April 16, 2010

Three Year Old Boy

Today Jude turned three.  It seems that birthdays have officially become something to be envious around here.  Ari could hardly stand it that it was not his birthday, to the point of being downright cranky about it.  It all reached a climax when Aiyi showed up at our house today with a massive remote control car for Jude (picture 1).  At this point Ari burst into inconsolable tears and not even Aiyi's reassurance that he would also get one on his birthday was effective.  As he sobbed, I gave myself a silent pat on the back for thinking ahead to also buy him a bit of a gift.  Jude doesn't seem concerned that Ari got the same airplane as he did, and after-all, it will keep a little more peace.  Back in the days when I was a very wise and all-knowing NON-parent, I would have condemned my actions as spoiling children.  However, now I value sanity (mine especially) and dislike the idea of breaking up fights all the time.  Besides, they only get gifts twice a year and their collection of toys is actually quite small.  I imagine that once they are a little bit older, the two gift policy will become unnecessary.   

The car that Aiyi gave him, however, is another matter.  When she brought it in I simultaneously felt my heart drop into my stomach from guilt and yet also very touched that she would buy such a huge gift for him.  I have seen these cars around for sale at department stores, and the price is steep enough that I never would have considered buying them one.  Knowing that she lives in a house the size of our dining room and that she is putting two sons through school and still bought this gift was very humbling for me.  When I told her what I was thinking she said that she wanted to buy it for him because she appreciates us and feels that we have been very generous with her.  Again, I was touched by her unselfish gesture.  The guilt also eased a little when she told me that she had only paid 1/3 of the price that I have seen in department stores.  Thank goodness!

I made Jude a "Dirt" Cake for his birthday, complete with crushed Oreos, chocolate pudding, gummy worms and gummy frogs, and flowers "growing" out of the top (picture 2).  Let me just say that it is definitely a child's cake!  I only ate a few bites and my stomach is still unhappy with me.  Uhhh!  Too much!  Give me my sweets in smaller, less concentrated doses and I'll be happy!

The day Jude was born was actually quite ideal.  From 2:00 in the afternoon until 7:50 in the evening, I gritted my teeth (as women are prone to do in these situations!), but after that we had just the right amount of time to admire him before settling in for a good night's sleep.  I remember it quite clearly and fondly.  Ari, on the other hand was born after 48 grueling hours and I was half unconscious when it happened.  My memories of holding him the first time are very foggy and somewhat dreamlike (but still very happy of course).

While it is true that Jude has not been talked about as much as Ari on this blog, that doesn't mean that his role in our family is any less important. It is just not as dramatic!  Maybe I'm just a typical Mom, but I think of Jude as being such a sweetie.  I know that someday he'll be embarrassed of hugs and kisses, but for now he dishes them out to me freely.  I soak them up now because I can see how fast he is growing.  When he gets tired, he comes to me and says "Mommy, I want you".  If he is really tired he says, "Mommy, I really, REALLY want you."  He is very tough, as I mentioned before, but he loves his hugs and he likes just sitting on my lap.  He does not like large gatherings of people, and he hates loud noises.  I think that when he grows up these things will translate into steadfast loyalty to the people and the things that he loves. He is strong willed, but he is not confrontational unless provoked. He loves one-on-one interaction.  He loves playing with Ari, but he still enjoys being by himself as well.  One of his favorite activities is driving small cars on the window sill while watching people and cars go by outside.

Before ending this blog post, I just wanted to make brief comment on how interesting it is to learn spoken sayings here in China.  I don't mean famous Chinese proverbs.  I mean more colloquial sayings.  For example we'll say things in English that conjure up pictures in our minds like "being in a pickle".  I learned one recently that I thought was a very unique description of a very specific concept.  It is a description for older women who wear a lot of make-up to look young (not very polite!).  The expression is "Painting an old cucumber green".  It think it is fascinating because it is so evocative!  But then, how does one use such an expression without offending people?  Apparently it is actually quite acceptable for women to say it jokingly to each other.  For example, "You've painted nicely today" (meaning, "you look young today").  However if a man says it, it is very insulting.  Hmmm... just to be safe, I don't think I'll ever say it!


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