Wednesday, February 25, 2009
This is the little girl who lives upstairs. Isn't she cute? Well, don't let her apparent cuteness fool you. This girl is a super concentrated ball of energy that will leave you exhausted after five minutes! And I'm talking about weary-down-to-your-bones kind of exhausted. The way we met was quite out of the ordinary as far as my experience with my neighbors in Taiwan go. In the past my neighbors and I hardly spoke to one another at all. If my Chinese ability had been better I would have tried to facilitate more conversations, but most of them didn't seem very interested in speaking to me anyway. I didn't really mind though; at least they weren't hitting me up for free English practice.
With little Qian Qian and her mom though, everything was different. As some of you already know, Ian and I recently moved back to Muzha (more about that in another post). On our second day of living in our new residence, the lady from upstairs, Xiao Min, showed up on my doorstep with her two kids in tow. Her youngest is referred to by all simply as Mei Mei (little sister) and spends most of her time strapped to her mom's chest and making gurgling baby noises; she's definitely not a threat. But Qian Qian, oh what a rambunctious little person.
The first thing she said when she saw me was, "Mom, I want to go inside the foreigner's house and play." This surprised me because most Taiwanese kids seem to be frightened of me and can hardly bring themselves to look at me, let alone invite themselves into my house for a play session. For someone not yet four years old, Qian Qian is about as dauntless as they come. Sometimes my husband and I will be peacefully sitting on the sofa enjoying a cup of tea, and all of the sudden we hear a great crash followed by a high pitched three-year-old scream coming from upstairs. It's at those moments that I gratefully look at my quiet little dog languidly resting at my feet and thank God that I'm not the one who has to take care of that Child.
But today my luck ran out. I ended up watching Qian Qian for a mere thirty minutes today, and I'm telling you, they felt like a lifetime. Her and Xiao Min and Mei Mei were chatting with me in my apartment, when all of the sudden Xiao Min said something about going upstairs to make dinner. I fully expected her to take Qian Qian with her, but she left her here. I assumed that I had probably agreed to something without realizing it because my Chinese isn't all that great yet. Anyway, I started to get a little panicky. What was I supposed to do with a child? I have never really taught kids English, and I never did children's ministry or anything like that in church. Quite frankly, all the pretend and imagination that's required for playing with kids always made me a bit confused and out of my element.
I tried my best though. I did the first imagination thing I could think of and pretended to be receiving psychic messages from my dog to give to Qian Qian. Oddly, she was more interested in playing with my computer.
Before I knew it though, I was doing my best to tidy up the destruction in her wake. Later I found a swipe of permanent marker on my ordered-specially-from-the-U.S.- curtains. Throughout it all though, I'll be darned if she wasn't the cutest little thing I've ever seen.
I've heard that there's some sort of biological function in us that makes us want to take care of cute babies and children. Without that function would we kill them instead? I actually like kids and want some of my own someday, I just don't really have much experience with them at this point in my life. The fact that I find them so exhausting once they get to the point of being able to talk also worries me. Do people find their own kids exhausting, or only other people's kids? Parents or seasoned lovers of children are welcome to comment (and put my fears to rest if you can)!