I've been sitting peacefully for awhile, a warm mug in hand that now grows cool as the liquid is slowly sipped out of it. It's caramel tones and small swirls of cream are like my own little personal morning sunrise, staring at me from the white cloudy confines of my cup. But now, the personal moment is coming to a close. I can hear footsteps from behind the door, one of six (three bedrooms, one bathroom, one kitchen, and the entry) that opens off of this main living space. Sure enough, the handle turns loudly and I cringe a little, hoping whichever boy it is doesn't slam it shut again so the littlest one stays asleep just awhile longer. Bang. No such luck. But I can't hear her opening cries yet so we must still be okay.
The little barefeet come plodding quickly across the bare, fake boards of our mock hardwood floor. The Chinese are good at tile. They love tile. Tile is everywhere in most homes. But they have recently caught on to the love for hardwood and are slowly making pains to use it more often. Pains seems the right word because this seems a far cry from craftsmanship with its spongy foundation and wide gaps that catch the toe. It's not dirt though, and so most of the time it is just fine.
We curl under a blanket, the light of one or two lamps spreading a pool in the dark room where the January mornings will take awhile to fill with the natural light of day. I can feel the draft coming in from the windows, and the sliding door to the (tiled) porch. No amount of shutting or twisting or jamming seems to close them tight enough. We pull the blanket closer, warmed by our cuddling, and by my now refilled coffee mug.
It doesn't take long before the others arrive, and all of them are clambering for food. We forced and stuffed and cajoled and threatened and rewarded only 12 hours previous in the hopes that they would make it through the night without starving, but it seems we nearly lost them. They are famished. We trail into the kitchen, where the floor turns to tile again and we can feel the heated pipes pumping under our bare skin. Chins on the counter, and stools gathered swiftly to make up for where lack of height keeps you down, and all watch as toast pops and the butter slathers; maybe eggs today and pancakes tomorrow.
They rush off with their plates full and I keep working, smacking sandwiches together, scrounging for suitable snacks and a treat to take the edge off of such a boring lunch. Somewhere inside me there's always this little struggle; wanting them to eat healthy and not grow accustomed to bourgeois eating (like cheese everyday for goodness sake, what frills!) but remembering how it feels to pine after all those other lunches and just wish your mom hadn't slapped processed bologna and miracle whip on your whole grain bread yet again. Good thing you can't buy bologna here. But it still takes more work than I have the foresight to plan for to make the lunch exciting. Oh well, another childhood story for the next generation, I guess.
The plates are pretty well cleared and they have somehow managed to get dressed though I wouldn't sign them up for Gap advertisements any time soon. Still, they are pretty independent and I'm proud of them even for something as little as pulling their pants up and getting socks on. They do all seem to struggle with shirts faced the right way though. Teeth brushed, and there's the struggle over stool space again, but we work it out and somehow everyone gets room to spit, one last rinse, and then the race around the corner to start tackling the coats and shoes, gloves and backpacks so we can haul ourselves out the door, down two flights, through the complex, out the gate, up the hill, and there we part while the little sister and I wave and throw kisses.
In the absence of picture posting ability, and really not much exciting to write about these days, I've taken to just thinking through, or simply describing small moments from the day. It's likely this will delight Grandma, but don't worry if you don't feel the same. Hopefully I'll be back soon with something more visual to share, but in the meantime I'm sure the reprieve is somehow good for me and maybe these little excercises will be as well. If you stay, thanks for reading:)