will return the greeting. They don’t think of staring as rude, nor is jostling a bit to get to something rather than lining up and taking turns. It’s takes a bit of thought to avoid giving meaning (insulting meaning) to things like that and I have found it’s harder to do when I’m tired.

Dinner was a traditional Chinese meal at a huge round table with all the other families in our group seated around it. Our guide ordered us at least ten Wuhan dishes, and the 13 year-old adoptee added one to the list as well.  We had everything from ginger sautéed lotus root to cellophane noodles to steamed fish. Primrose ate lots of everything, but I think her favorite were the spicy black mushrooms ordered by her fellow adoptee. As soon as she was done eating she wanted to use the cup to pour water into the bowl and sip it out- leftover oils and rice bits and all. The settings were all glass and I was relieved we made it out without breaking anything.

Our last stop for the day (and just about every day so far) was the department store. I finally got her a second pair of shoes and a stroller which she really likes. She doesn’t mind Ba-ba pushing it, either, which I am relishing as it gets so hot carrying her. Tomorrow we’re supposed to go to another tourist park and I think it will be a big help for her and me both.

My favorite parts of the day were these: when we were picking out shoes, the sales lady picked her up. While she didn’t cry, she clearly wanted to come to me. That felt so good, to be trusted more even when the sweet sales girl was speaking Mandarin.
She is starting to play with toys! This cool play cook set was about $4.
 Then there was this, at the end of the day just before bed. Our first ever laughs together, just after she and daddy were making raspberry sounds back and forth too.

I don’t expect our bonding to be a straight trajectory, but today was deeply encouraging. It’s nice to feel she’s starting to like us, but it’s beautiful to see her start to lose a fragment of that fear and resignation of the past few days. I want so much for her to know that her world will be all right again.

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