Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The birds and the bees.

When I was little, I liked to find out how I was made and where I was from. I kept asking Mom how I got to this world yet I'd never gotten a consistent answer. Some times I was popped out from the trunk of an old tree, other times I was left outside of the front door, yet another times I was given to her by a stranger on the street... I was quite skeptical and always curious about my origin. 
I stopped asking this question sometime around 8 yo. Because I had gotten an answer!

At that time, our family moved from the city Nanning to Gongcheng, a small county close to Guilin. Our life style changed drastically. One of the many changes was the way we got water. In the city, water came out of faucets constantly and seemly endless, as long as faucets were turned on. In the countryside, however, water was carried home with barrels by grownups from a very deep well far away. To save the water and labor, clothes were often washed either in a small ditch in the Spring when there were rains or in a river when rains were sparse. The river was far yet the small was just only half way to the river. Regardless, cloth-washing was a laborious task that could usually only be accomplished on sunny Sundays. Mom usually took my older brother Bing and I to the river in the Summer, she would stay ashore washing clothes while Bing and I dove in and out of the water to enjoy ourselves. One day, I thought about the same old question again and asked Mom. She stopped her work and looked far away upstream, then she pointed to a nest-like bundles of bushes floating downstream towards us and said with the most serious tone, "You see the nest? You came exactly like that. I found you crying inside the nest so I picked you up and took you home. That is why you were named after the river Xiang."

The answer was so convincing that I believed it for a long time - I mean that I believed that I was abandoned child by an unknown mother to the point even not suspected anything when I was told repeatedly that I looked exactly like Mom!

Little kids can be pretty dumb, you see. But in my defense, I was not that dumb because as a little kid, I watched a movie called "Liu Shan Jie", which was produced in 1961 and the main character Liu Zhan Jie was from a river! Not mentioning that she was also from the same hometown where I was brought up.  

Another drastic change in our life style after being sent to the countryside was that Mom and Dad were rarely home. They were often needed to help out peasants working on fields growing rice and other crops, especially in the Spring and the Fall - 2 busiest seasons for peasants. Bing and I were given tickets to buy food from the government owned/subsidized cafeteria and keys to our house to sleep at night. In the day time, we just went to school ourselves. Mom and Dad would come home from time to time to make sure that we were alive.

A chill run down your spine - I know - I grew up hell.  

One day when we were playing with other kids as usual, suddenly many grownups showed up. Some of them were carrying a stretcher and others were following the stretcher. We, the little ones, followed the stretcher, were cheering, shouting, guessing who was the one inside the stretcher. When we noticed the nervous and serious faces of those grownups, we sorted of slowed down a bit. At this time, one of the adults found me among those overly curious kids, he shouted out loud to me, "Your Mom is in danger. She is having a massive bleeding..." I felt my head was exploded, I could not hear the remaining things he said, I could hardly breath, then I bursted into a hysterical cry.

Mom is the one inside the stretcher. What is massive bleeding, is she dying? Mom was never been this sick before. What should I do now. I was terrified.

The remaining facts were fussy.

Later that day, Dad came home from the hospital. We (Bing and I) were told that Mom was okay. She had a Xiao Chan/小产/miscarriage, which was accompanied by severe hemorrhage.

Other grownups had blamed Mom for not telling them that she was pregnant. It was in the Spring of 1971. Growing rice at that time was a laborious work. It required people to transplant rice seedings (插秧) manually, which meant that Mom was standing bear-feet inside the cold (few degree above zero Celsius) and muddy fields, and in the mean time of constantly bending her body to insert rice seedings to the ground under the water. Mom should have never gone into the cold like that. Her body simply failed her.

Mom came home from the hospital few days later. She rested in bed to grow red blood cells and I was beside her bed whenever I came back home from school. I enjoyed very much to have her around then, since it was so rare to have Mom home with us. Dad was cooking for her, attentively. Mom possibly introduced me death at that time. She also told me that was not the first time that a baby died inside her. She said I would have had a little sister. I asked how old that my "non-exiting" sister would have been, she said "she" would have been just two year younger than I - now if I come to think of it, she must have been older than Bing - Mom has another man before Dad and it is a story for another day.

