Monday, November 21, 2016

Baby Steps

We are now in Guangzhou, China. From now on, all the paperwork has to do with Mei-Mei’s visa to the US, and the consulate that handles this is in Guangzhou.

Flying here was, if not a piece of cake, much easier than anticipated. Mei-Mei and ‘Stache wandered through the airport while we were waiting for our plane (We had given ourselves LOTS of extra time to get there because it was another high pollution day and we didn’t want to be stuck in traffic and miss our flight.) and ‘Stache let Mei-Mei pick out a drink. I say “let” but really I should say “encouraged” because Mei-Mei did not seem to immediately grasp that she could choose. Although everything we’ve learned indicates that she was well-taken care of by well-meaning people, choices have probably not been a regular part of her life. However, she seems to have grasped the concept and nearly sweet-talked ‘Stache into buying her a $10 plastic helicopter. Which, given that they do not share a common language, is quite a feat.

Walnut milk makes everything more bearable.
She was very content on the airplane as long as she was on ‘Stache’s lap, which meant that take-off and landing were rocky, but everything in between was fine. Fortunately we had a bag of snacks that her nanny gave us, so we found interesting things to eat for the terrible times when she had to be in her own seat. She deigned to accept mini Oreos from my hand, but otherwise didn’t want me to feed, touch or comfort her, even a little bit.

Every so often, all through the day, she would get teary and reach up for a hug from ‘Stache. But mostly she seemed to be resigned, if not happy.

The next day, Wednesday, was better. After breakfast (juice and yogurt for her, big American breakfast for ‘Stache, part-American, part-Chinese for me), we went to the “Kiddie Land,” which is an outdoor courtyard for kids. It was absolutely the best decision we could have made. Our stoic, clingy little girl blossomed into the happy, exuberant child we had seen in pictures and videos. Mei-Mei ran round and round the playset, darting in out of the plastic doors and flinging Wawa (her doll) down the slides. She would climb onto the swing and let ‘Stache push her once and then jump off, giggling.

All of this, though, was strictly Daddy-oriented. If I got too close or tried to pick up Wawa or hold her hand, she would frown and fling her hand out of mine or demand her Wawa back.

But after she had played on the playset a while, we drifted over to the water feature. ‘Stache and Mei-Mei sat together on the wall and contemplated the water for a moment. Surreptitiously I yanked a handful of leaves off a nearby bush. I demonstrated how one could take a leaf and drop it into the water and offered her a leaf.

She threw the leaf into the water, found the experience to be delightful, and asked me for another leaf.
It was the first time she had willingly interacted with me since we drove away from the notary’s office. Naturally, I gave another leaf, and many after that. After a few minutes, we discovered that there were dry leaves under some nearby monkey grass, allowing us to stop pulling live leaves off the bushes, but ‘Stache and I agreed that even if we were forced to pay a “bush damage” fine, this beautiful little interaction between Mama and Mei-Mei would have been worth it.

Here she is telling me that she wants "Si!" [Four]
At lunch we saw even more of her personality come out. We had gone out searching for lunch and discovered what became out standard lunch place. Should you find yourself in want of lunch while at the Marriot in Guangzhou, turn right out of the front door and turn right at the corner. Continue on this walkway past the 7-11, past the large reddish Indian-esque statues, past the “Cheese Coffee” store, until you come to this sign:

We’d love to tell you the name of it but we've no idea. We just know that you can get 2 large bowls of noodle soup, 1 order of dumplings and 3 bottles of water for 45 RMB (about $6.70) We think it’s awesome and Mei-Mei would appear to agree.

At first she was happy just dipping her chopsticks in the sauce and licking them off ...

And then she started actually drinking from the plate!

This girl LOVES her soy sauce! 

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