Yesterday was a big day. It was Valentine’s Day, of course, and it was also Lantern Festival here in China. But our biggest news it that Simon took five unassisted, consecutive steps. We may finally have a walker! And it happened in a pub, way past his bedtime. ‘Atta boy. As the owner of the establishment pondered, “Who was making the odds on that one? Your American son took his first steps in mainland China, in an Australian pub.” But he said it with a fabulous Australian accent, with a Guinness in his hands.
I tried to get more details about this Lantern Festival, but it seems that Chinese are not exactly sure of their holiday’s origins, either. This much is certain: It happens on the first full moon after the Lunar New Year. Traditionally, it is a day spent with family. But it also used to be the day on which single women would write riddles on the inside of paper lanterns and give them to potential suitors. Answer a riddle; score a date. Nowadays, the holiday seems more geared towards children. Walking home from Tangjia, we passed a street festival with free games for kids (ring toss, free throw, balloon animals, etc.).
People have been asking me what Simon is up to, and the answer is: a lot. He seems to be at one of those critical stages of development when his brain is just stretching to process all that he wants to do. When we first settled into the apartment, I realized that he missed his push toys from home. I bought a little plastic chair from the street market and added felt pads to the feet. He uses it to play “deliveryman.” He’ll load goods into the seat (my shoes and Mr. Chips are his favorite packages) and push them around the house, delivering them when he finds us.
He also has his first word that he uses with real intent. It’s “hi,” which should surprise no one who has met our little extravert. As we walk down the street, he’ll wave and call out “hi” to everyone we pass. And he seems genuinely disappointed when anyone doesn’t respond. All the attention from the Indian and Chinese has been going to his head!
He also met his first Chinese friend. Her name is Mia, and she was here to visit relatives over the holidays. She has gone home to Szechuan Province now and it’s too bad, because they played quite well together.
Simon has also learned what light switches do. He can reach the one in his bedroom by standing on the bed. Lights on, lights off, lights on, lights off. The people in the next building over think that we’re hosting nightly dance parties.