Few months after the miscarriage, Mom's belly started to grow and it'd gotten bigger and bigger.

It was then that I had my first lesson about human reproduction. Mom skipped the birds and the bees part, of course. She announced that we were expecting a baby. Mom would allow me to pat her belly and put my ears on her belly to feel the kicks. In the end of the pregnancy, Mom started to make tiny clothes, tiny pillow, tiny blankets (wraps) with collected second-hand adult clothes or blankets. She explained that those materials were soft and the best for the baby's skins. Mom knew so much about raising babies, it was amazing to me.

Yet even then I still believed that I was a child that Mom picked up from Xiang river. I thought that my brothers and I had different mothers.
Now it comes my turn to explain to my children where they are from. I sure do not want Zhuzhu and Niuniu to think that they are from unknown mothers. I also would skip the details involving the birds and the bees, which Anne Glamore had fun to talk to her son about. My version is simple and clear: you came from my belly, I told Mia/Zhuzhu when she asked me one day. Drs. cut mommy's belly open and took you out, I told my kids.

In fact, Mia/Zhuzhu more or less has learned by becoming a big sister. She sort of knows that she used to live in mommy's belly and then she became too big to live in there and had to be taken out to continue to grow in the real world. Plus, she had many peers in her classrooms that had become bigger sisters or bigger brothers in the similar time that she did, so she slowly understood that mommies can give births. Niuniu, however, knows nothing about such stories. 

Last night, when we were all playing in a bath tub, Zhuzhu asked to see my belly scar - she asks to check it out almost every time that I get naked with her in the bath tub and I often let her. 

"Could I see the scar on your belly, Mommy?" She asked.

"Why? You saw it millions of times already." I refused. I was in a hurry to put them to bed since Niuniu was not in his best state. He was making a fuss about everything. He was ready for bed. 

"I want to see where I got out of your belly." She insisted. 

Niuniu followed his sister's lead and said without knowing what he was saying, "I want to see your belly too!" He did not know there was a scar hiding under the fat belly.

"Okay." I took the chance. I wanted to stop his fusses. So, I immediately flipped the belly fat to expose the ugly scar to them - no no, I am not obese, but still, the scar is covered by turning into a skin fold.

The bathroom suddenly became extremely quiet. Niuniu was trying to understand why I had a scar on the belly. He, after having carefully and seriously examined the scar for a little while, asked, "Why did Dr. cut you in the belly?"

He likes to ask obvious questions to which he already knew the answers!

"So that you and Mia could come out of there." I answered with obvious answer.

"Oh." Niuniu asked the obvious questions simply just for saying this lovely and signature "Oh" - he gets Mom and Dad's lovely look each and every time he says it. He says it with an extremely cute and understanding tone.

Looked at his face, I knew I need to explain a bit more, "Mommy went to the hospital and then doctors cut mommy's belly open to take you out of there."

He then looked afar as if he was trying to visualize the event of his coming out of the world. After a little while, he asked, "Why did the Dr. take me out of your belly?" 

"So that you could grow to a big boy like what you are now." I answered briefly.

He then became concerned. He fell into a deep thinking mode. He might be very worried about the fact that I was hurt by the Drs, as much as his tiny finger tip was pierced by a stapler needle - yes, he tried to staple his fingers together one day while I was not looking.

To easy his concerns, I added, "It was okay, mommy did not hurt. The Drs put mommy to sleep before that." I comforted him.

"Why the scar is so small?" Zhuzhu asked, but before I could find a proper answer, she said, "Oh, I know, I used to be a very small."

I followed her, "Yea, you used to be tiny, but you drank mommy's milk and then a lot of cow milk to grow to be such a big girl now." Zhuzhu does not like milk, I could not pass this opportunity to put some ideas to her little head.

"Did we both come out of there in the same time?" Zhuzhu asked. 

Zhuzhu is a smart kid, but this question was a bit dumb, so I laughed at it gently and said, "No, remember you came out first? You came out two years earlier than Niuniu." I reminded her this fact that she speaks about whenever Niuniu is showing off his height. He likes to pretend that he is taller than his sister. 

