Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Victory!

After 30 - 45min of light music (thanks, Ally), rocking, cuddling, petting, and gently stopping her standing / jumping on her bed, and on a day when she was yawning and rubbing her eyes before 10:00a...

Caroline took a nap.  Chalk this up as one of the victories that count.




Monday, March 23, 2015

To nap or not to nap...

Caroline has decided that she doesn't want to take her afternoon nap any longer.  While she will get into bed, she spends her time playing with her stuffed animals, jumping up and down on the mattress, and banging on the headboard.  We are told by friends that their children also decided to stop napping at about this age.

The problem is that she needs that nap.  When I say "needs", I mean NEEDS.  Without it, we no longer have a sweet, good-natured, playful little girl by the late afternoon.  Instead, we have a Creature that would cause Father Merrin to run screaming in terror.

We had a sharp lesson on this yesterday.  We took Caroline clothes shopping, and she had a blast.  She looked at clothes (I add here that, though she is not yet 2 1/2 years old, we had to get one dress in a 4T for it to reach decently past her knees), she tried on clothes, she helped Mama try on clothes, she ran around the store, she tried on sunglasses, and generally had a great time.  Mama and Ol' Baba, in contrast, felt like they'd had a good work-out trying to keep up with her...

We thought, therefore, that her going down for a nap would be a cinch.  Um, no.  While I was out working in the yard, blissful in my belief that my child was off in the Land of Nod, she was, in fact... playing with her stuffed animals, jumping up and down on the mattress, and banging on the headboard.  Even her flesh is only so strong, however, and it all started to catch up with her by about 5:00: she collapsed in her little easy chair and wanted to do nothing more than suck her finger and watch "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse".  Efforts to get her up to get some dinner led to a temper tantrum.  This paled to insignificance to the one she threw when we turned off the TV when we sat down to dinner.

As the meal came to a much longed-for and merciful conclusion, Chrystal said, "Look at her.  Do her eyes look funny?"

Caroline's eyes were rolling in her skull and she was wobbling in her chair like a Congressman on the verge of falling off his barstool.

"Pick her up before she falls over."

I did so.  Caroline immediately put her head on my shoulder... and fell asleep.  I took her back to bed; she woke up to cry for about three seconds when she realized that she was horizontal... and was out for nearly fourteen hours.

What to do?  She HAS to have her nap, but is stubborn enough to not take it.  Oi...



Thursday, March 19, 2015

"One Child"

I only just discovered this series, so I can't yet say how good it is.

"One Child" is the story of an adoptee Mei Ashley who, while studying astrophysics in her college in London, gets a message:

"Urgent.  If you are the Mei Ashley adopted from the Guangzhou orphanage in 1992 please contact Pan Qianyi."

It is a message from her birth mother.

Mei quickly learns that her birth mother is desperate to see her as Mei's brother (born after her adoption by an Anglo-American couple) is being framed for murder, and her birth mother has some belief that Mei, as a British citizen, can help to clear his name.

I suppose the writers put the murder into the story to generate interest among viewers not acquainted with / interested in international adoption, but there was quite enough power in just the few scenes I've watched so far.

--- The look on Mei's face when she gets the first message.  Apprehension.  Excitement.  Curiosity.  Suspicion.  "Why would somebody in China have to contact me?  Who... is the only person it COULD be?"

--- Mei learning that the birthmark on her leg is actually a wax burn put there by her birth motherbso that she might be able to identify her... one day.

--- The reaction of her parents.  They dealt with it better than I think I would: though initially suspicious ("It's a scam."), they quickly gave their total support and blessing to their daughter, revealing that they had set aside money for her to make a trip to China if she chose.

--- Mei in her bedroom, looking at a toy British soldier sitting next to a little Chinese trinket.  Opening the box with the shoes she wore on the day of her adoption.  Looking at the documents.

--- Finally, the scene where Mei meets her birth mother.  "She won't even look at me," she complains to the reporter.

"She is ashamed."

Whether it turns out to be a good crime drama remains to be seen, but I think I'll be watching the rest.

"One Child" (2014)
dir. John Alexander


Monday, March 16, 2015

Reading

Caroline enjoys being read to.  I regard this as a VERY good thing as (hopefully) it means not only that she will learn to read early and easily but also will learn to enjoy reading.  I was a "bookworm" from an early age, and, while I don't read as much as I used to, I still enjoy sitting down with a good book (usually electronic; what a fascinating modern world we live in).  I hope that she will learn to do the same.

