Lately, I am discovering more and more what it means to live in a tropical climate during rainy season. Frizzy hair? Check! Constant sweat? Check! Mold on everything? Check! Bugs? Everywhere! Not even kidding, as I write this, I keep pausing to swat tiny sugar ants off the desk since for some reason they have found something in the study that they want to eat. No matter how hard I try to keep the house clean, the ants have become permanent residents in our home. At least these tiny sugar ants aren’t anything compared to the giant bugs we find outside. It seems that living in a tropical climate also means that the bugs grow to mammoth sizes. See exhibit A…
Thankfully, whenever a freak monster bug comes flying into our house, either my Chinese teacher or our house helper, who both grew up in nearby villages, kill them with their bare hands. That is usually followed up by a discussion over whether or not that particular bug is good to eat (apparently cicadas are a real delicacy). According to them, almost every bug they kill can be eaten. I usually try not to look disgusted as they talk about which bugs are best to consume, but I don’t do a good job of hiding it.
Chloe turned two a few days ago. I feel a little bad because we only got her one toy, but I think I have reached the end of the Chinese internet as far as buying imported toys goes. I don’t bother to buy any Chinese-branded toys since they fall apart the moment the kids start playing with them. I figure we can get away with it since she is only two and she will be getting lots of toys from her grandparents soon.
We had a birthday party for Chloe in the gym/playroom at Claire’s preschool because the principal was nice enough to let us use it on a Saturday morning. We hired two of Claire’s gym teachers who are super fun and creative to do some games with the kids. They had never done a birthday party before, especially an American-style one, so they were a little confused when Cameron first talked to them about leading games at Chloe’s birthday party. At first they thought we were asking them to come up with games for just Chloe and were unsure (although still willing) of how to entertain just one child. When Cameron assured them it would be a group of children, they were relieved. The only problem was that we forgot to communicate to them that the parents were just planning to relax and watch, so all the activities that the gym teachers planned involved the parents. And by “involved”, I mean the parents were sweating their brains out lifting kids in the air so that they could fly like airplanes, pretending to be a railroad track by laying on the ground while kids stepped on their back, playing potato sack races by hopping around carrying kids in their arms, and holding a giant net up while kids bounced around in the middle. I know parental involvement is a positive thing, but honestly I was just hoping to pay someone else to do the work for me!
In other news, we are heading home to America in one week! It it time for us to take a break, see family, and tend to some business. We are mostly excited, but also a little nervous too as we attempt to step back into American society. Especially after the last year of living in a remote mountain town in southern China, I honestly feel like we are a pack of wild animals returning to civilization. Here are just a few of the things that concern me…
– Claire will not hesitate to pee outside. We will be playing outside and in a split second, she will have her pants around her knees, squatting to pee wherever she was standing. I can only imagine what kinds of looks we will get when this happens on a playground in America.
– We have completely let ourselves go. I rarely do anything to the girls’ hair except for brush it. Since I haven’t been clothes shopping in several years, I am down to faded tshirts and just a few actual outfits. I am not naming names, but someone in our family has holes in most of his underwear. We are going to need some serious retail therapy before we get ourselves in a more presentable condition.
– We have picked up some socially unacceptable habits. We talk about people right in front of their face (since here in China they can’t understand English). When we go out to eat, our children are usually running around the restaurant before and after the meal. Our kids walk up to complete strangers to beg for food or to take toys right out of their hand (because they know Chinese people think foreign kids are adorable and will give them anything they want). The kids address every adult they meet as “auntie” or uncle.” We have picked up so many strange habits, we don’t even know what is strange anymore!
– We have no easy way of conversing with Americans because our life and our work here is completely not normal. When we meet people in America, it is so hard to answer basic questions like “What do you do?” or “Where do you live?” Sometimes I find myself making up answers just to avoid trying to explain to people what we actually do.
So, if you run into us somewhere and Claire is off peeing in the grass, Chloe is calling you “auntie” and rummaging through your purse to see what goodie you will give her, and we talk about strange things like driving “tuk-tuks” and eating corn for breakfast, then just smile and pretend that everything is normal.