April 30, 2006



Ingredients and Instructions:

1/2 cup cornstarch
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups cold water
food coloring
...
A lot of strong paper with at least one clean side. Notebook paper will not do, have to be at least construction paper.

A pail of water setting close by to make it easier to wash hands. The down side of this is that little child might easily be distracted, washing hands in every 5 minutes, or less, way too frequent than you would anticipate.

A happy face brimming with enthusiasm and excitement, so the parent would feel very proud and encouraged.

Audacious use of colors and free applying to everything and everywhere.

Uncanny readyness of recognizing everything unrecognizable and identifying anything unidentifiable as something nice and cute. For example, point at a blob of red paint and say, "This is the Mr. Grandpa Sun." Or "apple". I think, modern art tends to be that way,

Emma is doing finger paintings

Paint with fingers

Posted by Xun  |  2 comments



Ingredients and Instructions:

1/2 cup cornstarch
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups cold water
food coloring
...
A lot of strong paper with at least one clean side. Notebook paper will not do, have to be at least construction paper.

A pail of water setting close by to make it easier to wash hands. The down side of this is that little child might easily be distracted, washing hands in every 5 minutes, or less, way too frequent than you would anticipate.

A happy face brimming with enthusiasm and excitement, so the parent would feel very proud and encouraged.

Audacious use of colors and free applying to everything and everywhere.

Uncanny readyness of recognizing everything unrecognizable and identifying anything unidentifiable as something nice and cute. For example, point at a blob of red paint and say, "This is the Mr. Grandpa Sun." Or "apple". I think, modern art tends to be that way,

Emma is doing finger paintings

Sunday, April 30, 2006
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April 29, 2006

Down came the water drops

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Saturday, April 29, 2006
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April 25, 2006


Saturday morning, again Emma and I went to Chicago Children's Museum at Navy pier. The big shopping hall was as busy, crowded, cheerful, and noisy as usual. A group of high school students, boys in black Tuxedo or suit, girls in flower-decorated black gown, were sing on the stage of family pavilion. Emma watched intently as she chewed on her Jimmy John's sandwich. I think she enjoyed it, as much as her sandwich. At the same time, the "Passport to the World" program was going on upstairs at the great hall of the CCM. Later, we watched girls dressed in Irish green dresses, kicked, circled, hopped and danced in tiptoe to Irish music. The beat was so strong and contagious that Emma almost danced to it.

At the CCM, there are always so much to play, so much to see. However, as always, once Emma finds her interest, she dives in, single-mindedly playing her thing over and over, for one or two hours at a stretch.

Last time, she was totally engrossed in making stuff with sand dough, pressing sand to make stars or little hexagons on a mini-sand dune, or making sand towers using special shaped-containers. This time, the arts activity exhibit, a dynamic exhibit CCM called as “My Museum”, immediately drew her in.


The exhibit was in a big room, right across the great hall. There, rows of oil pastel portraits were hung low on the wall, all children's work, distinguished by children's imagination, colors and disproportional eyes or pigtails. In the center, there were a few glass globes / shelves featuring some children's collections, like bears, little articles or "charms", snow globes, fossils. Long, long, colorful special hoses wind along the walls, serving as speakers or receivers. Emma and I used those to talk small talks, like:
"Hi, Emma"
"Hi, Mommy"
"Are you hungry?"
"No"
"Thirsty"
"Yes"
"Want water?"
"No."

Of course, we did not notice any of these until much later. Of course, only the interactive pieces that inviting children to play, to create, to manipulate are the favorites. The best of them was two hard-plastic panels stationed at the entrance of the hall. At the bottom of the panels were bottles of paint. Children flocked over to paint or smear paint on the panels. They made
them look like wild stained glass.

Emma was no exception. She ran over to grab a bottle of paint and
tried very hard to color the remaining blank space. I hurried to put a little blue makeshift robe on her, then stayed back and watched her.

What a fun! She smeared heavy paints on the plastics, she tried this bottle, then that one, yellow, white, then heavy blue, bright red ... The paint in the bottle was quite hard to squeeze out, so I helped her from time and time. Sometimes she looked back at me, asking me to join her. Her face had dots of blue and yellow. Her robe was too big. Her eyes glistening, she smiled from ear to ear, she pointed the very unrecognizable splotch of paint, and said: "Tortoise." Or "Flower". Or "Sun"... I cannot help agreeing with her.


