Day 7 is another breakfast at the buffet, more spicy noodle soup eating by Jing Yun, more impatient waiting for the others to be finished. Jing Yun is by far our fastest eater, Ava is by far our slowest. He is by far our quickest to need change, she our slowest to be ready for change. He is full of crazy imagination, she has taken eighteen months of intentional play to begin to imaginary play. He LOVES all things spicy, she hates spicy things and told me once that no Chinese people like spicy. Here are our two Chinese children, breaking down all our stereotypes and expectations, one day at a time. 🙂
After breakfast we take a taxi to Shamian Island. Well, we make that two taxis, as max occupancy is four people and the taxi drivers at the hotel are careful to follow that rule. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of trusting fate as we show our non-English speaking taxi driver a slip of paper with our destination written in Chinese by the hotel, expecting through faith that we will arrive there. We spin through the city, sliding past other cars, huge trucks and buses with mere centimeters to spare as we head towards the man-made colonial island that now serves as a tourist destination. Driving in Guangzhou is never boring and as I watch the traffic whirl by I often think that it is a metaphor for my life right now. I cannot possibly stop a crash but I can trust that no matter how dangerous it looks, somehow, impossibly, the drivers seem to know what they are doing. We remain safe each trip. My job is to breath deep, let go, and enjoy the journey. I look for beauty out the windows and marvel at this strange world my children called home for so many years. China does not call to me with it’s beauty but it calls to me with it’s spirit. The spirit of such loyal, hard working, determined and strong people.
Shamien Island is packed with tourists and I feel concerned about how Jing Yun will handle having his hand constantly held and the forced containment to our family group’s leisurely walking pace. But within moments we pass our first tourist shop and I spot wooden swords sporting Chinese characters filling a tub on the front steps. Jing Yun and I are there in an instant and he is whining in Chinese “I want it”. David is slow to respond to this whine but I have a vision of a peaceful morning filled with leisurely walking and the brandishing of swords. We buy three and our morning is suddenly transformed into an epic battle. Success!
We sword fight past colonial homes and beautiful gardens, enjoying the sight of so many Chinese tourists taking photos, playing, and enjoying a beautiful day out. Older groups of Chinese men and women sing lyrical opera style group songs through very loud and staticky speakers, a boxing competition is just beginning, and groups of middle age men play the Chinese feather hacky sack with a skill that puts us to shame. The Pearl River surrounds us and we watch swimmers with home made bottle floats bobbing in the water just behind the “danger, no swimming” signs. Jing Yun is entranced and asks if he can swim too. Danger calls to him with it’s siren song and only the determination of a strong mother holds hims back, for now.
We stop into a 7 Eleven ( found everywhere here but they don’t look or smell like ours at home) where people stand at the counter eating things we cannot imagine off sticks. Jing Yun requests one of everything, throwing himself to the ground when I tell him no and give him the one snack we buy. Such a dramatic difference from Ava who took six months to even let me know she was hungry! We wander on to use the athletic equipment, ubiquitous to Chinese parks. Jing Yun watches carefully and with admiration as David takes on the equipment, then Jing Yun tries too. He is all skin, bones, brain and thick muscle and he is so much stronger than you can imagine.
Home for quiet time and swimming, dinner and reading in bed. Another day passes in this strange bubble of life that is our enforced baby moon. Again, we sleep.