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Archive for the ‘Unpleasantness’ Category

Still alive. Lots in my head that I’d like to say but I seem to have lost my voice ~ my ability, my motivation, my whatever ~ to get it out of my head and into a more lasting medium.

The girls are doing great but its been a rough year with several unexpected (and unpleasant) events so far. My family is struggling to find our new normal after the unexpected loss of J’s mom, my mother-in-law, and my girls’ grandma. We’re mostly faking it until we make it right now. We hear it gets better with time so we’re clinging to that hope.

I know. I already flunked out of NaBloPoMo. J let me know first thing this morning when he checked the blog. In fact, he woke me up to tell me. Thanks, J.

But I was up late last night. Reading. I used to read A LOT. Like all the time. And then I got busy – one kid, then another kid, and a house, and a job just doesn’t leave a lot of free time for reading the way I’d like to. I used to read 3-4 books a week – now I might read 3-4 a month. I do read tons of blogs and I have about a million news apps on my phone but books have fallen to the end of the list.

I was checking Google Reader last night and one of the blogs I read did a mini book review of a book about the famine in China resulting from Mao’s initial implementation of the Great Leap Forward. The blogger said straight up that this was was not an easy read but was worth the effort as it was the most comprehensive and well-researched book he’d ever seen on the topic. The book is called Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962 and was written by Yang Jisheng. His book was originally written in Chinese and has taken several years to be edited and translated into English. Even with the editing it’s still a lengthy book at 650 odd pages and it is alternately dry, due to all of the statistics, and yet horrifying due to the awful, awful stories of all the dead (and of the survivors who lived through the horrors of the time).

Just imagine for a moment. At least 36 million people dead – the majority of whom starved to death – over a 4 year period. 36 million. That’s nearly the population of California. Dead. Starved to death. Parents, children, babies. All of them.

And all of that was caused by the ideas of one man and his plan to collectivize the Chinese peasants into communal work units. One man. I can’t even imagine how truly charismatic he must have been (in the beginning) to convince so many to follow him. I know that he eventually led by fear and violence but in the beginning people followed him because they believed in him and his vision for the country. With the perspective of hindsight and a Western lens it seems unbelievable that such a tragedy could happen but it did and I think people, but especially parents of Chinese children since this is a part of their first country’s history, should examine it to try and understand the events and the impact.

So even though the book is a little bit expensive – even on Kindle – I downloaded it and got sucked right in. It’s not a fast or easy read and I found myself having to re-read some parts over and over again to follow all the players and crunch the numbers in my head. And then it hit close to home.

Henan province – Merry’s province – was the province that suffered the highest number of casualties. Nanyang Prefecture – Merry’s city – was in the top 3 with tens upon tens of thousands of villagers dying from starvation. It just boggles.my.mind that this one man set forth all of the actions that ultimately led to me having these two beautiful girls sleeping upstairs – 7 thousand miles from where they began. Really, it just boggles my mind.

I’m only a couple of chapters in at this point. I haven’t even finished the entire chapter on Henan province so I’ve not even ventured into the chapter on Hubei province yet. I want to read more and more but at the same time it is very chilling and I find that I have to break away from it also – it’s pretty graphic and some of the things that happened ain’t pretty.

I’ll leave you with some links.

Here’s the book: Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962

And here’s a review from The Boston Globe: ‘Tombstone’ by Yang Jisheng, translated from the Chinese by Stacy Mosher and Guo Jian

*UPDATED* with a new link to an NPR story (with audio): A Grim Chronicle Of China’s Great Famine

We went to the dentist today. It was a family affair as neither J nor I felt comfortable enough taking both girls on our own. Actually we were pretty petrifed at the thought of taking that on and figured one-on-one defense was a better plan.

This was Ava’s 432nd trip to her pediatric dentist, Dr. Bobby. Dr. Bobby is great and has shown untold amounts of patience as we have gently coaxed Ava along this process. Ava still deals with some oral aversion issues and trips to the dentist have always been, ummmm, let’s just say dramatic. Under Dr. Bobby’s care she’s come a long way even though we’ve still never actually managed a cleaning or polishing. Fortunately she has (mostly) good teeth so there’s never been a reason to force the issue. Every visit is a little better and we take another baby step in that direction. Today we started out with a full floss and a tooth brushing by the hygienist AND she allowed her to use the water spray and the suction tube in her mouth with no tears. Had we stopped there I would have been thrilled and called the day a complete success.

