34/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016."

Stella: It's your last week of summer holiday before school starts. I wish I could say that I've packed it full of adventure and exploration, but sadly, we've been hanging out at home a lot. I've started back to work and that's kept us homebound. But you've been hanging out with a friend from school. We did do an ice cream and burger date. You've been spending lazy mornings with your comic books. And you've been logging the hours in the playground. So, your last week of freedom has had a few perks.

Hugo: Your imagination is starting to expand. This concentration you've had since you've been small is deepening and you are quietly content, sitting on the floor, driving around your cars. You're telling little stories, sending your cars through the car wash, taking them to the garage, and fighting fires. Which, always cracks me up, because according to your understanding a fire fighter is someone who fights people using fire. 

33/52

 
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china mom blog_project 52_week 33

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016."

Stella: After almost two years hiatus from the television (with exceptions for sickness and long plane journeys), we've just started letting you watch TV on a Sunday. We're fairly excited because we can snatch an hour or two of quiet time on the weekend. You think you've won the lottery. But it kiiiiinda is all you want to talk about now, TVTVTVTVTV, and that does drive me a little bit bananas. 

Hugo: With all this newfound media exposure, you're super into princesses right now. You get a little bit of TV too, when you wake up from your Sunday nap. Inevitably it's Sofia the First. And so, outside the strictures of North American culture, and in the absence of other media exposure telling you otherwise you think that it's totally reasonable for a car-loving little boy to aspire to be a princess when he grows up. And I'm not one to tel you otherwise, because I kinda love it when you ask me to put on your princess crown.     

32/52

 
project 52_that wild road_shanghai blogger
project 52_week 32_that wild road_shanghai blogger

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week. in 2016."

Stella: You're starting to make some regular friends in Shanghai, and boy has that ever been a sea change for you. It must be difficult, going to a school in a new language, adding that weight to the already ponderous task of navigating a new social environment in a new school. You're so invested in your friendships that this period without playmates has put you off your equilibrium. So, you can imagine how glad I've been to see you playing with friends in the playground, even if I'm a little less glad to field 10 000 questions per day re. if it is indeed yet 4:30 PM.

Hugo: You tricked me into thinking that you'd learn to use the toilet this week. YOu were actualy in jocks early this year, until I had to go away for a week, and left you in the care of your beloved grandmother who decided that her toilet training days were behind her. (Fair enough.) So. Anyway, you spent all of Monday evening running back and forth between "the little green toilet" and the big toilet, producing a few drops, and then proudly emptying them into the loo, explaining each time AND PUT IT IN THE TOILET. Sadly for me, interest in the potty has since waned. Except for when you and your sister figured out how to make potty hats. But we can't show those pictures here. Too bad. 

 

 

31/52

 
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"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Stella: We gave you Papi's old iPod to listen to, and you're loving it. So far, you have a nice balance of musical influences, with kiddy songs, J-Pop hits, a few Beatles tunes, contemporary American top 40 type nonsense, annnnnnd German punk rock. 

Hugo: Your sister cut your hair this week. She said that she needed to so that you could see better. Apparently you were in on the plan, having granted your permission prior to the deed. People keep saying it looks like a new, sort of hipster doo, so we're keeping it. For now. (Or at least until I can get my act together and get to the hair place.) 

30/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016."

Stella: I kept you home from summer camp this week. You said that you wanted to stay home spend time with your brother. Secretly, I'm glad I agreed. It is nice to have the break, and I've been enjoying walking around the city with you two. Especially since almost every adventure involves an ice cream. Although I will say, that time at home has allowed you to explore a bit more than I'd like. Case in point: that time you decided to give your brother a hair cut. 

Hugo: You sure are a clown. You're cracking bum-bum jokes at every opportunity. And then you giggle, and cover your mouth with your chubby toddler hands. I kind of love it.

I'm starting to think I missed out a week somewhere in this project.  I have a inkling that I should be on week 31, but I'm not? Question mark? I suppose that's what happens when I am completely inconsistent with my posting here on this blog and take extended six-week hiatuses. Anyway, we'll just keep posting along this schedule and see where we end up at the end of the year? Fingers crossed?

 

29/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Stella: You're really interested in the city around you. You are studying the map and following along, listening to the bits of history shared by the tour bus.

Hugo: You like looking at all the cars and their wheels. In fact, when you don't have a vantage point from which to see the road, you complain in a terribly tragic voice, "I can't see the wells (wheels)!"

 The kids had been asking, again and again, since our first days in Shanghai, to take them on a "city bus ride", as tourist busses are called in Jakarta. And I enthusiastically promised YES! ONE DAY! Somehow maybe subconsciously hoping that perhaps I'd never actually have to make good on that promise, because anything tourist + china = the seventh circle of hell. Well, that day finally did come on this particular weekend when we happened to walk by a tourist bus stop, and Stella in all her enthusiasm inquired about the wait time (five minutes!!) and the price (100 RMB, kids FREEEEEEE) and you know, there's not much I like more than FREEEEEEEEEEEEE. So, off we went. It was boiling hot. Like 40+ degrees with no A/C. And Hugo was minus one nap. And we had just spent the entire morning roaming around the city. And it took two hours. And we had to change busses about 100 times. But they loved it! Really! They were so pleased to be riding up above the city watching the buildings go past. Plus, the bus passed right in front of our apartment building, and we managed to convince the driver to let us off at our door. So! Anyway, a lovely end to a weekend outing. 

