Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mommy & Me

On Wednesday, I brought Rosabelle to 3e for a session of ‘Mommy & Me’ – the last time I was there was for a Music & Movement session in May, which did not really go down well with me. However, the description about this playgroup for 1-3 year-olds sounded interesting enough, and at RMB50 for an hour’s lesson, cost lesser than a Music & Movement class (RMB80) so I thought I’d give it another try.

I’d told Rosabelle the night before that we were going for another class this week, and not for Kindermusik with Yuliya, since she’s in India (to get trained in Zumba) and will only be back for a make-up session next Friday. So when Rosabelle woke up that morning and sat up in her bed, she asked me ‘阿姨去哪里了', and when I probed, she said she was referring to ‘Aunty Yuliya’, heh! Wayne sent us as I fed her her steamed egg with prawns breakfast in the car.

When we got there, we were early and I had time to bring her to the cute toilets first (loads of kids-sized facilities, as you can imagine), and I had to physically restrain her from running into any of the classrooms. I was slightly intimidated by the overwhelming majority of ang mor faces around (do I really want her to be in such an environment, or to be around those of ‘her kind’?), but class started soon enough in one of the classrooms, and Rosabelle was first attracted to the painting table, using the sticks of sponges to paint onto the paper provided. Thankfully they provided smocks, but only had 4 on hand, so the kids had to rotate. As it was my first time at the class, I wasn’t sure what to expect but it wasn’t teacher-led or anything, more like the classroom having different activity stations for the kids (maximum of 12) to play around with Mummy (thus the name, I guess!).

Other than the painting table, there was a whole basin of flour with different scoops and cups, and once, when I was chatting away with another Mummy, Rosabelle was trying to snatch a cup from her daughter and the two girls ended up having poofs of flour all over the face – it looked pretty hilarious!

There was another basin of confetti with small plastic animals hidden underneath but she did not seem as interested after digging up a lion and elephant. She did not have time to explore the crawling tunnel, many books, and activity mats, but instead spent a lot of time at the kitchen area, pretending to wash up/scrub dishes (even using the scrub for her dirty socks after she left cute flour foot prints all over the room), and threatening to spill flour all over the floor when she said she wanted to bring it there to cook. There was a younger girl who came from behind her at the ‘stove’, and Rosabelle nudged her away as she said, ‘妹妹不过来,玥玥炒菜,小心烫!', haha!

It was a good mix of children – toddlers and crawlers – and it did not seem as elitist as the Music & Movement group I attended with previously, though there were some I’d rather not acquaint ourselves with. There was Mr. Crybaby, a boy who was brought by the Ayi, who obviously could not discipline him at all. We first met them at the reception where he was throwing a fit from having to come indoors, having not had enough fun outdoors. Rosabelle probably found him as irritating as I did, and went up to him and smacked him lightly on the face, and he hit her back with a few fast ones. Oh well… she did ask for it, but still… we kept our distance after, but not for long, as when Rosabelle decided to take one of the toy cars he was playing with in class, he threw a hissing fit, kicking his legs and flinging his arms around, bawling as the Ayi coddled/cuddled him. OMG, so roll eyes. Our good girl gave the car back and told him not to cry – totally hate kids like that, though I can’t blame the Ayi as she can’t really scold/smack him, can she?

Another weirdo we encountered was this Mummy with twin girls. I was being friendly and looked for a smock for her to don on one of her 15-month-old girls at the paint table, and after she did so, said she does not think she could handle it (the mess). Duh… after that, I saw her let her daughter crawl around and under a wooden table as she chatted away with another Mummy. I was trying to attract her attention to get her to look out for her daughter in case the girl banged her head against the table, but after she looked at me, she looked away instead and continued chatting away without so much of an acknowledgement, much less a thank you, and it was the mummy she was speaking with who instead thanked me. How very rude! I sure kept my berth from her and told myself to forgive her as she might be strangely high-strung and unsociable from the stress of having twins, haha!

We did meet normal and friendly people, though most of them had kids younger, except for one who had a 2.5-year-old daughter. At the end of the lesson, the teacher gathered us around as we played with some musical instruments and sang like about 4-5 songs together, so well, at least there were some teacher-led activities.

I could see that our girl enjoyed it, and they had pretty nice and interesting facilities and activities, which would change every week, and initially, I had come with the intention of just trying out one lesson. Instead, we left with a full payment for the whole 10 weeks, haha! (Though I need to look for a replacement for the week we go to Guilin…). The admin girl was very nice and as I was one of the first few to sign up, she’d reserved the remaining slots for me to see if I wanted to book the whole package. Many of the other mamas I spoke to said there were no other spaces available until November and they were all on the waiting list (there might be some who wanted in, but could only start from next week).