Merry went for the first time today. She did fine. Laid back on the table, put her sunglasses on, opened her mouth and was totally chill with the whole experience. That’s Merry for you. Pretty much how she approaches everything.

But back to Ava.

The lead hygienist was around today and seemed to take an inordinate interest in how Ava was doing – to the point of hovering a bit and even interrupting our regular hygienist as she worked. After Ava was done then we decided it was time to try for the x-ray again so lead hygienist takes Ava off to do the x-ray while Merry took her turn in the chair. Ava was hesitant but wasn’t outright fighting this yet so both J and I were coaxing her over (to include dangling my iPhone in front of her like a carrot). We got her into the x-ray room (again, I count this as success) when she finally balked. Lead hygienist tries gently talking her in, as were J and I, when she suddenly not so gently spouted out, “If you don’t go in here and do this then I will make your mommy and daddy and baby sister go up to the front and they will leave you back here all by yourself.” I amazingly didn’t smack her but quietly stated directly to her that no, we would not be leaving Ava alone. I did walk away at that point to deal with Merry but J stayed right with Ava and they managed to get the x-ray after all (special thanks to Apple and my iPhone and some free app that looks like a Spirograph).

In the meantime Merry is happily swallowing the bubblegum flavored toothpaste and holding onto the dentist provided sunglasses – occasionally putting them on and then taking them off and then putting them on while the regular hygienist cleans her teeth. Lead hygienist pulls up a chair beside her and lifts Ava on to her lap to hold her while we were waiting for Merry. (At this point I’m like all WTF are you all over my kid but I couldn’t do much about it being that I had my hands full of other kid.) She proceeds to sit there for the next 10 minutes playing with Ava’s hair, holding her on her lap, and trying to talk to me about what it’s like raising girls (she has all boys), telling me how much she wants little girls like mine, and calling both my girls ‘sexy little mamas’ with their sunglasses on. Yes. She really did say that – repeated it 3 times actually – to my 5 year old who repeats every.single.thing she ever hears. I’m sure the other kindergarten parents will be delighted when their kids come home with that new phrase. I relocated Ava from lead hygienist’s lap onto the chair with Merry as soon as I could

Dr. Bobby came out about this time and did a quick exam and fluoride treatment for both girls. Ava has a tooth we’re watching that may need treatment in a year or so and Merry’s teeth look pretty good (condition wise) with what looks to be only one missing tooth related to her alveolar cleft (we hope it stays missing and doesn’t show up since it would be *IN* her cleft if it does. Merry is getting ready to teethe her last two (lower) incisors and we should be good for a couple of months – or at least until the two year molars show up.

But then lead hygienist strikes again. She’s got her hands all over Ava again (playing with her hair) when she asks me if they are sisters. I answered in the affirmative. “Yes, they are sisters now.” That answer didn’t suit of course so she asked a second time. “But are they real sisters?” My answer is yes (again) which is when she asked for the third time, “No, I mean are they actually sisters?”. I think J started to realize that I was getting geared up to lose it big time so he answered. “If you are asking if they are sisters by birth the answer is no but they are sisters now.” I’m not sure if that is what shut her up or the daggers shooting from my eyes found their mark.

This whole experience just bugged me. A lot. So I thought about it and waffled over it and talked my co-workers’ ears off mulling over how I could have better handled it and I finally decided to call the practice office manager and tell her about our experience. I laid it out pretty calmly and stressed the following:

1. Ava has a relationship with her regular hygienist. She knows just how much she can push past Ava’s comfort zone and the lead hygienist was interrupting and disrupting that.

2. Calling my 5 year old a ‘”sexy little mama” just isn’t appropriate in my world. It’s just not.

3. Threatening my child with the loss of her parents’ presence to frighten her into doing something is not okay with me. Especially my adopted child who is already scared to death of losing us in any way, shape, or form.

4. The lack of personal and professional boundaries in the way she was talking to and touching my child (playing with her hair, etc) icked me out and irked the hell out of me. I am doing my darndest to teach Ava stranger danger and how people that we don’t know (or even those we do) shouldn’t invade her space or touch her. This lesson isn’t exactly reinforced when a person she perceives to be in a position of authority is doing things like that. (It did show me that we need to have more discussions on this based on the conversations I had with Ava after the fact).

In hindsight, I feel like I failed a bit. I wish I’d spoken out more firmly or more directly to the lead hygienist at the time – but then again I didn’t feel it was the proper space or time to do it since we had both girls right there with us. We have discussed some of the things that happened with Ava – we told her it was wrong of the lady to say we would leave her because we would never do that – and we now know that there are a few holes in our stranger/friend/acquaintance danger lesson plan that we need to patch.