28/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016"

Stella: You love books. Specifically comic books. And especially Lucky Luke and Tin TIn. While the genre is sort of a departure from your regular cultural diet of pink princess frilly rainbow sparkle, I do kind of love this weird little quirk of yours. Not least because you'll sit quietly for ages, pouring over your books, studying the pictures, trying to understand the story. And, boy, am I excited for when you learn to read. A whole new world is going to open for you.

Hugo: You love books and doing what ever your sister does. Case in point: Your current princess obsession. You want to be a princess when you grow up. You want to watch Sofia the First. You want to pint your nails and wear flowing dresses and tiaras. Because that's just what your sister does, and you want to be just like her.  

27/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016"

Stella: You're fascinated by our surroundings, and full of questions about Chinese culture. You want to know why people dance in the mornings with rackets and balls, why people "cigarette" as you call it, why people drive scooters on the sidewalk, why they sell lotus pods in the subway station, why real estate agents congregate outside apartment complexes. It's interesting for me to see what you notice as new and different here.

Hugo: You really hate cicadas. It's true, they are incredibly loud here. Every time we go outside, you cover your ears and say, "What's dat noise??!!!?" 

 

26/52

 

a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Stella: You're feeling more comfortable at school, I think. Each day, it seems like you're coming home with new words, with tales of new songs or games you're playing, or delicious things you ate for lunch (sausages are always a winner, but you tasted and liked even, fish and enthusiastically ate spinach). In the mornings, you still stick pretty close to me at the bus stop, but when the bus arrives, you race with the other kids, eager to be first in line. Still, I know it's not so easy for you, starting again, making new friends, creating a new routine, and all in a new language. I'm just so impressed with how well you're managing it all.

Hugo: You were so happy to discover your toys again. Our shipment arrived this week, and you were just so glad to see your cars and your garage again. Each toy we unwrapped was greeted with delight. I think seeing your stuff in our new place will really help you to feel a bit more settled.   

25/52

 

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Stella: You're singing French songs pretty much non-stop. I can't always understand exactly what it is that you're singing about, but I'm glad to see you taking so much joy in your new language.

Hugo: Your favourite part of the day is when we get to "kick up Stella" from the school bus. It's pretty quiet at home just you and me all day. So, when it's time to go, you get in the stroller and we walk off together to collect her from the bus stop. When her bus pulls up, you shout "HOORAY! Stella's Bus!" and then, immediately after she get's off, you guys demand muffins and then start fighting about who got the biggest piece. 

24/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016."

Stella: You're loving the sidewalks, the subway rides, the new friends, the playgrounds, the parks, and the noodle soup. Though you do think that the lobby of the hotel in Jakarta was better. And you miss reflexi, and manicurists that came to our house, and the fact that we used to live on top of a shopping mall. 

Hugo: Our days are quieter and slower, and I think you're missing your sister. After about six weeks of having her at home all the time, she's back at school and it's just us. Most days you ask me, even before we're done breakfast if you can "kick up Yaya." I always remind you that we will pick up Stella after your sleep, and you're always brutally disapointed.  

I think these two images exemplify perfectly my children's emotional state after this big move. Stella is launching headfirst into life in China. Hugo's first steps are a bit more tentative. And I embrace and celebrate both ways of being. 

23/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016."

Stella: I can't believe how well you're doing at your new school. Though you tell me you don't want to go to school, you walk towards the bus stop happily chatting about your day. Then trundle off on the bus without complaint. You went on a field trip to the zoo and were up at the crack of dawn, too excited to sleep. You came home brimming with stories of elephants and bears. I watched you one evening playing your heart out with two little kids who go to your school, and you did just fine even though you didn't share a language. You are picking up key play phrases and navigating the social world just fine. Sure there's been moments fraught with anxiety and some pretty intense feelings (and boy those moments have been difficult) but I have a feeling you'll be just fine.

Hugo: You're getting your two-year-old molars and you've been pretty unhappy about that. Thankfully they haven't impacted your sleep much (so far!) but you've really been clingy and sad during the days. 

22/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016."

Stella: It was our first full week in China. And you're doing surprisingly well. You're settling into your new school, even though you don't yet understand the language. You're making friends even though you can't quite communicate. Your courage really astounds me. To be honest, I feel like I hardly remember this week as I was sick in bed with a terrible case of the flu. But somehow you did all of this. And you turned six. And you lost a tooth. 

Hugo: You're still having a hard time. I get it. This is a big change for you. And, plus, I've been sick in bed and fairly unavailable to you. Still, I've been enjoying the one-on-one time we've been having. Hanging out just you and me, even if I've been too sick to do anything more than lie on the floor while you push cars around. It's really special this quiet, in between time we been having as we're getting accustomed to our new life here. 

21/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016."

Stella: You started your new school this week. On your second day of school, we all walked you to the bus. You were so excited about the idea of riding the bus like a big kid, but as the bus pulled up and we ushered you forward, your little lip quivered, and you tried to bravely hold back tears. You got on anyway. You reported to me that you sobbed silently for a few minutes, but you did okay. You got to school, found your classroom, and did it all in a language you don't even yet understand. I'm so proud of you.

Hugo: On your last morning in Indonesia, you were totally out of sorts. You really are sad about this big change, and it's no wonder. This is your home, and there are so many people here who love you. When we left the hotel that night, you were sort of shell shocked,  not wanting to say goodbye to anyone. But as we were about to pull away in the taxi, the gravity of what was happening hit you, and you lept up, and waved at the window, "BYE BYE IBU." So we stopped the car and you had one last cuddle with your beloved Ibu Vera.