Monday, April 18, 2011

Playing Catch Up--Funny China

It's been several years since I've had a child home all day long and I'd forgotten how tiring that can be.  The laundry's piling up, the garden desperately needs weeding and I seriously doubt I'm going to be able to get to my book club selection for the month.  But I do have several posts in my head that will quickly be forgotten if they're not written.

*My oldest turned 17 right after we got home from China.  This is big and worthy of commemoration.  He's a wonderful young man and we're so proud of him and I'll write about him soon.

*China is amazing.    There's so much I didn't get a chance to say during our trip.

*Our little boy is a marvel.  There are "firsts" that I've got to share.

*China is funny.  I think I'll focus on that one today.

In the United States, we only have one aspiration for our kid's meals.  Happy. They're happy meals.  In China, they want a little more than just happiness for their children, hence the "Cute Smart Children Set", available for 48 RMB.   It's pretty heavy on the meat if you ask me and I can't imagine many American children would be satisfied with their dessert of ice cream and red bean in sweet water, but when they see the adult alternative above, stewed veal knucklebone in wine sauce, the red bean in sweet water sounds pretty good.

I heard a saying in China that, "We'll eat anything with wings but an airplane and anything with legs but a table."  I think I'd include anything that slithers, swims, buzzes or hops.   One night in a buffet line with XiXi, I saw the chicken feet up ahead and silently chanted, "Please don't pick that.  Please don't pick that."  Mercifully he only had eyes for lotus root.

I'm sure you're all familiar with the "claw" machines available at most supermarkets and arcades, where a child with a gambler's heart and quarters to burn will attempt to nab a toy.  Well, in China, they take it a step further.  The "claw" is actually a scooper and instead of nabbing a stuffed animal, you're nabbing a live fish.

Would anyone really want to win?  I suppose based on the quote above concerning food in China, your prize might be a tasty snack.

But don't think for a minute that this would be a one-stop meal.  You need to get your liquid refreshment elsewhere.  The fact that this is written in English tells me that they assume only foreigners would be dim enough to drink the fish water.

And only foreigners would think of dressing their children in only 2 layers of clothing on a mildly brisk March day.  The kids in China are so bundled they look like Ralphie from the Christmas Story.  If they fell, I doubt they could get up.  This little one next to XiXi reminded me of a hobbit.  If you lifted that brown blanket, you'd find a naked hiney.  The split pants were something that Cholita just could not get over.  If she'd only lived a few more months in China, she would have been a split-pants wearer herself, something that she just cannot accept on any level.

But I can see the utility of split pants and the freedom to go when and where you please, especially since using a bathroom in China might set you back a bit (no pun intended, really).  You can see on the sign above Lyle and XiXi that the toilet charge for these particular potties was free.  Not so with others.  At Green Lake Park, XiXi was doing a major potty dance while the bathroom attendant tried to explain to Lyle that it was not a free ride.  Leaving the bathroom, Lyle said it was the best 5 cents he'd ever spent.

More to say, but I must break up a scuffle over purple plastic dress-up heels.  Does my Yi Man really want to wear those?  Hopefully that's not a topic for another post.

I'm back.  XiXi's in the purple heels. Cholita's in the pink.  Don't even try to tell me that your family doesn't have issues.  Anyway, another funny moment in China came due to my laptop's demise in Guangzhou.  I was complaining to our guide one morning about the exorbitant price of internet usage in the business office when she said, "Oh, Eileen, I know what you should do.  There's a family in our group in an Executive Suite.  With the Executive Suite, you get to use Executive Lounge with free computer.  You go 30th floor and be fine."  She sat back and calmly drank her orange juice, satisfied that she'd solved my problem.  "But," I said, "Since that family actually uses the Executive Lounge, won't they realize I'm not the same person?"  She looked at me like I was crazy.  "They will have no idea.  All Americans look alike."  

And you know what?  She was right.  And just to soothe my conscience on the matter, I spoke with our Executive Suite travel mate and told her I was hanging on her Executive coat tails and using her computer privileges.  She didn't mind at all and said she was happy to help.  Then one day, someone from the Executive Lounge brought her a jacket that "she'd" left while using the computer.    I was thankful I'd had that little chat with her so she didn't say, "What?  This is not my jacket and I've never used the Executive Lounge  computer and you've obviously got an impostor on your hands who must be handled with all swiftness of Chinese law."  Thankfully she just took the jacket and apologized for leaving it in the first place.  Well, that would have all been fine and well except it wasn't my jacket either!  Oh, what a tangled web we weave!  The moral of this story is that honesty is the best policy.....................after free internet usage which is a policy that has its merits as well.


Kim and Greg said...

I LOVE your posts!!! You are a wonderful writer! Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to experience funny China for ourselves soon!!


~T~ said...

When our oldest was a toddler, he announced one day, "I am cute and smart and happy little boy!" He was, too. Now he's a pimply, careless, moody, very tall boy. I guess we should have given him more red bean ice cream.

val said...

OMG...loved the "all americans look alike" too funny!

PS Also the purple heels!

Julie said...

Ah, you have me laughing as usual! You should see some of the Chinese birthday cards my brother sends. They are English..sort of! So funny. Jenny was looking for cloth diapers online and found some really is the description...
"People’s sleeping environment is always moisture which is easy for bringing bacteria, our product absorb urine fast and reduce the pollution. bright color could bring happy and harmonious feeling to babay: Science proves that bright color is good to baby on environmental cognition. "

Hmmm...could it be that these are directly from China?? ;)I've always been concerned about my "babay's environmental cognition"...haven't you?!

Rick and Kara said...

I love reading your blog because you give a vivid explanation of the topic at hand and a hearty laugh to the reader.

As far as fighting over purple plastic heels...well, I admit we never had that problem since I have far outgrown my purple heel days and we've never bought any for our boys. But, finger nail polish was quite the thing until my boys turned 5 or 6 and learned that fingernail polish is for girls. I feel certain they'd still be using it had they not been given this vital piece of information.