My story of the birds and the bees does not involve any intercourse and is much less creative than Mom's, but I love to tell it to Zhuzhu and Niuniu over and over again. And each time, they always act like it was the first time that they hear about it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The most romantic thing (最浪漫的事 )

(Translation of the lyrics)
leaning on your back sitting on the carpeted floor
listening to the music and chatting about wishes
you wish me sweeter and tenderer
I wish you to place me in your heart
you said you wish to give me a romantic dream
to thanking me for leading you to find the heaven
even if that takes a life time to accomplish
once I mention it you will remember and never forget
(following are the repeats)
the most romantic thing that I can think of
is to grow old with you
along the way collecting every bit of joys and smiles
saving it for later to chat slowly while sitting in a rocking chair
the most romantic thing that I can think of
is to grow old with you
until we will be too old to go anywhere
you will still treasure me as a gem in the palm of your hand 

Love the song?  Good, because it's one of the best love songs that I have ever known.  The lyrics have no mention of the word love, yet one can easily sense a deep feeling of love in every verse.  Thanks to the Thanksgiving dinner that we had tonight at the house of Mike and Vera's (MV's), the parents of Marie, I dug it out from the Internet to share it with you.  This song makes me cry each and every time when I listen to it.  When I listened to it again tonight, the U-tube link took me to another video in which Zhao Yonghua, the singer, disclosed the fact that she had a tough life growing up without having a father to hold her hands.  I cried even harder and longer than usual.

When I was done with crying, I translated it.

Receiving an invitation to MV's house for dinner is not unusual since our daughters attend the same daycare and they have been best friends since 2.  Mike is now a stay-at-home dad, although he likes to think of himself as a writer.  Having written many screen plays in his early life, gone to law school, and then practiced law for many years, Mike decided that writing books in his bedroom while everyone else is sleeping is the most rewarding job of all.  So I think of him as someone who enjoys every minute what life can offer - he obviously has gotten everything figured out.  I believe he is a typical Daoist but he insists on calling himself a Jew.  Anyway, check out his book and decide for yourself.  Vera is my dictionary and library.  On the top of knowing everything, she is also kind, sensitive, and always puts others' interests above her own - I think she cannot live her life without acting as a Psychologist/Counselor - that is her day job.  Anyway, I am sure that they both totally disagree with me and my hasty judgements on them.  So please keep quiet if you happen to know who they are in person.

At 5 pm, we arrived MV's house and immediately were drawn by the aroma of the food from the kitchen.  Few guests were already there: Ray, a New Yorker and Mike's life long friend; Dan, MV's ex-landlord and a retired attorney; and his new lover Jill.  The hosts and guests greeted us with a delicious Sangria as we were walking into the lovely home.  Skipping getting introduced to the other guests, we started to chat as if we have been old friends!  Our hosts have a high tolerance to my low EQ (emotional intelligence) so I did not have to worry about offending their friends.  After having made it clear to everyone that MV's friends were just our friends, Dave and his wife "Sher" or "Ceiline Dion" arrived - I think she looks just like Sher but Fabrice believes she is the phenocopy of Ceiline.  It's my blog, so let's call her Sher.  The whole house now was completely filled with joys and laughters: Ray and Sher quickly discovered their common interests in playing with the kids so we only hear their giggling from them and the little ones.  Dave was drawn to Fabrice because the latter was a great listener and Dave was a great adventurer, he was sharing his life stories from his "spy life".  Dan and Jill were beside the group attending their own love for each other.  The hosts were walking in between each of these groups carrying and serving them with various starters and drinks, busier than worker bees!

When the dinner was ready, some of us (I know who!!!) were almost full.  Well, in my defense, who can resist a delicious cheese bowl, crackers, various vegetables, and yogurt dips?  While approaching the dinner table, I found that food would have been enough for an army of 100 people: tender and juicy turkey, roast vegetables, sautéed green beans, mashed potatoes, green salads with sweet pecans, fresh cranberries and canned cranberry source...too much?  Imaging this meal was followed by a dessert course of cheese cake from NYC, a homemade cake, 2 kinds of puddings, and pumpkin or vanilla ice cream...