But what - assuming that I have any say in the matter - ought she to read?  C.S. Lewis has some worthwhile things to say about what children do and ought to read.  He argues strongly against "children's books" as books for children:
I never met The Wind in the Willows(1) or the Bastable books till I was in my late twenties, and I do not think I have enjoyed them any less on that account.  I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story.  The good ones last.(2)
Clearly, there are books that, because of very simple language or ideas, are directed towards very young children.  But as the child grows, is it not natural for him to "put away childish things"?  But what sort of book is "childish"?  Lewis, of course, is well-known for his Narnia stories.  As these "childish" books?  Of course not; they may be (and are) read with appreciation by people of all ages.  And this, I think, is his point: a story may well be read and enjoyed by children that is NOT a "children's" book.  Further, he regards it as an error to approach the entire concept with the idea that children are some alien species that not only cannot appreciate "adult" literature but must be given nothing but simple little morality plays or utter pabulum to read.
The child as reader is neither to be patronised nor idolised: we talk to him as man to man.  But the worst attitude of all would be the professional attitude which regards children in the lump as a sort of raw material which we have to handle.(3)
All this is not to say that every book is appropriate for every child.  I do not say that the average seven year-old ought to be handed War and Peace or Catch-22 and told to get to it; this would likely only turn him into a confirmed book-hater by the age of eight!  I also think that there are topics (notably sex) that ought to be handled with care; I don't see what is to be gained by exposing children, even young teenagers, to explicit literature.  However, there ARE certain "adult" themes and ideas that are appropriate for children, even rather young ones.
Those who say that children must not be frightened may mean two things.  They may mean (1) that we must not do anything likely to give the child those haunting, disabling, pathological fears against which ordinary courage is helpless: in fact, phobias.  His mind must, if possible, be kept clear of things he can't bear to think of.  Or they may mean (2) that we must try to keep out of his mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil.  If they mean the first I agree with them: but not if they mean the second.  The second would indeed be to give children a false impression and feed them on escapism in the bad sense.  there is something ludicrous in the idea of so educating a generation which I born to the Ogpu [sic] and the atomic bomb.  Since it is likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage... Let there be wicked kings and beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants and dragons, and let villains be soundly killed at the end of the book.(4)
Tom Sawyer and Injun Joe.  Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver.  Mowgli and Sher Khan.  Even Mr. Mole and the Terror of the Wild Wood.  These are "children's books" that treat their reader "as man to man", and not only give him pleasure for a lifetime, but also teach valuable lessons about honor and courage that are priceless.

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(1) This is a book that I also profoundly enjoy.  I believe that I was in my teens when I discovered it, and you may believe that I deeply hope that Caroline comes to love it as I, Mr. Lewis, and millions of others have done.

(2) C.S. Lewis, "On Three Ways of Writing for Children" in On Stories and Other Essays on Literature (Orlando: Harcourt, 1982), 33. 

(3) Ibid., 42.

(4) Ibid., 39.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Mama

I came across this photo today.  It's a bit timely, really: Caroline has gotten sick (a pedestrian sinus infection, thank God).  Chrystal has also been sick with a pretty nasty case of strep throat.  Who does Caroline like to go to for comfort when she doesn't feel well?

Mama.

And who, sick or well, is always there?

Mama.

American bald eagle (H. leucocephalus) on her nest.  Source: Pennsylvania Game Commission

Another Mama (from when Caroline was in hospital a few months ago)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Everyday things

One of the (ahem) interesting things about having a small child around is one never knows what he'll find when he walks into a room.  Or, for that matter, looks up from his reading to see a naked two year-old, giggling like a maniac, dashing through the room with a diaper-waiving mother in hot pursuit.

At any rate, I came home from the grocery store to find Caroline in the kitchen with a mixing bowl (her favorite hat) on her head.  She was pretty happy and... Well, you can see for yourself.

There was SOMETHING I meant to do...


What are you looking at?  Doesn't everybody put on a purple hat and dance in the kitchen?


JUMP!  JUMP!  JUMP!

Next day, with Chrystal not feeling so hot, I took Caroline out and about with me.  In my on-going efforts to win the coveted "Father of the Year" award, I took her to get... pizza.

See this?  This is MY breadstick.  Try to take it from me at your peril.
She enjoyed it very much.  So, belly full...


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A special dinner party

Through the magic of social media, my wife has started a rather large group of families with children from China here in No. Carolina, southern Virginia and So. Carolina.  This past weekend, a number of us met for dinner both to celebrate (a few days late!) the coming of the Year of the Goat and to get to know each other face-to-face.  I think that a good time was had by all.

There were, I believe, about nineteen families represented

Of course, the kiddies had no trouble mixing


Getting them all to stand still long enough for a group photo was a challenge.  What you can't see is a platoon of parents with phones and cameras.  And notice a certain little girl standing out front...


Caroline shares the same birth month and year with these two little girls.  I think that little A (on the right) looks much like Caroline, though she is from a different province

It's good to know that there are (relatively) so many adopted children in the area.  I think that all of us parents hope to keep the kids in touch with each other in the years to come.  Adopted children, especially international adoptees, are something of a unique minority, and I think it is important for them to grow up around other kids who understand what it's like to be "somewhere between".


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With special thanks to Ms. Sandy Ho and her staff at Sampan Restaurant in Winston-Salem, NC