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July 13, 1997:

The Traffic Song

The shots had no ill effect that we could discern. Kristina was happy most of the day (except when she was getting her inoculations). Last night we were happy to have a plan regarding getting Kristina to go to sleep. Rock that cradle! Something that has been tried and tested and found to be true through the ages. Mom & Dad Zarley just hadn't reviewed the material before we got our baby.

Today is Sunday. Last night, dinner with the Currys was very unpleasant for me. Kristina has a set of vocal chords that were really designed to get attention! It can be embarrassing in a public place that is not designed for families. The six of us tried to eat at one of those places last night (a recommended restaurant called Lucy's - see below) and Kristina became quite determined to pull everything off the table then vocalizing her dissatisfaction when I tried to restrain her little flailing arms. To try and eat and take care of her was impossible. Once I tried to ward off Kristina's sudden interest in some hot soup. She had a plastic spoon in it and I pulled back and somehow Kristina and I managed to shoot some soup across the table onto Ron. I don't think we could pull that move off a second time if we tried.

Isn't it great that we have the ability to think and plan? Parents can experience events in which conditions appear extremely unmanageable with the kids then they can go "home" and either work up a plan that attempts to outsmart the little ones (or set up conditions in which the particular embarrassing event is less likely to occur).

This morning Mommy and I set up an interesting condition that worked for breakfast. I went down and ate. Had a wonderful meal (uninterrupted). Then Mommy and Kristina came down and I fed Kristina and entertained her while Mommy had her meal. We found the "planned arrangement" mutually satisfying and Kristina enjoyed the full attention of Dad.

It is a wonderful Sunday morning. We have much to be thankful for. A few more days here in China then a short flight to Hong Kong and, from there, 13 hours back to the states. Oddly, we will leave at 6:30 PM Wednesday and arrive back home at 4:30 PM the same day. One heck of a long day.

I need to be prepared for some loud noises coming from Kristina on the plane. She might sleep part of the way but no matter how you look at it, 13 hours in one jet could be too much for even the most tolerant of children.

Kristina is imitating us in amazing ways. Often when I drink some fruit juice or water, I end the activity with a vocal release of air and an "Ah!" When she does that after she drinks, her high pitched baby "Ah!" is so cute. Linda has taught her to shrug her shoulders as she makes that satisfying exclamation so the combination can literally take your breath away, it is so beautiful. I am diverting into writing which merely reflects that of a doting parent. But that certainly is a part of this whole China adoption process as well.

This morning we went to the pool. I bought a little ladybug pool toy that she could float in. The idea of going in the water was too much of a stretch for her, however. I wanted to try a kind of "get the shock of it over with" so we could see if she would like playing in the water. Linda felt it could be too traumatic of an experience that way and she might never want to go into the water. I could see that. We didn't push it. A little toe dangling in the water for Kristina, we dried them off and went back to the room.

This afternoon we decided to have an adventure by attempting to walk to a local department store. We had our directions but, as the three of us strolled along a river near the White Swan Hotel, we got confused in reading the directions and could not find a necessary landmark. We saw two street patrolmen and, using a combination of pointing to our English directions and the name of the department store and pantomiming, one of the patrolmen pointed down a spiral staircase. We thanked him and proceeded down to a lower level street which we just started walking down. Incredible views of tall tenement buildings with laundry strung out many of the windows, tall office buildings with many small stores selling a wide variety of foods, goods and services.

As we walked on, I decided to put Kristina in my special back-pack (a Hike 'N Roll) which makes it easier for me to carry her for long distances. We stopped at an open fronted restaurant and used one of their chairs to accomplish that feat then walked on. Realizing we were not really sure of the direction we were going, nor was I seeing anyone who might be able to help us, we turned around and headed back the way we had come. Incredibly, when we got back to the spiral staircase, the patrolman had asked us to descend them, was standing there by a large glass-encased poster of major points of interest. Apparently this was what he had wanted us to see when he had directed us downstairs.

When he saw that we had walked on toward downtown and not stopped at the poster, he waited there for us to return. I noticed that the department store we were looking for was on that poster and, when I pointed to it, he smiled and muttered something in Chinese I couldn't understand and began walking, beckoning us to follow him. We stayed up with the patrolman as, at a brisk pace, he crossed streets, went back alleys, finally emerging at the department store we were searching for. I shook his hand gratefully. He stood smiling for us as Linda snapped a shot of he and I together. We were very impressed with his generosity of spirit and willingness to be helpful. He truly went far beyond his call to duty in taking us to that department store. Interestingly, this was not an unusual case. Our impression of all the Chinese people is that they were very helpful and kind as we traveled through their country.

Once we were finished looking at the department store's 5 floors of merchandise, and purchased some chopsticks for gifts, we stepped back outside and looked for a taxi. I showed the driver who was already pulled over my White Swan room key and he smiled and motioned us to get in the back seat. As he drove us back to our hotel, he joined in the chorus of incessant honking the throngs of drivers do in every major city throughout China. It is not rude (as it might be considered in the US), but merely a gentle reminder to "be careful, I'm coming through."

That honking is a traffic song to me. It reminds me affectionately of dragons and pandas and beautiful Chinese letter characters. It reminds me of hot and humid and rainy days. It reminds me of fabulous buffets, strange and exotic foods, bottled water and many days of hotel living. It reminds me of Les in Hong Kong, Matthew and Xiao Xiao in Nanning, Barbara and Eva in Guangzhou and all the truly wonderful Chinese citizens who exude such love and caring and especially family values far beyond the rhetoric we give it in the states. But most of all it reminds me of the service of Holt International and the beautiful baby girl, Kristina, that we were so fortunate to have received.

Tonight our dinner was less disruptive to others. I went once again to Lucy's only this time I ordered a bunch of things to go and we ate comfortably in our hotel room. Here Kristina could be disruptive and it would be okay. Of course, here in our room, she was perfectly courteous and fun to be with.

(Lucy's probably appeals to the Americans who visit. They serve pretty good American style quisine including such things as chicken enchilada, hamburger, fish & chips. Their walls are decorated with posters of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and many old and current movie posters.)




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