I watched her busy working while other kids came, played and went away fast. She did not want to leave. I was thinking, among Emma's many other qualities, she has the amazing ability to concentrate, to repeat doing things over and over. This is especially obvious at CCM. She would always stay at one place and play and play
until she is so exhausted and we have to leave. The Montessori theory always ring true in such an extraordinarily prepared and stimulating environment like Children's museum.

So Emma stayed there painting and painting for almost an hour. Finally, she moved on to wander around. She found a little chalk-drawing black round table, so she sat and drew a little. Then she proceeded to do clay modeling. We were puzzled and challenged by the hard, lead-colored clay. We sat down around the big table, where a lot of older kids or young adults were also working, and played a while, Emma made a lot of small clay balls and put on the clay head everywhere, naming whatever she liked, eyes or ears or whatever.

The last fun part was a little mirrored Kaleidoscope tunnel in the shape of a house with slanted roofs. We crawled in and out, out and in, looking at ourselves reflected from every angel.

At last Emma was so tired. I took her out, put her in the stroller. I pushed and she slept.

My Museum

Posted by Xun  |  1 comment


Saturday morning, again Emma and I went to Chicago Children's Museum at Navy pier. The big shopping hall was as busy, crowded, cheerful, and noisy as usual. A group of high school students, boys in black Tuxedo or suit, girls in flower-decorated black gown, were sing on the stage of family pavilion. Emma watched intently as she chewed on her Jimmy John's sandwich. I think she enjoyed it, as much as her sandwich. At the same time, the "Passport to the World" program was going on upstairs at the great hall of the CCM. Later, we watched girls dressed in Irish green dresses, kicked, circled, hopped and danced in tiptoe to Irish music. The beat was so strong and contagious that Emma almost danced to it.

At the CCM, there are always so much to play, so much to see. However, as always, once Emma finds her interest, she dives in, single-mindedly playing her thing over and over, for one or two hours at a stretch.

Last time, she was totally engrossed in making stuff with sand dough, pressing sand to make stars or little hexagons on a mini-sand dune, or making sand towers using special shaped-containers. This time, the arts activity exhibit, a dynamic exhibit CCM called as “My Museum”, immediately drew her in.


The exhibit was in a big room, right across the great hall. There, rows of oil pastel portraits were hung low on the wall, all children's work, distinguished by children's imagination, colors and disproportional eyes or pigtails. In the center, there were a few glass globes / shelves featuring some children's collections, like bears, little articles or "charms", snow globes, fossils. Long, long, colorful special hoses wind along the walls, serving as speakers or receivers. Emma and I used those to talk small talks, like:
"Hi, Emma"
"Hi, Mommy"
"Are you hungry?"
"No"
"Thirsty"
"Yes"
"Want water?"
"No."

Of course, we did not notice any of these until much later. Of course, only the interactive pieces that inviting children to play, to create, to manipulate are the favorites. The best of them was two hard-plastic panels stationed at the entrance of the hall. At the bottom of the panels were bottles of paint. Children flocked over to paint or smear paint on the panels. They made
them look like wild stained glass.

Emma was no exception. She ran over to grab a bottle of paint and
tried very hard to color the remaining blank space. I hurried to put a little blue makeshift robe on her, then stayed back and watched her.

What a fun! She smeared heavy paints on the plastics, she tried this bottle, then that one, yellow, white, then heavy blue, bright red ... The paint in the bottle was quite hard to squeeze out, so I helped her from time and time. Sometimes she looked back at me, asking me to join her. Her face had dots of blue and yellow. Her robe was too big. Her eyes glistening, she smiled from ear to ear, she pointed the very unrecognizable splotch of paint, and said: "Tortoise." Or "Flower". Or "Sun"... I cannot help agreeing with her.


I watched her busy working while other kids came, played and went away fast. She did not want to leave. I was thinking, among Emma's many other qualities, she has the amazing ability to concentrate, to repeat doing things over and over. This is especially obvious at CCM. She would always stay at one place and play and play
until she is so exhausted and we have to leave. The Montessori theory always ring true in such an extraordinarily prepared and stimulating environment like Children's museum.