Having stuffed ourselves with the delicious food, we moved our zests from the dinner table to the living room.  The kids were still full of energy at that time.  Marie, Zhuzhu and Niuniu comfortably situated themselves in between Sher's arms and breasts (Yum Yum!!!) listening to the Disney princess stories.  Fabrice was still enjoying Dave's adventurous stories around the world, Dan and Jill still failed to take eyes off each other, and MV were entertaining the whole crowd enthusiastically with random topics.

The party did not seem to be wounded down even it was close to the midnight...

(sorry for a long introduction to this love song)

Being brought up in France and China, respectively, Fabrice and I have very little experience in cerebrating Thanksgiving with the locals.  Tonight's experience certainly has expanded our horizon and the "authentic Americans" have shown us how joyful a Thanksgiving can be.  

My heart was now filled with gratitudes.  It takes me about 20 years living in the U.S. to get into the spirit of this special holiday.  I was grateful to friends like Mike and Vera and their friends for sharing this special night with us; I was grateful to Fabrice, Zhuzhu, and Niuniu for coming to my life; most importantly, I was grateful to my ex-lover, the special one, for having transformed me from an awkward teenage girl into a confident woman.  This is the very reason why I started this post with the love song above.  It was she who introduced me this love song, about 20 years ago!

Years have passed and my intense love for her has settled into a sweet and tender memory.  But the wonderful Thanksgiving party woke up this memory and urged me to find this love song, to cry a river, and then to finally write this post.

Life is complicated and imperfect.  Now growing old with her, collecting every bits of happy smiles along the way, and saving it for later to chat slowly with her ... may never be possible anymore.  But I do cherish our journey together.

Here I am collecting bits of smiles and joys along tonight's cerebration...

...to share with you, my friends inside the computer, while sitting on a rocking chair.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Promotion - Tenure in Private Universities

Fabrice got his tenure, after exactly 5 years working in the same institution that I am in. So I sent him a congratulation letter:

"Congratulations, Fabrice, I noticed that your name is associated with associate professor now. Not that I am being pushy, my boss got his full professorship after being hired for only 8 years, could you top that?!

Okay, I find a place to hide now…"
You guessed it, I am sure. I am not an associate professor yet, although I was hired as an assistant professor 2 whole months earlier than Fabrice. 

On the first day that I got my job, I imagined that I would have myself promoted within 5 years. I did not at all doubt that based on my productivity on the past. However, 7 years passed, I am still having the same job title and I have not even been told to get ready to collect my promotion package yet. 

Well, I can say that things are not the same now. NIH cuts research funding every year ever since I got my job. Getting federal money to do research is just harder and harder. Inside of me, though, I know this is just an excuse. The real deal is that I have gradually lost incentive to thrive for this promotion because I know it will not help me to get over my depression. It even does not provide me food. Look: 

Tenure - gets recognition
Tenure - gets a job and an office, even though it may mean you work in the basement
Tenure - gets no salary
Tenure - gets no lab space (you still can hang out in the library or Gym)

Does recognition and a job with an office feed me and my kids? Can you imagine one day I'll call my parents to ask them to take me back in the house because I just lost yet another research grant?

Fabrice is happy to get his promotion so that he now can move on to help his subordinates, such as I, to get their promotions accordingly. Which means that I should be happy too since I will be finally getting my attentions from him. However, I am not as thrilled as you think I should be. I feel that I am beyond this - the bottom line is if one gets promoted still needs to come up with 95-100% salary on his own, what the promotion helps him? I am THAT practical.

Yes, you guessed again. I did not keep this opinion to myself. 

Are you with me? I pointed this out in a faculty meeting. And right away, I was educated by almost everyone in that meeting: Tenure helps you more than you think outside the institution. The recognition is not only from inside, it is also a way to show outside that your institution values you. Second, the standards used by the institution to promote you are in sync with the standards that NIH or other funding agencies use to decide whether you should get the grant money. So, trying hard to get yourself promoted is the same as trying hard to get yourself few research grants to keep your job.

Are you still with me now?

Have I explained clearly to you why universities are not as attractive as before? Have I just revealed why Universities don't make Einstein anymore? Now you know why Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and just about everyone else who can "make big differences" are all college dropouts?

