This week at the kids’ school, a woman appeared to promote her book and give a talk about "Raising Global Nomads," that is, the challenge of raising kids outside of their own or their parents’ culture. Robin Pascoe gave a funny and energetic talk highlighting common themes in the life of an expat. She said anyone who claims they have never had culture shock after moving overseas is in denial.
2.5 months into our stay in Beijing, and I haven’t felt "culture shock." Expert advice indicates that family members may go through it at different times. Nobody in our family has seemed to have much trouble adjusting.
And then today I burst into tears during my Chinese class.
I went shopping at a mall to eliminate the stress of haggling at the local market place. Then the sales girl confused the hell out of me, explaining something about the prices in Chinese, taking me (all sweaty in my winter coat) through the whole store again to pick more things out. Further review of the receipt indicates that I came out okay, but it was a little crazy.
Before picking up Carlos, I get an email from his teacher saying he had been crying at every little thing. When I saw him I just held him, knowing how he felt. I knew that nobody "kicked him in the stomach" as he claimed. He just gets sick of all the extroverts he is surrounded by day in and out
Caetano won’t eat anything. He won’t do eggs, rice, noodles, sandwiches, cereal, salad, quesadillas, tofu. All the things he used to love he doesn’t want. But tonight after I picked out the good stuff from my Kung Pao Chicken leftovers, he gobbled up all the cashews, mushrooms and green onions in spicy sauce. Okay, I get it. He likes MSG.
What salvaged the day was a visit to the fabulous house of a fabulous woman with adorable kids that Caetano played with after school. She brewed me up some cappuccino and we laughed and all was right in the world.
Basically we all have good and bad days, and we all need friends and good food to get us through the rough spots, not matter what country we are in. It takes time to find those people you can trust to open up to. The boys and I have each other, and we are doing fine. They are just little things, really.
What’s the word in Mandarin for "weirdo"?