We are very fortunate to have lovely neighbours. When a holiday comes, we leave something for them or they leave something for us. We don’t interact much except for our gift exchanges, and random instances when we bump into each other on the way to the elevator. For the most part, it feels like we live alone on this floor of the building. Last year our neighbours saw my belly getting bigger and bigger, and then they met Elijah when we brought him home. A couple of days ago, when we arrived home, there was a note on our door. The neighbours can’t speak English, so they waited for their daughter to return from her studies in the States, and then they had her write us a note. They wanted to come over to give Elijah a gift, and to visit us. Thanks to the note, we finally know their names! We told them that they were welcome to come over and when they did, we all sat on the floor (Chinese-style) playing with Elijah.
The mother is a very typical Chinese woman – and by that I mean that she was,
1.) Surprised that I am not exhausted/haggard-looking (because I have a baby to care for);
2.) Amazed that Elijah didn’t cry once while they were here (apparently Chinese babies cry a lot);
3.) Shocked that we don’t treat Elijah like a glass ornament (because Justin was swinging him around, and even hung him upside down – the Chinese lady just about had a mini stroke!!);
4.) Confused as to why Elijah was wearing a diaper (because Chinese babies wear split pants); and
5.) Fascinated by the fact that we already want another baby (because caring for ONE baby is apparently utterly draining).
Needless to say, the whole visit was pretty hilarious. The Chinese mother would say something, and her daughter would translate, rolling her eyes, as she went. Since she has spent time in the States, she realises that much of what her mother believes is outdated and backwards. We all just nodded and smiled, sometimes trying to explain how our culture works. She wasn’t, however, buying any of it. She basically thought that we were insane. hahaha…
They left some Christmas and New Year gifts for Elijah, and then told us to visit them whenever we want. I’m pretty sure that the older lady would come and play with Elijah everyday if I asked her to. She is absolutely in love with him!
Since we are on the topic of cultural parenting differences, here’s a story that might make you laugh. On Saturday, Elijah was interested in joining my morning class. In other words, he wasn’t interested in lying down and playing with his toys. I held him for a bit, while I did reading with the students, but during the second hour, I needed to write on the board, so I used his Ergo carrier to strap him to a chair. I thought that it was pretty ingenious, so did Justin (who was teaching in the room next door), but my boss nearly died when she came in. She too, is obsessed with Elijah! Every Saturday morning, she eagerly awaits his arrival so that she can play with him. Watching her with our son has clearly shown us why being a parent is very tiring to Chinese people. They do not put their babies down. Ever. They rock them, carry them, and hold them – never for a second does my boss put Elijah down. This last week, she had a meeting with parents, so she left Elijah in the classroom with me. She kept running in to apologise for the fact that she wasn’t holding him, “Ummm… I get to work with my baby in the classroom, you are the best boss ever!”
It is still odd to us that people here don’t use car seats for their children, yet they are shocked when we playful hop around with Elijah in our arms. It is weird that they are obsessed with healthy teas and remedies, yet they are amazed that Elijah only drinks breastmilk and no formula or water. They say that we don’t dress Elijah warm enough (even when he is sweating), but we see babies outside every day with their naked little butts exposed. It’s a different world over here, and having a baby in China has been nothing short of mind-blowing. There is no limit to the amount of stories that we will be able to tell Elijah about the first year of his life.
|Joining the class|
We should write a book containing all the parenting advice that we receive daily.
It would, of course, be a very amusing read!