Monday, June 25, 2012

25 June: Jordanian pizza and fresh fruit juice on Rainbow Street

25 June Rainbow Street again this morning.  While it was not quite as ideal as our last outing there a week ago (yes, Yumi), it was pleasant enough.  We made the rounds to the household store (new words: magnet and strainer) and the bookstore (new book: all abut space in Arabic.  Leaving the bookstore was a challenge and I began searching for an available taxi to go back to the hotel immediately.  Fortunately, Yumi calmed down in time for us to eat at a sajj and juice joint run entirely by Egyptians.  They love us there.  Sajj is similar to a wrap but chewier and cooked quickly on a hot surface right before your eyes.  A shawarma is a sajj--the filling being spiced chicken sliced right from a spit and mixed with a type of tartar sauce and pickles.  And it is pressed against the hot surface like a panini.  This restaurant takes that authentic Levantine fast food--shawarma--and puts in all kinds of different ingredients, both sweet and savory.  We went with the vegetable pizza sajj and a fresh carrot/orange juice mix.  Tasty.  We ate it outside the restaurant, sitting on a ledge against the restaurant wall. It should have been the perfect outing but it was tinged by my discouragement of yumi's behavior, both while leaving the bookstore and a gigantic fit she threw this morning.  Warning: I an now going to rehash Yumi's fit.  Skip down to the paragraph beginning with "This afternoon" if you do not want to hear it.  I will not blame you! This morning's scenario:  Yumi got agitated because we ask her to wait when she very rudely demands some help on something.  She then hit Emi and completely lost control when I "put her hand in timeout"--something I do when I do not have an adequate timeout place (we do not as she will not stay in any spot and would just scream from it anyway) and/or the bad behavior happens so often that going through the whole timeout routine is not practical. I spent at least five minutes trying a new approach from a book my sister graciously gave me: "The Happiest Toddler." The thing is, this approach DOES seem to work on Emi.  I restate her feelings with an appropriate degree of emotion in my voice and then gradually get calmer to help HER get calm.  It works pretty well--with EMI.  But Yumi isn't a toddler and she just gets angrier when I restate her feelings.  She does not act getter because she's been understood.  See screamed at me this morning: "I want to go outside and be by myself without my family!!!". I restated: "I can see you are really upset.  You want to go outside of the hotel and be by yourself, right?  I said this (as advised) with about 30% less intensity than she used.  This is supposed to convince her that I care, that I am really listening.  And she did calm for seconds affirming that yes, she wants to leave the hotel without me and be by herself.  But then when I say that she cannot because that is not safe, blah blah blah, she just starts screaming it a over again.  I repeated this cycle with her multiple times.  Likewise, as she was clearly growing tired, she began to moan "mommy, mommy, mommy." But if I responded in a kind tone "Yes, sweetheart?" she would scream some more at me: "Don't say ANYTHING to me.". If I did not respond to her moaning, she would scream: "NO ONE is giving me any LOVE.". Total lose-lose situation.   Forgive me for hashing it all out again in a semi-public forum.  I am just trying to rethink and replay it.  I am half hoping someone out there has a clue as to what we can do.  Both Nate and I were in tears this morning;  Emi and Aya needed attention so I tended to them while Nate--who had been about to leave for school--had to hold her down in the bedroom unconnected as far as I know to any other hotel room.  This went on for an hour. This afternoon:  during quiet time another new friend from church texted me with an invite to the embassy pool.  Although by the time I would arrive we would only be able stay for an hour before we would need to leave with her (as her guests), I decided to go for it.  Not that I was feeling super magnanimous toward Mayumi but because I wanted to dangle the carrot in front of her. Maybe if she could have a lot of fun at the pool this afternoon then she would be more motivated to behave better to get the chance to go again.  So threw them all into suits and hopped in a taxi.  We had been driving for at least five minutes when I remembered--MY PASSPORT!  Obviously needed to enter the embassy.  I had the driver turn around, all while trying to decide whether to bail on this probably foolhardy plan (now I'd only have 1/2 hr to spend there before needing to leave) or to press forward.  W pulled up to the hotel and the driver urged me to leave the girls in the cab while going up to get the passport.  Ha!  Not likely.  He had a point, though.  Emi had no idea why we were back at the hotel and not the pool and resisted removal from the taxi with every fiber of her little being.  I tried Happiest Toddler Method for about thirty seconds but imagine this:  I have Aya strapped to me and so bending down to Emi's height (which is pretty low considering the is lying prone on the sidewalk) is impossible.  And yet I try.  I am trying to use the short "toddlerese" sentences the method advocates and curious passerby accumulate.  And the taxi driver keeps shouting out his recommendations.  And the clock is ticking.  S I give up on that and have to drag Emi inside, upstairs, downstairs, and back into the taxi.  She was happy as a clam once she realized we were on our way again, but I was in trouble.  All I could think about were the warnings by the author of Happiest Toddler:  if you don't listen to your child and give her respect, she will end up an insecure and angry adult.  I just sat there and cried the whole way to the embassy.  Wow-the US embassy sure has a way of bringing on the waterworks.  I hope it doesn't have that effect on everyone or US international relations with the Jordan will be in trouble. The girls had, of course, a blast.  And while poolside chatting with expat mothers was not my idea of a the perfect afternoon when I envisioned this summer, it sure was a relief today.  In my rush to get out the door, I did not even grab my suit, but Yumi and Emi were perfectly happy in the shallows.  Aya sat on my lap and contentedly munched cucumbers.  One of the mothers had a bag of goldfish and Doritos for everyone.  My girls were thrilled.  The attached playground running around in bathing suits on the foam-surfaced playground (NOT sand), shooting water guns and popping goldfish into their mouths and laughing hysterically.  Yumi did not know any of then but was completely in her element and fit right in.  I watched this with mixed emotions:  happy to see the girls having a ball and sad that they have not yet really had a chance to bond well with Jordanian children.  I am sure the lack of bonding has little to do with the language barrier or anything to do with Jordanians themselves, and more to do with setting and opportunity.  Still--is it possible that my girls are more likely to bond with American kids because they are American?  I am not sure why this saddens me but it does. I had phoned Nate to tell him of our plans and ask him to arrange for dinner.  No way was I going to come back from the pool and then have to get everyone off to a restaurant.  Nate came through with all kinds of things I would never buy, including Nutella but hey--the rice and chicken hit the spot and it was easy.  MUCH easier than going out.  And easy was what I needed today.


Lindsay said...

Wow what a day hil! I'm glad it turned out ok in the end and the kids had fun at the pool. Sorry I haven't been leaving comments each day but I do read your blog from start to finish each day and am glad you're reliving it so completely for us. Good to know what you're up to. I love you Hil! And I'm glad you didn't leave your kids in the taxi! ;)

Heba said...

Hil, you've got your work cut out for you. A lot of those books have really great ideas, but sometimes whatever you've gotta do to get through the situation is what you gotta do. I know you and your teaching style and your kids are going to grow up to be responsible, adventurous, cultured little adults.

I have not yet really entered the toddlerhood craziness and I'm a bit anxious about it as I'm reading this. I've had my fair share of fits from Kope over the years, but I'm sure this will get more interesting as we add more to the flock. You'll have to tell me all your secrets when things get crazier for me. Right now, Tanielu only has tantroms when someone gives him chocolate and it runs out...definitely related to me.

Love you!