Here is the alley we walk through to get to school every day.
On the left are apartments, on the right (off camera), a senior center.
Straight ahead, some low lying buildings that seem like 1-room low-budget homes side by side.
I have a “carpooling” arrangement with our neighbors, who also have 3 kids at the same school.
It actually involves one parent, a bike and six backpacks.
And a few kids haggling over who gets to ride or stand on the pedal.
It’s really fun when I also have some eggs dangling from a handlebar in a plastic bag because the market is also on the way.
In case I haven’t mentioned it, we send our kids to Chinese school until lunch time every day (3rd, 2nd and preschool), and homeschool using an American curriculum in the afternoons.
There is a great book called Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren which we read last year, and I think we have the Chinese version of that wild pack of kids.
Instead of the old shoemaker yelling at the kids for sitting on a rock and playing pirates, we have grownups yelling for them to be careful because they’re hopping on one leg, jumping over a rock, and those sorts of dangerous things.
One day when I was walking through there by myself a lady asked me how old I was (yes, out of the blue).
Completely normal conversation, really. For here.
I told her. 39.
And I said, for good measure, that I have 4 kids.
In case she’s one of the few in the neighborhood who doesn’t know already.
She then invited me to join the senior center we were standing in front of, where they play mahjong, musical instruments and do tai qi.
I still haven’t recovered emotionally from the time about 2 years ago when an elderly woman on the street asked if I was the maternal or paternal grandmother of the infant in my stroller (China Surprise).
I aghastly stated quite firmly that I was the MOTHER.
And stomped off.