Now that Claire has turned 3, we are finally starting to put some effort into holidays and celebrations. During the month of October, I thought it would be fun to introduce Claire to the idea of Halloween. Truth be told, I had grandiose ideas of a whole month of Halloween activities – painting pumpkins, making Halloween cookies, dipping apples in caramel. Of course, then life happened and I got too tired to do any of that. However, I did get out the children’s books and movies about Halloween that I had bought during our last visit home. Claire enjoyed the children’s books that had funny illustration of witches, pumpkins, mummies, etc.; however, she wasn’t too keen on the movies. In fact, she got so scared watching Sesame Street Halloween and Winnie the Pooh Halloween that she refused to watch them again. I felt a little guilty that my attempts to introduce my child to American traditions resulted in her hiding behind the couch, but how scary can Elmo really be?
I also organized some trick-or-treating among the American families in our town. I was a little nervous asking people if they wanted to participate because as I get older and encounter people from all over the place I realize now that not all Americans are fans of Halloween. When I was little, I loved Halloween. I loved the spooky decorations in the stores, watching scary movies on TV, picking out my costume, and most of all knocking on my neighbor’s door to get candy! It was all fun and games. However, as a parent planning Halloween I had to be mindful of families that might not share the same view. All in all, we had 7 households volunteer to participate, which sounds like a small number, but it provided a great hour of fun for our little expat kids who were absolutely thrilled to come home with their little bag of candy. Claire still talks about Halloween so that makes me happy knowing she has some fun memories from the experience.
Claire was Elsa this year. I know, we are on the back end of that phenomenon, but that is how we roll. Chloe was a sweet little ladybug. 🙂
School has been going pretty good for Claire so far, but we have had one bump in the road which we still haven’t completely figured out. Our teachers tell us, and we have also witnessed, Claire leaving the classroom without permission rather frequently. Her tactic is not to run full blast out the door, but rather to slowly mosey out the door as if she is going for an innocent stroll. She doesn’t wander far – usually to the classroom across the hall or to the principal’s office next door. At first, we couldn’t figure out what was going on since it was clear that no other kids were allowed to leave the classroom, but for some reason the teachers were giving Claire a rather long leash. As we became increasingly aware of the problem, we voiced our concerns to the teachers and told them that Claire must stay in her own classroom. We also gave Claire some stern talking-tos and told her she would be punished if we caught her in another room. After that, the problem has been a little better. However, it has been difficult solving the problem completely since the teachers don’t discipline Claire like they do the other students. I know they think she doesn’t understand Chinese, but I am pretty sure she can understand a lot simply based on context. After having been a teacher/school counselor in an elementary school for 8 years, it is strange for me to be the parent in these kinds of situations. Ideally, I would meet with the teacher and set up a plan with her to nip this problem in the bud, but I get the impression that Claire’s teachers are embarrassed by our direct communication with them. All that to say, navigating problems at school are even trickier when culture is involved!
Tomorrow we are making a quick road trip to Thailand to get our visas stamped, catch up on shots, and attend to some work-related matters. Although it will be a lot of driving and not much time for playing, it will be nice to leave our 2 mile radius for a brief time. We might even squeeze in one visit to the Mexican food restaurant!!