Am I setting myself up for bad health?

According to my husband, I don’t take care of myself. Sure I eat a healthy vegetarian diet, run 3 times a week, don’t smoke or drink, limit myself to one coffee per day, only drink decaff tea and take extra care when I cross the road. But apparently that’s not enough.

Because there are some things I do which are truly RECKLESS according to my husband.

Sometimes, when I get up in the night to tend to our crying baby, I don’t put my slippers on. And sometimes when I get home from work, I don’t put my slippers on. And at other times when I ought to know better, I forget to put my slippers on. So reckless.

Not only that, but also sometimes, when the weather is getting hot and I’m feeling thirsty, I go and buy a mango 冰沙 ice slush drink (or passion fruit if I can find it). Sometimes, at Starbucks I get a frappucino instead of a hot coffee. And sometimes, I put ice cubes in my drink at home! So so reckless.

Another crazy thing I do, and have done for many years now, I sleep on my front!!!

To my weird and wonderful husband, and seemingly many who have grown up in China, these simple things are sure to lead to health problems in the future. I feel like people in China live under threat of future health problems if they don’t listen to these rules and take measures to protect themselves.

As a man, my husband is particularly careful about his lower back getting exposed to cold air or wind, as this could compromise his kidneys (which as a man, are more important to him…). But I think for women, such rules are even more important. During that time of the month, they are warned to be careful about putting anything cold into their body, like cold water or ice cream. And of course during the period after giving birth, they must be very careful about what they eat and drink, and mustn’t go outside for fear of being exposed to the elements, otherwise known as 坐月子 sitting the month or postpartum confinement.

There are certain Chinese customs which have become part of my lifestyle, but Chinese traditional health principles really don’t seem to make a lot of sense to me. In my childhood world of carpeted rooms, floors were not cold and slippers were not compulsory. Ice cream was not a daily staple but was fine for a treat, whatever time of the month. And no one has ever commented on my sleeping orientation… In Chinese culture, wisdom still passes from generation to generation, much more so than the West because of Confucian principles about respecting elders. And in times gone by there may have been reasons for certain practices. Drinking cold (unboiled) water may have meant it wasn’t clean, washing in cold water after childbirth may have risked infection, getting cold feet could have risked exposure.

But I’m not sure these customs are still relevant today. The consequences of these reckless actions are often vague. I’ve heard threats of damage to bones, pain and a troublesome menopause. But my western-mind needs scientific facts to back up these claims. And my poor husband may have to watch me risk my health for decades to come…

( I will never forget my Korean ex-boyfriend telling me that he truly believed he’d die if he slept with a fan blowing on him, until he moved to the UK. Even more extreme than view held in China! )

Things I like about Beijing

We’ve been in Beijing for a few weeks now, and despite years of saying ‘I’m not really a fan of Beijing, more of a Shanghai girl’, I actually love it. It probably helps that we’ve been really lucky with the weather. There have been more fresh-air days than not, and we arrived during Beijing’s short spring, so the temperature has been really pleasant.

1. THE STREETS
Beijing’s streets are quite different from Dalian’s streets. Wider, and made more with people in mind. The pavements are wide enough for a pushchair and there are even pedestrian crossings. Granted, the scooters and anyone in the inside lane don’t stop, but it’s still refreshing that the purpose is purely for pedestrians. Sure, crossing the road is still a challenge, despite a green man there’s always someone trying to run you down, but you get used to that.

The grid system in Beijing makes the city relatively easy to navigate, even as a newbie to the city. Knowing which way is North really helps you feel like you know where you’re going.

2. THE PEOPLE
So far I’ve found people in Beijing to be nice. They seem friendly, interested as ever in our little 混血儿 and love to chat. There are also many 外地人 out-of-towners here, making it all the more interesting. Our nearest fruit lady is impossible to understand, I gather she comes from 安徽 Anhui province.

3. THE FOOD
There are the restaurants everywhere, and lots of nice ones too. Just downstairs from our apartment there is a fabulous 24 hour cantonese place with dimsum which I’ve already been to a few times. I also see that restaurants often sell foods outside on the street in the afternoon, some even for breakfast too – really convenient to take something back to eat with dinner. There are some authentic Western restaurants too. I was very excited to find a doner kebab shop. As a Brit, having an M&S nearby makes me very happy. I ate hot cross buns at Easter and can get decaf tea and coffee for everyday use.

