Tuesday, July 17, 2012
17 July: New friends
17 July One month from yesterday and my parents will be here to visit and accompany me and the girls home to Virginia. Nate will stay behind an additional three weeks. I guess I had better start trying to make this experience work out as we originally planned before it ends on me. Or wait, isn't that what I've been trying to do this whole time? I am happy to say that this morning HAS worked out. Yay! I needed it. The day did not start well and I am frankly surprised at how well it has turned out. Aya woke around 4am, crying, and I was worried for poor congested Yumi. I really did not want her to wake up and be unable to return to sleep. Thus, I leaped out of bed and rushed to Aya. A diaper change and a warm bottle did the trick (boy, I hope she doesn't make a habit of this after such nice treatment...). Yumi DID wake but presumably went back to sleep. I was not so lucky. I finally dozed a little between 6-7am and woke extremely groggy. Yumi was still asleep so we did not wake her. Instead, I got Aya and Nate went into to read to Emi. Some minutes later, when Yumi found herself the last one to wake, she began to cry and complain bitterly. I tried to "get on her level" and acknowledge her feelings in language she would understand in her distressed state. This is a tactic I've been trying but, as I have mentioned, seems to work better with Emi. I only makes Yumi mad. I am sure it helps for her to know that I have heard her side and understand, but other the that...honestly the things that seems to work best is low-level ignoring. Nate felt for his workout in the middle of the anguish and offered up a "good luck." I honestly envy his ability to just disengage. If it were me, I'd never have been able to leave. What I did was this: I acknowledged her complaint (e.g."I want to get up FIRST!!") for a few minutes and then I let her rant and cry about it for a minute without saying much. Then I told her that she could say it more more time and that was it. If she said it yet again, she would have to go to time out. Amazingly, that seemed to work and she stopped that particular mantra. She started a new one: "I want to be alone outside!" I repeated the process. We did this several times until she had nothing to rant about and was just crying loudly. The final step was to allow her to cry for one more minute and warn her that any additional crying would result in time out. And she stopped! Amazing. It was not fun but it was pretty short-lived. Like I said, I was astounded by her comeback; she's been perfectly cheerful all morning. Such a relief and a welcome change. Being as today's activity at the youth camp was an all-morning bus trip to the zoo (too many unknowns for my comfort), Yumi did not go to camp. Instead, we went to Rainbow Street. I had the girls draw their "maps" of our destination. Someone suggested I do this and it has become a tradition; before we leave, the girls will often sit down with construction paper and crayons and draw a "map." Yumi's is usually quite good and she will attempt to write the name of the place at the top of the paper. A pleasant--if lengthy--drive to Rainbow Street through downtown Amman. We learned from the driver where to go to see King Abdullah's residence/palace--something I have oddly never seen before. It is apparently right next to downtown Amman. I switched up our Rainbow Street visit and I believe it was a good idea. We went first to the Egyptian juice and saaj restaurant. Instead of agonized waiting for food while hungry and cranky girls complained, they were fresh and cheerful. We also beat the lunch rush. Delicious carrot/orange/banana/strawberry "cocktails" and saaj (cheese for the girls and thyme/olive oil for me). A Jordanian/American couple stopped in to order. From our perch outside, Yumi kept pestering me to invite them to our hotel. She does this all the time--she clearly is lonely and misses our days of nearly constant social interaction. I hesitated because of pride; I did not want to appear too eager to get to known other Americans or "western" Jordanians. Honestly, I normally don't even make eye contact with westerners when I see them. Is that weird? On behalf of Yumi, though, I set aside my pride and struck up a conversation. Yes, in English. Some of you may know how much of a sacrifice that was for me. :-) Yumi was elated, especially to learn that they also have three girls (two were at summer camp) and THEIR names are also Mariam and Leila (these are Aya's and Emi's middle names and that is what they go by here). This family is returning to their home in...Arlington, VA!...next week but we exchanged numbers and made plans to get togeher Friday afternoon. Yay! After lunch we paid a visit to the British Counsel--an English school as far as I can tell. We have not been there in a while and it was a fun change from our usual rainbow street stops. First--a visit to their excellent bathrooms. We looked for some friends we've made but did not find them. We did make new ones, however, primarily a woman who works in the cafe on premises. Next--upstairs to their children's reading room. Not very grand, really, but the girls love it and we read a few books together. Finally--a stop in at the cafe for the first time. We found our new friend there and she introduced us to all her fellow employees including her husband. She was sweet with the girls and carefully examined each of their maps, still clutched in their grubby hands. We purchased three yogurts and sat on the GRASS (such a rarity in Jordan) to enjoy it. 1:30pm we left for the walk to the circle at the head of rainbow street, caught a cab fairly quickly, and returned by 2pm. Without incident. Girls down for naps within ten minutes of returning. A dream! This evening: A fine one. Plenty of one-on-one with Yumi after her quiet time and before Aya/Emi woke. We went on an hour-long excursion to the nearby commercial center, making all the rounds: Abu Manal, Amir, the cell phone store, the toy store, the shop, the restaurant. We had/made a little business in each. By the time we finished I had Aya in the back of the stroller, Emi on my back, Yumi walking, and the front loaded with 12 liters of water, yoghurt, canister of oats, two cartons of milk, a ton of grapes and nectarines, more cell phone minutes, and take-away for dinner. Dinner was fine although Emi refused to eat it and spent the rest of the evening--really, only 20 minutes or so--in her room in "time out." Other than her howling from the other room, all was well. Nate took Yumi on a "booza walk" and I prepared the girls/hotel suite for bedtime. We got everyone in bed by about 8:15pm. Now it is 10:27pm and Aya is crying. All my girls have been relatively good sleepers but I find I have to be very consistent and firm with them with regards to nighttime interaction else they take advantage. If, while traveling, I have to soothe them in the night so as not to disturb of hosts, they tend to wake every night of our stay. Ugh. When Aya woke early THIS morning, I changed her (unnecessarily but I figured I just would) and gave her a warm bottle of milk. She had not awakened in the night like that since our third day here. I bet she expects another bottle of milk. Although Nate just confessed to me that he did not attach her pacifier to her pjs when he put her to bed.