From now on, we get to the park by 2…

4 Mar

Do you remember that girl from high school? Not THAT Girl, but the other one… always a little left of center. Most people didn’t bother to speak but they all knew who she was, and as she walked down the hallway they just stared. Their looks were a combination of confusion and mild disgust, top lip snarled a bit like Elvis impersonators. I remember her well. I was that girl. To quote my cousin, “You weren’t mainstream. There wasn’t even any water in your stream.” (For anyone reading, who doesn’t personally know me, you might be feeling a bit sad for me right now. Don’t. Frankly, I didn’t care. I thought they were all equally odd. Wink!)

It has been years since I felt like that girl. Not that I succumbed to conformity, just that I am no longer forced to exist in the bizarre social microcosm that is high school. Until today.

As I walked the twins to Kowloon Park, it actually struck me as odd that I am perfectly comfortable in my new surroundings. I am not having the, “OMG – I moved to Hong Kong!” feeling. Rather, I feel that I am exactly where I should be. Which is great. We arrive at the park following the usual points, smiles, questions, and paparazzi. I pay HK$135 (US$17.33) for a pack of Chinese diapers that I picked because it was the only pack I could tell were the right size. In fact, the only things on the package I could read were the kilogram weight range, the product name, and the manufacturer name. They are Goo.N diapers, yes, goon diapers made by… wait for it… BabyGoo. “When your kid goes poo, choose BabyGoo!” OK, I made that up. But I do wonder if the humor is lost on the marketing manager so desperately trying to Westernize the product. They suck, by the way. The twins literally peed right through them. Sitting them atop a roll of paper towels would have been far more effective, and possibly made for a great You Tube upload. The search for Pampers starts tomorrow.

So, I have my diapers, we wheel over to the park and the kids start to play. I mostly focus on preventing broken bones, (more) stitches, and stopping TwinXY from pushing other kids off the slide. As I interact with other adults on the playground, I start to realize that I am the ONLY mother there. Every other adult is an “amah” – a Filipino nanny. (They are live-in nanny/maid/cooks, make ~US$450/mo plus room and board working 6 days/wk, living in what almost every apartment is outfitted with – “servant’s quarters” – which sound luxurious until you see that it is actually a broom closet with a sink and toilet.) The amahs are friendly but distant and everything is cool. Around 5 PM, the real Moms start arriving, amahs and kids in tow. Here I am alone, chasing my two who absolutely refuse to play on the same piece of equipment or run in the same direction, when the looks begin. THAT look. Confusion and disgust, with a tad of pity and maternal judgement thrown in for good measure. As one twin falls off a stair and the other twirls on the slide speeding down head first on her back (of course it was her!) one Mom grew particulary tired of watching my chaos. The conversation went something like this:

Her: You don’t have “help”?
Me: No. My husband is out on business. We usually try to do the park together, but the kids really needed the outing today.
Her: No, no… you mean you don’t have an amah, a nanny?
Me: Nooo, I don’t. But we’ve only been here a week.
Her: But you have started interviewing?
Me: Not really. We don’t even have an apartment yet.
Her: And???
Me: …and I haven’t decided if we are going to have one or not.
Her: (head tilt, looks at me like I am from Mars, and, without another word, walks off to chat with her amah.)

By the time I rustled the kids (who remarkably survived the park with only a single caregiver) up to get into the stroller, an amah came up to me to give me a phone number because she has a friend. I don’t know. Sure, it would be a tremendous help and a fabulous luxury. And, we are considering having someone come in to help a few days per week because school is only 3 hours long and a girl’s gotta work. But, it never struck me that I was incapable of functioning without a nanny. I left the park feeling like I showed up at prom in Bjork’s swan dress. Whatever. The thought of outsourcing my parental duties, cramming a fifth person permanently in our 1300sf apartment, and forcing them to sleep in a closet makes me feel equally confused and disgusted. Thanks, but I’ll take my BabyGoo and be on my way.

2 Responses to “From now on, we get to the park by 2…”

  1. Jan March 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    HAHAHA! – – how the ‘other Chinese half lives’, huh? I can just see it all going down now- – the twins almost have an opposite magnetic charge taking them in different directions. I guess this is a good thing- -they don’t feel that they are joined at the hip!

    BTW! have you spotted the EMS nearest you? ….God forbid, but just in case!

    Stay safe and have FUN!

    • window2chaos March 8, 2011 at 4:26 am #

      Police station, EMS, and emergency dial (999, btw) all located and committed to memory! 🙂

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