We were some of the first to arrive to the breakfast buffet this morning. Other adoptive families speckled the dining area, doting on their children, watching them eat. Children accustomed to rice congee and formula are eating like continental breakfasts. We have discovered, like so many families, that our little piggy has gone from human vacuum to discerning toddler in a matter of days. Scrambled eggs are no longer good enough, they have to be hard boiled. Watermelon that was devoured a few days ago is greeted with a grimace now. Does Penelope think she needs to try every offering at the buffet, and that our giving her the same things day after day are working against her plan?
After breakfast several families gathered in the lobby for a tour of the local Buddhist temple. Our CCAI guide told us it was over 1500 years old. The architecture and statues were a marvel, the locals gracious as we took pictures. Maybe nothing is sacred anymore? I thought of the reaction a Southern Baptist congregation would have if a bunch of Chinese tourist came into a service and started taking pictures and pointing at everything.
Next it was off to the Chen house, a landmark and museum of Chinese culture. Impossibly intricate jade and ivory carvings housed in a home built centuries ago was overwhelming. They could have displayed the ivory ship and charged admission and it would have been worth it. The paintings, sculpture, needlework, and sense of history should be appreciated in days, months, or years, not the mere minutes we had.
Our last stop was a Chinese shopping mall of sorts. Jade jewelry, fans, clothing, and the most delicious Jasmin tea I have tasted were available. Penelope was the star with the staff as we showed her outfit after outfit and asked if she liked them (in Chinese and English). She shook her head and said no to every last one of them. Staff would then go grab a panda toy and wave it on front of her. “No!” she would exclaim, waving a hand in front of them. How about this beautiful fan with a plum tree painting? “No!” and a shake of the head. We now had four staff bringing things over. We made it to the Chinese dolls, 10″ replicas of her ancient heritage. NOW we get an affirmative. She likes dolls!
Back at the hotel we put her down for a nap after a minimum of fuss and ordered Papa Johns pizza to be delivered. Who knew? An hour later when she was up we went downstairs and reviewed the play area for children. The swings terrified her. She just wanted to hold our hands and walk around. Jenn went to look for the pool. While she was gone Penelope insisted on walking down the hall without me. I watched as she walked , turned around, and registered surprise that i was not right behind her. “Let’s go this way” I said. She looked art me, then back the way she was going. No response. “Come on”. Still nothing. I started walking away and immediately she ran after me I told Jenn about this as we were heading back to our room. We won’t have too many years of that reaction based on the behavior we’ve seen out of her!
After 5 we met our guide and 2 other families for dinner at a local restaurant. The largest lazy susan either of us have seen sat in the middle of the table. Several minutes after our guide ordered our first dish arrived. Eggplant. Delicious, yet odd tasting when disconnected from a base like rice or noodles. Plate after plate arrived, nearly all vegetarian. I tried the local beer, Pearl River. Good but nothing special.
Penelope did well eating her noodles and trying bits of what we offered. Every stray noodle that landed on her leg was carefully picked off and thrown on the floor. When her hands got dirty picking up her food she put them out for Jenn and I to wipe them. Please do Jenn and I a favor; don’t get Penelope anything princess related. She already acts like one.
And on a final note we were a bit concerned because Penelope had not had a BM in a day. Today she was producing the most vile gas. How can such a small child produce it we wondered? Before dinner she had her movement, the largest and smelliest yet. I never thought I’d be delighted to see such a mess. Knowing the surgery she has had and the constipation that can result we will take the BM’s she produces as a gift. One to be discarded immediately.