A typical day in my life starts by not needing an alarm to wake up. I don’t work until 1, so if I’m up any time before 10, it’s all good. I am usually up around 7, and I have quiet time by myself, a little yoga, a little reading, a little catching up on Facebook or chatting, kind of time. Then I get the girls up.
We usually have brunch. Sometimes it’s something big and elaborate like potato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches or scrambled eggs with cheese and veggies, bacon, and toast, sometimes it’s just cereal and fruit or whatever. We usually do some school work that needs my assistance or supervision. This is a good time for math or things that have workbooks or worksheets.
The nanny comes at 12:15 and I leave by 12:30. I walk along a four-lane road and over a bridge to a big, new, high-class mall. There is an IMAX theater, and really expensive stores like Calvin Klein underwear. My center is on the second floor. Right now, and for the past few months, we haven’t had any students yet. That means I sit here for eight hours without a single class.
I prepare for lectures and events. I have about 100 ready. But I won’t see a full schedule until after Christmas. I also write and do research, and I will finally take time to learn Chinese.
There isn’t much I can’t eat now. I still have dry mouth, especially when I wake up, but the variety I can eat is getting much larger. I can’t eat lean meats, fruits with skins, French fries, peanut butter, and things that are too bready or dry, but pretty much everything else is fine. And I can eat spicy food again. This leaves a lot of variety of choices from all the restaurants here to choose from, if there are no left-overs from dinner. I usually eat twice at work and I bring a HUGE thermos of iced coffee to drink all day.
I leave exactly at 9. There is no chance of staying over, because the women who clean the offices want to go home. I walk back home, sometimes with my co-workers, sometimes by myself, and sometimes (but not usually on late days) the girls will pick me up, and we walk back together. On weekends, I work from 11-7, so that would be when the girls will pick me up. Then I go home, and we eat something light, I shower, and we watch a short movie, play a game, read, or do some schoolwork.
On my days off, we do bigger projects like art or some big new lesson that takes more time. We also might take the subway an hour to our old neighborhood so the girls can play with their friends there. I love the “me time” as I mentioned before. We often take one day of downtime, but sometimes we have time with one of my friends.
I don’t cook nearly as much as I used to. There is too much food available and it pretty much costs as much as a dinner I would make. I do make the best fried chicken, gravy, any kind of potato, and any kind of soup, but anything else can be gotten outside, and since accessibility is so easy, that’s our usual plan of action. Sadly, I think I only cook 2-3 meals a week.
My hair has grown enough to put it up, or in a pony tail. I think my weight is finally plateauing to a size 8. Our health has been really good, especially since we moved out here to Songjiang. I love our new place so much, I have filled it with plants, candles, nice bath towels and all of those things you get when you want a place to look like a home.
The girls are growing faster than I can keep up with them. As I have mentioned before, I found out that Raine is dyslexic. It’s not been as much of a problem as I thought now that I have the time and resources to learn how to teach her better. Also, knowing the problem helps immensely. Rumi is reading and writing at a very good level. She likes to go around spelling things now. “I would like some E-G-G-S.” It’s kind of funny.
The big problem with my third culture kids, I think right now, is getting people and places straight. I had to make Raine flash cards with America and a picture of Grandma and Grandpa’s house, Thailand and a picture of our town house and pool, and China with a picture of our apartment building and rivers. “Where do we live?” I asked her.
“Here.” She pointed to the ground. How do I not laugh at this crazy girl? But she still keeps insisting Grandma and Grandpa live in Thailand. My favorite one though, was “Where do they have pandas?”
“China,” she answered.
“Where do they have elephants?”
“At the zoo.” She answered. She’s not wrong. We’ll keep working on it.
Then Rumi decided to make the game more difficult. So Maddie and Lulu live in China, but they are FROM…wait, wait, don’t tell me! Ok, tell me.” She said.
“Where is Cleo from?” I asked.
“She’s from Australia, and so is Melissa, even though she looks Chinese, right?” Rumi said.
“Yes, but Melissa’s boyfriend is from Cleveland.”
“Even though he looks Chinese too? Where are Raine and Sandy from?”
“They are like Vincent in Thailand. They are from the Philippines.” Ok, I can see where this is confusing.
The weather is interesting. Spring seemed to last from February until the beginning of July. In fact, during the week of Spring festival in February, it snowed for two days AFTER it was in the 70’s for three days. I felt like I was in Ohio. We just got over a heat wave of above 90 for almost a week, now, it is low 80’s and very windy, probably residue from the typhoon. Winters are biting cold, but not cold enough to snow. There is a river in the middle of China called the Yangze River. Shanghai is just south of it. All houses and buildings above the river have central heating and carpet. The ones, below don’t. We have A/C units that are also heaters. Our climate is probably most similar to North Carolina or so, but in the winter, without central heating, it can get cold, especially at night. And I do wear my winter coat, boots and mittens everyday in the winter. Chinese people dress like this in their houses! They might even keep their windows open in 40-50 degree weather for fresh air.
However, here is something I can’t emphasize enough. In Thailand, and here, foreigners are treated like guests in your home. If you are lost, they will walk you to where you need to be. If you can’t read the menu, they will go out of their way to help you, even if there is a line waiting. No one in line gets frustrated either. No one gets mad at you for not speaking Chinese. They try very hard to help you more. There are exceptions of course, and no one is considerate when it comes to driving or smoking, as far as I am concerned. But for the most part, I am never in fear, I rarely don’t get what I want to eat, I can afford to live and have something left over, and people are nice to us. If I could only wake up one day and NOT hear about a child dying at the hands of their parents, another “accidental” shooting, another crazy person randomly killing people, and another child being horribly abused in America –even just for one day, I would be SO happy!