I am sure looking forward to bringing Rosabelle along to meet more new (not weird) friends next week! After that, I let her munch on some fresh dates as we took a leisurely walk to/in Si’De Park. She spotted these stones and went up to them, requesting that I take a photo of her as she laid on them…
We saw this older girl with a toy motorcycle, and Rosabelle went up to ride on it. The other girl was very nice and sweet, but very shy, so when her grandmother asked her to shake hands with Rosabelle, she was hesitant. Our little one here quickly ran over, shook the girl’s hand hard, then hugged and kissed her, haha!

I was also trying hard to avoid the children’s play area with all the kiddy rides but Rosabelle’s sharp eyes spotted them as she pointed out to me and asked ‘什么东西?妈妈你看,哥哥车这么快。。。呜呜呜...', as if waiting for me to ask if she also wanted a ride. But alas, that question never came, and our good girl also did not request/cry for one, as I hurried her along to get to lunch.

As it was still quite a walk, I carried her part of the way as I was getting quite hungry myself, not wanting her to dawdle along the way. Bad call. Till now, my right back still hurts – maybe I sprained it or something; I swear our girl has grown a fair bit these days. Tomorrow, I’ll follow Wayne to the chiropractor to try and get kneaded back into shape…

We then reached our lunch place – Wish restaurant. This is quite a pricey affair, but hell, I wanted to give our girl (no, me) a treat at times, and set about ordering crab porridge (came recommended), foie gras with shitake, codfish in pumpkin soup, and tofu balls. I also had some longan/red date tea. Our girl was happily sipping water from a wooden bowl they provided her, and I made the mistake of letting her try some of my tea. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I thought that the ‘tea’ only had red dates and longan in it (until I saw the Lipton tea bag label hanging by the side), and let her drink almost a full small cup before realizing that I’d given our girl her first taste of caffeine!

See, every time our girl sees us drink coke/coffee/tea, we have to explain that it’s for adults, and I’ve had to explain that these things contain a lot of caffeine that will make her go all high (complete with highly-strung face of gritted teeth and claw-like hands). So she now knows, and does not fuss to try it, and can tell me that it’s ‘coffee’, as she saw pictures of coffee makers in a brochure before, and I’d similarly told her there’s caffeine in it. But thankfully she wasn’t on a high after that, and could still eat her lunch well, clamouring for more foie gras (though there weren’t chunks of it as they had all mashed up with the shitake) – this dish had black pepper in it and she decided she did not want any more of the shitake after.

However, she enjoyed the pumpkin soup (though there was suspiciously only one measly chunk of cod fish in it), and ate a bowl of crab porridge as well, even chewing on the thin ginger strips that were inside it, haha! I even let her hold the crab’s shell, and though I could have chomped on the crab if I wanted to, I couldn’t really be bothered – too messy, and my allergic skin does not take that well to seafood anyway. She also liked the tofu balls, though I quickly had to wipe away the ‘salad sauce’ after the waitress warned me there was wasabi in it – oops!

Throughout the meal, this strange elderly waitress kept lingering around and trying to make small talk, even topping up my pot of tea once (when it was still full – so I blame her for diluting my tea, that silly woman!) so that she could come near and whisper to me. I could not really make out what the hell she was trying to hush-hush to me about, but she asked if I was looking after Rosabelle alone, and said that her brother-in-law asked her to look after his kid, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to, though she was too embarrassed to decline outright. Maybe she wanted me to offer her a job as my Ayi? Maybe she wanted to know the going rate if her relatives were to pay her? I don’t know, and I didn’t ask, but I did not show any interest and soon enough, she got the hint and stopped bothering me as I had my hands full with eating and feeding my girl (she even went to take a poop half-way through lunch!).

Total damage – RMB367, with 10% service charge included. Wayne would be glad to know this is not going to be a weekly affair even though we’re coming to the area every week, haha!

After that, we left to catch a taxi home and as I always tell the driver ‘百子湾,后现代城', our girl picked up on it and immediately parroted me, so she can now extend her address knowledge to include百子湾 (complete with the儿化音) now, heh!

When we reached home, thankfully the caffeine did not get to her and she still managed to sleep for about two hours and woke up to go to her favourite Mai Dou Ge Ge’s house before dinner. It was another kid’s birthday (Wei Wei Jie Jie) the day before, so the 3 kids each had a slice of cake at the table. When Mai Dou left the table half-way to get a toy for Wei Wei, Rosabelle went into her matronly chant of, ‘麦兜哥哥,回来吃cake,好好坐下来,不可以下去拿玩具,这样不好...'. Hyuk! That’s our little ‘grown-up’ for you there!

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