Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Interesting Take on "Improvement"

Well isn't that just an adorable and cute picture of my two beautiful Princesses curled up in bed together. :-)

I think most parents would be more than thrilled if their children got along so well that they could curl up together and fall asleep... but when the back story kicks in, this picture is even more beautiful.

See, every night Ping still wakes up, scared... and comes running to our bed.
Most nights she still wakes me up, tries to get me to LEAVE the bed, so she can crawl into bed with just her Ma ma and not have to worry about the Yeti being there.
If I do happen to be sleeping on the edge of the bed, she will crawl in and cuddle up right next to her Mom and leave me alone... but if I come between her and her mother, oh boy... do I get an earful of Mandarin.*

However, this night, she woke up scared, and crawled into bed with her big sister.

That was amazing! Because it shows so much!

It shows a level of comfort she is developing, that she feels safe, she feels connected with her siblings, that she is starting to believe that she is part of the family, and so many other wonderful things which we've prayed she would learn.

So seeing them sleeping there together wasn't just a typical "Aaaaw, look how cute my children are" moment... to me it was so much more...

... it meant that finally, maybe, after the last 4 or so months, I will be able to get a good nights sleep! You know, without being woken up at 3am by a very angry little Mandarin yelling Yeti pushing Ma ma loving child. :-)

And to my Daughter #1 who helped make my pleasant sleep possible: good on ya, and thanks! :-)

* = The only time she really seems to speak Mandarin anymore is when shes yelling at me.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Me: Who ate the Honey!
Wife: What?
Me: Someone took a bite out of the honey.
Wife: That makes no sense. Why would someone bite the honey?
Me: I'm not sure... but look, teeth marks in the honey jar!

Me: How did they even get their little chompers in there!
Wife: Alright, WHO bit the honey!
All Kids: Not me! Oh no. (except Ping, who just kind of sat there wide eyed trying to figure out what was going on)
Me: Well someone bit the honey.

Now, I think it was awesome that one of my little ones took a bite out of the honey. I mean, if I could have stuffed my face inside that little tub, trust me, I would. But for all the children to deny eating the honey... when I'm looking at the teeth marks... well... thats just not good.

Me: Now someone is lying to me. And I have a pretty good idea who it was. So c'mon, who bite the honey.
All Kids: Not me! (except Ping, who decided it would be fun to start saying "Daddy did!" over and over and over... and over... and... over... again... at the top of her little lungs)

Hmmmm... 2nd chance to come clean... they are still lying... or at least someone is still lying.
This sounds like the perfect opportunity for some "good cop/bad cop" type interrogation.

Wife: Someone bit the honey, we know that. We can all see the bite marks. Now, if NO ONE fesses up, then you will ALL be grounded! FOREVER!

Whola. Okay, apparently, the wife is a little more angry about the honey than I am. I guess its not the "good cop/bad cop" routine, I think we're going for the Gestapo routine. Alright! I love the Gestapo routine!

Me: Alvight vu leetle people. Va know dat somevone ATE zee Honey! And if znoe von is going to admit itz... than I ave ZNO choice, but to interogate each vone of vou.

I walk over to little Ping, who is now staring up at her transformed father. No longer the rough and rugged father she once knew and felt safe in his strong loving arms... now she was staring up at the face of certain judgement.

Me: Zoo! Zoo open zee mouth!

Ping opens her mouth wide trying to suppress a laugh as I hold the Honey jar up to her mouth comparing the teeth marks.

Me: Aaaah, zee teeth, zey do not fit!
Wife: Anyone want to confess to eating the Honey yet? This is your 3rd chance to tell the truth.
Son #2: Well, I ate some honey. But I used a knife. I didn't bite it.
Me: Are vou shure?
Son #2: Ummmm... yes?
Me: Open zee MOUTH!

Son #2 reluctantly opens his mouth... ahhh... there it is. The unmistakable tooth pattern of a young man. With the gapping teeth, the over bite, and the adult teeth just coming in, the bite marks fit perfectly!

