July 8, 1997:
Still in Nanning (until Friday, the 12th). It is getting more and more difficult to sit down at the laptop for a few minutes. Kristina's personality is blossoming. Today, at a tour all the babies and their parents took to the museum here in Nanning, Kristina gave us her first sustained smile. All the other smiles were fleeting, almost ethereal. You wondered, was that a smile or a facial twitch? But today, she had a genuine happy moment. We know she will have more and more of those.
The museum was fascinating. I had no idea that large, brass drums had such a role in Chinese history. We saw a lot of them in this museum. They were used in military maneuvers and animal sacrificial ceremonies. Ancient China was primarily made up of those two activities.
Matthew was our guide. He shared that he has lived here in China for 40 years and he does not really know why the dragon is such a popular mythical creature. Although the year of the dragon is considered a time of great disasters, people want to get married in that year (when it comes around) and if they have children they want them to be born in that year. Go figure.
Upon retrospect, when Kristina first came to us that night a mere two days ago, she was not really contemplative, but lethargic. Confused. It was almost as if she were thinking, "Where are they taking me now?" Now she is having the opportunity for one on one relationship building with two people who are her parents. Using non-verbal skills, she is telling us how to supply her needs.
- She Cries This is, basically, a game of twenty questions. Do you want this? Try it. If that is it, she stops crying. If not, then try another scenario. If you reach twenty questions and the baby is still crying, she wins.
- Head Lock When I'm feeding her, if she wants something that I'm stirring around in my plate, she locks her head forward and leans toward it. This is a pretty clear signal to me to pick up some of that item and shovel it her way.
- Head Turn When I'm feeding her, if she does NOT want something I'm trying to shovel in, she turns her head sharply to the right and does not open her mouth.
- Imitation Sometimes I may try to show her something, so I point. She points too. I don't know if this is a form of communication from the baby to me but it shows me how learning occurs. She will imitate my actions no matter what I say is right.
It's around 5:00 PM Nanning Time as I write this. Kristina has shown a definite attachment to me. We went down for dinner at the Garden Restaurant. We took along some oatmeal and her tippy water cup filled with water but we also fed her soft stuff from our plates. I got an Hawaiian Pizza and Linda got some fried noodles with some kind of meat in it. (By the way, the pizza was good.)
Since this afternoon, Kristina had given me many sustained smiles when I kissed her on the cheek, playfully. And, as we were in Matthew's room buying some jade gifts for work associates and relatives, Kristina gave me my first kiss on my cheek. We got a mighty joyful Dad here. She just wouldn't let me put her down all afternoon. The only reason I can type this is because when I laid down on my back on the bed, she kneeled beside me with her head on my stomach and fell asleep. I had to record this, though, so I was able to move her gently onto the bed and get this laptop active. Incredible feelings going on in my heart.
For a few minutes, I felt I needed to watch CNN since it is available in this hotel and find out what was going on in the world. But, as I did, I noticed Kristina's eyes were glued to the TV and I wondered if that was what I really wanted to do, after all. My interest is hers. I flicked it off with my remote control. Frankly, if I had it to do all over again, I might not watch as much TV as I did--or even as I do. Of course, there is no way I could watch TV in secret and expect her to not be interested in it. She would know and pick up on my hypocrisy if I told her not to watch it but watched it myself in secret. For now, perhaps even just for today, I don't feel like I want to watch TV if her little eyes are going to get attracted to that addicting gray light, the one-eyed monster so many of us are focused on for so many hours and so many years. (I'll get her an Internet account instead - I'm grinning).
Had a great feast at the Korean Restaurant. We bundled the babies up, Matthew called 4 taxis, and we all squeezed into front and back seats. Some families had to be broken up. (One taxi had about 6 babies in it -- just kidding). Once we were loaded into them, we were driven to the restaurant. First, a word about one of the important pieces of equipment that the Chinese have on their bikes and automobiles. Namely, the horn.
The horn is a very useful device in China. Remember, traffic signals and stop signs are suggestions, not requirements. If someone is in front of you and they are going too slow, honk. If someone is crossing the street in front of you, honk. If you are feeling someone is thinking about cutting in front of you, honk. If you need to make a left turn and there is a slight break in traffic going in the opposite direction but many bicyclists still peddling by, honk many times so they will know to let you through.
Honk, honk, honk. They do not seem to have very many accidents and we have gotten successfully to many events by either taxi or bus, so I will continue to keep my fingers crossed as we drive wildly through the streets of Nanning, bellowing like a cow gone mad. It is just the custom. It will be all right.
At the Korean restaurant, we sat at a table with a BBQ grill built into the center of it. The waitresses were also cooks in that they brought plates of various raw meats and laid them on the grill right in front of us. Some of the meat was mighty fatty but, hey, how often to you get to go to China and taste their cuisine? I sampled a little of everything. There was also a buffet in which we got the opportunity to try numerous exotic dishes. Matthew said this was the safest Korean Restaurant for westerners. Apparently there are others that serve items too wild for the western mind to conceive. Some of the items I tried were:
- Water Chestnut Jello - How else could I describe this slightly sweet delicacy that looked like thin blocks of yellow Jello but tasted richer. I had two of these.
- Deep Fried Bread - The grease sweated out when you squeezed it. I had a few bites. They were very chewy.
- Donuts with a Sauce - These donuts were square with no holes in them. They were shiny with a thin coating of oil. Not sweet. A yellow sauce came on the side that you could dip the donut in. This was the frosting. I did a little double-dipping but, courteously, did not double dip where I had taken a bite. I did not look around to see what rules others may have been making up.
- 1 1/2" Sesame Seed Coated Bread Ball - With something sweet inside.