JD has attended two birthday parties in the last two weeks, and his mind is now racing ahead to his own birthday celebrations in a couple of week's time. A typical Chinese kid's Birthday party is a large meal (mostly aimed at the parents!) and then some opportunities for the kids to run around, either in the restaurant or nearby outside. In contrast, we are hoping to invite JD's friends to ten-pin bowling with a mid-bowl pizza delivery. We'll see!
JD has been back at school this week - his final term there before moving to Primary School in September. And with the return we've once again started to get last minute, and seemingly pointless, homework requests. So, for example, we get a text asking us to "...send a photo of your child inflating a balloon by tomorrow morning" which arrives half an hour after JD has gone to sleep. Jiajia and I are getting quite adept at faking this sort of thing by now (the "balloon" in this photo is actually a plastic ball), even taking photos in advance of say, junk modelling or cooking, in case we ever need to show evidence of something similar later on!
We returned to Snow Park yesterday to see the attractions we didn't get to first time round - Robot Park, Beluga Whale Show, unlimited bumper cars (the guy in charge let JD ride alone) and ice slides.
The indoor ski slope was fairly gentle, but I was still surprised at how keen JD was to have a try. Even getting to the top and donning his skis was quite a struggle for him. But he needed no encouragement to slide down the slope and wasn't phased by falling down at high speed. After an hour or so he was exhausted. I did a couple of fairly tame runs by myself before we headed back into the "winter warmth" outside!
Jiajia. JD and I went to an amazing theme park the other day, along with two other families from JD’s school. The attraction has an "Ocean Park" (large aquarium, plus dolphin, seal and beluga whale shows), a "Snow Park" (huge indoor -8ºC building with slides, aerial walkways, train, skating, skiing, "live snowing", igloos etc), fairground rides and a circus! And all this just a few hours drive outside of Kunming!
Since we decided not to make any trips away this Winter holiday, my main targets were to get everything ready in our redecorated flat to move back in, and to teach JD to ride his two-wheeler bike without stabilisers. He was very nervous at first but persevered and, despite a couple of minor crashes [see above, right!] can now circle the neighbourhood without my help. Something of a rite of passage!
I've been giving JD daily homework during the Winter holiday - mostly English and Maths - much to his annoyance! But today I got this sheet of paper slid under the bathroom door while I was taking a shower. It's his first ever written message to me (asking if he could get off his seat). Something of a breakthrough!
JD and I spent a fun afternoon the other day playing in a local forest with a Vietnamese family we know. Their Mum teaches Vietnamese at my University and the two kids only speak that and Chinese. So JD had to switch from the English he was using with our American friends yesterday to Chinese! We brought along a small play tent and digging tools and so the kids tried to build a Great Wall with rocks and mud!
JD was sent home from school last Friday with a temperature (and an official form telling us he was seriously overweight!?). His fever continued over the weekend but his main complaint was stomach pains. He had a poor appetite too but no other symptoms. By Sunday the fever had gone, but he had started a cough and was still saying his tummy hurt. The cough is now less, but he is still not eating well and gets very sleepy for no real reason.
So we took him to the hospital yesterday to get him checked out. After an ultrasound and a blood test the first doctor we saw diagnosed him as having, "an infection and bubbles in the stomach" while the second doctor said, "no infection and mild constipation". So we're still none the wiser, to be honest...!
One of JD's ex-teachers gave him a choice of Christmas presents - a dancing robot or a 180 piece coloured pencil set. Pleasingly, he went for the latter. So this last weekend he and I together drew a huge picture of an aircraft carrier (JD's latest obsession) complete with sharks, tanks, octopus and flower pot!
It sometimes seems a little strange to watch my son carrying the Chinese flag so proudly and singing the Chinese National Anthem so passionately. Of course he is Chinese by birth, and yet so British in his thinking and language. I wonder how he will look back on his childhood here when he is an adult?
We celebrated our Christmas this last weekend as we are all working on the actual day. JD woke at 6am to see what Santa had bought him [see above] and then we played with various toys throughout the day, opening all our presents after lunch. JD seemed more interested in making a junk plane from the boxes which the present came in at one point [bottom, left]. Then JiaJia managed a delicious roast dinner [bottom, right] in the evening to round off a very enjoyable day.
Merry Christmas to all my blog readers!!
It's nice to see JD so much happier about going to school these days and to see how many friends he has and how he is loved by all. Unfortunately he only has one more term to go before moving to Primary School and having to make all sorts of new friends once again. Oh well, enjoy it while you can JD!
Today, JD was added to JiaJia's registration papers to make him a full-registered Chinese citizen! He now has a "Hukou" which will allow him to get an ID card, access state schools and be insured. Most kids born in China do this within a few weeks being born, but JD's British passport complicated things and we delayed it. You see if you have a British passport, you can't get a British visa in your Chinese passport. And you can't leave China on your British passport because China doesn't recognise dual nationality (and being born in China makes JD Chinese as far as China is concerned). It was only in the last couple of months that these rules were relaxed, allowing JD to leave China on a temporary Permit regardless of him being fully registered. Confused? You're not the only one.
On arrival at school this morning, JD fixed me a stare and said, "I don't think I need a hug and kiss goodbye anymore. I'm a big boy now!". It is true that he is making friends more easily these days and is more likely to hop and skip into school rather than be weeping or making up reasons to stay home! Most recently his "best friends" have been Dada ("Big") and Xiaoxiao ("Small") - twins from his class [see above] who conveniently live just five minutes away. then But next week it may be somebody quite different!
About a month ago, JD decided he wanted to make a little shop "like mummy's" but for selling toys to his friends. So JiaJia went online and bought a variety of cheap toys (£4 total). JD and I decided on the prices and made boxes and signs for the various items.
Then, after school today, JD and I quickly set up shop outside the main gates. Within minutes a crowd of parents and children were surrounding us to have a look at the little foreigner showing his entrepreneurial skills! JD was quick to explain prices and give them the right change. By the end, 90% of the stock had been sold and JD made a tidy profit of just over £10!
JD and I went to a classmate's birthday celebration yesterday. We drove a little way out of the city to a large recreational area with restaurants, a sand pit, swings and these rather cool Mongolian yurts! The focus of the "party" was to climb a nearby mountain. 18 of us set off but only 5 made it to the top, including JD and I.
The views over Kunming were pretty impressive but emphasised once again, just what a polluted city it is - fairly clean by Chinese city standards, but still covered in a layer of smog.
By the time we returned down the mountain, we were pretty hungry. Undeterred by the goat carcasses and dead fish in the tanks, we really enjoyed a tasty banquet - 20 of us around a huge "lazy susan" rotating table. The kids then continued to play in the sand and on the swings followed by a birthday cake. JD is the youngest in his class - still 5½ while others are turning 6 - but he is still one of the "playmakers" when he gets together with his friends!
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