4. THE PARK
We live very close to a little park and it is great. Already it’s really enriched our lives. The majority of people in China don’t have any kind of garden, so I guess that’s one of the reasons the park is so popular. We go there most clear sky days, either for a walk after work or a morning jog. My MiL goes in the evening to exercise and says it’s still 热闹 well past 9 o’clock. There are so many activities as well, boats for hire, activity areas and small rides for children, a skating area, plus dancing/skating lessons and of course the large groups of older people doing aerobics.

I think we’re going to enjoy our time in Beijing, however long that may be. Now we’ve got into the rhythm of working we might get to some of Beijing’s famous and beautiful places too, before it gets too hot!

* EDIT: In a taxi last weekend driving to R’s training track, it suddenly occurred to me why I have always said I don’t like Beijing! It’s the 胡同 hutong areas. I’m not sure what it is about them, but we were driving through a 胡同 hutong area and I had that same feeling, that it was ugly and poor. Call me crazy, I know most people are charmed by their character, but I guess that’s not me. Perhaps the reason why I love our current neighbourhood so much is the view of the CBD and all the tall buildings (not dissimilar to Shanghai😛 *

Working mum in China

After coming back from a month spent with family in the UK, we are now back in China – this time, Beijing. And I haven’t written a single blog post since!

And why might that be? Because 36 hours and two almost completely sleepless nights after being back, I became a working mum, i.e. a mum who also has a full time job. So I literally cannot find the time to sit down at my computer and write, despite the daily inspiration when out and about and walking to and from work.

Fortunately baby Z’s 奶奶 nainai has moved with us to Beijing and is taking care of childcare in the week. So life isn’t as tiring as it has been. In fact, it’s really quite good. As I’ve written before, my MiL is pretty typical of her generation, she is amazing at housework and cooking, doesn’t like to accept help with it, and doesn’t seem to like resting. As soon as I get home from work and spend time with the little one, she’s in the kitchen preparing dinner for us 4. Whilst we eat our dinner slowly, she eats in 5 minutes and then is buzzing around washing the pans. I’ve barely done two loads of laundry since I arrived in Beijing because she does it during the day when the baby naps. It’s ace!

I’ve never had a full time 阿姨 ayi but I think this is probably better! We don’t have to pay her* and she works from morning till night. In fact it seems if she had her way she’d look after the baby through the night too, although I don’t feel comfortable with that.

I guess the downside is, she’s always here. Even when I’m looking after baby Z. Even when I want to cook. Even when I don’t feel like eating dinner. Even when I want R to look after the baby whilst I go to the gym. Our arrangement has its downsides but there is no need to dwell on them.

I know we’re very lucky to have her, and she won’t be available forever, so it’s great baby Z can spend time with her while she is here. And I get to go to work and talk about grown-up things for 8 hours a day, which is doing me a lot of good.

* We give her money to spend every month though, and pay for all her travel back and forth and are planning a large 红包 for her birthday/Christmas/next Spring Festival.

 

 

My recent China reads III

A couple of weeks ago I made a flying visit to Beijing to sort out some stuff and it was my first night away from baby Z, which was difficult. But the best part about it was the 2 hours waiting in the airport on the plane ON MY OWN. Completely on my own, no baby, no husband, no one requiring my attention. And as I approached security at the airport, I could feel my heart beating, I was getting really really excited about it. And I read for a full 2 hours+. It was bliss. Here’s what I’ve been reading lately.

The Good Shufu by Tracy Slater

I had wanted to read this memoir for ages, ever since before it was published, but it was a bit above my usual price range. However, I decided to treat myself as the cold weather came to Dalian, and it was so worth it. It doesn’t technically qualify as a book about China, but since Tracy married a Japanese man, it comes under the heading of AMWF!

It was interesting reading about how Japan made its way into Tracy’s life very gradually after meeting her partner there when she went to teach a short-term programme, and I can relate to that because I never expected to all for China the way I did (hated it at first!) but it kind of grew on me. She may not have thrown herself in and cherished every experience, but who does? Living abroad and the conflicting goals of an intercultural couple are challenging and Tracy’s experience seems very common. The way that fertility treatment caused her to embrace life in Japan was similar to my turning point, as being a mother in China during the last 6 months have been my most enjoyable here. The most moving part was her relationship with her father-in-law and how she came to take such a big role in his care as he aged, which is very inspiring. The best part, however, is knowing that the author became pregnant as she was writing the book and had to changed the planned ending –> truly a fairytale in that sense.

