Saturday, March 31, 2012

Happy 1st Blogiversary To Me!

Today marks the anniversary of the day I posted my very first entry on A Broad Abroad (a blog a blog). I started this blog thanks to many friends and family members who kept suggesting that my status updates on Facebook were pure gold and I totally needed to write about my new life out here in China. After I'd posted a series of pictures of how MIL destroyed my clean kitchen, complete with my running commentary, I had so many people compliment me on it that I decided to finally get off my then-big-pregnant-ass and blog about it. And thus, a blog was born. Incidentally, that MIL post became my third entry which you can view here. So first and foremost, I want to thank my family and my dear friends for encouraging me to do this as well as for sharing the links with other people you know. I also want to thank my wonderful husband, Jeremy (formerly known as Lane of course), for all his support too. You might find it surprising that he is proud of me for this blog, especially when many of the posts are in regards to how his mother has managed to scrape raw my very last nerve, but he says I've got to let out my frustration somewhere. Plus, he thinks it could make a great book someday. Honey, I'm sorry I don't like your mother but I do always try my hardest to be nice to her because I love you! That being said, I'll say something nice here: thank you to my MIL (who doesn't know this blog exists and even if she did, she wouldn't be able to read a word of it) for constantly giving me something to bitch about and thus, blog about. If not for enduring the massive cultural, educational and generational gaps between us, this blog would focus on a very cute baby instead.

I also want to thank all you people out there who I don't know personally. According to my stats, I have people from all over the world checking out my blog and I am honored. It's nice to know that people all over the world can relate. I guess MIL problems are epidemic after all! So, which countries have visited my site the most? Which posts are the most popular? Which post is my personal favorite? Settle down, Beavis. Here's the latest, direct from my stats...

Let's start with where my lovely readers are from. These are the number of pageviews by country. Please note that the list for all-time is truncated by so there are a bunch of other countries that have clicked on to my blog but because they haven't done so more than 20 times, they don't make Blogger's list here. Anyway, I'm not surprised my friends and family back home in the states make up the majority: United States 5,672

Next up, the UK, where I have one dear friend, Keiara, and her boyfriend, Stefan. With 330 pageviews though, I doubt it is those 2 alone. So thank you Keiara and Stefan, and all your friends in the UK!

With 168 views, the 3rd country is Germany, which is surprising because I don't know anyone who lives there. So thank you, Germany! You make the best desserts and chocolates ever, incidentally. Just sayin'!

Fourth up: South Korea with 154. I'm not surprised by this since, as you may recall, I lived there for about a year and have some wonderful friends there. So to Michelle, Ruda, Jason, Jacco, Travis and the rest of you (you know who you are) thank you for your support and we miss you and Seoul every single day!

Russia takes it for 5th place with 138. Just like Germany, I don't know anyone in Russia. I have been to Moscow though (a long time ago, when I was 15) and I have to say it takes the cake as THE coldest place I've ever been. I was tempted to say Beijing was but it was so cold and snowy in Moscow when I was there so it totally wins. And the people in Beijing are rude assholes. Thank you, Russia!

In the 6th slot, we have Singapore with 99 pageviews. My brother Phillip and his girlfriend Kimmy live there. So does my friend Danny from high school. Because Phillip has admitted he hasn't had much time for the blog, I can only assume that most of these 99 clicks are from Kimmy because she totally fucking rules. I'll bet Danny did some clicking too. Thanks Danny! But the biggest thank you of all to my big brother who has always encouraged me to be me and to go for it, and even bigger thanks to Kimmy who is like the sister I never had. I love you!

Canada with 38 comes in 7th, France with 35 comes in 8th, Slovenia with 28 comes in 9th and Malaysia with 21 comes in 10th. I lumped these together because I don't know anyone in these countries either. Wherever you are from, if you are reading this blog, THANK YOU! 

