As I inched to my left, trying not to get bitten by an angry looking crab, I decided that it I must be way overdue to write about the strangeness of living in China. Because I wasn’t at the market, I was in a crowded elevator, jammed in with my family and a dozen or so strangers, in the hospital. I nudged Ross so he could also see the man riding the elevator with two very large net bags of live crabs. “Must be crab season”, Ross answered casually, as if the question of whether or not it was in fact, crab season, was the pertinent point to make. I think we’re getting used to China. That was how we started a recent Saturday morning. (Point of order: that’s not true, we actually started our Saturday morning in a slightly overcrowded Buick heading home from a night out with friends, but I digress…).
We were in the hospital to conclude a grueling four week plan of multiple vaccinations, the kind we should have gotten in New Zealand before we left, but which were put in the ‘too hard’ basket and left to do in Shanghai. I’m a big fan of vaccinations; I will eagerly line my family up for any shots that are going, bring it on. My pin-cushion-kids have had any needle-fears long since stabbed out of them. Saturday’s vaccinations and the accompanying paperwork required no less than 30 signatures; it’s worth noting that since moving to China my signature has morphed into a lazy and indecipherable memory of my initials (signing a school notice for Olivia recently I wondered if the teacher would even believe that was an adult’s actual signature).
The children are well into their first term of international school in China, and as expected the standard of work required is much higher than my children have encountered before. It has been a huge adjustment – not the least of which is adjusting to hours of homework a night for children who previously did none. Predictably, Olivia is sailing by and making it all look easy, but Leo and Zoë are going through an intense process of learning to work harder, for longer and to a higher standard than ever before. I’m proud of how they’re doing, they rarely complain, and their first report card made us very proud. Needless to say, this is a marathon effort rather than a sprint, and we’ve engaged a tutor to keep the twins on track. The limits of my own education have revealed themselves – algebra is utterly and irretrievably beyond me! Although I was quietly grateful for a recent English project that enabled me to use a little skill of my own!
As for me, I am still working out what I want and need to do while I’m here. I have turned down a potentially great full time job, am keeping my eyes open for one a little closer to home. In the meantime I have been offered a little paid writing work – a wonderful opportunity, if only my wordsmithing is up to scratch it that may lead to more and more work.
As I write this though, I am interrupted by an odd sound from the kitchen – one of the quantity of prawns Ross purchased at the wet market this morning has made a break for it and was found flapping optimistically on the kitchen floor, having leapt for its life from a large bowl of it’s contemporaries. I can hear more flaps and splashes in there…I’m not sure how I feel about the buying of live prawns – for one thing I’ve seen the waterways around here, and for another thing I’m not sure that Ross has fully thought through the implications of preparing live prawns for cooking!