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  • Marilyn Saltzman

Big Sister-itis

Selam is learning to be a big sister, and sometimes it’s easier than others. I’m sure all of you older siblings will empathize! (Sorry, Ellen, but I distinctly remember telling them to take you back even though I was only three.)

The sibling rivalry shows up in unexpected and humorous ways. An example: In Chinese, “ha bong” means good job, and we have been using that expression to praise Dian. Today our guide said “ha bong” to Selam when she did a good deed, and Selam responded, “No ha bong. I not Dian.”

Sometimes the rough and tumble gets a bit out of hand, and she is quite a bit stronger than Dian, whom she can pin to the floor if no adult is watching. So there have been a couple of meltdowns as she learns – and tests?– the boundaries. When they are at their best, they are incredibly cute as they learn to interact without a common language. They feed each other food, chase each other, play hide and seek and giggle a lot. They seem to be most engaged before bedtime.

Tonight was quite a trip because Robin bought what he assumed to be milk (the label was in Chinese), and Heidi fed it to both kids, thinking she was giving them something to calm them down. It turned out that it was coconut milk, filled with enough sugar to create 1/2 hour of havoc between two extremely hyper toddlers. It reminded me of that beauty salon sign – Unattended children will be given an espresso and a puppy.

Today we arrived in Guangzhou and the third hotel of our trip — or “hometel” as Selam would say. It’s a Marriott and very well appointed. There are upscale shops, a Starbucks and seven restaurants on the premises.

I am trying to give Selam some special TLC and individual attention to make her path easier. Tomorrow she and I will check out the hotel pool and nearby park while the rest of the family goes to Dian’s visa physical.

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