Including us there are ten families living on our hall. Half us have children, seven in total. Seven children, all under the age of five, with even more kids living on the two floors above us.
Let me give you a little glimpse into our life as I tell the story of the time (two weeks ago) I decided to do a little finger-painting at home with Ellie to break up the rainy day doldrums.
I made the paint the night before, thanks to some food coloring I imported from The States. I had just mixed in the dye when my two-doors-down-neighbor stopped by…
En-zhen: What’s that? (points to the bowls of finger-paint)
Kristie: It’s finger-paint, I was going to do it with Ellie tomorrow.
En-zhen: (looks extremely interested) Ohhh, sounds like fun.
Kristie: You and He-jing (her 2 year old daughter) can come over tomorrow afternoon and join us if you want.
En-zhen: That would be great! Thank you!
The next day I had to take the kids out to get some milk from the organic co-op and then go by the stationary store for some big paper. As we come back home we must first go through the seminary lobby. In the lobby I see Xi-jing who lives upstairs…
Xi-jing: What’s that for? (points to the roll of paper sticking out of the stroller)
Kristie: Ellie and I are going to do some finger painting.
Xi-jing: (seems extremely interested) Really?
Kristie: Yeah, you and Sheng-jie (her 2.5 year old son) can join us.
Xi-jing: Great! What time?
Kristie: I think, maybe in half an hour.
Xi-jing: Okay, where?
Kristie: (realizing that three mommies and three two-year-olds with finger-paint are not going to fit in my living area) Um…In the sitting area just outside our room. See you in a little bit!
We ride the elevator up to the fourth floor and are greeted by Le-qi, Shou-zhen, Shou-qi riding bikes in the hall.
So, I tell their moms not to worry because the finger-paint will wash right out, utterly fail at explaining “food coloring” in Chinese, borrow some extra little bowls from my neighbor, roll out the paper and get the party started.
Notice that Ellie, ever the bad influence on mild mannered Asian children, is indeed not merely finger-painting, but hand-, foot- and bottom-painting. She is also eschewing her paper in favor of the floor.
Some pros and cons to having 15 people crash my finger-painting plan for Ellie?
Con: All the paint and paper I had was entirely used up in 30 minutes.
Con: I didn’t get to do any finger-painting myself.
Pro: The other moms did all the clean up!!
Pro: Seeing all those kids explore, create and experience something new and wonderful.
Pro: One of the moms later brought me a Chinese cake to say “thanks”.
Pro: Building relationships.
Pro: A fun time was had by all.