One of my kids’ favorite times of day is pick up after school.
I go and meet them at 11:45 outside the elementary school, we wait for E and I, the other 2 foreign kids in the school, and they screaming dash down the alley, play all kinds of running games, and head for the “playground” in front of our friends’ apartment.
Unfortunately it will be torn down next spring sometime, but that’s another story.
A very common story.
While they play on the adult exercise equipment, chase the stray cats and chickens, climb the climbing tree or play sharks and fishes, or simply run laps around the neighborhood, the other mom and I go to pick up the two attending preschool/kindergarten down the alley a little bit further.
The kids think it’s their time to play, but in reality it’s our mom talk time.
We cover all kinds of topics from serious to important to essential, such as the state of the world’s orphans, where we last heard one could buy whole wheat flour and do you want to go in on a 100# bag with me, and do you think we will find a turkey this year.
We also chat with other moms or grandmas who are watching their kids on lunch break and discuss the same essential topics in broken Chinese with them, or in one case, in English with the mom who used to live in Montreal and can relate to moving somewhere and not having a clue how things work.
After someone has to go potty, or excessive complaints of hunger emerge, we pile up all the backpacks onto my minivan (that would be my Chinese Schwinn with a basket and a superlong childseat on the back) and walk about 10 minutes home.
We dodge the usual traffic, get a few comments about three children (if they only knew), pass the Garden of Eden as the kids have dubbed a little corner enclosed by sticks held together with twine and a lovely tree in the center with unknown red fruits, and hurry home for lunch.
Then we embark on the rest of the day.