Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lunch with Ai-yi

by Ruth
Today our baomo (the woman who watches Juliana, who we often call Gao Ai-yi) invited us to her house for lunch. She called us several times before to confirm the plans and to remind us that the weather was cold so we should wear more clothes. She told us the name of her neighborhood but we still weren't exactly sure where it was, so she said she would meet us on the nearest corner. She called twice while we were on our way there by bike (a total of about 10 minutes) to make sure we were coming and we weren't lost. When we met her at the intersection, she immediately took Juliana out of her bike seat and carried her the rest of the way. Juliana was excited to see her ay-yi (“auntie”). She has not only gotten used to her, she absolutely loves her.
Ai-yi scooping out some apple for Juliana, while the others look on

Gao Ai-yi introduced us to her college age daughter, her husband, and her niece. She said her daughter had wanted to come to our house to see the baby. In addition to the eight dishes waiting on the table, Gao zimei had set out a table full of apples, figs, grapes, and chestnuts, and she served us “eight treasures” tea, a Ningxia specialty. We sat and munched on these appetizers while Gao played with Juliana. She sent her daughter off to buy some yogurt drinks for Juliana. I'm sure it was laden with sugar, and as soon as Juliana figured out how to sip it up from the straw, she thought it was great.
Fish, shrimp, chicken, doufu, noodles, greens, peanuts...
When it was time to eat, Gao held Juliana so that we could eat. I had already fed Juliana a full meal before we left home, but she still eagerly munched on the rice and doufu her ai yi offered. After we had eaten and eaten, I finally convinced Gao to let me hold Juliana so she could eat something. She ate a few bites and then jumped up to cook an egg for Juliana. Juliana happily ate the whole thing. She loves to eat.
Juliana happily eats the rice from ai-yi's bowl
As we were finishing, Gao's middle-school son appeared. He greeted us shyly in English, ate a little food, asked for some money, and then was off again. Gao showed us a picture of her eight (yes, eight!) older brothers and sisters. Then she took Juliana in the bedroom to play on her little piano keyboard. Juliana was very excited. She did not want to leave. Whenever I tried to take her from her ai-yi she just begged to go back. I was only a little offended. Somewhere inside she still likes me best.
Ai-yi teaches Juliana to play keyboard
It's about time Juliana learns to read music

Whenever Gao ai-yi comes, Juliana crawls happily to the door and motions to be picked up. The other day I told Juliana, “Ai-yi will be coming this morning,” and she rushed over to the door looking for her. Today when I was talking about “ai-yi,” Juliana said, “Ya-yi!” Juliana just loves her, and Gao adores Juliana as well. We are very blessed to have such a wonderful ai-yi!

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