I had some dreams ... they were klowns in my koffee.

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

This is my journey through job transition from a toxic environment to a better life. Join me for a few thoughts and a few laughs along the way.
What are "klowns in my koffee"? They are the factors large and small that make you less than you are. A "klown" can be a grossly incompetent boss,
a short-sighted policy or a moronic coworker. They won't kill you, at least not immediately, but they abrade the soul
as you scrape past them to get through the day. Sometimes it's best to dump them out of the cup.


Day 295 - Kazakhstan Part 29

Every Sunday, this blog will describe our life-changing trip to Kazakhstan in 2005 to adopt our two youngest children. While some of our friends and family have seen a few of the pictures, we've never put it all together in an organized format. One of the reasons is that I hesitate to subject others to a 21st century version of the endless slideshow of vacation photos harking to some relative's visit and a lost evening of my childhood. Still, the story must be told before details are lost since this is my children's unique birthright. When we get to the end of the story, I'll edit the posts together into an extended and separate blog page and then have it printed by one of the blog-to-book(let) services for my kids. For people with less interest, these posts will be easy to identify and avoid. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We strode into the large room with its tempting delicate displays feeling that we were fully armed this time. We had a large bag of animal crackers, some blocks, some building toys, and a coloring book and crayons. We also had the only item that had been a hit on the last visit -- a small photo book with pictures of our home and family.

We sat on the wildly patterned sofa and waited. In time, a caregiver arrived with Nurlan. Since we had last seen him, they had given him a very short crew cut. The absence of hair made his chubby face look even rounder. He wore a little white T-shirt, jeans, and little red shoes. He entered the room with no hesitation like a bustling little general.

Inna the interpreter quickly stepped in. She bent down on her long, long legs until she was eye to eye with the chubby little boy. Nurlan's eyes darted here and there with an expression that seemed to say, "I have a lot of energy and I am planning on bouncing off the walls."

Inna explained who were were and why we were visiting. If this made any impression, there was no sign. Inna shrugged and stepped aside.

Knowing very little about three-year-olds, we were quickly laid out all the wonderful things that we had brought with us. Nurlan looked from item to item and seemed thoroughly unimpressed.
The one item in which Nurlan was overwhelmingly interested was Terry, particularly his beard. Nurlan poked, prodded, approached and retreated. He had a lack of interest for me that rode the border between invisibility and disdain. He was a little more attentive to Inna, but then again, she was so young and pretty that even a toddler could be attracted.

The wooden blocks had pictures on each side. The kit included sheets of paper with the completed pictures so that you could match the blocks on top of the paper. We were anxious to show Nurlan how the little deer or the birdies would emerge, but he was much more interested in piling the blocks up and knocking them down. Not only knocking them down, but doing so in the most dramatic way possible. When the plan turned to throwing the blocks from a distance painfully close to the rickety table of dishes, we attempted to distract the toddler and put the blocks back in the bag.

Nurlan was not one to be distracted easily. On one level, his tenacity was another sign of his intelligence. His eyesight was certainly good since there seemed to be no subtle movement that he couldn't detect.

Food! Yes, let's bribe him with food. Out came the bag of animal crackers. He grabbed it and stuffed a chubby hand into the top. A fistful of crackers was shoved into his mouth. And then another. He was like a conveyor belt with teeth. Feeling that things were again going wrong, we tried to get the bag away from him before he ate the paper itself.

We were very conscious of being watched and judged by the orphanage staff. Inna had retreated from the room to set up camp with her magazine in a chair outside the door, assured that we would prevent damage to the collectibles or die trying. The door was partially open to the hallway near the administrative offices.

The crackers were disappearing with frightening speed. With frozen smiles, we attempted to establish control over the uncontrollable. No dice.

I finally snatched the bag out of his hand and he screamed like I'd removed a kidney with a can opener. The sound echoed across the expanse of wood floors and bare walls. We froze while Nurlan grasped for the bag.

Inna stuck her head in and, assessing the situation instantly, uttered something in Russian that sounded a bit threatening. Nurlan slowed in his quest. In lilting English, she addressed us: "Next time, you might bring only a small amount placed in a little bag." She closed the door and presumably went back to her magazine.

Thoroughly stuffed, Nurlan slowed down enough to take a look at the coloring book. He seemed to be unsure of what to do with the crayons, but at least he didn't try to eat them.

Terry patiently demonstrated the use of the crayons and peace ensued for a few minutes.

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