Sunday, July 01, 2012
1 July: Explosion!
1 July I was actually a bit surprised to see that today is 1 July. That is a good sign; the less I start wishing this summer would hurry up and end and the MORE time I spend marveling how fast time is flying, the better. Today, so far, is one of those days that is clipping along at a good pace. We were at the close of our usual morning routine when our new friend Amy called to say that they had closed the embassy pool. The girls already had on their suits so I had just decided to try out the magnificent pool in nearby Sports City when another new friend, Charish, called to invite us to J'Imagine. J'Imagine, recall, is a center for "edutainment.". Learning while playing. Dressups, make believe play areas such as a post office, doctor's office, etc., and baby/toddler area full of beautiful wooden interactive toys. EXPENSIVE. But I'd want wanted to return because my girls really had an enjoyable time there and I wanted to stick with them and the Jordanian girl tasked with watching/playing with the kids. I figured I could chat with her and, while playing together with the girls, we all learn more Arabic. J'Imagine sells beautiful and creative toys and games, a few of which I thought I might buy since we brought none. Cherish's invitation was very welcome and the girls were happy enough to switch gears because of the promise of playing with other kids their age. We did have an enjoyable time. I got smart and brought lunch. When we left by 1:15pm the girls were fed and cooperative. Everyone is in quiet time, and although they are not being exactly quiet, I am content. It is time for me to catch up on our finances and practicing reading the many books I've bought the girls. They are all beautiful and darling but no fun if I can't read them well. I need practice. Nate is studying formal Arabic by reading the newspaper and Arabic literature; I will get my practice in written formal Arabic through children's stories. Finally, on that note: Nate has noticed a woman selling tissues packets, etc. on the street near his school. He suggested that I come talk to her and invite her and her young daughter to spend time on the Sports City nature/jogging trails. I could pay her for her time to chat with me and the girls could--hopefully--run around together. It is a thought! She may be impossible for me to understand (Jordanians often are) and the girls may not allow us enough uninterrupted time. She may also be uninterested. But a thought! This afternoon: Neither Yumi nor Emi slept during quiet time so I released them after only 1.5 hours. I normally get Yumi up after 1.5 hrs and spend some one-on-time with her while Emi finishes her nap. Since both girls were obviously awake I thought it only fair to release them. When Aya woke shortly after, screaming, I figured the bigger girls' noise had awakened her early and she was mad about it. Later events indicate that something else may have been bothering her. I have this idea that one day Yumi and Emi will play nicely together. Oh, when will that day arrive? Since they were both up I offered them several ideas for activities: dressups (the old lady house dresses I bought in 'Abdali), glitter glue (new, from Hawawati), or a puzzle. Each activity ended up shouting and kicking matches. Even if we were not in such a small space I would have a hard time tolerating such noise and behavior; our current situation, though, is such that I just cannot handle their rudeness. Sorry to the males and mothers of boys reading this but my girls act like boys in that they are so noisy and physical with each other! My idea of a nice post nap time playing games and enjoying each other's company fell flat and I found myself resorting to my usual coping mechanism--going out. Did I mention yesterday that Abu Manal's prices are exorbitant? When I visited him the first time, I haggled with him to the point of annoying him over his prices and watched has he counted and classified each of our clothes items. I insisted, for example, that he classify our underwear as just that, and not as pants or shirts. We gave him our usual four-five day amount of clothes and it came to about US$25. Expensive, but doable. Since then, we have not asked him to examine our laundry and commit to a price upfront--and since then, the price has gone up! I do not like to be taken advantage of and an not afraid of confrontation...but we have become friends with Abu Manal! He gives the girls snacks and teaches me new words each time we visit. Now what can we do? Presumably we give him the exact same amount of clothes each time and yet now he is charging us nearly double. It may be that Nate's work is paying for our laundry but hey! ....Am I being petty here? I was caught unawares yesterday when Abu Manal told me the cost of cleaning