Friday, July 06, 2012

5 July: Just when I thought we had it figured out...

5 July The weather is amazing in Amman.  The daily weather report that I usually catch while eating breakfast predicts 42 degrees celsius most days.  The Internet is down--for the third day--so I cannot check the Fahrenheit conversion.  Whatever it is, the constant breeze that blows around the city makes the temperature perfectly acceptable.  I only feel hot in the back of taxis when the girls are climbing over me and the driver insists he is running the air conditioning and, therefore, wants the windows closed.  I also get hot when trying to catch taxis that aren't stopping.  Standing out in the road, worrying about how to keep my girls comfortable enough to avoid meltdowns, is enough to make me sweat. Today has been another gorgeous weather day, one we unfortunately have not spent much time outdoors enjoying.  Yumi went to Day Two of Arabic Camp.  Nate took her before he went to study/class.  Emi and I did our workout and then rushed off to the Books and More library where I knew a copy of Jordan's King Abdullah's book was waiting for me.  My friend and student Laura had nicely lent me this book before our trip and I intended to bring it...but somehow it did not make it into our bags.  I may want to buy a copy of my own but prefer first to begin reading a loaned copy if possible.  Thus, off we went to to the Books and More library in the Swifieh neighborhood.  Thanks to traffic, it took 1/2 hr just to get us only one half hour at the library before we would need to take off again to pick up Yumi from camp.  Thursdays are a short day, ending at 12:00pm. There are obviously a million things to do and see in our immediate neighborhood, if you are content to simply wander about, pop into shops, and chat with whomever you meet.  If you are a child of or under the age of four, however, you apparently want to do things that involve bouncing, climbing, bright colors, other kids, and (maybe) air conditioning.  These special requirements limit one to activities spread our far and wide in Amman.  We rarely spend less than 20 minutes riding one way to any given place.  Usually, any given ride takes at least 30 minutes.  And we do this multiple times a day.  Lots of people I know wouldn't even flinch at the idea of taking off on drives across country with their kids, but me?  I don't want to ride with them longer than 15 minutes if I have to.  And my girls seem to agree with this sentiment.  And while they've been remarkably good on taxi rides, all things considered, it is starting to wear on us.  I want to keep taking them to pools and bookstores and fun museums and horse riding lessons and whatever else but...I never thought I'd say this but here goes: I definitely wish we had our own car here! Not that having my own car would somehow solve the problem of amman's traffic.  Alas, I wanted to go to this library but also had the obligation of picking up Yumi.  We enjoyed our 30 minutes at the library even if I did not get to speak to anyone in Arabic.  I DID get to read with the girls and that is important too.  We luckily found a cab within 3 minutes of leaving the library.   The poor driver did not know what he was getting into when we picked us up.  The Arabic camp is being held at the home of one of the participating families and it is not easy to reach.  As Amman is built on hills, many streets that run parallel to each other and across the side of a hill do NOT have cross streets intersecting them.  Can you imagine this?  Add to that the problem that in this particular neighborhood there are a lot of one way streets, and getting to this house has been a problem every time.  Today was no exception...and luckily we had given 1/2 hr to get there because that is how long it took.  Poor Emi, however, was getting carsick and was pretty miserable.  She was crying softly, asking to get out.  Me?  I was sweating. We eventually found it and the driver just had to bite the bullet and drive the wrong way down several streets to make it happen.  Based on the lesson I learned yesterday, I asked him to wait and went in to get Yumi.  She seemed perfectly ready to go although finding and getting shoes on...and wait, where's Emi?...this took at least five minutes.  Cab driver was still waiting, alhamdulileh.  I would not have left any of my kids with him but I did leave our bag of books.  Twenty minutes later and we stumbled into the hotel lobby.  It was not overly late--only 12:30pm--but the time we spent on the road today was draining.  Yumi was generally cooperative but I was on edge from all if this and was sharp with her a few times.  She responded with some negative behavior but nothing terrible.  Happily, lunch and quiet time prep all went well.  Everyone quiet now.   I will have to think about preschool.  I think Yumi is enjoying it but is ambivalent about it.  I need to decide if it is really in everyone's best interests to spend that much time on the road so she can participate.  Maybe she could participate solely on the two days it goes until 1:30pm and I could pick her up anytime between 12:30-1:30pm.  