Now that we've established WHERE people are viewing the blog from, now let's find out WHAT you all seem to like reading the most. Here are the top 10:
10) Welcome Home New Couch! This is the one where we'd finally gotten every last drop of crappy decorations from MIL and FIL out of our house. 
9) A Month Of MIL - After having Raelynn, MIL came to torture me daily as part of Chinese tradition. As you can imagine, I was none too pleased with this arrangement.
8) Ancient Artifacts Discovered In My Home! You simply MUST see what MIL had been using to peel our vegetables with!
7) Fashion Design By MIL - Right before I had Raelynn, I created the first vortex for ugly clothes given to us by MIL.
6) 3 Cheers For The Bus Driver - After being subjected to a bus driver's dubious work attire, I created some lyrics of my own to spice up this popular children's song.
5) Diaper Fail - This was written back when my husband was trying to be a cheapskate about diapers and had purchased inferior Chinese diapers that you simply have to see to believe. The stupidity of this product is astounding.
4) The Many Faces Of Raelynn - This is MY favorite post because it's all about Raelynn when she was just 1 month old. I love looking back at this one and smiling at how small she once was. She's gotten so big and continues to make many more faces.
3) Sploosh! This post is all about my little Raelynn coming into the world. Hmmm...maybe THIS is my favorite too. Hey, I can have 2 favorites. I wrote it!
2) All The Things I Miss About America - You just don't know what you've got until it's gone. I miss home a lot some times and this lists some of the things I miss. Thankfully, you can find imported goods here for a big price but still, I so miss convenience!
1) Where In The World Is Samara Amchin? Last year, my dear friend Samara Amchin had gone missing. Her family was worried sick and her sister Dara had contacted me to see if I'd heard anything. Even though I was all the way over here, I tried everything I could do in my power to try to help. So I wrote a post about it hoping that she would see it or someone who knew her would see it. Thankfully, she is ok. She just refuses to speak to her family or her friends. No one knows why. She is no longer a missing person, but I am missing her very much!

So to all of you wonderful people, whether I know you or not, thank you for sharing in my joy with Raelynn and Jeremy, as well as my pain (with MIL and FIL). It makes me feel a lot less alone knowing I have partners in commiseration and it's an honor to share my world from the upside down side of the earth with you!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Importance Of Being Stupid

If ignorance is bliss, then what is stupidity? Well, in Chinese, "stupid" is "shagua." And yes, it happens to be my favorite word. It's just so fun to say. Try it. See? It's SO fun. And now you all back home can go around shouting "shagua" at the stupid people you encounter daily.

As you may have already guessed if you are an avid reader of this blog, I encounter many stupid people around these parts. Lucky for me, my driver enjoys my half-baked Chinese commentary. I don't even think I ever mentioned that I got a new driver, did I? I'm looking back and all I can find is my mention of Xiao Shi and his rickety pickup truck. Well, Xiao Shi and his wife moved away to some backwoods place back in October. So we had to find a new driver. Fortunately, when Jeremy and I had taken Raelynn out one day, we wound up in a taxi driven by a man who lived right in our neighborhood. His name is Hao Shufu and he totally rules. I like practicing my Chinese with him each morning, plus it is also nice having a waiting driver who doesn't drive like the rest of the maniacs here. And on that subject, Jeremy, now that he has his driver's license, wants to buy a car. But I'll have to bitch about that hot mess another time because my head fucking hurts and it exhausts me just thinking about it.

Anyhoodle, today, after some total idiot nearly ran into Hao Shufu's taxi, I'd declared, "Ta shi shagua!" which means "he is stupid." Hao Shufu agrees and then he asks me what the word for "shagua" is in English. Of course, I was delighted to share this with him. "Stupid," I tell him. "Soopid?" he asks. I sound it out for him very slowly, just like I do for my kindergarteners. "Ah! STUPID!" he proudly shouts. And the rest of my ride to school became absolutely hilarious, like watching children after they've ingested sugar for the first time. Everyone was now "stupid," and that was fine by me.

Incidentally, speaking of all things stupid, I'll leave you with this photo of a building we always pass on the drive to school. For months, we had watched this building go up and now it's just about finished. It's nice and all but nothing impressed me more than the sign. Or, should I say "imperssed?" Oh, Qingdao. How hard is to hire someone who can use a spellchecker?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

No, Dear Husband, No!

Apparently, MIL's lack of fashion sense is contagious, infecting my normally sensible and decently dressed husband. Jeremy decided that he would actually leave the house in this:
Oh Honey, no. I begged him not to go out in public looking like this. I pulled out other shirts and ties. I blocked his path to the door. But Jeremy would not listen and went out to make insurance sales in this outfit. Thankfully, he did make a sale but I attribute that to the quality of ING's insurance and my husband's knowledge of it, coupled with the fact that people here just don't know how to fucking dress themselves.