Me: Zoo bite zee HONEY! And you DIDN'T tell the truth! Zis iz very bad for zou now.
Son #2: Yes YES! I ATE the honey! I couldn't help it! *sob* Don't you ever get like that... like when you just NEED sugar! And you can't control yourself! *sob* I had a nervous breakdown! Oh I'm so ashamed! *sob*
Me: Zo, in za mad panek of my sugar crack babez, zou ran to the cipboard, opened zee door, got out zee honey, opened zee lid, took e bite.... then put it back and lied to your mother and fater 3 times. And were willing to let your brother and sisters get grounded just because you didn't want to confess to taking a bite of the Honey?
Son #2: I guess.
Me: Do you see how selfish that is? That you were willing to let your siblings get in trouble for something they didn't even do?! Do you think I was really upset about the honey? Or do you think I was more upset that you were lying and going to get your brothers and sisters in trouble.
Son #2: I guess you would be more mad about the lying...

Darned right I was.

After solving that case, it got me thinking... my kids do some crazy things at times. Things which make no sense at all. Thats part of being a kid. However, when Ping dose something that drive me nuts, sometimes, my first thought is "Oh this is because of the adoption". And I really have got to break that line of thinking.

A 4 year old will do bad things... no matter how they were/are raised.
My 9 year old dose bad things. And I have no one to blame but myself for that...
The 12 year old... darned right! Hormones! Mood swings!
All the kids from time to time do something which is bad and causes a fuss.

And I never look at the pre-existing children and go "Oh you did that bad thing because you were raised in a home!"... so why should I think "Oh you did that bad thing because you were in an orphanage!".

How hypocritical.

Kids are kids. I'm pretty sure someone somewhere has said "There is no such thing as a bad kid"... now, they were obviously delusional... and single... without children... and, quite frankly, crazy of their rocker... there are bad kids.

... just not mine. Mine are wonderful.

... so statistically, chances are, someone reading this has really bad kids. I'm sorry to hear that. And there is a good chance, that they were not even adopted...

Nah, kids are wonderful... just, you know, they need to grow without being judged.
Should be able to live without fear.
Know they are loved.
The most important thing in their parents lives.*
Cared for.
Listened to.
Given room to grow.
Room to make mistakes.
Know that mistakes will never affect our love for them.
... stuff like that.

I think if thats there, and I can stop blaming the "orphanage", Ping will be OK.

... either that, or I'm just gonna start blaming their mother for all the problems and be done with it.

* = within reason. Obviously the sports car is up pretty high. I'm not saying HIGHER, I'm just saying.
** = but without spanking... I think we covered that before... nooooo spanking according to Adele.

Aaaah, a though! (and unrelated cute pictures)

(the unrelated pictures of the kids skating on the Canal. I love the picture of the wife "helping" Ping skate)

This morning was a little rough with the new cuteness.
She seemed a little angry...
... at everything...
... and everyone.

While I was doing my best to parent her, it bothered me (somewhat) that she was so angry, and then so, happy... like a little cute Jekle and Hyde thing. Only shorter. And Chinese. And still yelling at me in Mandarin. I don't think Hyde knew Mandarin. But I digress.

After the kids were all off to school, I was getting ready for work, reviewing the conversations of the morning... I'll call them conversations, because that sounds better than a "constant stream of arguments which were unending in their proceedings, only disrupted by the need to breath, and maybe try to push someone down the stairs".

Okay, no one got pushed down the stairs... And there really wasn't that much fighting.

But still, my thought was "why will Ping go from happy to utter defiance" as quickly as my wife goes from "not hungry" to "I need chocolate!"

It dawned on me that we are still speaking to her in English... and she dosn't know how we phrase questions.

In English, a common way to ask a question is to raise the tone of the last word. Well, this means NOTHING to a Mandarin speaker. Actually, it means alot. Its the difference between "ma" being "Horse" or "mother". But it is NEVER used to form a question.
We also ask questions by sticking in "do you", "can you", "will you" all over the place. Well, for someone learning the language, this is skipped over as the non-native speaker focuses on the subject of the sentence, not the trappings around it.
We also stick "please" in our sentences... again... this means little to a Mandarin speaker. You would not ask "please" to form a question.

No, if you want a Question in Pings mind (and probably most native Mandarin speakers), you say "ma" at the end of the sentence.

So, to drink a glass of water, and to ask for a glass of water may be the exact same sentence, except the "asking" one will end in "ma".

Makes sense? Kind of? No? Not really...

Okay... point is, all these "questions" we were asking her (Ping, can you pick up the shoes? Can you be quieter? Can you move please?) were all coming across as a "command". They did not have a "ma" at the end, and thusly, no question. In her mind, they may have been bossy, pushy rules being forced on her by her sister, brothers, Mom and Dad.

