An embassy pool morning. It has worked out that we have visited this pool once a week on average throughout this summer. They have not all been enjoyable visits. There were a few weeks when invites to the pool were only for the afternoons and we suffered through late afternoon traffic both on our way there and the way back. Several of our visits have been fraught with emotion, either due to forgotten passports or hysterics in the cab. There was a time when I felt that we should stop visiting the pool because some of us always ended up super mad before, during, our after our visit.
Our last three or four visits, however, have been very enjoyable. Yumi has developed a measure of independence in the pool, allowing me to play with Emi and Aya, or chat with other ladies. Emi has come to love the attached (and inclosed!) playground and can be counted on to play in there with us or on her own for over an hour. My new friend Amy has hosted us or been there at the same time as us these last few times. She has four boys, and although it took a while for my girls and her boys to warm up to each other, they are all now the best of pals. Today, for example, they played seamlessly with each other both in the pool and out for two hours. Anyone with kids knows how great this is.
Today's visit was remarkable in that the pump for the main pool had broken, leaving the pool a beautiful shade of green. The kids were confined to the baby pool but all the better, I say. This "forced" the older boys to play with and around my girls, who just loved this chance to rub shoulders with bigger kids.
Have I mentioned that the playground is ringed by grass? Heavenly grass that I laid down upon for five minutes today and soaked up rays. Everyone was having so much fun that it was suddenly 1pm before we knew it. That meant that it was 2:30pm before I got the girls down for naps but everyone was in such a good mood that it all went fairly smoothly. Our schedule will be a tad different this afternoon in that Nisreen is not coming unit 9pm tonight (she has a test) and Erapie will still come but not until 5pm. I will take Yumi on a Safeway date while Erapie plays with Emi and Aya. I will have to sneak past a hopefully sleeping Yumi and Aya to have my lesson in the hotel lobby at 9pm but I'd rather do that than miss one of my remaining few opportunities to meet with her. Oh how I wish I'd started these lessons from the moment we arrived here in Jordan!
Speaking of regrets, I was pretty awful to Emi this morning. I have apologized to her but I'll make my confession here. She constantly defies us and every trip to the toilet, every time she needs to dress or disrobe, every time we want her to do any thing we have to cajole, tease, or threaten her. It is very tiresome and today I snapped. This happens most often when I am feeling under pressure about something else--usually the need to get out the door by a certain time. When she would not put on her shoes and then refused to search for the lost one when I went to put them on her...oh, I was mad. Sadly, it is hard for me to stop the verbal or physical punishment after shout or whack. I usually do not freak out to a level that would require institutionalization but it is still not pretty. Emi was choking on her sobs and cowering from me. This is terrible and I know it. What gals me is that I reprimand the girls for screaming/hitting all of the time and yet here I do it. Not nearly as much as I used to, but I did it. It offends the spirit AND sets back my efforts to create peace in the home. And who knows if my display today, although directed toward Emi, will set back yumi's emotional/anger management progress. The desire to take out one's frustration or disappointment on others is natural but a travesty when it taken out on children. Emi's defiance is aggravating and she needs to learn the joys of obedience but obviously I need to leave my frustration at being at the mercy of a 2.5 yr old out of the equation.
This evening: Erapie arrived early for a chat. As I have said before, I am enjoying our friendship. The girls love her, too, and in fact I had planned on taking Mayumi with me to Safeway but she insisted on staying behind with Erapie. Luckily, Emi begged to be allowed to come with me so it worked out nicely. I strapped Emi to my back and off we went to Safeway. It was good to have a little date with Emlet considering our earlier conflict. We first went to Abu Zad, the yummy restaurant near Safeway, to order takeout. They are not serving food in their dining room but seem to be doing a booming takeout business. We waited for at least twenty minutes for our meal--mixed grill, rice, and hummus. Next, to Safeway, for carrots, cereal, whole wheat pita, fruit, cheese, and nuts. The whole time we talked. Of her own accord, Emi noted, in Arabic, that the playground (in front of Safeway) is closed because of Ramadan. Smart little girl! Amazing how much Arabic she has picked up this summer.
We got in a cab right outside of Safeway but the driver got into a yelling match with another competing taxi driver. This was no matter to me except for the delay it represented. That is, until the driver stomped on the gas in a huff, went three feet, braked hard, and continued to yell at the other driver through the window. The abrupt forward motion and subsequent brake threw Emi from the backseat of the car into nearly the front seat. I was horrified, to say the least, and was out of that cab in one second. Scary. I pray we are safe until we get back to seatbelts. Honestly, I cannot understand why nearly an entire country does not adopt what has been proven to have a huge effect in reducing traffic fatalities. Okay by me if you have different cultural norms, but who wants to die or be seriously maimed in a car crash? Obviously no one. Then why do most Jordanians drive without seatbelts? Why do most Jordanians not put their children in seatbelts? I saw an infant carrier the other day--rare, but they exist--and it was sitting on the passenger seat of the car. I suspect the driver did not even belt it in. I just don't understand. Maybe I will ask Nisreen about it tonight.
I returned to find Erapie, Nate, and the girls all down in the hotel courtyard. Erapie left, we had dinner, smoothies, scriptures, prayer, bed. It is 8:38pm and I will go to meet Nisreen very soon. Yumi is still up; sometimes she just keeps popping in here. Tonight it was because 1) she is scared of volcanos (we have a book about them in Arabic) and 2) she heard some fireworks and wanted to look out our window to see them. Sigh. She will be awake undoubtedly when in try to sneak out at 9:00pm for my lesson. Ah well!
Even later: it is 11:46pm. Nisreen came at nine and we had a wonderful time chatting in the hotel courtyard. I only just realized that the hotel has been open each night of Ramadan for sheesha (apple tobacco smoked with a water pipe), cards, etc. By the time we finished our lesson we were surrounded by men smoking and playing cards. Cute Mohaned the hotel chef, whom we hardly see now that we don't breakfast in the hotel restaurant anymore, popped by our table periodically to deposit plates of watermelon and the like. I was about to go up to the room at 10:15pm when Nisreen's sister Shareen showed up with her husband and 1.5 year old daughter. This is the perfect example of something that continues to mystify me about the middle east--how parents let their kids stay up so late. I just left them down there and they are only just getting started. At any rate, for the last 1.5 hrs Nisreen, Shareen, and I have been chatting and having a marvelous time. We chatted about everything from the economy to weight loss programs. THIS is what I expected my experience here to be like, and I must try to just enjoy it now rather than regret that I did not get more of it.