So Emma stayed there painting and painting for almost an hour. Finally, she moved on to wander around. She found a little chalk-drawing black round table, so she sat and drew a little. Then she proceeded to do clay modeling. We were puzzled and challenged by the hard, lead-colored clay. We sat down around the big table, where a lot of older kids or young adults were also working, and played a while, Emma made a lot of small clay balls and put on the clay head everywhere, naming whatever she liked, eyes or ears or whatever.

The last fun part was a little mirrored Kaleidoscope tunnel in the shape of a house with slanted roofs. We crawled in and out, out and in, looking at ourselves reflected from every angel.

At last Emma was so tired. I took her out, put her in the stroller. I pushed and she slept.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
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April 19, 2006

Puffs Pal
Maria Montessori always held children to the highest respect and tried to show children how to deal with everyday life. On one occasion, she described:

"I decided to give the children a slightly humorous lesson on how to blow their noses. After I had shown them different ways to use a handkerchief, I ended by indicating how it could be done as unobtrusively as possible. I took out my handkerchief in such a way that they could hardly see it and blew my nose as softly as I could. The children watched me in rapt attention, but failed to laugh. I wondered why, but I had hardly finished my demonstration when they broke out into applause that resembled a long repressed ovation in a theater. When I was on the point of leaving the school, the children began to shout, 'Thank you, thank you for the lesson!'"

Puffs Pal
I would love to see a movie about Montessori, I would be most curious to see in movies, among other things, how she'd blow her nose? For I wondered how she took out the handkerchief? Did she cover her nose? Did she blow her nose seriously or in a mocked fashion while eyeing her curly-headed little people? How long did it take? Was it somehow like the napkin commercial of PUFFS, after dangling PUFFS playfully over, the little noses feel soft, funny, and very pampered?

I really want to know how she blew her nose so gently so lovely that the little children would erupt in joyful appreciation. For sometimes Emma has a runny noise, and then she'd grab a tissue, quickly almost a little brutally dry her nose in a left-right-left-right fashion. Sometime she'd pick her nose, too. Whenever she does this, I would try to do a demonstration in Montessori's way. I would hold a piece of Kleenex to my nose, lightly touch it then blow a bit. However, I never succeeded, Emma simply regarded me as if I was the most unfunny and weird clown.

(Images are those of PUFFS kids'. From Puffs website. I love their commericial of these funny speckled kids.)

Blow your nose gently

Posted by Xun  |  1 comment

Puffs Pal
Maria Montessori always held children to the highest respect and tried to show children how to deal with everyday life. On one occasion, she described:

"I decided to give the children a slightly humorous lesson on how to blow their noses. After I had shown them different ways to use a handkerchief, I ended by indicating how it could be done as unobtrusively as possible. I took out my handkerchief in such a way that they could hardly see it and blew my nose as softly as I could. The children watched me in rapt attention, but failed to laugh. I wondered why, but I had hardly finished my demonstration when they broke out into applause that resembled a long repressed ovation in a theater. When I was on the point of leaving the school, the children began to shout, 'Thank you, thank you for the lesson!'"

Puffs Pal
I would love to see a movie about Montessori, I would be most curious to see in movies, among other things, how she'd blow her nose? For I wondered how she took out the handkerchief? Did she cover her nose? Did she blow her nose seriously or in a mocked fashion while eyeing her curly-headed little people? How long did it take? Was it somehow like the napkin commercial of PUFFS, after dangling PUFFS playfully over, the little noses feel soft, funny, and very pampered?

I really want to know how she blew her nose so gently so lovely that the little children would erupt in joyful appreciation. For sometimes Emma has a runny noise, and then she'd grab a tissue, quickly almost a little brutally dry her nose in a left-right-left-right fashion. Sometime she'd pick her nose, too. Whenever she does this, I would try to do a demonstration in Montessori's way. I would hold a piece of Kleenex to my nose, lightly touch it then blow a bit. However, I never succeeded, Emma simply regarded me as if I was the most unfunny and weird clown.

(Images are those of PUFFS kids'. From Puffs website. I love their commericial of these funny speckled kids.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
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April 17, 2006

I always know illiteracy could be dangerous, but I never knew that it could be downright funny and cute! I knew now from first hand, or actually second hand experience.