Let's look at the more zoomed photo, shall we?
First, this shirt. THIS FUCKING SHIRT. God, he's had this since before we got married, which is no big deal except that I had nothing to do with it arriving in his wardrobe. I have told him it's hideous. I mean, it looks like Ronald McDonald's dress shirt, assuming he has one. And if he does, clearly it has gone missing and resurfaced in my husband's closet. If Jeremy's feet were really small, he could totally borrow Raelynn's ridiculous red shoes that MIL bought her to go with it. So yeah, I hate this shirt and have never kept that a secret. I love Jeremy. He's so handsome. He should be wearing something that flatters him.

Now let's talk tie. I actually bought him this tie in Seoul. It is a nice tie. The problem, as we identified before, is the shirt. I can't believe he thought pairing this tie with that horrible shirt was a good idea. Then again, he's wearing that shiteous brown belt with black slacks. And black shoes. At least the shoes are nice ones. But still! Oh come on Jeremy! I know you can dress yourself better than this. When Raelynn is a teenager, you know she will totally pretend she doesn't know him if he even tries to dress like this. And of course, so will I!

Nice Try, MIL

Every day before I go to work, I painstakingly choose an outfit for Raelynn to wear. Usually, Jeremy will change her while I'm getting ready. But if he doesn't have time, I leave the outfit on top of Raelynn's toy chest for MIL to put her in. I do this so I don't come home to a baby that is overbundled in mismatched garments, and it seemed to be working.

Until last week that is. When I'd come home, I noticed Raelynn's closet door had been opened. That's no big deal except it looked like someone (guess fucking who) had rifled through there looking for something which pissed me off because I keep all her clothes folded neatly and they'd been tossed around with no regard whatsoever. But Raelynn was still in what we'd dressed her in earlier in the day, meaning there was no reason to look for a change of clothes. What did it mean? It meant that the troll-in-law was looking for something. But what?

And then, I had it. Way back in the corner of this poorly-designed closet in what was the stack of clothing I'd set aside because these items were still too large for Raelynn was an ugly white fleece vest with a rabbit on the back (dear God) and that horrid sweater she bought at the same time as those fugly-ass red shoes. It dawned on me that this bitch was dressing Raelynn in these disgusting clothes while we were away. Which is really annoying on so many levels. First, we've asked her to not change Raelynn's clothes unless she poops all over them. Second, we've asked her not to overbundle Raelynn. And here she is obviously doing both for no good reason. Sure, it's still a bit cold out but it's warming up now that spring is here. But it's not cold inside our house.

So what is a mom to do to protect her child from stupid relatives who should follow directions and stop pretending that they are the baby's mother instead of me? Why, shove all those ugly MIL temptations into the vortex of ugly clothes of course! Which is just what I did. And I couldn't help but snicker the next day when I came home to see that she'd quite obviously dug through the closet again looking for her hideous dress-up clothes. Nice try, MIL, but you lose again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I'm Not Deaf...I'm Just Ignoring You

Back when I was an angst-filled teenager, I had one of those snarky door hangers. Instead of "do not disturb," it said, "I'm not deaf...I'm just ignoring you." Apparently, they must have such a sentiment in Chinese because dear ol' MIL yet again has purposely disregarded my wishes. And the wishes of her own son!

Remember the barrettes she bought for Raelynn? They posed a major danger to my daughter should she attempt to eat or swallow them whole. Jeremy was also alarmed by this and had spoken to his mother about it. He told her to never put anything small like that in her hair, no matter how cute, because Raelynn could easily take it out and try to gobble it up. She told him he shouldn't worry because she was watching Raelynn the whole time. Bitch, please. I'd come home from work and Raelynn was napping. MIL went on her clueless way and when Raelynn awoke, I discovered another barrette in there! I'll have you know MIL wasn't sitting in Raelynn's room watching her as she slept. Which is kind of good because that's just fucking creepy. But it's also scary for the fact that this woman blatantly ignored our wishes and put Raelynn in danger.

