Sunday, July 15, 2012
15 June: In search of the Kleenex lady
15 July I woke this morning without a definite plan for the day, a rare occurrence for me back home but fairly common this summer. It unnerves me, however, and much of yesterday's negativity clung to me this morning--aided by Emi knocking over a barstool in anger and nearly crushing Aya. I snapped at Nate and we parted on stoney terms. I indulged in a little cry while getting ready for my workout. I felt much better after a little P90X and a brief cold shower. Time to get Yumi to camp. I had been uncertain whether to take her today because her favorite part--was scheduled from 12:30 to 1:30pm. Picking her up at 1:30pm means not getting back to the hotel until 2pm and many uncomfortable and potentially disastrous steps in between (i.e. prying both girls away, compelling them down many hallways and up several staircases out into the hot unshaded street to find a taxi). I did NOT want to pick her up at 1:30pm but picking her up any earlier would mean her missing out on swimming and likely knowing it. That would be trouble as well. I was worried about the the preceding "activities"...volleyball, for example...as I am pretty certain it is just open gym with a few volleyballs around. My heart ached for her when I picked her up last week and saw her wandering alone amongst boys playing soccer and girls chatting away in clumps. I did not, in other words, want her to go to camp solely to wander about, lonely, in open gym. So I felt compelled to let her go to swimming even if it meant almost certain difficulty when trying to leave at 1:30pm. Are you with me? I realize this might be getting confusing. So, while working out this morning, I decided to let Aya sleep a little longer, get Yumi to camp a little later, and hope that everyone would not be melting down at 1:30pm when I would come to pick Yumi up from swimming. Now I had a plan. While Yumi would be at camp, I intended to walk down the street to the location of a woman from whom Nate occasionally buys packets of kleenex. Nate has suggested to both her and me that we get together, chat, and let Emi and her Emi-sized daughter play. Where, I don't know, but Nate had suggested the play area in a nearby mall. I figured today was as good as any day to try to make this happen. I dropped Yumi off at camp and asked her camp counselor to bring her up to the parking lot in front of the club at 1:30pm. This is where I would be waiting in a taxi. I hoped this new plan would facilitate an easier return home after camp. On our way out I got to chatting with a gaggle of middle schoolers who found Emi too cute to resist. Emi submitted to their attention and let them carry her around like a baby, putty in their hands. I enjoyed this interaction as they were fun to chat with and had time to burn. I took advantage of the opportunity as both Aya and Emi were content. Thus, it was nearly a half an hour later when we bumped into the camp director on our way out of the gym. Emi was in the act of resisting, saying she wanted to go back to the play area and the kids. The camp director, observing this, offered to take Emi. Just go, she said. I'll call you if I need you to come get her. Emi was thrilled--so off I went with just Aya! Aya is a piece of cake but you can only expect a little chub to stay strapped to your chest for so long while you stroll about in 100 degree weather. Thus, I did not feel totally liberated. I also felt I should stay in the area in case Emi needed fetching. Nothing stopping me, however, from carrying out my original plan of meeting the Kleenex woman and perhaps befriending her. But she was not at her post! I called Nate and he confirmed that he had not seen her when he had passed by her spot earlier. I ended up spending the next 1.5 hrs killing time in moderately enjoyable activities. Nate's school is nearby so he popped out to say hello (and that was more than moderately enjoyable--that was a good opportunity to reconnect after our stony parting earlier). We visited the nearby mall to search for a new hat for Ayame and ended up buying socks, peanut butter, brown sugar, and dried apricots...but no hat. I scouted out the play area in the mall for a potential future visit with the Kleenex lady but found it to be crowded with children and DIRTY. Dirtier than an American mall play area, which is saying something. Good to know. Stopped for a fuul sandwich and in at a bakery for some whole wheat pita bread. It was 1:10pm by now and I was tired of killing time with poor Aya soaking with sweat on my chest. I usually love this kind of activity--wandering in and out of shops and chatting with whomever falls into my path--but it is obviously harder with kids EVEN if they are as good as Ayame Little Pants. I hailed a cab and asked the driver to wait with me for the girls. I called their camp counselor--Farrah--and I THOUGHT she said she was on her way up. But then again she could have said the exact opposite. I left my grocery bags with the cab driver and popped into the club. I rounded a corner and there they were! Happy to see me and much more compliant than if I had tried to extract them myself. Whew! It took nearly 15 minutes to get back thanks to traffic (I may have been able to walk back in that amount of time) but everyone was mostly in good spirits. Lunch, naps. This evening: We went to the local commercial complex to drop off laundry, pick up fruit, etc. We chatted with our friends Abu Manal, Amir, Amir's little assistant Ahmad on whom Yumi has a major crush, and the bored college student home on break who watches his father's toy (junk) shop. We bought more diapers, wipes, jam, and about three gallons of dish soap (their smallest size!). Happy with the chance to see our friends and chat but it did feel a bit like killing time as we were waiting for Nate to finish his post-class workout and come meet us. I ordered a meal from salsabiil at 6:15pm with the intention of eating at 6:30pm with or without Nate. He arrived at 6:35pm and we headed into the restaurant to eat. We were met with blank faces...the guy had forgotten to pass the order on to the cook. It would be 15 minutes we were told. Considering the girls and I had been in the area for over an hour and a half now, I had to desire to wait another second. I told then to forget it BUT the owner, a very nice woman who was sitting in the dining area talking with friends, caught a whiff of my irritation and charged into the kitchen to terrorize the chef. She begged us to wait "only five minutes!!!" while she whipped up something for us. I tried to assure her that we really just needed to go but would be back soon, but no. She would not hear of it and off she went to oversee some food. Yumi chose this moment to disappear. We searched frantically and found her around the corner from the complex. We were lucky that her defiance did not blow up into a full fit and even luckier that she was found. She told me that she was upset at Nate for not sharing with her his milk (he had) and that she wanted to go back to Herndon. She said this, sniffing and coughing. Poor girl has a cold. I knew we needed to get these girls back to the hotel, fed, and in bed. And yet here we were, at 7:00pm, waiting for dinner. I have definitely had it with eating out. The kind (and irate) restauranteur provided us with a very generous and totally inedible bag of greasy hamburgers and french fries free of charge. NOT what we had originally ordered, of course. Such a waste. We returned to the hotel, gave the food to the hotel staff, and dined on cereal, yoghurt, and pita. Yumi and Emi cutely played doctor/patient while we got Aya and the whole hotel suite ready for bed. Several things: 1) I think Yumi is comfortable enough with youth camp to go tomorrow from 10am (Nate will drop her). I think she could go every day this week--the last week of camp--thanks to Farrah brining her out to meet us in our cab. 2) I am not going to hang around the sports city area during her time at camp. I need to find something close by that gives Aya a chance to get out and move around. In other words, no wandering the streets for hours in the hot sun. 3) We need to ask the hotel cook Mohaned to make meals for us or allow me to cook something in the hotel kitchen. Alternatively or additionally, I need to keep more healthy food on hand, somehow. As I said, I am done with dining out each and every day.