Now after having been an assistant professor for 7 years, I begin to wonder whether we were wise to turned down jobs in both U.K. and Canada where 100% salary for life was promised.

Something needs to be done here. Tenure needs to mean certain amount of security to preserve creativity of the intellectuals. Private schools often use endowments to attract people, unfortunately, endowments only go to already accomplished professors who are often self-sustainable and secure. Plus, they are already at the top and if they continue their journey, there is only one direction to go. I do not mean that we should not give endowment to them, we should, if they are having administrative roles.

Are you with me, still?

Fortunately, I believe my current new chair understands how to run this business quite well. So, I am not quitting my job yet. Let's hope that my chair will come up with a good solution to this dilemma. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tiger Mother – Part III, family split

(Read the Part I, if you just stumbled here).

After losing the land, Mom’s family could no longer live in the hometown since none of the men in the family was raised to grow rice and vegetables.  As the oldest and married children, aunts Er and San decided to split the family duties: Aunt Er took Mom and her little half-brother uncle Shan to Guilin, one of the 4 cities in Guangxi province.  Uncle E was starting new projects of constructing China Southeast Railway Network there. Aunt San and uncle Playboy took stepGrandma, aunt Jun, and aunt Dai to Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou (Edit: Aunt Jun said she joined them only briefly after she failed to pass the examination to the best girl's high school in Hunan.  She in fact stayed in Mom's place in Quanzhou, a small city close to Guilin for a month.  She had fun with Mom who suggested her to stay with her so that she could continue to finish her high school education.  But Mom's stepmother/aunt Jun's mother wanted aunt Jun to join her in Guiyang.)

So in early 50s, Mom’s family split into two subfamilies: one headed by Aunt Er and her husband Uncle E in Guilin, and the other headed by Aunt San and uncle playboy in Guiyang.

Cities like Quanzhou/Guilin and Guiyang at that time were much less desirable than today.  Since Guangxi and Guizhou were two of the least-developed provinces in the southeast of China.  Guilin was the city of the choice because it was where uncle E's worked for his next railway project whereas Guiyang had Mom’s extended family (Edit: Aunt Jun said that their cousin Uncle Sun, the son of Mom's Aunt, Grandpa's sister who raised Mom, worked there as the head of the banks.)

Soon after the split/moving away from her hometown, Mom got a job as a secretory for her Unit (Danwei, 单位) leaders.  And shortly after that, aunt Er's family and uncle Shan moved once again to relocate to Beijing, the capital city of country.  Uncle E had become a chief engineer there (according to Aunt Jun, but later they moved again to Xi'an).  Mom was left alone in Guilin and she stayed far away from her big family ever since.

In 1949, China just experienced long-lasting wars and the economy was still in a terrible shape: food supply was limited and hungry kids were everywhere countrywide.  Following that, Mao and his CCP did several crazy things, such as Great Leap Forward (Da Yuejin, 大跃进) in late 1957/ early 1958 that destroyed all kinds of metals including cooking wares that each household owned, the Anti-Rightist Movement (反右派运动) that took uncle Playboy's job in 1959, on the top of the Land Reform that took away Grandpa's power in 1950, all of which severely weakened the already fragile China economy.  Therefore, like many starving children born between 1950 and 1960 in China, Mom’s family in Guiyang suffered greatly from both starvation and lost social status (now you know why your parents ask you to finish your plate, there are starving children in China.  For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone should enjoy food fight in this world).

After moving the Guiyang, stepMom was still in power within the family, even when she was living on the income of Uncle Playboy and Aunt San. Until today, I still hear stories from Guiyang's cousins about how selfish the stepGrandma was: since she only cared about Aunts Jun and Dai, but neglected the other 5 other small grand children (Edit: Aunt Jun said this part of the story could not be true, since her mother was the kindest human being of the world who would not do anything selfish things. She said she was attentive to all kids equally. I have to admit that I have never confirmed this with Aunt San and this part of story was told her youngest two girls, who could have been too young to really know anything at all. However, Aunt Jun was not in Guiyang living with her Mom in the beginning years so she could not know the real situation either herself.)

