April 09, 2009

A Nanny in the House

Yes you read correctly, we have a part time nanny. Not because James and I are too lazy to care for our children, but rather because the increasing demands on our schedule necessitates some extra help. In addition to this, in a week and a half James will be gone for 10 days, leaving little old me with two boys in Beijing! This was the main reason for the nanny rush, since we wanted to get things adjusted before James suddenly left. We call her Aiyi (auntie)

Its very interesting having someone else in the house in the afternoons, especially since she is virtually a stranger and only speaks Chinese. We make all the food and she gives it to the boys. She also cleans the floors. Beijing is so dusty that if we don't sweep and mop everyday, we literally get dirt streaks on our feet, hands and faces.

We've already made fools of ourselves more than once. One of the first days I was preoccupied cutting up carrot sticks and forgot about the grilled "cheese" sandwich I was preparing on the stove. Of course I only realized that it was burning when she came walking in the kitchen hollering something I didn't understand in Chinese. I felt very foolish only being able to laugh, point at it and say "bu haochi!" (not delicious!) and "wo de" (mine).

A few days later, it was even worse because both James and I were in the kitchen trying to throw together some pancakes very quickly, and we managed to burn not one or two pancakes, but thoroughly the whole batch! Incidentally, we were extremely baffled that everything was burning within 1 minute of entering the pan (and no, we didn't have it on extremely high heat!). However, we couldn't communicate any of this to the nanny and looked even more foolish with TWO of us standing over the skillet looking baffled and giggling. We can only imagine what she was thinking "These strange foreigners obviously don't know how to cook and they think it is funny!" It didn't help that she then started asking us if we ever eat Chinese food and if we like it, and why we don't cook it! We actually do cook it, but all she has seen so far is our strange foreign burnt cuisine. She always curiously stares at the boys' lunch, even the not burnt things! By the way this is a google image, not our pancakes. They were not that bad.

Monday was a national holiday so both James' and my classes were cancelled but Aiyi still came to watch the boys. So we decided to kill two birds with one stone. We decided to spend our first afternoon alone together since coming to China and buy a bike for the boys out of our savings account in Canada. We had a lovely time and were excited to show the boys the bike, but when we got home... Well, first we just saw Aiyi knocking at the bathroom door knocking and hollering at the boys to let her in! When James finally got them to unlock the door we saw both of them in the shower covered in shampoo with their clothes on! It was everywhere!

We were not really upset about the shampoo, but the locking out was quite unacceptable (Ari definitely knows how to manipulate the locks). So we decided to creatively punish them in someway that they would remember....so into the shower they went! Shampoo clothes and all! Not too hot and not too cold, but from the noise they made you'd think were torturing them! The shower had the added advantage of washing them and cleaning the mess they had made. Ari was the most upset that we were getting his clothes wet! As if he hadn't done most of the damage! Then we promptly dismantled the locks.

So the first take home message is...if you decide to visit us in China, don't expect to be able lock the bathroom door! The second message is only burn food around people that you are able to explain yourself to!

Since the last posting aroused some concerned comments from many parties, I also feel that I must point out the other good things that have come from use being here. One is that we have spent far more time as a family and one-on-one with the boys than we were ever able to back in Canada. I have enjoyed very much being able to spend much time with them (playing "tickling blanket monster" and chasing them, singing loudly with them, helping Ari learn to write the alphabet, going for walks, reading books etc.) It is true that we are still needing to learn how to work around some of the inconveniences of living here, but I think that time will make a big difference.

I apologize for the lack of home grown pictures on this post. We seem to have misplaced our camera this last week. I'm wondering if little hands might have hidden it someplace...


This is an addition by James:

The other day when I was making lunch, Aiyi walked into the room, took a look at the spaghetti sauce I was preparing, and actually grimaced. I guess it just wasn't her thing. The funny thing is, she refers to it as "Yingguo cai", or English food. I don't have any plans of making Yorkshire Pudding, but it's all the same to her...

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