Pearl River Drama: Dating in China – A Memoir by Ray Hecht

Whilst this book fits into the usual genre I go for – lives of Chinese people, relationships involving Chinese people, lives of people living in China/Asia, etc – it was somewhat different to the books I’ve read before. In that it was written by a man, writing about his life. It is usually women’s lives I read about. I guess it was kind of like getting inside a man’s head and it was weird. The things he wrote about his relationships weren’t the same as what women tend to write about their relationships. Lots of sex. And drugs. Women’s body shapes. It was interesting to read about the flip side – the WMAF relationships and young women in China today (some of who have some serious issues, not surprisingly). A bit too much for me, but certainly a learning experience. And it didn’t put me off reading one of Ray’s novels on the same topic, South China Morning Blues, which I’m still looking forward to.

Red Azalea by Anchee Min

I really enjoyed this memoir about Anchee’s adolescent and young adult life, which took place during the 60s and 70s in China. After reading for a couple of chapters I found myself having to check back and see whether it was a memoir or a novel, because some parts didn’t seem like they could be real! It sounded so incredibly hard, I don’t know how that generation coped with growing up during the cultural revolution, struggling with their own feelings and what they were ‘supposed’ to be thinking. The mental struggle must have been harder even than the physical struggle – Anchee went to the countryside as a large percentage of young people did, to live like the farmers, before training as an actress and working in theater. She didn’t have any say in where she went. It sounds as if the hardest part was building friendships and not knowing who to trust, if anyone. Some of the events truly are unbelievable. Even though I’ve read many books about this period in history, it is hard to believe some of the sorts of things that happened in this country I now live in, just a few decades ago – a young man executed on the farm for having a girlfriend, even though everyone knew she was a consenting partner, for example. Really tragic.

I really enjoyed this book, and it made me think a lot about R’s family, as my MiL is about the same age as the author (although she worked in a factory, and three of her siblings went to the countryside) and she must have experienced some similar feelings (which she may slowly open up to me about). The other 奶奶s around me too, who knows what they went through.

What’s in a name

A lot of people will have met international students from China during their time at university and had a giggle at their name. Maybe because it was out of fashion (Norman) or a bit abstract (Sunshine). Some people might genuinely think this is their name, but in fact it’s because a lot of Chinese names are not easy to pronounce for the average Westerner. So most Chinese children and students choose an ‘English name’*.

Coming to China to teach English, you will find a whole other dimension of random ‘English names’, be it overly literary/historical (Benjamin Franklin, Harry Potter) or just not a name (Yo-yo, Why). As a teacher of Junior 1 students, the first year of Chinese middle school, I had the responsibility of giving students ‘English names’ and I didn’t take it lightly. I wrote a list of appropriate names and allocated them randomly, swapping if they didn’t like it. Unfortunately I heard that some foreign teachers in China aren’t so responsible, and some end up with some crazy names. And of course there are some students who like the name they came up with themselves, and no amount of persuasion will get them to change it. Fair enough. A lot of them won’t leave China anyway.

But it also works the other way. Most Chinese people cannot pronounce our Western names either and in China I am now known by a completely other name. It occurred to me today when I was on the phone with a travel agent and she asked my name. I went to say 乐霞, before remembering that my flight was of course booked in my ‘real’ name/English name. There are many people here in China who don’t know my real name, my in-laws, R’s family, my Chinese friends. We were recently staying at a hotel and my MiL forgot our room number. She went to reception and asked which room 乐霞 is staying in, but of course the room was booked using my passport, so the hotel had no record of a 乐霞 and she couldn’t find it.

So it’s a good job I like my Chinese name. I chose it myself when my Chinese was pretty limited, and although the 乐 is a bit ambiguous as a 姓 surname, the 霞 is particularly good and I am happy when I find someone else with that same character. The reason I chose it myself was because I was not satisfied with the name that my Chinese teacher at that time chose for me. It was a transliteration of my English name, and just ridiculous. Many of the transliterated names don’t even sound like the ‘English name’, like 保罗 baoluo for Paul or 莎拉 shala for Sarah. I personally feel it doesn’t really work well to try to transliterate names, especially when it’s more than two syllables (although for important world figures it’s useful, like 奥巴马 aobama for Obama and 哈利波特 halibote for Harry Potter).