And she did it AGAIN. Yes, even after my husband told her not to. Even after he told her that if she bought really large hair clips, we would love to use those instead. THIS is what I find in my daughter's hair when she woke up from her nap yesterday:
Last night, when Jeremy returned home, I showed him this as calmly as I possibly could. And I watched the terror and anger combine on his face. And then, he promised me he would make sure she never pulls this shit again. I secretly wondered if that meant he would finally ship her off to a glue factory somewhere. I know she's not a horse, but she's certainly acted like a horse's ass enough times that surely they wouldn't notice if a troll got shuffled into the mix. Oh but of course I'm not that lucky.

All this makes it quite difficult for me to try not to hate her. But in moments like this, I can't mask my rage. I mean what the fuck?!? Jeremy and I are Raelynn's parents. Not her. What we decide is best for our daughter should be respected, plain and simple. Especially when it comes to keeping our baby out of harm's way. Perhaps my husband survived in her care as an infant because boys don't wear barrettes. He's lucky to be alive after enduring years of her cooking and improper food storage techniques, not to mention listening to her screeching howl of a voice all the while. Somehow, he's managed to turn out to be a bright and incredible person. One who doesn't need to be told how dangerous small items can be for babies. That's how I know that whatever he said to her today must have done the trick because she was noticeably different. Like she'd had the shit smacked into her with words. Good. She deserves much worse than that. Now I'm not sure who's worse: this horribly inept and unkempt troll or the crazy bitch from the library.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"C" Is For "Crazy"

This image of a crazy woman dancing at a computer at a public library somewhere in the US I'm guessing is from Picasa Web Albums. The crazy woman described below is by far much more unstable.

Ahhh...Saturday! Is there anything better than a Saturday spent with the people you love most? Maybe if you add some ice cream to that. And some shopping too. Today, Jeremy, Raelynn and I spent our day at one of the nearby malls. Not my favorite mall, but a decent one nonetheless. Our mission: to find larger hair clips for Raelynn so she doesn't choke on them. MIL had gotten some cute ones but they posed a hazard and I had to hide them away so she'd stop using them (even after we told her not to, though I think Jeremy snapped at her about that the other day so she's done bringing potentially dangerous barrettes into our home). We weren't successful in finding anything though we did have a nice lunch and we also found imported chocolate for me (YAY!).

Jeremy had also wanted to go to the library. There is an English section there with children's books and we wanted to check out new ones. We poked through the craptacular selection of kid's books. I was a bit dismayed. Last time, Jeremy had checked out 3 books. One of them was Curious George Goes to the Zoo, which Raelynn enjoyed having me read to her. She also enjoyed One Gift Deserves Another, which was quite good too. The third book, however, was just dreadful. It was some horribly outdated thing, the kind that librarians would weed out (and perhaps submit to Awful Library Books which if you haven't seen that website and you love books, you simply must as it is delightfully hilarious) and retire from the shelves. Many of the English books Jeremy has checked out from this library are clearly rejects from American libraries. They have "withdrawn" stamped inside them. Not good enough for America but good enough for here of course. The Curious George book cracked me up because one of the pictures had a picnic scene and in it, there was a family of 3 on a blanket in the park. The father in this family was smoking! You'd never see this in a children's book today. NEVER! Sadly, I forgot to snap a photo of that before we returned it. Though hopefully we can check it out again.

Anyway, speaking of rejects, while we were scoping out the books, some Chinese lady approached Jeremy. I heard her ask him in English if I was his wife. I was only half listening as I was busy reading book titles to Raelynn and trying to keep her from shrieking. I then hear him finally answer that I was and she told him he did a good job. I take one look at her and I could feel the crazy coming off her in waves. She was wearing a ring pop, only the pop part of it was long gone and she was licking at it constantly, like a small child. Only more deranged. She then tells us she's a nanny. Do we need a nanny, she asked us. Without missing a beat, Jeremy tells her his mother watches the baby. And for the first time EVER (and probably only time EVER) I was so grateful for MIL. Why? Because I couldn't possibly leave my daughter with someone like this very visibly insane person.

