Great Wall of China
All images courtesy of Michael Bush

Thank the Lord for Ice Cream!

| published October 23, 2015 |

By Michael Bush Thursday Review writer

Being a parent is hard. No one really prepared us for how hard it actually is. Moving to China with a three year old is even harder. No one really prepared us for how hard that actually was. My wife giving birth to a second son in China was insanely hard. No one really prepared us for that, either.

But I guess it’s not anyone’s job to prepare us for that stuff. Being a parent is a risk many of us take, moving to China with a kid and having a baby born in a Chinese hospital were both risks we took… and I feel that it all paid off. Our first-born has lived in China longer than he did in America, and our youngest was born in China, only having visited America twice; once for a week, and the second time for a month.

They are getting to travel and experience things that so many others never get the chance to see and do. They are developing a global view; one without boundaries and hopefully without prejudice. They are even learning different languages. My boys are going to grow up to be amazing people. I know this.

But it’s still not easy. We take all the help we can get, in the form of books, online articles, advice from anyone that will offer it up, timeouts, relying on each other to step in when things get too difficult…

And ice cream.

Ice cream is the great equalizer with kids. I mean, we travel a lot and sometimes kids get fed up with going and doing. Sometimes, they just want to watch Nickelodeon and chill. That’s hard to do in the middle of the Thai jungle on the back of an elephant, or walking miles on the Great Wall of China with a backpack full of toys.

What follows is my idea of what my older son’s inner monologue has been over the past four years. Keep in mind, he never told me this stuff—at least not in so many words—it’s just what I assume was going through his mind at the time. I might be wrong here and there, but I kind of think it’s pretty spot-on.

Lucas: The First-Born:

Birth in 'Murica Sometimes, you get born. It happens. My parents brought me into the world in the Atlanta metro area. And life… it’s good. I mean, this is ‘Murica! Land of the free, home of the brave! Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition!

A few years go by, and we’re absolutely killing it as a family. We got a nice big house with a big ol’ backyard in the woods. We got two cars! Two, y’all! And we got soooo much stuff! I love it here. I never want to leave.

Packed Up
But then all of a sudden, my parents sell most of our stuff… they put the rest in storage… they pack everything else into, like, nine suitcases and a few backpacks… and move us across the world to some place called…China.

Life, so far, in China is…weird. We live in an apartment in a high-rise building, not a big house in the woods anymore. Everyone looks completely different from us, and they stare all the time. The words they are saying make no sense. I can’t understand any of it. Dad is constantly packing us up to go on what he calls “adventures” and makes us walk, walk, walk, walk. It’s hot. Really hot. Hotter than Atlanta, that’s how hot. He makes me learn about all kinds of things, wherever we go. We’re at some water town, learning about agri…agri…farming stuff. It’s cool, and I got to touch some neat old junk. But it’s hot.

boat ride

Now here I am just getting used to China and learning all the stuff people are trying to say to me, and the food is pretty good. I like the dumplings a lot. And now Daddy says we're headed to some place called Thailand, where I won't understand anyone! Seriously? Luckily, he says it's not forever. Just for a little while.

Elephant ride & Tiger statue with boys arm in mouth

Today, he made me walk to a million temples, ride an elephant through the hot jungle, and made me stick my arm into a giant tiger's mouth. I love Daddy, but he is testing my patience.

Lucas eating an ice cream cone Thank the Lord for ice cream.

We’re back in China now, and I’m happy about that. I don’t even remember what America was like. Daddy told me we used to have a big house in the woods! He’s crazy. You can’t live in the woods. You have to live in the city! Shanghai is so big and full of people. I wouldn’t want to live alone in the woods. Yuck.

resting before walking the Great Wall of China

Today, he told me that we’re going to walk a lot. Like, a whole bunch. We’re on something he called the Great Wall, but I think it’s just a bunch of rocks made to look like a road. It’s tall, and a little bit cold at the top with lots of wind blowing. I had to wear sunglasses to keep the dirt from blowing into my eyes! I got really tired walking all that way.

But thank the Lord for ice cream.

Another Chinese temple today? More people that want to look at me, talk loudly in my face, touch my face, rub my hair, and take pictures with me for like 15 minutes??? Ok, but this is going to cost you, old man. And you know what my price is.

fieldtrip group

That’s, right. You better thank the Lord for ice cream, Daddy.
frozen donkey meat

We’re at the grocery store this afternoon. There are a lot of weird things here. I’m pretty used to it now, so I make sure we always go see the fish, shrimp, frogs, turtles, and eels in the meat department. It’s so crazy that they are alive and you can pick one to have the meat man kill and wrap up for you.

Restaurant ice cream

Oh, look Daddy found a new snack for us by the chips! Oh, eeeww. Never mind. Say what, Daddy? You want me to try…THAT?

Thank the Lord for ice cream.

Muslim ladies with Lucas
Indonesia this time. It’s hot. It’s neat. It’s a weird place. I like it, but a lot of the ladies have hoods on! Daddy said it was because they are Muslim. He said that it’s a peaceful religion despite what the media tells us. I don’t know what the media is, but these people are some of the nicest I’ve ever met! Way nicer than the people in Shanghai, and they don’t have a lot of money Daddy says. So even though they can’t afford as much as the people in Shanghai or America, they’re still really happy. That’s pretty cool, I think. Oh gosh. Yes, I’ll take my picture with you, but Daddy knows the drill by now.

Ice cream by the fountain Go ahead and thank the Lord.

We’re in Hong Kong now. Daddy says it’s not really part of China, even though it kinda is. He tried to explain it, but I DID NOT understand. He said that was ok, as most people don’t understand it either. I have to be honest; I don’t like the food in Hong Kong. Daddy said that’s ok, too.

Choices at the restaurant and market

Sword in the anvil

The good news is…MOMMY AND DADDY ARE TAKING ME TO DISNEYLAND HERE IN HONG KONG! The greatest thing that has and will ever happen to me, I believe. Let us go to Disney. And yes, Dad, I’ll pull the sword from the stone. But if it comes out, you know what my reward shall be.

chocolate ice cream Thank the Lord.

Listen, life is great. I’m not complaining. I have friends, I have cool parents that love me, I have so many LEGO’s… you wouldn’t even believe it. But what I really want… what I really NEED… is to not eat all this ice cream by myself. Lord, can you send me someone to eat ice cream with, please?

Thank the Lord for ice cream...

family ...AND little brothers.

boys at the beach

Psst, Jonas, if you put your feet in the water and
let Daddy take a picture of it, do you know what
he’ll give us?

Related Thursday Review articles:

The Giant: Gaining Weight in China, Losing Weight in China; Micheal Bush; Thursday Review; October 17, 2015.

The Long Corridor: How One American Adjusts to Life in China; Michael Bush;Thursday Review; September 19, 2015.