So the big news is I passed my Mandarin Chinese test. Yes indeed, I am finished with my language training (this go ‘round anyway). Having been tested in the final demonstration of linguistic acrobatics under pressure I came out on top. Hooray!
I think a few days before I knew it was going to happen because I stopped sitting up at night wondering if I would pass the test or not, but rather I lay awake wondering how I was going to get all the other stuff done for departure after I passed the test.
C’s third birthday was the day after my test. I had no presents for her as I did not want to give her a something new and then pack it up to send to Shanghai just a few days later. I actually held back two of the Christmas presents I bought her since she received so many other great gifts from family. It was going to be hard enough to pack those. Instead we met my sister, brother-in-law, and C’s two cousins at a restaurant and I brought two balloons (one Frozen, one My Little Pony) and some Frozen Anna and Elsa cupcakes. Though I had felt a bit bad about not giving her more of a party, she seemed happy with the day.
The next two days I did last minute shopping and prepping for the arrival of the movers.
I have been trying to prep C for our move to China. I bought her the DVD Ni Hao, Kai Lan Goes to China and for the past several weeks she has watched it as I explain that we are moving to China. Recently she has come to saying, “I want to go to China. I want to eat noodles,” as the characters in the show try some Chinese noodles.
I read up on preparing toddlers for a move. Some of the tips just did not seem to apply to our situation, such as trying to visit the new place before the move or having the child say goodbye to each of the rooms in the house or special places that have come to mean something to her. I used the second bedroom as a staging area for the items I bought to take to China; I doubt it holds much significance to her.
At Target I bought some plastic bins with lids and encouraged C to pack up her own toys. She got rather into it, packing up all her Fisher Price Little People quickly, pushing on the lid and announcing “Mommy, I did it! My toys are ready for China!”
On Tuesday, I dropped C off for her next to last day at Kindercare so that I could deal with the movers, particularly the packing of her toys, without her presence. She is a very different kid from the one who missed out on the packing back in June. Now, if I pick up her Queen Elsa doll to just move it she gets excited “Hey mommy, that’s my doll! What are you doing?!” I could vividly imagine the turmoil that would ensure if she were present for the packing.
The movers arrived at 11:30 and departed around 2:30. Though one of my shortest pack-outs, I still felt quite tired after the movers left. I took two hours to myself and then I went to pick up C.
As soon as she walked into the apartment she said “Oh, mommy! Where are my toys???” She ran from room to room, which in a three room apartment does not take long. I told her that the toys went to China. C did not seem thrilled her toys were gone, but she then asked me to watch the Kai Lan video. All seemed ok.
Except over the course of the next few hours and days she would ask me for certain toys.
“Mommy, where is my wagon?”
“Honey, it is on its way to China.”
“What? I don’t want my wagon to go to China!”
“Oh no! Mommy, where is baby Elsa?” (her Christmas gift from her paternal grandparents)
“Well, Elsa is going to China. The movers packed her. Remember?”
“Nooooooo! Mommy, no! Not baby Elsa. I don’t want her go to China! No!”
“Hey! Where is my Frozen book? I want my Frozen book.”
“C, your Frozen book is going to China. “
“No, mommy, no! That is not nice. I want Frozen book right now.”
C has also started whimpering, asking to be held more and sometimes at night she cries “I want to go home!” even though we are already in the apartment. Though as of today it is “home” for only four more days. This is turning out harder than I thought. I worry about her asking to go home once we are in Shanghai and though I have talked with her about our new home, she will rebel. I have heard that we should receive the unaccompanied baggage air shipment within a week or two, so being reunited with her toys should help. I hope.
Wednesday was a flurry of appointments. In the morning I took the cats to the vet so they could be checked out and there international health certificates would be issued. These need to be completed no more than 10 days before arrival in China. I brought C with me thinking she might find it interesting, especially as she had received a vet set for Christmas. I was wrong. So very wrong. She yelled at the vet “Hey, what are you doing to my cat? Stop it! Share my cat, SHARE MY CAT!” (I think sharing was the best thing she could come up with). That was a long 90 minutes.
Then we headed off to the Foreign Service Institute so I could do some final check out procedures and say farewell. C then had her third birthday wellness check-up with her “regular” doctor (as regular as you can get in this life) in Arlington.
Thursday. C’s last day at the Kindercare so that I could make the two hour drive to Richmond for the USDA Veterinary Services Office endorse the cats’ international health certificates. Although it is possible to FedEx the certificates to Richmond and provide paid return, I have heard of one too many people who did this and then ended up having to do the drive anyway, the day before departure. So I opted for the four hour round trip for the 15 minutes it took for USDA to sign the form (you have to call ahead for an appointment). The trip wore me out, but at least it is done.
Over the last few days I will be taking care of the final preparations, selling my car, cancelling car insurance, packing the bags, filling out change of address forms, putting my phone plan on hold… and trying to relax if at all possible. The next few weeks are going to be busy with getting myself, the two cats, C and my mom to Shanghai and then getting up to speed while getting over jet lag (12 hours time difference, so it will take about two weeks to adjust).
I am excited. I can hardly wait to get to Shanghai, see our new place, get settled in, don our pollution masks, and explore.