Emma picked out a card for Leo's birthday. Completely indifferent of the person and the occasion the card was for, she picked out a card she loved most, it has a cute cartoonish Easter bunny on the cover. It was an easy pick, since Leo's birthday happened to be in the Easter bunny season. However, upon opening the card, all of us got a big laugh, because the card read: "Have an Easter as sweet as you, GRANDDAUGHTER!"

Well, not a very conventional or even appropriate pick, but since it was from Emma, we all loved it.

Emma's birthday card for daddy

Have an Easter as sweet as you, granddaughter

Posted by Xun  |  2 comments

I always know illiteracy could be dangerous, but I never knew that it could be downright funny and cute! I knew now from first hand, or actually second hand experience.

Emma picked out a card for Leo's birthday. Completely indifferent of the person and the occasion the card was for, she picked out a card she loved most, it has a cute cartoonish Easter bunny on the cover. It was an easy pick, since Leo's birthday happened to be in the Easter bunny season. However, upon opening the card, all of us got a big laugh, because the card read: "Have an Easter as sweet as you, GRANDDAUGHTER!"

Well, not a very conventional or even appropriate pick, but since it was from Emma, we all loved it.

Emma's birthday card for daddy

Monday, April 17, 2006
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April 16, 2006





Who knows what Easter is about or for? Who cares that a crowd of people would go out in chilly rain and hunt for easter eggs somewhere in the meadow of white house? To Emma and Me, we only got one more thing to do: decorate eggs.

Color Easter Eggs

Posted by Xun  |  2 comments





Who knows what Easter is about or for? Who cares that a crowd of people would go out in chilly rain and hunt for easter eggs somewhere in the meadow of white house? To Emma and Me, we only got one more thing to do: decorate eggs.

Sunday, April 16, 2006
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April 12, 2006


The other day, I took Emma to visit a preschool. She was a little intimidated first, then kind of fell for it, looking here and there. All the while, she was holding her little green bunny, XiaoTu (小兔). When we were about to leave, the director, a kind grandma-type woman, bowed slightly and touched the bunny gently. She said: "What a cute bunny!" Emma was very much puzzled, so I told her in Chinese: "Yes, this is a bunny. 小兔 has a name called bunny." We continued to talk about the bunny a little bit and Emma quietly listened.

That night, when I put Emma in bed, she started playing with the word "bunny".

(All in Chinese, except the specific words such as "bunny", "rabbit")
Bunny in her arms, she said: "This is a bunny".
I said: "eh"
Then she said "This is not a rabbit."
Quite surprised (I once told her that 小兔 is called Rabbit in English) , I said "This is also a rabbit"
"No, this is a bunny, not a rabbit"
...
She kept saying and giggling: "Bunny. Bunny. 小兔's name is bunny. 小兔's name is not rabbit."
Felt the need to correct her, I said: "Emma, when 小兔 is little, she is a bunny, when she is big, she is a rabbit. When you were very little, you were a baby, but now you are a girl."
She nodded, as if she understood. But then 10 seconds later, she looked at her bunny, and said: ""Bunny. Bunny. 小兔's name is bunny. 小兔's name is not rabbit."

...

I thought, what a perfect example of "mutual exclusivity".

I read about mutual exclusivity from the book "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" by Malcolm Gladwell. In his book, Gladwell recounted the sesame story of "Big Bird Roy", in which a big bird was upset because he was simply called as "Big Bird", while everyone else have a name like "Jimmy", "Jack". So he started looking for a name for himself and he finally settled down on "Roy"... It is funny, has a perfect serial storial structure, Gladwell writes, however, the show missed its audience, preschoolers, because it violates the language principal of "Mutual Exclusivity".

Mutual Exclusivity, Gladwell states, means "small children have difficulty believing that any object can have two different names... children are going to have trouble with objects that have two names, or objects that change names." A child has difficulty with, say, an apple is both a fruit and an apple.

Or another amusing example of Emma:

Emma lives with us (Leo and I) and her grandma and grandpa (not long ago, she also had lived with my sisters and my parents for about 8 months). Every day, we call my parents "ma" and "pa", we asked her to call my parents "po-po" (grandma) and "ye-ye" (grandpa). Everyday, Emma is probably living in a great confusion. She knows everyone by name, except my mom, because she hear us to my mom as "ma" everyday.

