Monday, February 23, 2015

NiHao Kai-Lan, thanks for the window.

One thing about parenting that came as a surprise to me was the changes in children's shows. I grew up on Sesame Street and the Electric Company. I grew up without DVRs and VCRs showed up late into my pre-teen years. We did not have entire channels dedicated to children's programming.

This change is not a bad one I thought. I can park her in front of the TV like I was parked.

Well, except that there ware some kids shows that she doesn't like. There are some kids shows that I would prefer the tantrum than let her watch. Some though, after repeating and repeating and repeating, you would rather stick a fork in your skull than listen to it again.

Lately, Lotus likes to climb up on mine or D's lap and watch. We will often look at our iPad or computer but sometimes she says "Watch with me." and we do.

So her favorite show is NiHao Kai Lan. This has often been billed as "The Chinese Dora The Explorer" and while it is accurate, Kai Lan concentrates on emotions. You'll often hear her ask "Does Ho Ho look happy or sad?" Not a bad thing. I've found myself singing the songs to her. Like "Even when you're mad/hitting's always bad. Use your words." and it helps.

When we first brought Lotus home she adored Kai Lan. I imagine hearing the Mandarin made her feel at home. One deviation was when Kai Lan counted. I noticed it once, but didn't really think anything of it.

Another episode and Kai Lan counted to three and Lotus stiffened and looked around. The look in her eyes was terrified. She looked at me and held out her arms and I ran to pick her up. She was almost shaking. The look on her face was "What did I do?" Then I realized that Kai Lan had opened a window into her past.

We do it. Most people who work with kids do it. "If you don't do [blank] by the time I count to three you're in trouble." They must have done it at the SWI (orphanage).  Lotus heard the numbers and wondered what she did wrong. Once I understood I hugged her and told her what a good girl she was. How much she understood at the time I don't know but she calmed down.

I don't know what happened when the nannies reached three--which probably signaled (as it does with us) the end of patience. I hate the fear that was in Lotus' eyes when she heard it.

She seems fine with it now--with one exception. As Lotus' language has expanded she has added some of the Mandarin spoken on Kai Lan to her everyday vocabulary. Tuo-xie instead of the word slippers.

However when she counts--she counts in English, occasionally Spanish (Thank You Dora), but NEVER in Mandarin.


  1. Wow! Who would have ever thought that would open a door to her past. That must have been so scary and confusing for her. Thank goodness you were there to comfort her. Stopping by from ICLW.

  2. I have a mom friend who adopted a little infant girl from China who had/has very very bad PTSD. If you are wondering I can put you in touch with her because she wishes she knew earlier since they really figured it out when she was older and talked much better.

    1. I would love it if you could put me in touch with her! I don't know how much PTSD Lotus has, but it would be good to get ahead of the game.

  3. =( how awful, I'm sure, for you to see her scared at Kai Lan's counting - glad you saw it for what it was and was able to comfort her...

  4. Wow. That's very sobering.