On Friday, February 6, I went to the boys’ school for a Chinese New Year celebration. As usual, I was late. And as usual, I was not dressed appropriately. The invitation that Daniel had brought home described food and activity stands, a Mandarin Challenge, and a Mandarin-speaking zone. In fact, the invitation had not specified a date. There were lots of Chinese characters, and one of them probably was the date, but I don’t read Chinese. So I had to text the administrator and ask what day the event would be. I also got a long text to all parents, saying, among other details, “This is to remind everyone of the prescribed attire for this special day: ANY CHINESE OUTFIT OR ANYTHING RED!”
At the school, I threaded my way through crowds of parents, teachers, and students, almost all wearing red. I was looking for Daniel and Zion. It’s always surprisingly difficult to find them, despite the fact that they are two of the only kids in the school with light hair. I found them manning booths in the schoolyard. I dutifully purchased potstickers from Zion’s class, and I sat on a scalding-hot plastic chair to eat them with Zion. To the side, there was a large stage set up, and the program was just beginning there. I found my Korean friend Susan to sit with her. I was pleased to see her deep, purple shirt. Like me, she does not follow “prescribed attire for special days.” I congratulated her because her daughter Rayeon had qualified to compete in the Mandarin challenge. The program kicked off with a performance from the glee club, singing and dancing to a C-Pop song.
I drank my water and chatted with another Mom as the Mandarin Challenge took place on stage. The kids were translating sentences like, “It’s very cold today, he wants to eat snacks and French fries.”
On Sunday, Ben and I decided to take the boys to run errands at the mall. First we went to get some Thai food for lunch. This particular restaurant was a bit of a family favorite when we first came to Cebu, but somehow we had left off going there. The food was not as good as we remembered it. But we enjoyed sitting out on the terrace. There was a nice breeze and we watched the people passing on the sidewalk below. Knox stood in front of the Thai statues, imitating their pose:
After we ate, we saw a dragon dance taking place in the commons area. The drum beat was unrelenting and deafening. There were masked dancers and four dragons with glowing eyes. Knox was duly terrified.
The boys had a holiday from school on Monday, which was convenient because we all came down with food poisoning. Ben took the boys to go watch the Super Bowl at a restaurant nearby, but they returned home just after half-time because Zion was sick. The Thai food the day before had definitely been a bit “off.” We canceled our plans for the day and lay around the house feeling icky. I guess spending holidays sick is becoming a new family tradition. Bleh.