After 2 1/2 years of rock solid consistency Li Li’s daycare situation is changing. The family that takes care of Li Li has bought a house about 30 minutes away and will be moving at the end of the month. We couldn’t have asked for a better situation for Li Li and we’ll be sad to see them go but we’ll have playdates in the future and will remain in contact with them after they move.
Li Li has not only been taken care of by a loving family and had the chance to grow up with a brother and older sister but she’s also gotten the full Chinese grandmother experience. Nai nai – the Chinese word for the father’s mother – treats Li Li exactly as she treats Xi Xi (or Anthony). So even though Li Li has been feeding herself at the table since she was a year old Nai Nai still feeds her herself. Li Li seems to tolerate it just fine but it’s interesting how different cultures treat their children. She’s also gotten used to her Chinese breakfast each morning – sometimes its buns, sometimes dumplings and sometimes a savory pancake or crepe like dish. And if we were lucky we usually got a little taste as well. Catherine and I considered “getting Chinese breakfast” a highlight of our day. For Li Li it was normal.
Lei, Xi Xi and Fiona’s mother, went to China this summer for 3 months with Xi Xi and Fiona leaving Li Li with just Nai Nai who speaks no English. This made communicating a challenge to say the least. But through my limited Chinese, pantomime and repetition we managed to do just fine. Plus Li Li is beginning to do some translation for Nai Nai if we are there and don’t understand. If something complex needed to be conveyed Nai Nai would pick up the phone and call her son Yanchun, Xi Xi and Fiona’s father, who would translate for me. It worked out pretty well. Plus it gave Li Li a completely full immersion experience since Nai Nai can’t speak English at all.
The Chinese community here in RI has been very welcoming and we have quickly found a new family to take of Li Li who have a very cute 2 1/2 year son so Li Li will learn a little something of what it is like to be the Jie Jie, or older sister. While are sad to see Lei, Yanchun, Fiona, Xi Xi and Nai Nai move away, we are thankful for our time together and for their love of Li Li. We are also excited for the opportunity to get to know a new family and for Li Li to get a chance to continue learning Chinese in a loving home. -t