Don't get me wrong. I long for a babysitter with more than half a brain. I long for one with good hygiene. But I'd rather have MIL here any day than some loony who hangs out in the English section of the library, desperate for friends. My first vibe from this girl was that she was absolutely batshit crazy. My second vibe was that she would likely run off with my child. MIL is just dumb as a bag full of rocks. I might not like her, but I don't have to worry she'll take Raelynn away from us. At the same time, I felt really sorry for this girl. I was actually relieved when Raelynn had begun screaming and crying so I could take her outside. Jeremy continued looking for books, all the while trying to politely get this lady to go away.

As I stood just outside the English room, I could smell the disgustingness that is the bathroom which was at least 100 feet from where I stood. I moved 50 more feet and could STILL smell it. I wear perfume for these moments. So I can smell my wrists when something stinks so I don't die from the stench. The last time I'd come to the library was when I was still quite pregnant. Naturally, I had to go to the bathroom everyfuckingwhere and I was forced to use the bathrooms at this library. There was shit on the floor and abominable things that one should never be forced to endure, pregnant or not. Back then, I'd said I never wanted to come back to this library. It made me long for home so badly where libraries are clean and resourceful places to spend your time. This place completely lacks that ambiance.

About 10 minutes later, the door to the English room swings open and instead of my husband comes the crazy woman. She tells me Jeremy said he needs my permission. I assumed it was for checking out the books for Raelynn, or perhaps for me to approve his picks for the books he wanted to check out. So I ran back in there with a now much quieter Raelynn. He then tells me she's crazy. "Um, DUH!" I say. He then explains that she gave him her phone number and she wants to come over to our house some time so he told her she'd have to ask me. I would have been more annoyed if I didn't feel sorry for her myself. She obviously had issues and to be rude to her would have been beyond cruel.

So when we went back out of the English room, she was still there licking at her ring pop without the pop, bouncing over to us and practically begging me if she could come over. "You know, Jennifer, we're like NEIGHBORS," she says, oozing the words out. I am a little afraid now. I don't want to see her lurking near my building in hopes of coming up to hang out. But it turns out as she talks more, she has no clue exactly where we live and I can relax a bit. She would have come across as much more desperate if she wasn't so obviously suffering from some sort of dementia. As kindly as possible, I tell her Jeremy will call her in a few weeks. "I've got a bunch of things going on with work right now and the next few weeks are super busy for me. But I'll have Jeremy call you when things calm down. Now I'm so sorry, but we do have to run," I say apologetically. And thankfully, this satisfies her. Once we're far enough away from her at the exit of the library, I turn to my husband and say, "That's it. I mean it this time. I'm never coming to this stupid fucking library again."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Breakfast Crasher

Good ol' Garfield. I can always count on him to be my company in the hatred of mornings.

Ever since the school decided that for this semester, even kindergarten teachers had to start the day at 7:30am, Jeremy has taken it upon himself to ensure I have a good breakfast each morning. With his new job, he has to be at work at 8:30am, so he has plenty of time to get ready himself. I have to be out the door at 7am so I hugely appreciate having a husband who makes me healthy and delicious breakfasts every morning. We sit together and enjoy some time as a family before we have to hustle out to our jobs. It's a great way to start the day. It's always so nice and peaceful.

That is unless a certain troll-faced woman comes over earlier than she is supposed to and crashes our breakfast. During the last 2 weeks, Jeremy has had to take the remaining parts of his driving test and on 2 separate days, he had to leave before me. For those days specifically, he'd asked his mother to be here earlier so that I could leave for work on time.

If you know me well, then you know how much I despise mornings. Truly I do. My mom is a total morning person, up at dawn and smiling away. Not me. Though after having Raelynn, I learned to function somewhat during them. For me, mornings need to be kept simple. And since I'm rushing off to work during 5 of them a week, I just want to see the faces of the two people I love. What I DON'T want to see is MIL in her mismatched wardrobe of dirty rags with her lopsided man-style haircut, ever-growing chin hairs and rat-like false teeth barging through the door. But on those mornings where my husband had to leave first, I had no choice but to endure her voice of 1,000 chickens being slaughtered so early in the morning.

