Beijing, Winter '23, Day 5 - At home

Published by Bill Glover on

This post is part of the Beijing Winter 2023 series.

Today was a pizza and puzzles day. We took one look out the window this morning and decided we need a rest day. When we have the heating on back home, I open the windows occasionally to keep the air indoors fresh. With better draft insulation and more of us living under one roof, I’ve been trying to do the same here. The only trouble is, I open a window and the whole thing freezes in position. My rest day became a constant battle against frozen window mechanisms.

Looking out from the kitchen window.

Looking out from the kitchen window.

My son spent the day working through geography themed puzzles. He now knows the names of more countries in Chinese than he does in English. It will be fun watching him reconcile differences between the way maps are presented.

A China centric world map.

A China centric world map.

We needed food for dinner and so we couldn’t avoid leaving the house completely. I took my eldest out for a walk to the local supermarket. Our trip coincided with the end of the school day and we were stopped a couple of times by children wanting to practice English with my son. I’m always amazed at the confidence of people who come up and just ask for a chat. Even now I struggle with this in English, let alone doing it in a foreign language.

The last light of the day.

The last light of the day.

My son knew exactly which supermarket he wanted to go to. It’s the only supermarket I know that has trolleys designed for children. I don’t know why more supermarkets don’t do trolleys for children. We split the shopping list. He got to push the trolley along the isles as if he were on a racecourse. We finished in no time.

My son pushing a child sized supermarket trolley around the fresh food section of the local supermarket.

My son pushing a child sized supermarket trolley around the fresh food section of the local supermarket.

Half moon today. Half new or half old?

Half moon today. Half new or half old?

Sometimes it’s hard to see the value in a rest day like this. We travelled around the world, ordered pizza, did puzzles, and went to the supermarket. But it’s days like these when we make the most progress with language. My son has been learning to read the names of countries. I handled buying groceries in a supermarket that didn’t take either WeChat or Alipay. And then there were all the random little things that would otherwise go unnoticed. There was the opportunity to explain to my in-laws why their windows had frozen open. Or, that my youngest was learning to stand by trying to reach the switch for the water pump. There was the time my youngest started to robotic floor mop and I had to speak to it to get it to go home. These opportunities mean our Chinese improves more in three weeks than in the rest of the year at home.