It is not clear to me when and how stepGrandma died, maybe early 60s. The family in Guiyang had not split further. Aunt Jun was encouraged to find a job and she was able to acquire one successfully in a postoffice.  She even was sent by her unit to study in Chongqing Institute of Posts and Telecommunications.  Aunt Dai finished her high school education and left the family when she went to a medical school in Zunyi, a key medical college in Guizhou.

Uncle Playboy and aunt San had hard time to raise a big family which expanded from 6 to 10 members from 1949 to 1958.  At the first few years following the family split, both of the heads of the household had jobs: uncle Playboy was a clerk/manager in a post office and aunt San worked in a department store.  Uncle Playboy also acted in various occasions, although I am not sure whether his acting career generated any additional income to help the family out or it was just one of his many hobbies.  The limited income of the family would need not only to support the 5 youngsters, but also stepGrandma, Aunts Jun and Dai, Mom's 2 younger half sisters, who were in colleges at the time.  The hardship of Mom's family in Guiyang did not end until sometime between late 70s and early 80s after Mao died and uncle Playboy got his job back, not in post office anymore.  He was finally discovered by the government after Mao's era as an valuable intellectual and politician in his late 50s. He worked in Workers Culture Palace in Guiyang for years until his retirement in early 90s.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Overtired kids

Niuniu is the sweeter one between the two of our children. However, he is a bit of too sweet lately since he has been coming to our bed every single night in the middle of the night for the last few weeks. While we enjoy very much his sweet kisses and hugs, we don't really appreciate his coming to our bed, night after night. This has happened coincidently few days after I made an authoritative comment on Julia's post blaming her inability to keep her sweet 3 yo Edward away from her bed. Little did I know, kids at this age like to join their parents in the middle of the night according to Dr. Google. You can imagine how embarrassed that I have been ever since. My excuse was that at least our first child Zhuzhu did not do such a thing.

About a month ago or so, Niuniu has started to be a usual resident our master bed. He is sneaky and quiet. He wakes up and comes to us whenever his first urination urge comes, I guess. It's impressive to us how he has managed not to fall rolling down the flight of the stairs so far (knock on wood for that will never happen!!!).  It's quite a walk from his room to ours - he needs to cross the hallway, go down a flight of stairs, pass the living room and another hallway to reach our room. At the first few nights, we'd taken him to the toilet and then put him back to his own bed. We'd sacrificed few good night sleeps to prevent him from getting a bad habit of intruding our adult life. I'd even followed The Internet's instruction to put few night lights in his room as I was told these green night lights could "catch the monsters"- assuming those are what he is afraid of. However, Niuniu is smarter than that, he does not believe Mommy's story. He even has discovered if his diaper was already wet, the sleepy/lazy Mommy would not likely to bother him with the toilet trip, but more likely to leave him where he is much longer, sometimes up to  next morning. So he's decided to wet his diapers before climbing in between us in our bed after a while. Just so you know, our master room has a queen-sized bed and Niuniu is not a still sleeper, he comes in between Mommy and Daddy, then turns, tosses, kicks, squeezes, until one of the two legal residents leaves the bed. Therefore, it has become a problem.

And we decided to do something about it...

...by begging him every night before we tuck him in, "Niuniu, could you promise us not to come to Mommy and Daddy's bed tonight?" The understanding kid always smiles, nods his head, and says confidently, "No, I am not coming to your bed tonight. I'll stay in my bed, I'll, I promise" His words are loud, clear, and seeming sincere. However, he obviously did not care what the word "promise" means! One night, I put his sleeping bag beside our bed and told him if that night he came again, he would go there to sleep. So when he showed up in the middle of the night, I said pointing to the sleeping bag, "There, you sleep on the floor." He broke into extremely sad cry and I immediately caved.

So, we've let him slide thus far until last night.

Last night was a big deal, which made us realize that it's time to be firm with this little guy.

It seems like that our indulging his joining us in the middle of the night has becoming a signal for him to do whatever he wants to do. To spoil a kid does not take much, let me tell you. Sure, he had a few coughs, a bit of running nose, and a bit of fever a few days ago, which may have made things worse.