Jeremy had told her that she only needed to come earlier on those 2 days. After his first extra early day, she showed up while I was still eating breakfast. Jeremy and I were talking and Raelynn was sitting on his lap, babbling away as if to be contributing to the conversation. I nearly hit the roof. It's bad enough having to see her at any time of day. But to see her on a morning when my coffee has yet to kick in and when there is no fucking reason for her to be in my home at that time pisses me right off. How dare she! She gets to spend all this time with my daughter who will, God-willing, never ever be as dense as her grandmother. She is such a manipulative cow. Seriously. I work my fucking ass off and this bitch is trying to steal one of the few precious moments we have together as a family. I hope and pray we can find someone who isn't a complete asshat to watch the baby sometime. I'm not saying Raelynn shouldn't know her grandma (though for her sake and my husband's, I sure wish I could trade her in) but I just wish she didn't have to spend so much time with that witless wonder.

After MIL did it again today, I openly let it be known that I did not want her trolling around my house right then. I scowl at her and I clank my silverware loudly. Then she goes to pick up Raelynn and that's when I really thought about inquiring to see if I could find a rocket bound for the center of the sun that I could buy her a ticket to ride on.

Jeremy promises it won't happen again as he said he's spoken to her once more about this problem. It's funny. I never thought I could ever hate anything more than mornings. Until she came along. Here's hoping I can enjoy my eggs and baby snuggles tomorrow morning without having them ruined with the sight of that yeti.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dumb Girl

Why oh why can't I have a normal MIL? One who likes shopping, I mean for things besides fruits and vegetables. One who likes to go out to lunch instead of cook the same foul-stenchy, over-salted items day in and day out. And one who uses her fucking brain to have rational thoughts. No, I just HAD TO fall in love with the handsome Chinese man I met while crossing the street. But I don't regret that at all. Just thinking about him makes me giddy. Thinking about his mother however makes me want to smash everything I see to bits.

I try, I really do, but no matter how hard I do, I cannot wrap my head around how she can't use simple logic to comprehend things. I'll have you know that Jeremy explains these things carefully to her in Chinese but it goes in one ear, out the other and then shimmies down her two scary, long, silver chin hairs never to be seen again.

What has she done today to incur my wrath? Well, I came home from work a little earlier which caught her by surprise. We were supposed to have a meeting with the other teachers but it was canceled. Raelynn starts screeching for me and I'm hurrying my best to rescue her from the troll's clutches. I kick off my boots and hang my coat. I stash the milk I've pumped while at work in the refrigerator. And off I go into the bathroom to wash my hands. When I come out, MIL is trying to change Raelynn's diaper by holding her around the midsection in one arm and trying to slap the diaper on with the other. I give her a strange look and resist the urge to call her all the really horribly profane Chinese words that I've learned (much to my husband's chagrin). Instead, I tell her as politely as possible "bu yao, qing bu yao," which means "don't do that, please don't do that" and I take Raelynn AND the diaper mat from the changing bag (which she knows exists, incidentally) and change her in the crib. Now I know WHY I come home to a baby with sometimes wonky diapers. I just don't know what possesses her to be such an utter imbecile.

But the icing on the cake by far is the potential choking hazard she's given to our daughter. These barrettes:
I have to applaud her for at least picking out something cute. I do like these barrettes. It sure beats all the other ugly shit she's ever picked out for Raelynn (to refresh your memory, click here, here, here and here). But even if you have just half a brain, you can see from this photo that these barrettes are very small. Which means that Raelynn could swallow them and become ill or even worse, choke to death. It makes me sick to think of either of those things happening to my daughter. At first MIL had only brought just one of these chokey barrettes over. I have to admit I thought she looked as adorable as ever when I first came home and saw her with it in her hair. As her hair is growing, it's really hard to keep it out of her face. I liked the idea of putting something in her hair to keep it out of her eyes. But when I saw how small the barrette was, I worried. And with good reason. While playing with Raelynn, she yanked that sucker out of her hair and took aim for her mouth.

