I live in a house with a family consisting of four Chinese people, one half-Chinese baby and a dog, nationality undetermined. I might also be part of the family, it depends. My Mandarin still isn't up to a level where I can communicate with them freely - and Mandarin isn't even the main language of the house. Generally people get by in a dialect I'll call WuXueHua, and if I want to know what's going on I'll have to learn that instead.
I've never properly written about the family before, partly because they're just part of my world now. But I've got some free time this week, so here they are.
V's father is from a small town in the South of China. He's a lawyer, or at least he was - he's not had a case for quite a while, and is retiring next year. He's a pleasant, reasonable guy, though stuck in his ways, and has taken on all the housework, including cooking since the baby was born. He's quite busy with this for most of the day. I try to do things for him but he'll only let me mop the floor really.
V's mother is from another small town on the banks of the Yangtze. It's nice to have her helping with the baby generally, but most of the time she tends to be in a foul mood, and generally communicates with people by shouting at them. She doesn't always get on with V, but generally they maintain a truce. Aside from taking care of the baby, she mutters, grumbles and watches soap operas on her computer.
The Elder Daughter
MeiHua, Veronique, V - my wife. Officially an auctioneer, but on extended maternity leave. She has the main baby-care responsibilities of course, and hasn't has an uninterrupted night's sleep since February. In the evenings we usually try to watch films. Chinese ones, Woody Allen, or European films with two sets of subtitles. She's amazing.
The Younger Daughter
MeiWenZuo, AKA 'Scarlet'. Previously she was training to be a lawyer, but in the end couldn't be bothered and has jacked it in to get married. Very girly and keen on anything cute and / or pink, she's the house's number one purchaser of pink iPhone accessories and Japanese stuff. Under the surface, her taste is surprisingly conservative.
Three and a half months old in the picture, he's actually seven and a half months now. Babies are pretty much just babies, but we think we're starting to get some idea of his personality - restless, curious, naughty. So far he likes the barometer, the fan, his grandmother's glasses case, the computer mouse and the fridge magnets, and dislikes the Russian doll and all his toys. His favourite hobby is ripping the wallpaper from the wall next to his bed.
Xiaobei is a nearly three-year-old supposed Bedlington terrier. She behaves herself well, is very protective of the baby while knowing she shouldn't go near him, and never makes a mess in the living room. She does get a bit overexcited when you get home, and depressed when Scarlet is away, but this is fairly normal behaviour for a dog.
...and then there's me.