I’ve heard some really lovely Chinese names adopted by foreigners, some which cleverly relate to the ‘real’ name. But I think Chinese teachers should also try to be responsible when helping foreigners with Chinese names. Who wants a name that singles them out as an outsider? And once chosen names, do tend to stick, so better choose a nice sounding one.

I never could have imagined I’d be known by a completely other name by a whole group of people, especially one my mum can’t even say. But I like it🙂

* This could also be a German name, Hebrew name, etc. but I use English name to mean a Western-sounding name written with letters. Students who study other languages often have another name for that class, for example my friend Mandy/Aurelie.

Hello

‘Hello’ in Chinese is pretty easy, right? Nee how! (你好 ni2hao3). Most children know it, and you can hear it shouted at you in the street, just as we might hear ha lou shouted at us in the street.

But anyone who is part of a Chinese family probably knows it’s not that easy. Because you don’t say 你好 to your husband’s grandmother, or to his auntie. Although you might to his little cousin.

It’s a complicated business because each member of a Chinese family has a different name (term of address), and that name should be used when saying hello.

For example:
Husband’s dad’s eldest brother = 大伯 da bo, addressed by 大伯好 da bo hao!
Husband’s mum’s second youngest sister = 三姨 san yi, addressed by 三姨好 san yi hao!

There are words, numbers, occasionally names thrown in for younger relatives. It’s confusing.

But then there’s people on the street. People you don’t even know, but maybe your husband’s parents know. And they need to be addressed by the right term. The rule of thumb most of the time is people around your parents age are 阿姨 ayi and  叔叔 shushu. If not quite of that generation then 哥 ge and 姐 jie are probably good. But then there’s some random ones, which could depend on someone’s job, or some other unknown factor. I came across a new one the other day when we went to see my husband’s old coach and his wife, who we addressed as 教练 jiaolian and 师娘shiniang (couldn’t even find it in the dictionary – must be a northern thing…) So it’s really confusing. Fortunately for me, my MiL has got that it’s confusing and when introducing her 媳妇 xifu (that would be me [no, she’s not calling me her wife, but rather daughter-in-law!! confusing]) to others, she’s got into the habit of saying ‘calling this random person 叔叔 shushu would be fine’, which helps a lot. Especially as R is surprisingly crap at remembering the correct names (he calls himself Chinese..!).

But the new level of confusion came after me and R had our wedding banquet, and I was officially required to call the in-laws Ma and Ba. I struggled with this idea for a while before deciding that not calling them this would cause them a lot more disappointment/offence/potential loss of face than calling them this would cause me. So I went for it. But the problem here is that I’ve never heard my husband say 妈好 Ma hao! or 爸好 Ba hao! That would be ‘too formal’. Instead they just say ‘I’m here’ or ‘you’re here’ or ‘I’m going’, which for me is a bit too informal. Being too formal creates distance between us and can be seen as impolite in Chinese culture, which is hard to comprehend coming from a culture which requires a ‘thank you’ for passing the salt. Super confusing!

Do you have trouble remembering the names for family members? How do you address your in-laws?

Merry Christmas, with love from DiariesofaYangxifu

MERRY CHRISTMAS! 圣诞快乐!

20151212_150751This is my second Christmas in China, but my first as a family of three, and our first in our more permanent home, so I really had a chance to create some atmosphere and get into the Christmas spirit*.

So I decided to throw a Christmas party for R’s cousins!

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You can find a pretty good selection of international and imported foods in Dalian, if you’re willing to look for them.

20151226_114418I made roast chicken with ‘cranberry sauce’**, IKEA meatballs, two homemade loaves of bread, with English cheeses, salt and vinegar crisps. To finish off we had Belgian chocolates and a gingerbread house, and to drink I made mulled wine and mulled apple juice, and we also had Bailey’s.

To further increase the culture shock for our guests, this was laid out as a help yourself buffet, to seat and eat on your lap. “How British,” my husband said.

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I’m really pleased with how it went. R’s cousins seemed really interested, especially in the Pomanders (oranges adorned with cloves), and tried everything with enthusiasm, as well as taking a million photos to document the strange foreign customs. I think they liked trying all the different drinks too.

