Qualifications To Be My Honeybee

Filipinos love to joke around. Because I am white, single, and don’t understand a word of Visaya, I end up being at the brunt of a lot of jokes. I can’t understand most of what they say though, so I don’t mind. I think God prepared in advance for me to have this lot in life, because he chose for me to be be born into a family with 5 men.

The ongoing joke since I moved to this country, is that I’m getting old and must get married soon. I’m already 22, after all. The purpose being that we can marry and live happily together in my cave in the Moffit basement and I can continue to homeschool the children. Husband = I get to stay in the Philippines. It’s a win-win situation, apparently.

In order to dodge the men that are thrown my way, I have come up with a running list of qualifications. Because I’ve become so picky, the entire church congregation has been recruited to be on the lookout for Mr. Right. Here is a meager sampling of some of my qualifications:

  • Must be higher than my waist.
  • Must have 50% of his teeth.
  • Must be single. As in unmarried. Apparently, having a girlfriend doesn’t place him under the “unattainable” category. Sheesh.
  • Must be between the ages of 22–50.
  • Must not be crazy.
  • Must be able to moonwalk.

Apparently, I ask too much. Those first two are the clinchers. What started out as an inside joke in the family, grew to include pretty much everyone I’ve met since moving here. As we would drive down the main road, the girls would point out different men in town, letting me know they fit my qualifications, to which I would add even more to my list; to make sure they no longer qualify. After the dramatic death of our fridge, a few delivery guys showed up one day to drop off the new one and take the old away, when Lang came running into the classroom to tell me that my husband was downstairs. That was when I added the “Can’t have a high-pitched, nasally voice” rule.

What got me was when (6-year-old) Neo started joining in on the ‘husband quest’. I was teaching in the school room one afternoon when the exterminator came in to scope out a job, as he was walking out the door, Neo tapped my leg and whispered, “I think he would be a good man for you to marry.” That’s when I added the classic, “Must not get high for a living” rule.

Good grief.

Because the good people at my church are taking their job so seriously, more seriously than any of us anticipated, I now expect every time we get together to be given a phone number of someone who qualifies, or asked a question about myself; either for themselves to know, or to be passed on to a possible suitor. I couldn’t tell you anymore.

One Bible study, we were all standing around visiting and eating dinner, when I got asked by a male in our group what my waist size is. By the way, weight questions are considered fair game in polite conversation here. As soon as he asked, all the conversation in the room died down so everyone could hear my response. So I told him. 26. This resulted in teetering and snickers and a conversation I didn’t quite catch. I still don’t know… I’ve narrowed it down to two options though:

I) They don’t measure waistlines in inches and I gave them a barbie size measurement for myself.

II) I’m a way bigger size than any of them and that’s hilarious for some reason.

I think I lean more toward the latter. I’m latina; my hips don’t lie!

I Love Kids, But…

Missionaries wear many different kinds of hats. The hats they wear usually have less to do with their actual abilities and more to do with the tasks they have no choice but doing {but have no qualifications, or sometimes not even a desire to do}. Things like: public speaking, grave-digging, delivering babies, suturing, putting dislocated limbs back in place…all in a days work. Ya know. The usual.

For the past 5 months, I’ve been wearing the ‘teacher hat. It’s not something I necessarily feel qualified to do, and I learn daily that it’s not something that comes very naturally or easily for me. Homeschooling is not an easy undertaking!

Last week, I was given a ‘single mom of 4 hat’ to wear on top of my teacher hat. Again, not really something I feel qualified to do. Although, we all go into a parenting situation thinking otherwise. Am I right? Doesn’t everybody think being a parent will be a piece of cake? I’m 22 years old. I definitely could be a mom; but not quite for the ages I was watching — a 6 year-old boy, a pre-teen girl, & two teenage girls. I’m not sure many people are qualified to “mum” those ages. Yes, I now use ‘mum’ as a verb. There’s just so much it encompasses!

{Giant chocolate trophies in Heaven await any parent to survive parenting ‘teenagerdom’}

Very soon into my career as a single mom, I realised it’s a good thing I don’t have children of my own; because I would not make a very nice mother yet. I learned some things about myself last week — all of which lead to a very dark, not-very-nice side of me:

  1. I have zero pity on children who get themselves stuck in sticky situations. Consequences, young human. Life is full of ’em. Get used to it.
  2. I can be easily coerced with back rubs or dessert. (Well, I might have already known this one already…)
  3. I do not have nearly enough grace to be a parent yet; which is perhaps partly why God has chosen for me to not yet procreate. He knows what He’s doing…
  4. I have no shame in having a child write flattering statements about me as a punishment for being snarky toward me.
  5. Lastly, I love kids…. but I sure am glad I get to give them back to their parents at the end of the day. 
At least we survived the week without mom and dad...

We survived with minor injuries.

...or did we?

…or did we?

Lost In Translation

Working as a nanny for several different families for the past few years, I have watched my share of kid movies. I’m a bit of a snob, really, when it comes to what I’ll watch. But I bamboozle the children into thinking I’m letting them choose the movie, when in reality, I pull out 2 or 3 movies I wouldn’t mind watching (for the millionth time), and I let them choose from my options. Ha. Ha. Suckers… Old Disney movies are the best!

However, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train your Dragon, and Tangled are the exceptions to my rule. Kudos to this generation for making clever, funny animated films that don’t result in all the grownups watching it in the theatre with their children dying from asphyxiation. On that note…

In Tangled, specifically, we love the wit, we love the frying pan, and we love this scene.

Am I right?

Am I right?

We also love their floating lanterns. I’m pretty sure that Tangled is to blame for the floating lantern fad. Before we knew it, everyone wanted to use them in their weddings, people were burning down buildings and starting forest fires from not “sending them off” properly, and every single female on Pinterest had pinned the picture of the floating lantern festival in Chiang Mai and added that to their bucket list.

How could this not start a trend?

I feel like something bigger is happening…

As it turns out, sending these things off is a lot harder than the animated characters on screen made it look. I know what you’re thinking… “Wait, what?” But it’s true. We bought our very own lanterns, imported directly from China, and these were the instructions we were given:

1. After the distribution of fuel to packaging equipment Kong cross wire in the side of the field again deduction presses The fuel-pressure lock firmly.

2. A person XuYuan light take up a Top;
Another person fuel ignited the four angle.

3. Wait for that the heat enough light, lanterns person lest loose A top hand, changes grips under the light to encircle, Has when the lifting force may let go releases for flying.

4. XuYuan light rose slowly the sky, do not forget Wishing oh.

Notice item:
1. Should choose at the option open, calm environment released for flight. No fire ban in areas. the tall building the floor, and so on have covers under the thing to release for flight, must leave outside the airport 10 kilometers from flying.

2. XuYuan light can only be used for the distribution the special-purposeof fuel,prohibited by any burning Replace.

3. XuYuan light are on the rise, that of the flying, cannot the long time not put, and the Flight not to be append the foreign body.

4. Children must be under the custody of the adults use.

The first time we lit a floating lantern was for my 22nd birthday and it was a disaster. It resulted in the-almost-burning-down of our neighbour’s chicken coop. Oops. But the second time we made sure to not forget ‘Wishing oh’, and it turns out that’s the step you can’t skip.

Best wishes to you on your future floating lantern endeavours. May the odds be ever in your favour, or may you just learn Mandarin so you don’t get lost in translation…and don’t forget Wishing oh!

Oh, The Noise, Noise, Noise…

Stepping out of the airport in a jet-lag induced haze, I was bombarded. Everything was so different from what I knew and the humidity was so thick I felt like I was drowning. So many noises, so many smells! Maneuvering more luggage than I had hands for, I somehow made it on the right bus. Or I was about 75% sure it was the right one, anyway. I walked down the narrow aisle of the bus and couldn’t help but eye the red velour walls, yellow polyester curtains with giant tassels, and a lucky maneki-neko cat* figurine sitting at the front with its paw beckoning at each turn of the bus. So much beauty for the eye to behold… As I began to wonder why American bus systems haven’t yet adopted the ambiance of Asian buses, the guy walking down to collect the coins yelled something I couldn’t understand, and immediately everyone standing in the aisles found a lap to sit on. I tried to suppress a laugh; it came out as a snort instead.

I’m sure my experience conjures up memories of your first trip to a developing country. It’s pretty standard, from what I understand. It’s funny how quickly life overseas becomes normal and you actually come to expect the very things that once overwhelmed you.

Case in point:

Last week on my night to make dinner, I was preparing to make orange chicken and fortune cookies (by scratch, mind you) when I realized I didn’t have any oranges. Living in the-land-of-never-being-able-to-find-all-the-ingredients-needed, I’ve become queen at substitution. However, there’s no substituting orange in orange chicken; at least I wasn’t about to try to attempt it. Off to the store I went. I jumped into a motorela** and went to the store, which is approx. 2 km from our house, bought 4 oranges, hopped back on a ‘rela’ and came home. The trip took me an hour and fifteen minutes. When I walked in and glanced at the clock, I was shocked — at how quickly I had returned from my errand!

How did this become normal?

More recently, yesterday at 8 am to be precise, the day kicked off with a little kindergarten, 5th, and 7th grade math. After working on math for a few minutes in silence, Kuya Boy, (yes, that’s really his name) the guy working on the bathroom cabinet, turned on some manly machine – a chainsaw perhaps – right outside the schoolroom window. Whatever it was, it was loud. That’s fine. We can work with that. Then, “Iron Man” (I have yet to learn his real name) turns on a weed-eater, again, right outside the window. All right, testing my patience here. When I didn’t think the kids could possibly get more distracted, a parade walked by outside our house with live music and drums. A parade. At 8 in the morning. Only in the Philippines. Oh, the noise, noise, noise, noise! Sorry, I couldn’t resist getting a little Seuss-ical on you.

Yet somehow even then, I didn’t think much of the absurdity in the situation until all was quiet, and I realized I had been yelling the lesson to be heard over all the commotion.

*For those of you needing a visual image of my bus trip, this is a lucky maneki-neko cat. You clearly have not been in Asia or eaten bad Chinese food in the US if you have not seen one of these bad boys! You probably just didn’t know they were called that. Spread the word. 

maneki-neko

**These are motorelas. They’re like a cross between Thai tuk-tuks, Mexican cucarachas…and I’m pretty sure a combination of any other motorised transportation you’ll find in another country. Motorcycle in the front, party in the back! It’s more fun in the Philippines.

relas

For now, my maneki-neko cat and I are signing off. (Admit it, it’s fun to say!)