Now yes, she had to fight for everything for the first 4 years of her life.
And yes, she is stubborn.
And yes, she is selfish at times... all the time.

But still... knowing what we know about the Mandarin language, we should have caught on that all our "questions" were really "commands" to her.

No wonder she goes from happy to defiant in a heart beat! She is probably just matching our "demand" with an equal response.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Am I Canadian Now? / China Shoes

We may have gotten Pings Canadian Citizenship card recently, however, I think what REALLY made her Canadian is the fact that she has not attended some junior Hockey games. :-)

She may not have known what was going on the whole time, but that didn't stop her from watching and cheering and clapping!

Again, I am amazed at this little persons ability to adapt to a new life so quickly. There are so many times when you might think, "well, what do they really remember" from before they were brought home... and I think it is far more than we think.

When we first met Ping she had a pair of very shiny colourful shoes. We didn't think much of them, and quickly replaced them with new warmer shoes for her once we arrived back in Canada. Warmer shoes... go figure. Well, as luck would have it, the other day Ping was in the Laundry room with me helping with the Laundry (remind me to post a picture of that later), and she found her colourful shoes tucked away in the corner. You would think she was Indiana Jones and she Finally found the Holy Grail... she runs over, dodging and weaving though a labyrinth of power saws, screw drivers, stacked bags of concrete (don't ask), towering shelves of old computer parts and digs them out from underneath a stack of dirty clothes.
She brings them out saying "Happy Birthday Shoes! Happy Birthday Shoes!" We had suspected that the shoes were given to her just before she left China as a going away gift from the Orphanage. Turns out that they were given to her for her B-Day, which was just a couple of weeks before we arrived to take her home.
Well she carries the shoes upstairs, and starts dragging them around the house with her. She is very possessive of these shoes, they are very important to her. And they are important because she remembers they were given to her before she left.
One night the girls were cleaning up the foyer - just putting the shoes by the back door, and Gemma picked up Pings "Happy Birthday Shoes". Well Ping threw a fit! It doesn't happen all that often that Ping freaks out over something like that. Normally, she won't want to share as easily as we would like, but upon being asked to share nicely, she will.
These shoes tho... well... there was no reasoning with her.
Gemma gave the shoes back to Ping, and order was restored in the land.
I guess the thing which really struck me here was not just that she "remembered" these particular shoes from China, but that they were still really "important" to her.

If Ping is that worried and feels that deeply about her Shoes, then how much is she missing the rest of China and her old "home"?

Probably far more than I expect...

What, or more importantly, WHO is she missing from China?

And if she is missing China as much as she misses her shoes, why do we not see it everyday? She runs around and plays, and laughs, like she has been in our family forever... am I blind in not seeing something different? Should I be noticing something else?

Last-last Saturday, we were all downstairs eating our Pizza and watching the "Family Movie" for Family Movie night, when, in the midst of the movie, Ping just started crying. There was no reason, no rhyme. Nothing happened. No one touched her, she wasn't tired, it wasn't late, she wasn't sick.

It was the weirdest thing in that she just started crying... for no apparent reason...

... the only thought I could come up with, is that she is "grieving".

... finally.

And thats Good! She has to process those feeling and start to deal with them, to deal with the "loss" she has encountered.

Now, we just have to help her walk though it...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Remember the Good Ol' Days?

---- Begin Emails ----

On Wed, Tuesday, March 16, 2010 7:40 AM, Alain wrote:
Have it (Bad Company 2) on 360. Pretty good game!

On Wed, Tuesday, March 16, 2010 3:40 PM, Alban wrote:
You have all the games, I swear..
How do you find time to play them?
(I got AC2 2 weeks ago, I haven't even removed the plastic film on it!)
But, I upgraded my PS3 to 320Go, fairly straight forward (as long as you know you have to hit Select+Start for 5 seconds to format the new HD! Stupid Sony, It should be automatic!)

On Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 3:47 PM, Alain wrote:
Ha! Nice.
Two words: No kids.
I'm usually too busy, but I've had some time off lately for a reoccuring injury to my foot, so I've been able to finish quite a few lol
On Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 10:18 AM, Adrian wrote:
Yea... no kids... *siiiigh* Remember those days well... cherish them... for they all leave to quickly.

On Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 10:19 AM, Mike wrote:
There was a time before kids?? Wow. I have total memory loss... lol

On Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 10:23 AM, Adrian wrote:
Suppression... not loss.

If we membered it, we would be filled with bitter rage that our lives are no longer our own.
If we forgot it, we would not know from whence we came, and would have no "life lessons" to pass onto our children.
Therefore, we must have "suppressed" our previous life; thereby preserving it in our memories for when our beloved little children struggle with our previous struggles, but do not have to re-live daily the memories which are now no longer our own.

---- End Emails ----

Ah well, what can you do. Yea, having kids changes things, but its all good. Children are worth every sleepless night, every gray hair, and every wrinkle.

And just in-case you ever forget just how wonderful your children can be, all it takes is one quiet snuggle when they curl up in your lap, lay their heads on your chest, and fall asleep.

Kids are always so cute when they sleep.

Saturday night, we were all downstairs eating pizza, watching our movie for Family Movie night. And for what ever reason... I'm not sure, maybe lack of judgement, maybe the Pepsi went to her head... Ping decided to crawl up on MY lap, snuggle in, and settle down for the night.

She sat on my lap, and laid against me for the whole movie, and by the end of the movie, was asleep in my arms.

Man, what a beautiful thing. Not a common thing though... cuddle up with Mom? Sure. Daddy? Not so much.

---- Begin Internal Thought ----

Maybe there is some "under current" of competition between parents... okay, who am I kidding, there is A LOT of competition between parents ("My little Jimmy was walking at 10 months!", "Well MINE was walking at 10 months!", "Oh yea? My child walked OUT of my womb all by herself!") ... and thankfully, in a testament to how natural Adoption is, there is A LOT of competition between adoptive parents. :-)

As I blog, how is Ping doing compared to other children? How am I doing as a father?

I know some blogs about parenting talk about how wonderful and (blah blah blah) it is. All the good stuff. And thats important. Those are the moments that help keep us parents sane.

I just want to make sure that this blog here, is a place for honesty in parenting, and hopefully a place people feel safe to comment on and contribute to the "though process" of parenting.

Because Lord knows, I'm not perfect. There are still things we are working on, some 3 or 4 months into this process... so why not be honest about it all.

---- End Internal Thought ----

So are my "good 'ol days" gone? Yea; the ones I remember... or at least, haven't suppressed.
But, I don't think I miss 'em.

Because these days right now, as rocky, tiring and trying as they are (and trust me, they are), are definitely the "BEST 'old Days".

PS: Ping seems to have stopped yelling at me in both languages now, and really seems to be enjoying my company. It's about time. :-) Now she will drag me around the house, and make me sit with her while she plays. I still can't play WITH her, or touch her sometimes, but at least she is feeling safe enough to sleep in my arms, and take me with her where ever she goes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Baby Needs a New Pair of... Bathrooms?

Once again, I find myself sucked into home renovations for our lovely daughter Ping.

Yes, now that Ping has a new kitchen, and windows... and doors... and... some other stuff... it was time for the all important "New Child Bathroom"! :-)

Yes'ir, ALL the great adoption books talk about the importance of having a New Bathroom for your adopted wonder! Old bathrooms just won't cut it.

A new bathroom will help in the bonding process...

Why just think of all the wonderful bathtub experiences you can share with your new child!
Yes, with a new bathroom for your adopted child, you two can participate in some of the most cherished Father-Daughter "Memory Building Moments"

Who can forget, the "1st Poo in a New Potty"!
Or, the "1st Bath in the New Bathtub"!
And then there is always, MY personal favorite, the "Lets Smear Moms Lipstick all Over the Floor" Memory!

HAHAHaahahaaa.... ahhh... good times. Good times. :-)

Yes, without this new wonderful bathroom (which albeit isn't done yet, so I'm just DREAMING of these wonderful Father-Daughter Memories about to happen), I would MISS all those wonderful things.

:-) Anyway, a big Thank YOU to Steve for helping... and when I say Helping, I really mean "doing everything". :-)

Oh, and yes, she was sitting there on the bed, "Managing" the construction... playing guitar. She gets that from her Mother. It may have taken us 12 years to figure out how to do Renovations together (Wife + I)... but its boiled down to my lovely Wife sitting on the couch, "encouraging me", while I do the work.

... and sadly no, "encouraging me" is NOT a euphemisms.