We are a year and four months deep into this whole experience, and as much as we don't want to admit it, we've taken on some Chinese mannerisms and customs! Here's a listing no particular order.
1. We went from an eff-it attitude about wearing shoes in the house to leaving them outside on a designated doormat thanks to a few months of seeing what we were walking in on a daily basis. It is not uncommon to have to sidestep human vomit, feces, trash on the local streets. Who wants that tracked inside their house? Not these guys.
2. The street vendor food actually looks somewhat appetizing. I'm not quite ready to experiment with it yet, but I do see a few things that smell and look edible. There's an egg crepe with green onions and chili sauce that will probably be my first step into street food. We prefer to eat at jiaozi or Muslim noodle joints instead of the expat restaurants. Can't beat the price. My noodle and bok choy bowl is only 7rmb ($1.10) and it's big enough to split with Sal. Our piggy bank likes that!
3. My personal space has been invaded so many times, that I'm now an offender. I have no problem getting all up on a stranger to make sure I don't lose my spot in the Burger King line at lunch rush. In fact, one day, I even cut in front of some men who were taking too long to order! I didn't realize I had done this until after the fact, but it gave my friends a good laugh. My stroller has now become a fantastic tool at making sure people don't try to cut me in line. My front wheels literally touch the shoes of the person in front of me as to end any doubt that there is room for cutting.
4. We ride an e-bike as a family. Yes, I know-sticklers for the carseat in the car, but we ride our 20 month old and unborn child on an e-bike? It's a decision we are comfortable with. With three of us (technically four now) maxing out the weight limit on the bike, our top speed is less than 15 mph. Bike riders pass us by. And who hasn't ridden a bike with their kid on it before? We also use designated scooter lanes and obey all traffic signals even if those around us do otherwise. We love our e-bike and the freedom it has provided for us.
5. I leave the house wearing whatever I feel like. Somedays it's my mumu --which is really a beach cover up that I think is cute, but NZ calls it a mumu. Other days it's workout shorts and whatever tank top I can find. Style isn't even on my radar. My hair has tons of whispy's since it is in a ponytail 90% of the time, and sometimes I wear make up and others I don't. Back home, I almost always did my hair and makeup, and tried to show that I cared. Here, anything goes. My friends and I even have distinctions for sweatpants. "Sweats casual" is sweats and no make up, and "sweats dressy" is wearing sweats with makeup. Seriously. I'm not alone in this fashion disaster.
6. I'm considering buying our son a pair of kai dang ku, otherwise known as "split pants" to wear around the house. Not sure if my ol man is on board, but over the past month, our home has been clothing optional for Sal since he's been independently using his potty throughout the day (yes, we still have accidents, but more successes than accidents keep us happy). During summer months, being naked is no big deal, but I'm seeing the benefit of using split pants at home during the cooler months until the boy can pull chonies up and down himself. I'm not cool with him wearing them out in public (just goo.gle "chinese split pants" if you don't believe me that Chinese kids air out their junk for all to see) but at home?? Why not?
7. Looking out for #1. I was a nice person back home. Courteous. Waited my turn. Never would do something that might inconvenience someone else. I'd still like to think that I'm a courteous, turn waiting human being, but sometimes, you have to just look out for yourself and make things happen. I do things here that I never would at home-for example- the local grocer was selling two packs of juice for a good price. There was an apple-carrot juice pair, an orange-grape pair, and an orange-carrot pair for sale. I didn't want any carrot juice, but I did want a grape juice, an apple and two orange juices. Without hesitation, I undid the fancy red bows and cellophane packaging and switched around the pairings of juice, leaving two carrot juices together. For the record, I did repackage them and tied the big red bow. I did all of this while a store employee, my driver and my husband looked on. The store employee wasn't happy, but I wanted the good deal on the juices so I made it work in my favor.
8. The greater the number of months that pass by, the closer our faces get to our dishes of food. We haven't given up on utensils quite yet, but give us a good bowl of noodles and we can steam up our faces and slurp with the best of them.
Don't be fooled. We still stick out as a big red white blue, flag waving American family. There's no getting around that....from paparazzi ninjas getting a picture of the round eye baby boy to hearing " Měiguó ting bu dong" over and over (rough translation "american doesn't understand") while standing amongst the chattering Nǎinai's (grandmas) while our kids play. We are reminded daily just how American we are, so I choose to celebrate the small adaptations that we have made.
I think we are doing alright.