Tricky Day on the Job (As a Stay at Home Parent)
Yesterday I found myself in a tricky spot for a few hours. While there are so many moments like this when your current job is a parent of a two year old, living in China sometimes makes me feel like I’m in a sitcom.
I don’t usually share these kinds of stories online, sure I’d talk about them but I wrote the following to a group of friends and they all appreciate a job well done! So here’s a travel story, a mother story, a parent story, a toddler story, a pooh story. Don’t read this over your dinner. Also FYI, I’m fine with taking taxis in Shanghai without child restraints, because otherwise I’d never go anywhere, and if you have ever been stuck at home with small children you know this can be trouble… plus traffic is like 20 km an hour through our part of town. Anyways, the story goes as follows.
It’s been raining a lot this summer here in Shanghai and it’s been a bit boring in the afternoons so I thought we’d catch a cab to the ‘book & art street’ in Shanghai, where there are some English book stores with a kids section in a couple of the dinky department stores. We took the pram as well, and of course it’s the usual struggle of talking Chinese to the taxi person, keeping Felix the 2 year old (almost three in September!) entertained on your lap and then arriving and hoping he stands by the tree while you pay & get the pram out of the boot.
We go straight up to the first department store and while he’s fondling the Frozen storybooks Felix pulls the “pooh face” and because he’s close to wearing undies but isn’t, he’s saying “Change Me Nappy Mummy” and I usher him along and realise I don’t have any nappies… I don’t have any wipes … there’s nothing in the pram but tissues! WHAT.
He’s a morning pooh-er (!) but not today obviously and I feel bad putting him in the pram seat but I have to go find a convenient store quick smart. But the trap today: I’m in an old neighbourhood, most local families still use split pant trousers for their children (old Chinese families use that elimination technique of whistling), plus I don’t know where any supermarkets are AND it’s raining (lightly) again.
I try four conveniently located convenient stores around the big block, and contemplate using facial water wipes as there’s loads of them available, and maybe a woman’s pad. The Family Mart might have nappies, but there’s no pram access up and I’m not daring to carry a pram and a 16 kg child up 6 stairs. And as I cross the street (Felix is reading the Frozen book I hastily bought, such concentration!) I’m avoiding electric scooters, street food carts, a grocer spraying down his peaches with a hose and look up to find the Lianhua Supermarket brand and it’s the best ever and way better than my local branch and even had the cutest Panda chopsticks (presents for everyone!) AND thankfully nappies and wipes of all brands and thank fuck.
But then of course, this is China and unless there’s a fancy shopping mall nearby, there are no change tables or change rooms around. The rain clears up, so I back the pram behind a van facing Felix’s bum to the street (and hoping all the sushi train diners nearby cannot see) and change him in the pram (he’s still reading Frozen) laid as flat as it can be. I cannot WAIT for us to see the end of nappies, but today more than ever.
Hurrah, and we go to the next book store and we get some great English books that aren’t too expensive and we rejoice and then all the while in the taxi on the way home Felix wants me to read him the Frozen book, but I feel queasy from travel sickness, and he’s sticking his fingers in his mouth, chewing them (cannot remember the last time I washed them, which gives me warning) and then the usual having to speak Chinese to the taxi driver, telling him where to go, talking to Felix calmly while he’s starting some elaborate burping sounds.
And finally, with a few ’Straight Ahead!’ comments and ‘Here! Arrived’ in Chinese to the driver, we pull up to our apartment’s entrance and right at our front steps, I open the door of the taxi, leaning us both out while holding Felix’s sick and he burps it all up on the concrete.
Triumphantly there is no sick in the taxi and the taxi driver turns helpful and gets the pram out of the boot (RARE) so I don’t forget it! Felix is fine and is already laughing while I pay the guy. ‘I BURPED THERE MUMMY’ and pointing to his chuck up.
A while later, he ate a lot for dinner, with no further distress, so I’m thinking it was his first case of travel sickness while reading! My curse as a child!
I would never in a million years imagine myself holding in someone’s sick while talking Chinese in a taxicab, but parenting has a lot of highs and lows right? And I’m actually more proud than grossed out by this now.