Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ox Year

We had a little Chinese New Year celebration last night. I made egg rolls, which received pretty much the same reception as last time…E ate a few bites before he realized either that he didn’t like it or that his brothers weren’t eating it. M tortured me with questions about “what does it taste like.” Z dismantled one in an effort to earn a second helping of pineapple. C came home late so I gobbled several on my own, while the twins ran wildly through the house and M read his latest World War I book. I don’t get these kids—eggrolls were one of my very favorite meals as a kid (along with fondue) which, like the fondue, we only got about once a year and it was always a treat.

After I ate my quota, I got out crayons and paper to try to calm the twins down. Z finally drew a person (Mama) the other day, but it was on the white board on our easel so I couldn’t save it. He holds the pen in a strange way, so I tried to get him to use the crayon rocks, which I love, they’re so cute and smooth and fun colors. E and I made rainbows, and Z kept having me draw Spider Man, which he then cut up into shreds.

I had hoped to make paper lanterns earlier in the day, but we spent the whole day running around (Sears portrait studio, where I hope to never have to venture again, Bagel Mainea, the library and the milk farm) and ran out of time. While I cooked, the boys watched the Curious George video from the library, which always infuriates me because the Man with the Yellow Hat will insist on calling George a monkey. He is an ape, Man, look, no tail. If you’re going to steal a poor helpless wild animal from the jungle, at least get its taxonomy right!

After searching our shelves for Chinese-themed books (did it occur to me to look at the library? No.), we settled down with Daisy Comes Home—very cute, great illustrations, empowered chicken, etc.—and another book about a dragon kite that turned out to take place in Tibet, which is kind of ironic considering the political situation there. In the middle of reading, I remembered a book from my childhood about a duck that I think was called Ping, and made a hasty search of the shelves for it, but it must not have made it into our collection. Then we went to sleep with a few rounds of Puff the Magic Dragon, which doesn't have anything to do with Chinese New Year, other than the dragon being something we 'mericans associate with China (nope, we don't have any music CDs with Chinese music either), but Z has liked me to sing it the last couple of nights. I can almost get through "A dragon lives forever, not so little boys," and "Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave" without choking up now (getting teary just typing it).

So on the one hand, I want my family to learn about other cultures and other parts of the world, but on the other hand my efforts usually end up feeling contrived and half-assed. But what else can we do here in our not very diverse corner of the world?


  1. That sounds like a wonderful, beautiful effort to me.

    (And damn that man in the yellow hat.)

  2. I think that having conversations about how other people live is a great start. It is wonderful you make that effort to recognize Chinese New Year, etc., but I also suspect you talk about other folks' families, languages, beliefs, cultures, etc as it comes up in daily life.

    Our boys' bedroom is decorated in maps--maps everywhere-- and that is often a start in conversation. If they read about a person from Bolivia or hear about the gondolas in Italy or meet one of Peter's classmates from Sudan-- they often run to their world maps to figure out where that person or thing comes from. Of course, we dream of living abroad with the boys at some point.

    My sister who has college-aged kids told them that she was totally hands-off about where they decided to attend college, what they major in, etc. but the one thing she absolutely insists on-- they must study abroad for at least a term. She absolutely had to sit on her oldest to make it happen, but in the end, he had an absolutely wonderful term abroad in Scotland. Currently her daughter is in Sevilla, Spain, studying at the same university where I spent a full school year 20 years ago (and it forever altered my world view).

  3. Oh Jeez. I am apparently raising a xenophobe.

    All Eli could tell you about China is that they poisoned dogs and children and he is not allowed--as much as I can control--to have anything made there.

    Some diversity, huh?

    (It makes me pine for my years close enough to San Francisco to go to Chinatown to fix any dancing dragon jones.)

    Consider me chastened.


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