We ask her: "Emma, who is po-po?" She said: "Ma" (mother)". My mom tried to correct her by telling her: "Emma, po-po IS po-po, po-po IS NOT ma".

We ask her again: "Who is is po-po?"
She said: "Ma (mother)".
Then she adds, as if to confirm: "po-po is po-po, po-po is not ma".

...

However with Emma, I found another thing interesting and curious. In her bilingual world, everything is bound to have two names, one in Chinese, the other English. However she never seem to have difficulty using both, like the first thing about bunny is that it is also called a rabbit, however, she never has problem with that "bunny" is also "Xiao Tu (小兔)".

How to explain the coexistence of two or more than two languages?

Bunny or Rabbit, or XiaoTu (小兔)?

Posted by Xun  |  1 comment


The other day, I took Emma to visit a preschool. She was a little intimidated first, then kind of fell for it, looking here and there. All the while, she was holding her little green bunny, XiaoTu (小兔). When we were about to leave, the director, a kind grandma-type woman, bowed slightly and touched the bunny gently. She said: "What a cute bunny!" Emma was very much puzzled, so I told her in Chinese: "Yes, this is a bunny. 小兔 has a name called bunny." We continued to talk about the bunny a little bit and Emma quietly listened.

That night, when I put Emma in bed, she started playing with the word "bunny".

(All in Chinese, except the specific words such as "bunny", "rabbit")
Bunny in her arms, she said: "This is a bunny".
I said: "eh"
Then she said "This is not a rabbit."
Quite surprised (I once told her that 小兔 is called Rabbit in English) , I said "This is also a rabbit"
"No, this is a bunny, not a rabbit"
...
She kept saying and giggling: "Bunny. Bunny. 小兔's name is bunny. 小兔's name is not rabbit."
Felt the need to correct her, I said: "Emma, when 小兔 is little, she is a bunny, when she is big, she is a rabbit. When you were very little, you were a baby, but now you are a girl."
She nodded, as if she understood. But then 10 seconds later, she looked at her bunny, and said: ""Bunny. Bunny. 小兔's name is bunny. 小兔's name is not rabbit."

...

I thought, what a perfect example of "mutual exclusivity".

I read about mutual exclusivity from the book "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" by Malcolm Gladwell. In his book, Gladwell recounted the sesame story of "Big Bird Roy", in which a big bird was upset because he was simply called as "Big Bird", while everyone else have a name like "Jimmy", "Jack". So he started looking for a name for himself and he finally settled down on "Roy"... It is funny, has a perfect serial storial structure, Gladwell writes, however, the show missed its audience, preschoolers, because it violates the language principal of "Mutual Exclusivity".

Mutual Exclusivity, Gladwell states, means "small children have difficulty believing that any object can have two different names... children are going to have trouble with objects that have two names, or objects that change names." A child has difficulty with, say, an apple is both a fruit and an apple.

Or another amusing example of Emma:

Emma lives with us (Leo and I) and her grandma and grandpa (not long ago, she also had lived with my sisters and my parents for about 8 months). Every day, we call my parents "ma" and "pa", we asked her to call my parents "po-po" (grandma) and "ye-ye" (grandpa). Everyday, Emma is probably living in a great confusion. She knows everyone by name, except my mom, because she hear us to my mom as "ma" everyday.

We ask her: "Emma, who is po-po?" She said: "Ma" (mother)". My mom tried to correct her by telling her: "Emma, po-po IS po-po, po-po IS NOT ma".

We ask her again: "Who is is po-po?"
She said: "Ma (mother)".
Then she adds, as if to confirm: "po-po is po-po, po-po is not ma".

...

However with Emma, I found another thing interesting and curious. In her bilingual world, everything is bound to have two names, one in Chinese, the other English. However she never seem to have difficulty using both, like the first thing about bunny is that it is also called a rabbit, however, she never has problem with that "bunny" is also "Xiao Tu (小兔)".

How to explain the coexistence of two or more than two languages?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
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April 10, 2006

Wash, wash, wash



Sunday, Emma washed her toy dishes. Look, how clean they are!

