Wednesday, July 22, 2015

That's Not Helping

The other day the Wife decided that BigD needed a haircut.  So me and BigD wandered down to the local fancy hair cutting place and got BigD's hair washed and cut.  While he was off in the back of the shop having his hair washed, I could hear quite the commotion... but I could not see what was happening.

I could hear the hair washer yelling"放松" (sound like Fàngsōng) which means "relax" in Chinese.  It was kind of funny sounding because the "放松" was always followed by a *whack* sound and an "OW!"

Now, I'm not an idiot... I mean, I may be, actually, we're not sure.  But I knew what was going on.  My son was probably freaking out because he doesn't like going to the fancy hair cutting place and having people wash his hair.  I had visions of him curling up into the fetal position and trying to avoid all human contact while the poor underpaid hair washer just wanted to finish washing his hair and get onto the next customer.

Somewhere along the way, the hair washer thought it would be a good idea to start yelling "放松" (relax) at the foreigner and hitting him in an effort to make him more comftorable.

Of course I did what any good Dad would do... I got out of my seat and walked into the hair washing station so I could watch and laugh.  And all I'm thinking is, you know, maybe, yelling at someone in a foreign langauge and hitting them may not be the best way to get them to relax... I mean, That's not helping.
BigD after the haircut

And totally unrelated to hair, but related to things which don't really help, is deodorant here in ZhongShan.  It's not that it isn't nice to smell pretty, but each morning I liberally apply deodorant to my underarms and then walk confidently out into the wild hot sweaty outside.  With 35 degree celcius weather and, oh, I donno, 120% humidity, I stay nice and dry for approximately 3 seconds before I'm sweating through my shirt...

My back is soaked in sweat, my front is soaked in sweat... my wife laughs at me because I sweat through my pants... I can feel the sweat running down every inch of my body... except my underarms.

Thank goodness my underarms have deodorant!  Otherwise I would probably smell really bad... oh wait... never mind.  I mean, if I wanted the deodorant to help, I'd probably have to cover myself head to toe with it!  Because as it is, I've got 2 nice dry patches under my arms, while the rest of me looks like I went through an automatic car was without a car.

And all I can think, while I'm wringing out my clothes at the bus stop, is That's not helping.

And while I'm wringing out my shirt at the bus stop, I see some guy working on adding a new store sign to the building.  He is crouched on the sidewalk with his welder and is spot welding some steel frame for the sign.  I'm really happy to see that the work place saftey people are starting to make a difference here... I mean, last year, this guy probably would have been welding with no saftey equipment, but now... well... he has his knock-off RayBans on protecting his eyes, and while the welded molten metal is flying past his face at temperatures of 1000 degrees F (550 degress C) I notice that he is wearing a paper mask to protect his face from said molten metal... at 1000 degrees F... paper...  1000 degrees moten metal... paper.  The paper mast was held in place by his RayBans, and the best part, was that someone drew a picture of a face on it so they knew where to cut out the eye holes.

As the local children danced and played in the molten metal sparks, trying to catch them in their hands, I'm just looking at this workers paper mask thinking, man, That's not helping.

Other things which I find less than helpful here, is stuff like...

  • If I can't understand what they are saying in Chinese, they decide to write it down... as if I could read it... not helping.
  • When we goto a restaurant and order some ethnic dishes, they tell me what it is BEFORE I eat it... not helping. 
  • Telling the children that the live animals in the restaurants are not pets, but actually found in the sewers... not helping.
  • Sticking crazy long needles in your body expecting that it wont hurt and actually take away pain (I'm looking at you crazy little acupuncturist)... not helping.
  • Donuts with fish inside... not helping.

The other day me, MissP, theCutness(tm) and MrSnuggles went to the park to feed the fishes and have a nice day out.  This is the resultant picture...
Isn't she happy looking?!

... MissP is NOT happy.  Not happy at all for some reason.  See, I knew that this particular morning she was having a rough time.  Nothing specific... just in a bad mood.  So when we left the apartment, I held her hand as the 4 of us walked along.  We climbed onto the bus and I sat beside her and let her cuddle against my shoulder for the bus ride.  When we got to the park, again I held her hand and talked with her while we talked.  After we fed the fishes, I held her hand and made sure we chatted and laughed while we walked to go buy some ice-cream.
But for the whole time, she was just not happy.  Grumpy and complaining about... well... pretty much everything.

When we got home, we talked about her attitude and how her bad attitude made it difficult for the rest of us to enjoy our time out.  Her constant complaining and pouting was and continues to be an ongoing struggle.

Wife:  Why were you so angry in the photo?
MissP:  I wasn't angry, I just didn't want to smile.
Wife:  Why not?
MissP:  Because I wanted to be dramatic and I didn't want to have to smile.
Wife:  But why?  Weren't you having fun?
MissP:  I wanted to get attention.

And that's when my heart broke just a little bit...  see, we went around for a long time before she finally said that - she said she "wanted attention."

Me:  You wanted to get my attention?  But you had my attention.  I knew you were sad today.  When we walked to the bus, whose hand was I holding?
MissP:  Mine.
Me:  And when we got on the bus, who did I sit with?
MissP:  Me.
Me:  And who did I let lay on my shoulder for the whole bus ride?
MissP:  Me.
Me:  And when we got to the park, who did I walk with and talk with?
MissP:  Me.
Me:  Can't you see that you already had my attention?  You didn't need to try to get it.  You were so busy being hurt and feeling that you were not loved, that you missed all the love and attention I was giving you.

It still breaks my heart that even after 5 years of being part of our family, she still feels that she has to fight for attention, that she feels unnoticed, or unloved, when we all pour so much love and attention into her.  And I'm left with this feeling of... That's not helping.  Like my wife has said before, some of our children can be like a broken vessel, you can pour all your love and hope and acceptance into them, but they can be so broken that they can not receive it, or at least not hold onto it... it just passed through them.

That's why I have to continually remind myself that I can not fix my children... I can not fix anyone.  I can keep pouring love and acceptance into them and hoping some of it sticks... but ultimately, my hope has to be in He who can actually fix people, and put broken vessels back together.


  1. What's that song....He heals the broken hearted.....
    I loved the hair wash! Most relaxing. Next time I want video & audio!!!!!

  2. Thank you for sharing that Adrian. Something to keep in mind when feeling like a failure with the kids. Giving them the tools to know that they are loved by He who is so much greater than us and that love is infinite and unconditional is of paramount importance. And for us, trusting that He has a plan and to let go of our feelings of helplessness to heal our children. Great reminder! Thank you, I needed that this morning. Patricia H.

  3. Cool pictures - both of them.!!!

  4. I haven't read you blog in a while - It's amazing what God is doing through your family.
    I needed to read this today… we have the same sort of situation with our #2: "but they can be so broken that they can not receive it, or at least not hold onto it... it just passed through them". Yep yep yep. And we also just keep pouring our love and attention in, praying it sticks.
    Chris in Colorado