The office manager was appalled, by the way. Seriously appalled. She apologized a million and eight times at least and seemed very concerned that this could be indicative of a bigger problem. She thanked me over and over for calling and I think she was genuine and didn’t think I was just a hysterical, complain-y parent. My only request to the office manager is that they mark the girls’ charts that their hygienist should always and only be K and that I don’t want lead hygienist working on or anywhere around either of them at any time.

So – what would you all have done? Would you have let it go? Not gone back? Called and complained? Did I overreact?

Oh, I do want to let you know that because Ava was such a big, brave girl and didn’t cry even one tear she earned herself a trip to Build-a-Bear this weekend to pick out any bear she wants. She didn’t manage to earn an outfit though (that would have required the cleaning) so it will be a naked bear for the time being. Next dental appointment is in 3 months so she might earn it some clothes then.

We’ve had some kinda really bad news this week. Most of which I can’t talk about here since the information doesn’t belong to me. I’m just not happy about it. At all.

We’ve had sorta good news in that we finally got our homestudy sorted out and sent our immigration paperwork to be approved for the eighty-twelfth billionth time. We started the homestudy renewal in July, btw.

We had a really surprising phone call with some news I don’t quite know what to do with. Good? Bad? I don’t know yet.

I realized I’ve been to the doctor more times since I turned 40 than I went in the 39 years before that. I came to this realization while sitting in my neuro’s office getting 30ish shots of botox in my head, jaw, and neck after I waited in a completely empty waiting room for over an hour – leaving me lots of time to be introspective about how you really do fall apart after 40. Oh yeah, and my doc thinks that popping noise in my neck might just be a touch of arthritis setting in. Thanks for making me feel even older, doc.

Ava’s having some behavior issues at school that are just wearing me out. There are two main challenges: The first is that she’s extremely strong willed and doesn’t want to listen to her teachers – so she just doesn’t sometimes – and the second is a personality conflict between Ava and another kid that’s causing some minor physical aggression. I’m just about at the point where I want to say just let ’em take it out onto the playground and work it out between themselves because I’m, frankly, getting tired of the dreaded blue note showing up in her take home folder. It’s funny because these two tiny (the smallest two in the class) girls are clearly struggling for alpha status. The other little girl tells people all the time she’s a “Barbie Girl.” I tell Ava that she could end this by making it clear to everyone that she’s a Warrior Princess (think Mulan) and this should end the whole argument since everyone knows Mulan could kick Barbie’s rear end with one hand tied behind her back.

I am joking, somewhat. It’s just been really difficult in trying to figure out the right balance of disciplining Ava for misbehavior at school (that she’s already been punished for there) while understanding (not that I’m justifying) that much of what she is doing is developmentally appropriate for her age group. She’s definitely not the only one who isn’t a “good” listener but this frequent catfighting (kitten fighting?) thing is kind of shocking/annoying/trying my patience. Besides, her behavior as of late has really shown us that we have no freaking clue as to what we are doing as parents. Seriously, none. At all.

So, what DO you do? We tried putting her to bed early (really early) as a punishment since it cuts her time down with us, which is also a pretty awful punishment for me since I miss her and want to spend time with her – well, mostly…except for Tuesday, Wednesday, and especially Thursday of this week. But an early bedtime really isn’t that effective as a punishment when she cries for a few minutes and then promptly falls asleep and stays that way all night. I mean, YAY for sleeping, of course – but it clearly wasn’t so much of a win considering our original intent.

Every time I was tempted to complain about my Monday today (and it was a pretty rotten one for a variety of reasons so the temptation was strong) I thought about my friend who is burying his son tomorrow, about the people in Japan whose lives have been completely shattered, about people who have lost their jobs unexpectedly, and about the people in my life who are dealing with life threatening illnesses.

And then I kicked myself in the rear and decided to get over myself.

I have two people in my life who tell me that they love me every single day – usually multiple times – and who want to spend time with (sometimes often grouchy) me. I have a relatively secure job that I actually like 99% of the time. I am in good(ish) health and have great insurance to cover the ish part when needed. J and I both still have all of our parents and siblings and there’s even a new niece or nephew on the way. I’m mostly financially secure (well, as much as the average middle class family, I guess).

Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of perspective to clear up your focus, huh?