Matthew’s Adoption Diary

Friday October 1, 2004

The family that sightsees apart, stays together.

  • World class Chinese acrobats.
  • Warm and well appointed.
  • These are the types of crowds we tend to draw out on the streets.
  • Wanna live in Hefei? Then don’t do the following.
  • Wanna live in Hefei? Then do the following.
  • Mmmmmm…prawns.
  • The first person to e-mail us with the correct number of babies in this sculpture will receive a prize on our return home.
  • Hefei nightlife.

Today was a day of sightseeing for all of us here in Hefei. Naturally Dorothy and I decided to split up and get away from each other. Actually we did it for Aelex. While she has been a real trooper these past few days, we figured that she could use some one-on-one time with just her and her Daddy, so she and I went with the rest of the group sightseeing while Dorothy and Matthew spent the day doing their own thing.

If you want to know what Dorothy and our son did today you will have to wait for her to tell you. Although my guess is that she is none too fond of you folks since she refuses to write anything for you. I am not sure what you did but it must have been bad, I suggest you apologize profusely and beg her to write a diary entry. (Please for the love of god ask her to write something, I could use the break from all of the reporting I do for you people.)

So the incomparable Linda gathers us all together to go out today at around 10 A.M. to Anhui Park about 30 minutes from the hotel. So of course since yesterday was in the low 90s and sunny, today we decided to wear long sleeves and coats. A little note on the weather patterns here in Hefei, there is none. It was quite the chilly day today with a drop in temperature from yesterday of at least 142 degrees. So we get to the park and it is packed. Why — do you ask — would a park be crowded on a day like today? Because October 1st is the anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China which occurred in 1949. Happy birthday Red China!

So we get off the bus and are immediately surrounded by half the population of Anhui. Apparently people came out from all over today, not just from cosmopolitan Hefei, so we are even more of a novelty than usual. Again, everyone seems very friendly although Aelex does get very nervous when the people touch her. Apparently she represents good luck since she was adopted and they touch her to hopefully acquire some of her good fortune. Although based on my daughter’s reaction to this talismanic activity, if she was a little bigger and able to aim her groin kicks properly, their good fortune would end before it ever had a chance to begin.

At the park, we saw very cool acrobats and juggling performances. The crowd was heavily peppered with Red Army soldiers who all seemed in very good spirits and some of them surreptitiously took pictures of the waiguoren with the Chinese babies. This does not bother me and for the odd Chinese with the courage to ask me to pose with my children, I happily oblige. Even when I am aware of the clandestine photographer I will position myself so he can get a better shot. I figure that whatever can make the strange more tangible may in the long term be beneficial to everyone concerned. That plus the fact that the Chinese do not seem to mind having their picture taken so I figure “when in Hefei…”

The highlight of the day out for Aelex was when she finally begged her way into a boat ride with her Daddy. We saw the boats on the lake as soon as we started walking around the park and she began her well plotted assault on my defenses eventually wearing me down until I agreed to take her out on one. After renting one for 45 minutes at 15 Yuan (plus 10 Yuan refundable deposit if I chose not sink or steal the boat) she and I hopped on. Now this was one of those pedal powered boats and as soon as I get on the boat the guy starts looking around and showing 2 fingers with a confused look on his face. I finally understood that he was looking for the second pedaler. I shook my head no and indicated that it was just me and my daughter. He smiled slyly, shrugged his shoulders and bushed us off. About 10 seconds into the boat ride I knew why he was looking for the second pedaler, because this was not a one man job. Considering the fact that I get all of my exercise from popping open beer cans (although here in China they still have the old fashioned pull tabs so I have been getting quite a workout) and that the boat weighed about as much as a U.S. Navy Ticonderoga class Destroyer, I was popping some veins pedaling this thing around the lake. Also, the pedal placement was not optimal for someone who is a few inches taller than your average Chinese so I was also incapable of reaching full leg extension which may have actually saved me from a fatal heart attack now that I think of it. Through it all, Aelex obliviously enjoyed herself, unconcerned with the fact that her father was in great danger of having a massive stroke at any minute.

After eventually convincing Aelex that if she wanted her father to live to see her third birthday, it was in her best interest to finish the ride we returned the boat to the dock. There may have been a minute or two left on our allotted time, but I cannot be sure. The man working the dock gave me a knowing smile as I tried to lower my heart rate to triple digit beats per minute and I wobbled my way back to meet up with the rest of the gang with Aelex holding my hand and gently leading the way for her incapacitated father.

After feeling began to return to my lower extremities, it was time to leave so we all boarded our tour bus and returned to the hotel where we met up with Dorothy and Matthew just returning from their own day out on the town. They too had some wonderful adventures today but I am not going to tell you about them. I’m totally serious, if you want to hear her side of things you had better start begging her for it.

We had a late lunch/early dinner in the hotel and went for a brief walk around town with the kids (just in case I had any strength at all left in my legs that needed to be drained) and returned home for some play time. Aelex and Matthew really seem to get along well and she just loves being a big sister. Matthew is still making progress every day and his personality is really starting to shine. Although, for your own reference, do not give him and food above the consistency of water as he apparently has no ability to chew. In his headlong rush to get food from his hand into his belly, Matthew tends to leave out the interim mastication phase thus rendering him susceptible to life threatening chocking hazards. Some rice — yes regular white steamed rice with the consistency of mush — nearly asphyxiated him the other day. Hopefully by the time we get him home, Matthew will realize that his teeth are for more than biting his father with (I am the only one who gets the chew toy treatment, I must taste like Congee).

Tomorrow, is another relatively free day with only some afternoon paperwork to do and then we get our children’s passports as we prepare to leave for Guangzhou on Sunday. Since most of China is closed during this week in honor of their national holiday, we will have to find some activities within walking distance most likely, but we will, I am sure, manage. See you all in tomorrow’s weekend edition.

Eating celebratory moon cakes with the ghost of Mao…