Monday, September 12, 2011

Mother and Daughter

I have mentioned our ayi here before.  Her name is Dong Mei and we are so very fond of her.  We truly consider her part of our family and in the 15 months she has been with us our relationship has grown into such a sweet friendship.  I've been warned by those with more "china" experience than me that I should keep our relationship as strictly employer/employee and not to get "too friendly" but our hearts and personalities just won't allow that.  We learn something from Dong Mei almost every day about the food, the culture, the language, the country, etc.  It's like having a full time teacher in our house and the learning is all hands-on, interactive fun things.  It's priceless for our family wanting to soak up as much of this country and people as possible.  

One of the cultural differences that is just hard for us westerners to understand is the grandparents role as the primary caregivers in the majority of families.  The one child policy makes it a bit more manageable for those grannies and grandpas. :-)    Dong Mei's daughter, Anna, is a product of this custom and she resides with her grandparents, Dong Mei's mother and father, in the Sichuan province.  Now as a reminder, we live in Suzhou.....the Jiangsu Province.  There is a lot of miles kilometers between this mother and daughter most of the year.  The Chinese usually travel to their home towns during the Chinese New Year holiday (Jan/Feb) and get to see their children in addition to most of their other relatives who've made the same journey.  Dong Mei didn't go this past January but instead made the trip home in August.  She was there for 2 weeks (yes...we survived without her but she was sorely missed).  The wonderful part of her returning (and the main point of this post) is that her daughter came back to Suzhou with her.  Anna was here for about 5 weeks and she came to our apartment with her mom most days.  She is 13 years old and is very shy but we enjoyed getting to know her and as we had so hoped...she felt comfortable in our home after not too many days.  

It was her first time to visit Suzhou and Stan wanted to make sure she saw some of the "sights".  She had studied about the beautiful gardens of Suzhou in school so our first outing was to the Humble Administrators Garden.  We made a day of seeing the garden, getting some lunch and doing a little bit of old Suzhou sightseeing.  She had her camera with her and was taking pictures every 5 minutes or so.  It was fun to see her get so excited about seeing something she had studied.  I equated it to seeing the Liberty Bell as a young girl myself.  It was a bit surreal that I was really looking at what I had read about so many times and she was just as excited as I remember being.  

Anna also wanted to experience swimming....something we take for granted for sure.  She got a suit and some floaties (yes....floaties b/c she had never done this before) and away we went.  Fortunately, the compound across the street from ours has a great pool and a very relaxed visitor policy so we frequented the pool while she was here.  After a couple of days she convinced her mom, Dong Mei to also get a suit and join us in the water. fun to watch them experience these things together and for the first time.  I think that is what I enjoyed most.......seeing them together as mother and daughter.  I was saddened to think through their situation and realized that this was probably the longest time they had spent together since Dong Mei left the Sichuan province over 7 years ago.  Most years it's just a couple of weeks once and maybe twice a year.   

When the time came for Anna to return to her home in order to begin school there was definitely an air of sadness.  Anna and Dong Mei cried most of the day and when I stopped long enough to think about it I cried too.  I hated it for them.  I can't imagine being in that situation and I'm grateful that the LORD saw fit to put me in a culture where that wasn't the norm.  However, I also don't want to be arrogant enough to think that the way "we do it" is the only "right" way.  Anna spoke very little english but she understood a bit more.  We were so glad to get to know her and can't wait for her to return.  On the morning after she left we each found a note that she had written in english and decorated in a 13 year old girly kind of way.  The sweet sentiments that she expressed and the effort it took her to write each one in english were a blessing to us and will be a keepsake for many years.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I know there's probably some unspoken blog rule that you just should have a post about the first day of school and that you should have at least 17 pictures (which have been expertly posed- to not look posed -that include grade or age indicating props and cute new shoes and hairbows and on and on and on).  Well I'm just going to rebel and not do it.....nope ...not gonna do it. I refuse to be persuaded by peer pressure and do things just because I'm supposed to.   (whisper from my powerful internal rule follower:  You can see my first day of school photos  on facebook).  Instead I'm going to show you another day that caused quite a bit of happiness here a few weeks ago.  Rebellious I know......

It was one morning and Xan and I were in the living/dining room.  We heard some incessant knocking on our neighbors door and since I was nosy concerned about who would knock for so long when clearly no one was home and at such an early hour (it was before 8am) I looked thru the peep hole and boy was I glad I did.  There was a guy trying to deliver a package that was obviously from America and I knew my neighbors weren't so I decided I needed to intervene.  I opened the door and in all my pajama clad, sheet creased cheek, bed head glory I walked over to him, glanced at the box and confidently told him that it was mine.  He was a bit startled by my appearance boldness but after convincing him that we were indeed the Everitts that were listed on the label he smiled and went on his way.  

Xan and I couldn't wait to tear into that box and see what treasures awaited us.  Stan's parents (who love us very much as evidenced by what they pay to send these surprises over to us) had packaged up some little pieces of home and we were absolutely giddy.   We had no idea what all was included but the anticipation is 1/2 the fun......well at least 1/4 of the fun.  We thought about waiting for Stan but then thought again and decided he wouldn't find it near as exciting as we girls would so we went ahead without him.    

There were lots of goodies in the box and we had fun spreading it all out and taking our time to look at each thing.  Here are a few that made us really HAPPY.  

This made Xan very HAPPY.  Her Nana knows how she loves gum and the assorted flavors were just almost too much.  

These made me very HAPPY.  Nana also knows how much I love sunflower seeds and the "jumbo" variety too!  Oh my......I was so very smiley.  

These little treasures made me HAPPY too.......wonderful and cute note cards (you can't find any little notecard things here and particularly faith based ones) and this book that I'd been wanting for sometime.  

These made all of us HAPPY.  We love pepper and this brand is very hard to get here.  If you had told me two years ago I'd be cheesy, big mouth, grinning over McCormick pepper I would have rolled my eyes and thought something smart but I was HAPPY.

So that, my friends, is me letting my inner rebel out.  No first day of school post here....nope.  I'm certain that these pictures of pepper and sunflower seeds have made your day too.  Glad to share some of our HAPPY with you.  If you need me I'll be reading my new book, eating seeds and asking Xan to quit smacking her gum.  

Chat with ya later-