I explained this all to Jeremy and he agreed we shouldn't use the small barrette until she's big enough to understand not to try eating it. Then, he told his mother how we liked the barrette but that it was too dangerous for Raelynn. She had insisted she'd watch Raelynn when she put it in her hair, but the next day when I came home, Raelynn was in her crib napping and guess what was in her hair! The barrette! One thing I've learned from being a mom is that your baby will be asleep one minute and the next you'll hear odd sounds coming from your baby monitor to find she's trying to eat the crib or standing or playing with the tabs on her diaper. So I don't doubt for a second this kid wouldn't try to eat that barrette if she woke up and found it in her hair. After that, I stuck the barrette in our room with my make-up and jewelry. I knew the troll wouldn't go through my things if she wanted to walk down the stairs (as opposed to being kicked down them of course). I also asked Jeremy to speak to his mother again and tell her not to put the barrette in her hair. I suggested that she could pick out something else that is much larger without stuff on it that Raelynn could pick off and eat. I guess this fell on deaf (or in this case, dumb) ears though because when I came home today, there was the barrette in her hair! I thought she'd taken it out of our bedroom but it turns out it is the matching one (hence why you see 2 identical barrettes in the photo). I don't know if she just brought one over at a time or what. Or if there are more! Now I have hidden this one too. I fear that she'll bring yet another one tomorrow. And the day after that. Stupid, dumb, idiot, moron!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Ouch Family

Last semester, I had the pleasure of having a wonderfully-behaved and absolutely adorable little boy named Ron in my kindergarten class. He was very smart too and was one of my top readers. But Ron was the most accident-prone kid in the whole bunch. According to school rules, if a student injures him or herself in your class, you have to call their parents to inform them of the incident. One day during snack time, the boys were horsing around in typical boy fashion. I told them to stop running about at once. But no sooner than I'd told them, while I attended to some of the other children, Ron, who had been crawling under the tables, wanged his head so hard on one of them that he actually yelped, "Ouch!"

I took him to the nurse and was told that Ron would be just fine, despite a sizable bump on his little head. Now I had to call the mom. I was nervous, I'll admit that. Korean moms can be a bit tricky to deal with. Ron's mom's English level is pretty good so she's relatively easy to speak to. Still, I worried she'd be angry with me, despite my having warned the children about horseplay. But our conversation went just fine. And then, about 2 weeks later, Ron hit his head AGAIN. This time, I had no idea he'd done so. I found out from my Korean teacher during lunch. She told me I had to call his mom. Oh boy. This woman was going to start thinking I was beating her son. So, AGAIN, I call her and inform her of Ron and his head bumping, even though I had no idea it had occurred.

Then, there was a lovely period of time where Ron in all his cuteness did not injure himself in my class. Also, he went to Korea with his family for 2 weeks. And then, a week after he'd returned, I took the children out to the playground. And as the words "Look out!" escaped my lips, Ron bashed his head into the underside of the slide. Yet another big bump. Yet another trip to the nurse. And yet another phone call to the mom who, by now, took to answering my calls with, "Hi Teacher. What's wrong with Ron now?" At least she wasn't surprised. And judging from the frequency he'd injure himself, I'm sure she was used to him getting hurt.

And then, there's Justin. Justin is Ron's little brother. They look just alike though Justin looks smaller. I always want to call him "Small Ron." Last semester, Justin, in his own class (and thankfully while his own mother was present) fell and hit his head. He had to get stitches too. I was so grateful that Ron had never injured himself to that extent. God, that would be a horrible phone call to make! This semester, Justin is one of my children. He's just like his brother too in that he is cute as a button, well-behaved and clever. Unfortunately, if today is any indicator, he also gets injured just as much as his brother as well.

Somehow, between the short walk from the school lobby out to the school bus, Justin had cut his finger. It was bleeding, quite a bit actually. "Teacher! Look!" he told me. "Oh no!" I'd said as we got out to the bus. I realized I couldn't just stick him on there like that. I waved down one of the Korean teachers for some help. Once I was sure he was ok, I walked down the street, hailed a cab and went on my way.

Only it wasn't over yet. Oh no. Christina, my Korean teacher, called me while I was still in the taxi. She told me I had to call Ron/Justin's mom to inform her about the injury even though it wasn't even in my class. Oh, just like old times only different child. I love my Korean assistant but sometimes I have to wonder about her. I asked her to text me the phone number and she seemed surprised I didn't have it. Why would I take home the phone numbers? Hmmm...maybe it's a Korean thing.

