January 18th, 2012

China Post Fifteen -- The Princess in China

It is enormous fun to watch the princess in her element, and she really is a princess here. If she was not in her previous life, she certainly is now that she is visiting royalty. The other children flock around her. The adults adore her. And officials come and chat with her.

Today, she chatted with some officials from the orphanage, I think, about her life in America. Somehow, I missed the whole thing, though I would have liked to speak with them. I asked her if she told them it was horrible here or all right. With a sheepish smile, she admitted she had said it was all right. 

A few days ago, we were having lunch with the chairman and some teacher...fifteen or twenty people in all...and they asked her what was different about America. What she chose to speak about was church. She felt this was one of the biggest differences. I do not know what she said, but she spoke confidently and with cheerful energy for several minutes and had the whole table laughing twice. 

Right now, she is sitting here with her meimei and her didi...her little sister and her little brother--the two children she claims a family connection with. Her little sister shares a foster grandmother. I am not sure how her little brother came to be her little brother, but they are enormouly fond of each other.

Having talked about and prayed for these two for two years now, I really enjoy watching her play with them. The girl is aways looks as if she is about to cry in a sweet puppy-like way and the boy is full of mischief and cheer. He is surprisingly polite, though for a young man of somewhere in the vicinity of thirteen. 

For my part, my job is to strike a proper balance between being available and being out of the way. Sometime I am needed. Sometime, it is better if I am off somewhere and the children get their own time together. Thi is new to me.  My boys are different from this. They interact with adults more like other adults. These kids are, welll, like kids. So far, I think I have been doing a pretty good job of following Ping-Ping's cues and being present or not as needed. I also try to be welcoming and friendly to everyone she brings by.

Being here has given me a much better understanding of her life to date...particularly when it comes to food. I thought when she came that we would be providing her with better food than she had before...but now that I have eaten at the school...I think she used to eat better than my sons! The meals are all rice, really nicely steamed vegetables, and a tiny bit of meat. She could use more meat than they gave...but otherwise, it is a very nice meal!

Tomorrow, if all goes well, we will go to the bookstore, a four or five story place. Ping-Ping has gift money to buy books. I want to get a map. In the meantime, she is participating in her favorite of all activities...she and her meimei and didi are watching Chinese TV.

China Short Post A -- In Which I Learn the Meaning of Hen-Witted

I have decided that it might be nice to do a few short posts.

So, I brought a romance novel with me to read. In it, someone explains that foolish people are hen-witted because hens are so foolish that they will look up when it is raining, get water in their beak, and drown. Whole flocks can die that way. 

I don't know if this is true or an old wives tale, but either way, I had sympathy for those hens today when I tried to rinse my hair under a facet that was too low for me and, in the act of leaning backwards to get the top of my head, ended up with the shower angled directly down my nostrils.

It was a thoroughly uncomfortable experience made worse, I am sure, by the fact that I immediately thought of the novel I had just read and burst into laughter.

China Short Post B -- The Princess and Her Hair

Every year about this time, Ping-Ping cuts her hair. It gets pretty long in a year. It was well down her back and looked lovely. But she announced on the way from Hong Kong that she wanted it cut while she was here. She had it down yesterday. It falls around her shoulders now and forms the cutest pompom in the back when she put it up. she looks like an imp or like Tinkerbell. 

I was glad that she did not make it any shorter than that.

(My hair, which falls past my waist, gets regular comment. Everyone thinks it is rather neat.)

China Short Post C -- My Generous Daughter

My daughter is very careful of our money. She doesn't want me to have to change more bills because she is hoping to come home with enough left over to get a proper Ipod that she can use for QQ (Chinese social network). However, when Auntie let her know that some money had been taken...around $60...and thought it was--if I understand correctly, because she had left the gate open for Ping-Ping's little brother who did not come home (he stayed for us), Ping-Ping immediately restored the money from her own supply. 

I was proud of her.

China Short Post D -- the Guardian Lions

As I took a walk today, and paused, deciding whether to turn around or push forward, I saw a strange sight. Two stone guardian lions, the kind you see in front of all the buildings, pushed to the side and discared. One facing forward, one facing to the side.

I walked over and communed with them. They were eerie and beautiful. They seemed so out of place, shoved off in a corner of an empy parking lot beside a fenced area of greenery. They were so beautiful and solid. I got to touch the grim face and the paws. The male has the world under his paw...a ball. This ball was decorated with line. The female holds a little baby under her paw. They stand normally as a matched set. Only once have I seen two males (both holding balls). Almost universally, you see both.

They looked so eerie and out of place that it almost seemed magical. I could not help thinking, as I looked at them, that they would make a great children's story. I could just imagine that if you could turn the lioness so that she faced forward, that the gate they were mean to guard would suddenly open. I'm sure there is a story idea there somewhere!

China Short Post E -- Gmail Catches Up

Gmail tries to offer you ads based on the content of your emails. For a long time, it offered me Harry Potter ads--which was fitting In the last day, it has updated itself to ads for learning Chinese.

In between, for the last several months, all the ads were for how to tell if your man was cheating and what to do about a cheating wife. Clearly, Gmail cares more about the life of Rachel Griffin than about the rest of my correspondance.

China Post Sixteen -- In Which I Discover I Am Less Oriented Than I Thought

So, today, I decided to walk in the opposite direction along the main road. Along the way, I saw the lions from the earlier post. 

Well...imagine my surprise when I rounded a corner and recognized the place I was yesterday! The place that I thought was four blocks away and perpendicular to the road I was on!

Turns out that the road the school is on and the main road both make kind of a J shape, but in opposite directions. So that school road...the same road this apartment is on, make a kind of a oblong horseshoe from and to the main road, while the main road curves, too.

This means that when I was wandering yesterday--and I thought I was inside a square and, therefore, had a good chance of finding the main road that made up one side of the square--I was actually making a large semicircle from and back to the same road. 

Basically, I was absurdly lucky that the road went where I thought it did. Well...it was a little more organized than that, because the main road did curve, too...but still...I was very lucky.

Really hoping to buy a map at the bookstore tomorrow.

China Short Post F -- The Eye of the Storm

We are at the middle of our visit. A quiet time. The initial excitement of arrival and seeing people is over. The coming excitement of Chinese New Year has not yet begun. Ping-Ping even chose to come home and watch TV by herself tonight without anyone staying over with us. A momentary lull in the storm of visits and friends.