20151219_101151Whilst I planned the menu to be as easy to prepare as possible – I made most of it in advance – I think it impressed. My big disappointment though was that I prepared the gingerbread house the day before and it collapsed overnight, perhaps because our kitchen is a bit damp.

If I stay in Dalian for Christmas again next year, I’ll definitely do the same again, and maybe even scale it up a little!

*Compared to last year when we lived in a rented, unheated apartment in dusty Guilin, a much less developed city in Southern China.

**It was actually Lingonberry jelly from IKEA but close enough!

Post-wedding reflection

It’s been over 2 months since our big fat Chinese wedding, and it’s taken until now for the photos to come back to us. In this post I thought I could share a few photos, and in between reflect on how the wedding went.

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In the weeks following the wedding, my husband and his parents talked a lot about how they thought it had gone. I’m sad to say that most of what I heard was negative. The wedding planner was too expensive, didn’t do a good job of planning, the decoration was too simple. The photos took too long, there weren’t enough, they weren’t good. The host didn’t listen to what we said, was really old-fashioned, downright hideous (maybe my words). This, that, the other went wrong.

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It makes me a little sad that I have to keep telling R to look at the positives: think about the happy memories we’ll have of singing in front of 200 people, wearing a posh suit/amazing dress, having both sets of parents together for possibly the only time. We gave his parents a lot of face, which is important to them, and it seems to me the Chinese equivalent of making them proud.

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This all reflects a part of Chinese culture I touched on before in my post on praise. The good things are just not mentioned, rather only the bad things are brought up and criticised.

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When it comes to my husband I don’t really get why he’s upset. I mean, a wedding day is not really the thing that boy dream about growing up. Neither he nor I were all that bothered about having the big shebang, and mainly did it for his parents. So why let it get to him? As for his parents, I really don’t think all their family and friends will have noticed all the issues. The food was fabulous (if you’re into seafood), the ‘ceremony’ resembled your average Chinese wedding ‘ceremony’ and lots of drinks were drunk. Not to blow my own trumpet, but I do think the thing the guests will be talking about is the yangxifu 洋媳妇 in the gorgeous red qipao 旗袍😛 plus a whole table of rowdy foreigners (i.e. my family).

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On my part, I’m taking the ‘what’s done is done’ viewpoint and concentrating on the positives. Yes, there were things that annoyed me and things I wish we’d done differently, but it was a very special day and the only wedding day I’ll ever have (fingers crossed!) so what’s the point feeling bitter about it?

In my Chinese kitchen

A few years ago, back when I worked a 9-5 job in the UK, I dreamed of living in China, speaking Chinese and learning all about Chinese culture and people. I could’ve never dreamed I’d be living in a Chinese family, speaking Chinese every day and being taught how to cook authentic Chinese food by a Chinese housewife who makes the amazing home-style North Eastern 东北 food.

A meal made by my MiL

A meal made by my MiL

Not only that, but having my own Chinese kitchen in which to experiment. R, unfortunately, has not learned from his mum, so the kitchen is very much my domain, and it is a fusion of both West and East. I find I cook Chinese-style food the majority of the time, because some Western staples are expensive the buy here (like canned tomatoes) and I don’t have all the equipment, but there are also Western foods which we have very regularly, like homemade bread, porridge and cakes and bakes.

3 things you may not know about a Chinese kitchen

  1. They only have two gas rings, perhaps surprising given cooking with gas is their primary means of cooking. This is compared to 4 in most UK homes, though the size of the ring is bigger here in China.
  2. They don’t have an oven. That is unless you buy a free-standing one, as more and more people are doing to make Western dishes.
  3. They are often tiny. Many that I’ve seen are in a balcony area, perhaps to keep gas/cooking fumes away from the rest of the house.