the latest batch and did not have enough money on me. Thus, today we went back to the little commercial district that houses Abu Manal's shop, the Egytian fruit seller Amir's shop, the bakery, a convenience store, a restaurant, and more--all places we frequent. I paid our balance with Abu Manal and picked up some apricots and his usual gift of a banana to each girl from Amir. We then collected whole wheat pita that I'd asked yesterday to be held for us on reserve from the bakery. It was while picking up milk, yoghurt, and wipes from the convenience store when Yumi gasped and shrieked "Is that POOP??" I follow the line from her pointing finger to the backseat of our double stroller where sat Ayame Little Pants--covered in, yes, poop. The poor little girl had exploded out of her diaper and was literally sitting in a puddle of brown easily a foot in diameter. Sorry to all of you people reading this without children; you will likely be extra disgusted. But I just have to describe this. In my four years of blowouts I I have positively never EVER seen anything close to this magnitude. The entire seat of the stroller was now a puddle of poop and Aya was sitting in the middle of it. And yes, coved in it. Well, I was out of there in less than a second. With Yumi trotting along side and Emi safely tucked away in the front end of the stroller, I quickly wheeled out of the shopping area onto a shaded spot on a side street. I called Nate and to my relief he was just a block away on his way back from school. Together, whiled Yumi looked on in fascinated horror, we got Aya out of the stroller and out of her clothes. We deposited the diaper and, subsequently, the ENTIRE package of wipes I had just bought in a convenient cardboard box lying nearby. While Nate held her little naked body up, I wiped her down. I intended to carry her back in the ergo but had to clean her up first. I also did my best to pour out/clean off the feces covering the stroller seat which fortunately detaches. Did I mention we used an entire package of wipes? It was crazy. People were walking by and I can only imagine what they were thinking. I don't even what Americans would think about it. Some would likely shake their heads in sympathy and commiseration; others would be offended we had not found a private place for such an activity. No one interfered, however, and it was over in about ten minutes. I sent nate back to the shop to by more wipes and disinfectant. We put the nearly naked Aya in the ergo and the wiped down stroller seat back on the stroller. We returned to the room and cleaned Aya off. The stroller seat is currently in the shower stall waiting for its turn. Despite this craziness, I wanted to go forward with my plan of going to the Safeway playground to reward Yumi for another day of good behavior. Emi would not listen to my direction to go to the toilet first so I decided just to take Yumi. What fun we had! We taxied to a restaurant near Safeway and picked up shawarmas. We enjoyed them and the rare can of 7up (special treat for Yumi) at a table in the playground area. While Yumi played, I had several great conversations with other adults watching their little charges. Before I knew it 7:30pm had arrived and Nate was calling: "Where are you???". I returned home to a very sad Aya and a frazzled Nate. She definitely must not be feeling well. We got everyone ready and into bed in record time. Both Aya and Emi cried hard, but briefly. Finally--Yumi has had a good three days. She still tangles verbally and physically with Emi way more than she used to do. She even lightly punches Aya in the arm if she (Aya) pulls her (Yumi's) hair. She continues to balk and refuse to move when things aren't going her way or she feels under pressure--almost always when out in public. But she is doing this at a much lower intensity. And she capitulates sooner. She mostly reacts sadly, not angrily, when reprimanded. None of the behaviors I just described have resulted into screaming tantrums. Not for the last three days. What a relief. Why the change? Well, I've been following lots of welcomed advice from family and friends. Not sure what exactly is working and how long it will work but these are a few things I've tried: stickers for EVERY good behavior resulting in some kind of reward daily; a calmer reaction to her bad behavior; nightly massage with lotion and "sweet talk"; stars or checks written on the palm of her hand in ink when she does something positive; attempts to do less-intense, more kid friendly activities. Hopefully the trend will continue! Thank you to those who have offered support and advice on my blog, Facebook, and via email. I rarely comment back on Facebook and my blog but I cherish the little notes that indicate others are thinking of us. That always brightens my day. Thank you!