Wash, wash, wash

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Wash, wash, wash



Sunday, Emma washed her toy dishes. Look, how clean they are!

Monday, April 10, 2006
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April 01, 2006


China is in fast rise, this is a for-sure fact. I read about it, almost daily, about its "neckbreaking" speed in development, about its monstrous destruction it wrought to the environment; I hear about it, directly from my family in China, about the fast expanding of the classes of both the richer and the poorer; I feel it, sense it, from that my family, who used to struggle to put meals to the table, are now enjoying a quite comfortable life in SiChuan, and that many of my friends are now prospering. Sometimes I let out my sighs and envies to them (one of them is a senior assistant CEO in a big company, another an editor-in-chief in a big press), half seriously, "I wish I were in your place. Hey, maybe I should go back."

Only half seriously. I am only a happy and indifferent onlooker of China's progress. Despite all difficulties in language and adaptation, all legal barriers (sometimes this and that restriction put on me, a non-citizen, makes me feel humiliated and indignant), I feel I am more used to the life in America. I still want Emma to get the education and everything else in America. I am glad she is an ABC ("American born Chinese").

I think most Americans are the same too. Most Americans are still the proudest people, thinking they are the best, superior morally and economically. Those who are sounding alarms or exclamations about China consists of only a very tiny fraction of American people. They do not make a dent.

Or are tides rolling, sea changing? Maybe a little bit.

Today lured by its "lucrative" title, "Change diapers and make up to $100k", I saw a video clip on CNN. It is also titled as "Crazy about Mandarin" or "Chinese at the forefront of a new nanny craze" (I wonder if CNN has a database for storing 3 or 4 catch phrases for each news story). It features a middle-aged Chinese nanny teaches a 3-year-old white child, then the child's father, apparently an upper class white guy, talks about the needs of studying Chinese. It also talks about the high demand and thus the shortage of Chinese nannies. It says the trend is even catching on among middle class.

Wow. I was so delighted on two grounds: first, Emma has the advantage of being bilingual. One day, she definitely can swing the fence between America and China; second, I may consider changing career, becoming a Chinese nanny in New York. I am bilingual, high educated and highly qualified, am I not?

Hot Mandarin Nanny

Posted by Xun  |  5 comments


China is in fast rise, this is a for-sure fact. I read about it, almost daily, about its "neckbreaking" speed in development, about its monstrous destruction it wrought to the environment; I hear about it, directly from my family in China, about the fast expanding of the classes of both the richer and the poorer; I feel it, sense it, from that my family, who used to struggle to put meals to the table, are now enjoying a quite comfortable life in SiChuan, and that many of my friends are now prospering. Sometimes I let out my sighs and envies to them (one of them is a senior assistant CEO in a big company, another an editor-in-chief in a big press), half seriously, "I wish I were in your place. Hey, maybe I should go back."

Only half seriously. I am only a happy and indifferent onlooker of China's progress. Despite all difficulties in language and adaptation, all legal barriers (sometimes this and that restriction put on me, a non-citizen, makes me feel humiliated and indignant), I feel I am more used to the life in America. I still want Emma to get the education and everything else in America. I am glad she is an ABC ("American born Chinese").

I think most Americans are the same too. Most Americans are still the proudest people, thinking they are the best, superior morally and economically. Those who are sounding alarms or exclamations about China consists of only a very tiny fraction of American people. They do not make a dent.

Or are tides rolling, sea changing? Maybe a little bit.

Today lured by its "lucrative" title, "Change diapers and make up to $100k", I saw a video clip on CNN. It is also titled as "Crazy about Mandarin" or "Chinese at the forefront of a new nanny craze" (I wonder if CNN has a database for storing 3 or 4 catch phrases for each news story). It features a middle-aged Chinese nanny teaches a 3-year-old white child, then the child's father, apparently an upper class white guy, talks about the needs of studying Chinese. It also talks about the high demand and thus the shortage of Chinese nannies. It says the trend is even catching on among middle class.

Wow. I was so delighted on two grounds: first, Emma has the advantage of being bilingual. One day, she definitely can swing the fence between America and China; second, I may consider changing career, becoming a Chinese nanny in New York. I am bilingual, high educated and highly qualified, am I not?

Saturday, April 01, 2006
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