Friday, June 15, 2012
15 June: Expatriate connections
15 June As I type, Emi is crying for her dad on the other side of her door. In this two-bedroom suite, where the second bedroom has two twin beds and room for a crib, one might expect that all three children would occupy the second bedroom. Not so for us. Emi (who actually just stopped crying) has the luxury of the entire room to herself, not that she appears grateful. :-). Aya usually falls asleep within three seconds of us putting her in her crib...behind the bar that comprises the "kitchen." Yumi's domain is the couch in the sitting room. She gets up occasionally but can usually be trusted to keep quiet (she just got up and told me her spirit was not ready to sleep....). It works out, although Emi is pretty worked up tonight (back to crying). Some of you have commented that you are surprised it is Yumi throwing the tantrums and not Emi. Emi does shout a fierce "NO!" many times a day, but does not often throw lengthy tantrums. Except for today. During church. We arrived just barely on time and were a quarter through the meeting when Emi lost it. Nate took her out of the entire building--a villa with tile floors that reflect sound everywhere--and there they stayed until the meeting was over. Alas! It happens. I enjoyed the meeting as it featured talks (mini sermons) by all the youth in the congregation...a rather large number (7) considering the relative smallness of the branch. I was impressed with the spiritual maturity of these kids and reminded me of the many high quality youth in expatriate families I have met at church on my travels (not to say that the expatriates are the only quality youth I've met of course). This was a pleasant reminder since we are thinking about how Nate's job may take us abroad for most of his career. Seeing these valiant and exceptional youth reminded me that a life abroad can be a very positive thing for children/youth. Yumi and Emi enjoyed the rest of their time at church in the primary and nursery, respectively. There are only three nursery age kids but a whole room dedicated to them. There are a good number of primary kids (probably close to 15). Nate and I chatted with our fellow church attenders and made some contacts and connections. We went downtown after church. The meetings begin at 8:30am and end at 10:30am, so we weren't overly anxious to return to the hotel and just hang about, especially after a morning of English conversation with expats (READ: I wanted to go out; Nate was ready for air conditioning as it is quite hot, but he was nice enough to go along with my plan). We wandered around downtown in the furniture district, learning the words for dishwasher (not that they were for sale--I doubt many people own them--but the shop owners knew what I was describing and the word for it) and clothes drier. We got the girls a beverage and returned to the hotel for lunch and naps. This evening we went to an event at the home of one of the members of our church congregation. There is a lot of transition as state department employees--who make up the majority of the English congregation--come and go, especially in the summer. There IS an Arabic congregation that we attended last week but have decided to go to the English branch so the girls can participate in nursery and primary (not offered in the Arabic branch as there are simply no children). At any rate--this event was meant as a farewell to those leaving and a welcome to the newcomers. I may sound like a broken record but I have to say (to whom, exactly, I don't know) that in my previous travels to the Middle East I would not so willingly sent an evening a the home of expatriates. Not to say I never did, but only on rare occasions. Well, I figured that 1) the girls could use a chance to play with kids and toys and 2) I really needed to get some ideas of kid friendly activities. Which I did. And we all had a great time and ate way to much. I am not sure how we got the girls out of there without a major fight but somehow we did. We returned to the hotel to find the staff all gathered around the television watching The New Karate Kid. The guys who run this joint all love our girls. And our girls love them, even Yumi, who still shouts "Don't touch me!" at them at every opportunity but only in jest. Whenever they see the girls, the guys are the first to call out "don't touch me!" (this is in Arabic, of course), to which the girls reply with the same, giggling. Aya reaches for them when she sees then and doesn't want to come back to me. So we have a good relationship with the hotel employees and opportunities to chat with them briefly whenever we see them. And now bedtime. It is 8:56pm. Emi stopped her crying at the door of her own accord after about 10 minutes. Yumi has gotten up multiple times--the most recent only 5 minutes ago when I discovered her in the bathroom, looking at her books. I hooked her up with a flashlight, put her back on the couch, and hope this is the last we hear from her tonight. Tomorrow is Saturday. Nate will need to study and will probably go into the embassy to do it. What will us girls do? Stay tuned!