Sting ray type things
Ivan was having a great time. He was running around with the other kids in the group and walking along the sidewalk having a blast. But this new momma and daddy overlooked the need to make sure Ivan didn't get super hungry. So at a little after noon, with only a light breakfast in his tummy and his nap time already past, and just as our group was in the cutest little store, Ivan began having a serious meltdown. When I say meltdown, I mean nuclear. I'm sure the many Chinese families we passed seriously questioned our treatment of the child. By the grace of God, the area we were visiting in Guangzhou was two blocks from our hotel, so Ryan and I split off from the group and headed for our room. We eventually recovered, fed our boy, had a nap, and regrouped. We tried a small outing that afternoon back to the same shop two blocks away and Ivan again started to meltdown. We returned to our room and he was very content just playing with mommy and daddy. We decided we would try to run out to get dinner. Alas, we looked at several different restaurants before finding one that seemed like it would have food we could eat and by then it started raining. Ivan was doing well, we put in our order, the food came out and shortly thereafter meltdown #3 began. Thankfully, he and I stepped out of the restaurant for a few minutes and regrouped. It turned out to not be too bad. Ivan has taught us to be prepared with food and drink at any moment.
Monday brought about a fun plan to go see a Safari Park (zoo) in Guangzhou. Sure seemed like a great idea... Ryan, Ivan, and I had a good morning, had breakfast and spent a short time in the playroom in our hotel. The driver picked us up and as we headed out, there was a fight going on in the street, police were involved, people were shouting, some were being restrained, very scenic. So we pressed on. We picked up the other two families we'd been with the day before and headed to the zoo. It was a choppy ride. Our driver seemed extra vigilant in the stopping fast and accelerating fast department, even if we were only moving one car length in stop and go traffic, which was most of the time. Didn't help anybody with motion sickness. Alas, we arrived. We all agreed we needed to reconvene at 2:30 because naps were already being surpassed. As we were buying tickets, Ryan had Ivan in the carrier and he began getting fussy again. We started walking and it was escalating...becoming very reminiscent of the previous day. Ryan made it to a quieter spot and was able to calm him down some and he soon fell asleep. Which kind of stunk, because we went to the park so he could see some animals.
But Ryan and I pressed on. We can prove to Ivan in later years that he was there, even though he didn't see most of the animals. There was a trolley ride that would take you around a different area of the zoo to show you many of the big animals. Ryan and I decided to do that, but on the way, it started to rain. It was starting to feel like a big failure of a zoo trip. We paused for 10 minutes or so then pressed on to the trolley.
Once boarded on the trolley, Ivan began to wake up, and we were ready with snacks! He was the Cheerio king and could care less about the lions, tigers, giraffes, hippos, geese, wolves, etc... just cheerios, hardboiled egg, and a milk box. But he was having a good time with us, regardless of his interest in the animals. The trolley ride redeemed the zoo for Ryan and I.
We reunited with the group and headed back to our hotels. Ivan and I stayed in the room while Ryan ran some errands. He picked up a pizza for us and I made noodles for Ivan, who absolutely devoured them. It was really funny to see how excited he was for each bite!
All in all, I think we are getting a taste of the ebb and flow that most parents experience. Some days are great! Some days aren't. But we are extremely grateful for each moment and day with precious Ivan. I try to remind myself that even the crying and meltdowns are a blessing...it's in the meeting of his needs in these moments that he learns he can truly rely on us and trust us. This also parallels so much of our relationship with Christ. It's during the challenging, boat's-a-rockin', at-the-end-of-my-wits times that we relinquish control of our lives and experience actual reliance on Christ. Which is a beautiful place to be.
PS This post was written on Monday night but wasn't able to be posted until this (Tuesday) morning. This morning is our consulate appointment!