My top 3 (and a half) Chinese kitchen appliances

20151213_1517021. My rice cooker – this is the staple of a Chinese kitchen, and though presumably a pretty modern invention, it’s safe to say the very large majority of kitchens have one of these. The first time I came across a rice cooker was at university in the UK, where in my first year I had two Malaysian flatmates of Chinese origin. They both had rice cookers which they generally used in their rooms! Genius, as you can in fact cook a whole meal in your rice cooker. Add some dried meat to your rice, chuck vegetables in the mini steaming basket above, voila. Our current rice cooker in one with many settings, rice and congee, fish and ribs and all kinds of meat, even one for baking cake. Unfortunately I’m just not a fan of this one, as it uses pressure to cook, meaning in can’t be opened during cooking. It was bought just a few months ago by my parents-in-law, so we can’t replace it just now, but as soon as I can I will.
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2. My soy milk maker – you can buy ready made soy milk here, but only imported (read: expensive). Chinese people just make their own to drink warm in the mornings. I need soy milk for tea and coffee, and for cooking, and this way saves LOADS of money compared to buying it ready made (a litre would cost 15-25 kuai, whereas I can make a litre for less than 0.5 kuai [although the machine cost almost 200 kuai]). Not only that, but you can use the machine to make other things too – fruit and vegetable smoothies, soups and baby food. It’s not only blends but heats too. If/when we return to the UK, I’ll definitely be taking this back with me.

 

 

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3. My multi-tiered steamer – a simple instrument of cooking, not an appliance as such. But super useful. You can fit so much in one of these, not like the electrical steamers you find in the West. Ours pictured here has 4 tiers. We’ll often have two full of dumplings, plus one with sweet potatoes or corn on the cob or something, then the last one for steaming leafy greens. I’ve come to like steaming as a cooking method for things I wouldn’t have steamed before, sweet potatoes is one, homemade bread (softer for baby), fruits and also for defrosting.

 

3.5 My yoghurt maker – come to think of it, this may not be Chinese at all, but here in China is the first time I’ve ever owned one. At home I’d just go out and buy soya yoghurt (I’m vegan), but since they don’t have that here, I make my own! Super easy, super yummy and super healthy. Let’s call it a half.

Do you cook Chinese food, wherever you are? What’s your best Chinese appliance? Or Chinese cooking tip?

Mother vs mother-in-law

I’ve been back in China with my little boy for over 3 months now, so I thought it’s about time for an update about life as a yangxifu 洋媳妇. That is the name of this blog after all.

Being a mum in China has taught me a lot about the culture, probably more than anything else here. You just get to speak to so many people. Sure, most encounters are short ones (like ‘where’s the baby’s hat?’ or 哎呀好玩儿) but you also get into longer conversations, say if you’re on the bus or hanging out in IKEA.

Baby Z and nainai 奶奶

Baby Z and nainai 奶奶

Of course, I’ve spent a fair bit of time with my mother-in-law, more than ever before, and she just dotes on baby Z. She’s so thrilled to be a nainai 奶奶 and helps out wherever she can, bringing round a whole fridges worth of food, spending a whole day making jiaozi 饺子, and cleaning our apartment.

Her thoughts about taking care of a baby are like most Chinese people of her generation. Throughout pregnancy and whilst in the UK when baby Z was very small, this was on my mind a lot and I worried about how I would cope with views different than mine in someone so close to us. Grandmothers are so important here in China, probably more so than in my culture, and especially at this crucial time. As a more traditional culture, knowledge is passed down the generations, and confucian values mean the advice of elders should be followed (so less googling ‘what should my baby wear today?’ then).

I have to say things have gone smoothly. I guess since I was introduced to the family last year, she learnt about many of my crazies, and has got used to the fact that I do things differently. In this way I think I’m very lucky. Though outraged at first, she quickly became very good at cooking for a vegan, for example. She still gives all the standard nainai 奶奶 advice – baby should wear this / do this / don’t do that – but gets that I have my own way to do things, and doesn’t question me much. I usually try to explain to her why I’m doing something, but she doesn’t usually look like she’s listening (although based on watching her conversations with R, I have seen that’s just her way, but she takes stuff in). She doesn’t get upset if I don’t heed her advice, she might sometimes mention the issue up with R, but doesn’t push it. She has even praised some of my ideas/methods, which can be pretty rare in China, like the fact that baby Z could eat finger foods from before 6 months 抓着吃 and how convenient the baby carrier we use is.

DSCN0603Another bonus of hanging out with MiL more often is that I get to hear snippets about her life and more about the challenges of her generation, which I feel pretty privileged about. Plus learn some little bits of Dalian dialect😀

So overall, I’d say my worries were unfounded, things have gone very well and R’s family are pretty supportive, which I know isn’t always the case. Does my MiL like me? Sometimes I’m really not sure (like when during an argument during wedding planning she shouted at R ‘you’ve turned into a British person!’) but our relationship is certainly getting closer with a grandchild in the picture.

 

 

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