It only meets four days a week anyway (Mon-Thurs) so maybe I should take her to the Sports City camp this next Sunday to see if Yumi enjoys is as well/more.  She may not get isolated Arabic instruction but she will get to run around with a lot of kids...the running around bit is good but the bigger group of kids might..might? easier on her.  The Arabic camp teacher reported that Yumi was very reserved.  I was not surprised to hear it.  That is how she reacts to uncertainty in social situations.  In Arabic camp, there are some four or five kids and they all know each other.  They are also all older than Yumi--kindergartners and older.  The Sports City camp is also closer.  We will give it a try. This evening: This is where the story takes a turn for the worst.  We were back for naps earlier than normal so by 4pm EVERYONE was up.  I was hesitant to take the girls out on any outing because I hoped we would head down as a family to 'Abdadli for ka'ek and the Thursday/Friday market.  Thing is, I could not reach Nate since he was in class so it was difficult to predict if he would want to go (probably yes) and if he would like to meet us there or come back first to the hotel.  I was trying to decide what to do and actually had the girls close to ready to go when a series of Yumi upsets occurred.  I definitely considered them a setback but was mildly pleased by how she managed to recover from each...and then she stopped recovering.  At one point she was screaming, Emi was howling, Aya was crying, and I was biting a hole in my lip trying to keep from losing my mind.  In the middle of all this Nate called to say that he had a colleague from class with him who would be joining us for dinner.  We managed to get downstairs to meet them but I was, for once, unable to socialize with this guy.  I could barely keep from crying, let alone talk.  Nate could see I was in trouble and squeezed my hand in support....but there I was, stuck.  What I wanted was Nate to take Yumi up to the room and me to be free to be away from her for a while but that was now impossible due to the presence of Joe the colleague.  We stood around on the street for about five minutes trying to catch a cab and in that time Yumi hit Emi and defied us multiple times.  I was crying.  Joe excused himself and left.  I grabbed Emi's hand and took off.  Nate hauled an hysterical Yumi upstairs and, I learned later, had to physically restrain her for a long time before she would calm down.  We did not stay out that long--45 minutes at the most, probably--and came back to find her in relatively good spirits, although she threw a few mini fits in the 30 minutes it took to get everyone to bed. Of course I am discouraged. So is Nate.  For the first time Nate brought up the idea that the girls and i go back early.  Not that we can--we can't--but up until now I have been the one who has considered it.  Now HE mentioned it.  Of course we cannot.  We will not.  But Nate needs to study more and two situations are reducing his study time: 1) taking Yumi to Arabic camp and 2) the exhausting 3 hours we spend between the time he gets out of class and the time we put them to bed.  He can get the necessary hours in if he leaves earlier in the morning for school (that answers the question about Arabic camp--I guess it is out) and studies from the time he gets done with class until right before the girls go to bed.  He should have been studying at night since starting his program but has not since we get them to bed so late and he wants to unwind/spend with me.  10:00pm is just too late for him to start a two hour study session.  He wants to get those 2 or 3 needed hours in immediately after class and I do not blame him.  That means, though, that I am double stuck. I have to manage evening activities and dinner at a restaurant with the girls and no help.  I don't know what I am going to do. Well, at least we have a good reason to pull Yumi from the Arabic camp.  Not only does it involve too much transportation time, it is cutting into Nate's study time.  And as we can see from today's performance, it does not seem as though Arabic camp was really helping her.

1 comment:

Chelsea Russell said...

Oh Hilary,

I am so sorry to hear that you were in tears. That must have been frustrating and embarrassing. I wish that things would get better for you soon. I hope that you get some help and rest. I know it must be tough to have to do this without friends around to socialize with and help. You can do this though. I wish that this could be an amazingly fun and happy trip for you, but it seems like it is testing your strength as a parent. I don't blame you for wanting to go back to Herndon. I want to go back to Herndon and I am surrounded by family and love and support and I am not in a foreign country and I only have one child. You are SUPER! You are a SUPER friend, a SUPER mom, a SUPER wife, a SUPER traveler, a SUPER student, a SUPER Mormon, a SUPER sister.. You ROCK and you amaze me with all of your talents. It will get better; I know it will! Hang in there, my friend.