She ran ahead of me yelling, “Mommy, catch me! Run really, really, really, really, really, really fast, okay?!” She was breathless with spring excitement. The hutong gathered up around her and served as her sprinting track, its colours a blur in her peripheral vision. My daughter, at four, is a fireball of energy and her mother, tugging on her two year-old brother, had no choice but to catch up.
Spring has come to Beijing. Returning to the hutongs without our familiar “mianao” jackets is a delight. No more mittens and scarves, no more woolen hats and “qiuku.” And since we don’t live in these mysterious alleyways, the journey downtown with my two monkey kids hanging off my arms is an adventure.
I love these excursions—though the after-breakfast-sweet jaunts outside to take advantage of the time we have before my youngest needs to take his afternoon nap—because it’s time that is dedicated to my little ones in English. It’s time with just Mommy. Thanks to spring, our weekend ritual just got a whole lot more fun.
And sprinting after a four-year-old with a two-year-old in your arms is, well, great exercise. At least, that’s what I tell myself after I catch up to her, even though I’m parched by the pursuit. Seeing her mommy panting makes my daughter giddy with the game so, in the end, we are all laughing.
Photos: Ember Swift