Ron/Justin's mom didn't seem angry but the tone in her voice suggested she knew we'd have many more of these unfortunate phone conversations down the road. I always hate calling the parents of my students because most of them can't really speak English so talking to them is really difficult. I have to talk even more slowly than I do to the students themselves and most of them giggle so much it is hard not to laugh at them. In case you don't know, Koreans (and all Asians really) will giggle and laugh when they are embarrassed. So since most of them can't speak English well, they start laughing away because they feel ashamed.

After today, I'm thinking of referring to Ron, Justin and their parents as "The Ouch Family." It certainly seems fitting. Though at least Ron/Justin's mom isn't angry about Justin's injury. I know this because a short while ago, my phone rang. And as I said, "Hello?" I was suddenly greeted by a tiny little voice. "Hi Teacher. This is Justin." I could also hear a certain mom in the background coaching her little boy on what to say. "I am ok. I wanted to tell you not to worry about me," he continues. Jeremy looked over with an amused face as he realized I was on the phone with one of my students. It was so hard not to burst into laughter from the sheer adorableness of the situation. I told Justin I was so happy to hear he was ok. And when I looked up at the clock and saw what time it was (just before 9pm), I told him he should make sure to go to bed and get plenty of sleep. The mom feeding him lines in the background was the icing on the cake of cute. Hopefully The Ouch Family keeps healthy and ouch-free, especially in my presence.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

One Drip And No Drops

One day late last week, I'd come home from work and, as I do when I get home each day, I swooped up my my overly adorable daughter into my arms. I smiled and thanked MIL and she went on her way, which is out of my way, thankfully. I was so wrapped up with Raelynn that I initially didn't notice what MIL had done on this day.

I was busy feeding my daughter. And playing with her. And changing one stinky diaper. I didn't even have a moment to get a cup of water. So when I realized how thirsty I was, I put her down and went to the kitchen to get a drink. The electric kettle was full of water so I just poured from there. I drank quite a bit and when I went to refill the electric kettle to boil more water for my drink du jour (water with a slice of lemon as lemon helps your metabolism burn 33% faster), that is when I noticed it. That drip of an MIL of mine drank the rest of the big bottled jug of water! She left nothing! Not a drop!

This is where I go to the land of what the fuck. See, like most places, you don't drink the water here. True, you could boil the tap water and it's fine. But it just doesn't taste so great. Actually, the tap water here tastes way better than that of Shanghai, just so you know. We have a water delivery guy with a store right on our street. All you do when you need water is give him a call and he lugs a giant jug of the stuff up our 6 dusty, cigarette and spit littered flights of stairs. All this for just 8 yuan. A jug lasts us about a week in most cases. Jeremy had taught me how to call the water guy who I'd taken to referring to as "Shui Ren" which I meant as "Water Person" but my husband asked me not to call him that to his face since there is some other meaning (which I've forgotten) which wouldn't be taken as a compliment. Jeremy was busy when I called so I asked him to text me the number. But when I called Shui Ren, it was too late. He wasn't answering. No wonder because now it was almost 7pm.

What pisses me off is that MIL didn't do anything about it. And Jeremy called her out on that one. I listened to his side of the conversation while I sat in the playpen with Raelynn, hoping to hear him call her "shagua" (Chinese for "stupid") but he didn't. In the end, he softened up about it which I just couldn't understand. He relayed to me that his mother said she didn't know Shui Ren's phone number. "OK, well what about YOUR phone number then? Why didn't she call you?" I ask. "She doesn't know my number either." I should stop right here to tell you all that this is probably the only human (of the troll variety) left on the planet that does not have a cell phone.

THAT is what pissed me off the most. She doesn't know her own son's phone number?!? I made Jeremy write it nice and big on our dry-erase board. What kind of idiot doesn't know the number of her own son, let alone have it written out somewhere in case of an emergency?!? What's even more stupid is that we have a land line (which we never use) and she could have called her husband (he has a cell phone) because she knows that number and asked him for their son's number. But no. No, no, no. See, my free babysitter is a completely drippy, brainless blunderer. It would have required the mouse with broken legs that lives in her head to flop its' broken ass onto the wheel and turn it into a rational thought. But on the bright side, she put all the food back into the refrigerator, unlike last time. So, two steps forward, two steps back, kick yourself in the head and poke your eyes out and you officially have the MIL dance.