Last night, thing went extreme.

First, he threw tantrums before and at the dinner time. Then he screamed after being fed a little bit of food, finally he refused to allow anyone to put him to bed, eventually fell in asleep last my arms. However, he woke up when the Daddy was putting a diaper on him and the poor Daddy spent the next 10 minutes to put him back to sleep in his bed.

Niuniu had given us exact 2.5 hours of peace and quiet moment, which just enough for the adults - Ling, John (my ex-boyfriend), Fabrice, and I - to finish watching our Netflix rental movie and get ready for bed. Niuniu started screaming at top of his lungs at the moment that the Daddy was adjusting his watch to winter time, so our attending service was about 1 min later than usual. He cried so loud that woke up his soundly sleeping sister. Niuniu screamed louder at the time that the Daddy rushed upstairs to his room, the Daddy had no choice but taking him down to me so that he could go back to put Zhuzhu back to sleep.

Yet Niuniu was not willing to calm down in my arms either. He kicked me while continued wailing. He twisted his body to get off me as if I was some sort of monster. So I had to put him in the bed to let his anger out of the system. A few min later, the Daddy came down. Seeing Niuniu was not stopping, he bended down to call his name while gently stroking his shoulder. However, the usual soothing techniques failed to change the situation but only got Niuniu madder. Sadly not knowing what else could be done, we left the little guy alone. The 2 loving parents stared at our son crying for another 20 mins.

We did nothing but watching our son crying, for 20 minutes!

The last time Niuniu cried like this was 2 years and 8 months ago when he was about one month old. Niuniu at that time was overtired. I could not recalled what was the cause but he was doing exactly the same thing - crying at the top his lung and wanting to be left alone.

While watching our little precious crying on the top of his lungs, I realized how terrible parents we have been the whole day. We have been too greedy trying to fit all activities in one day - we overworked our little kids, hell, we even overworked our visitor, my ex-boyfriend and long-term annoying soulmate. In order to fit everything in one day, we got up early and fed the children in a rush. Then we packed them to do some hiking along the Randor Lake. Since Fabrice would need to be at his soccer game at 1:10 pm, we rushed the kids and crippled John to finish a whole loop. John did not understand the point of rushing through the beautiful forest with colorful leaves - it's indeed the best time to enjoy Fall leaves. We rushed to the soccer field at 1:40 pm only to be told that the other team did not show up on time and the game was rescheduled to 3:30 pm. Perfect, we not only did not miss the beginning half of the game, now we even could let the kids take their naps in the car on the way back home during our waiting time.

However, the kids decided that's the day to skip naps.

Skipping nap is not the only reason for Niuniu's annoyance, I guess. The rough play that Sango, a 10-tear old son of a soccer player in the Fabrice's team, put upon him can be another. Sango and Niuniu often play rough like typical boys. But yesterday was not the same. Since the field was much larger than usual ground and the mommies believed it was safe for the kids to run free. We were fully engaged in the heated soccer game for the entire time - the winner of the match would be qualified for the tournament and both teams played at their full strength. I "watched" Niuniu from the corner of my eyes and saw that he was laughing and running after Sango and his football. They did also a lot of flipping on the grass. Those activities following a hiking morning, picnicking lunch, and nap-free afternoon, Niuniu must have overworked.

Our little guy's solution to his exhaustion which prevented him from getting out of hid bed, traveling through the hallways, stairs, and rooms to our bed was screaming in the middle of the night.

Finally, the tiger mother in me forced him into my arms and asked him to listen to me: I told him in Chinese that the wolf outside in the woods would be awake by his howling. I said to him that he'd better hide under the Mommy's arms st that the wolf would not find him. Boy oh boy, I feel guilty just typing these down - he immediately stopped wailing and slid inside the comforter, quietly allowed me to stroke his back gently. It did not take longer than a minute, the little guy turned back to that familiar sweetie and felt into deep sleep.

I do scare my children in situations like this. I usually use either wolf or policeman and they are equally scary to little kids in this household.

P.S. Niuniu did not come downstairs after we sent him back to his bed last night. He also did not show up in our bed the night after. Knock on woods he stops coming from now on.