It’s been 2 weeks since I landed in Beijing, with the whole family in tow, pursuing my dream of another startup in the land of opportunities.
Since when, China replaced the United States to be the land of opportunities? I don’t think I am alone with this view. Someone from Mars Bar candy company rented my house in the US, and as it happened, he just relocated to America after a 4 year posting in Beijing. He and his wife looked at me with eyes of envy, and said, “oh, you’ll love it there in Beijing. There are so many opportunities; it’s a lot easier to make money there. The US is too mature and steady, hard to find a break in the market.”
After one week in China, my son declared one morning. “I both hate China and love China! I hate China, because people drive insanely dangerously, and they don’t stop for you. I love China, because China has awesome pools!”. Well, school hasn’t started, so the kids daily outing was to try out different fancy pools in different hotels/gyms before we decide which gym to join. The pools all come with hot tub and fresh towels, and someone forever vigilantly wiping away water dripped on the floor.
Many Chinese friends from years ago have now prospered. Almost everyone has a car, and many have more than one child. We went with one family to a fancy swimming pool in the CBD area. (Central Business District). My 8 year old boy jumped into the pool like a fish, and went off with his laps. He took off with butterfly stroke. I watched him, with the smile of a proud mother. This is the whole summer’s work with the swim team in our local community pool in the US.
My friend looked at him, and said, “He’s pretty good, he’ll be able to catch up with the swim team after a few sessions.”. WHAT???? My friend didn’t notice my shock at all, and simply went on to recommend the best swim coach in town. We signed on with the coach immediately.
After a few training sessions, my son started to whine about going to swim practice, trying to wiggle his way out of it. “He makes us swim more than 500 (ft), and we couldn’t get out of the pool in between laps. We were in the pool the whole hour!”
“Hey, this is China!” I said. “There are a lot of people and you have to try a lot harder to compete.”
“I don’t like China, I like America better. I like swimming in America. It’s more fun there.” He continued.
“Well, that’s why China is beating America in everything.” I felt like a Tiger mom/China hater/panda hugger/radical, all at the same time.
I quickly changed the topic, leaving no impression that he could get out of the swimming. Of course, I chose not to mention that Michael Phelps came through a similar community pool system in Baltimore.
Parenthood exists in muddy water; bi-cultural living is also in muddy water. I’ll let the water be, hoping it’ll clear up somehow, maybe with the force of nature.