I am an addict. I love books. I could never seriously embrace an e-reader because I love to hold, smell, OWN books. I love to see them lined up on my shelves. Someday I would like to have an entire room dedicated to them, complete with overstuffed chairs and a ladder on rollers for accessing the upper shelves.
I had vowed to be done--nearly--with Arabic children's book buying, but then I found a new bookstore. It is located in an ultra fancy (and annoyingly western) department store down the street from the Books and More library. We went to Books and More today to borrow our final batch of books and DVDs of the summer. First on our agenda was for Yumi to apologize to the librarian for writing in one of the books. This done, we went into the children's reading room and found a family of three tow-headed American kids. The eldest--a cute boy of about eight or so--caught Yumi's eye. Weirdly, she already seems aware of boys and frequently acts different around them. Today was no different; each time I spoke to her (in Arabic), she would laugh a little self-consciously and say loudly "oh, mom, I have NO IDEA what you are saying to me. Speak in English!" All while looking at him out of the corner of her eye. Weird, isn't it? Isn't she a little too young for such behavior?
After about nearly three quarters of an hour of book reading, we headed out. It was noon but in our alternative life here Amman, noon is NOT when we head home for lunch. Now, maybe we should have, but instead we headed over to COSMO mall. I unfortunately entered through a children's clothing store and had to pry the girls away from the frilly and foofy dresses. Our destination was a bookstore I'd been told existed in this mall. While it is dedicated primarily to English books, I had heard that it boasts a modest Arabic children's book section. Small though it is, it has many different books then those found in the other bookstores we frequent. In particular, two complete series dealing with "development" issues such as respecting others, jealousy, anger, sharing, etc. Well, of course I had to buy them. And a little book about trains in the shape of a train! Sigh...it is a problem.
We should have left then. It was after 1pm! All along, however, I thought we would pop into the fancy western grocery store and see if we could fine a honey bear. Okay, I know that a jar is quite a step up from gathering honey straight from the comb, but really--a honey bear makes so much more sense than a jar. And jars of honey are all that are produced here in the middle east. Honey they have--Yemen is famous for it--but honey bears are imported. And I confess--I wanted one. I found one, but was suckered into buying cheese sticks and "regular" sliced bread to boot! I am almost too embarrassed to record it but I have to be truthful. By the way, such bread is referred to here oddly as "toast."
Amazingly, the girls held up just fine through all this. They were so excited to be in this well missed and oh-so-familiar grocery store that much of this good energy sustained them through the somewhat hot and arduous process of finding a taxi. By now I was pretty well encumbered with girls, books, and groceries, so it was no easy task to just simply get IN to the cab, but the driver nicely got out and helped me get the girls and stuff inside. The driver also kindly allowed me to basically set up a picnic lunch in the backseat: bread (wholewheat, at least), cheese sticks, almonds, and water. My aim was to fill them up on the ride so I could get them down for naps as soon as we got back.
And so I did, more or less. They were down by 2:30pm and I switched my lesson to 3:30 so I would have time to myself before my lesson.
This afternoon: It started out well but ended poorly. Talking with Nisreen was a delight as always. No major relations about her or her culture today as I did much of the talking. I learned GREAT words, though, such as "benefit" and "regret" and "to be worth it." The latter two came out as I was trying to explain why I would consider spending a bundle of money to take the girls to some hot springs tomorrow. I am still hesitant because I seriously doubt the girls will even want to get in, but the springs feature some unforgettably gorgeous waterfalls set with the Dead Sea in the background. Nate and I hitchhiked to/from this place back in 2006 as no public transportation services it. If I take the girls I will need to hire Ahmad the driver who, in spite of his instance that he really does not want to take a cent from us, really DOES. Many many cents, as it happens. I told Nisreen that I do not want to regret anything when we leave here but wondered if a trio to the hot springs would be worth it. Maybe we will find out--stay tuned.
Erapie had painted the girls' nails. They were on cloud nine. Nate came home and we all headed over to Bayrouni Street to drop off laundry, buy fruit, get more water, and pick up dinner. It was 7:00pm by the time we got back, however, and everyone was cranky. Nate and I argued and that probably aggravated things. Everyone eventually went to bed peaceful enough but only after Yumi wishing for another family and getting her mouth washed out with soap. I am happy to say I was able to calm her and send her to bed happy, but sad to report that I was less effective with Nate. He went to bed without speaking to me. I am discouraged: marital discord on the very same day that I was reminiscing fondly about a fabulous and romantic adventure with Nate to the hot springs when we were an engaged couple six years ago. I would have never dreamed on that summer day in 2006 that we would ever disagree, let alone fight. Go to bed mad, are you kidding? Never. Well, if nothing else, I need to try harder to be a peacemaker even when my instinct is try to teach him a lesson or make a point. The girls instantly picked up on the edge in our tone and their behavior spiraled right out of control. To be honest, their behavior frequently spirals out of control without any "help" from us, and that is probably why we can get so tense with each other. But there is a lesson here--try to be a peacemaker no matter what, and be a good example. Someday, inshallah, it will pay off.