Today is Tomb Sweeping Day, a mandatory holiday which closed schools, factories, and offices on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week. Yay, three-day holiday, but there’s a catch, a left cheek sneaker that takes the shine off mandatory holidays—You have to hit the rock pile the previous Saturday and Sunday to make up for it, schools, factories, and offices—Mandatory. Americans don’t get it.
“We have three days off.”“But you have to work Saturday and Sunday.”
“Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, that’s three days.”
“It’s still March, why are you wearing short sleeves? I’m usually the first in this office to do that, and that’s not usually until mid April.”
“I’m wearing long underwear under my suit. See you Saturday.”
“On Saturday I’ll be busy running around the lake in my shorts.” Then I’m going to lie on the bed and moan to my wife. (I’m pretty certain my husband didn’t say that last part, but that’s what happened and I’m still feeling a little bitter.)
Aside from the obvious greeting and caring for ancestors, Tomb Sweeping Day is also a time to enjoy the outdoors and fly kites. Today the park next to our house was utterly swarmed with the natives, their kites flocking through the sky, tangling around each other and sometimes careening to the ground amidst laughing people. The boys and I flew our kite too, tying two reels together and sending it up to the very last inch. We love to fly kites, especially in the park at dusk when hundreds of bats suddenly appear, swooping and fluttering around the string. Once we brought our kite down this afternoon, Chase and Porter wanted to do bubbles by the lake where the breeze blows big bubbles through the long wands they sell along the sidewalk. Naturally there ensued an epic bubble battle, Attack! Attack! followed by a good deal of bubble wand fencing. “Which do you prefer, Mom, the staff or the sword?” they asked earnestly, iridescent foam caught on their shirts and in their hair. Halfway through the soapy solution there was a lull in the mêlée and we watched the bubbles float off on the water.
“You know, Mom, we might as well just dump this stuff in the lake. That’s what we’re really doing,” Chase said.
“But it’s better with the bubbles,” Porter said.
“Kids dumping unidentified substance into the water,” Chase said.
“I’m casting a spell,” Porter said, flourishing his wand across the water, entranced by the glittery string of bubbles.
Chase is all about math and Porter likes shiny things and calls himself a magpie. I tried to relaunch our kite over the water, but by that time the boys had used up all their bubble magic and were engrossed in an attempt to forge their wands into weapons with actual edges. By myself I managed to get the kite up a little ways, but the bullheaded wind kept blowing it the across the walkway toward the park, the exact opposite of where I wanted it to go. Funny thing about kites, they can fly so high you can barely see them, as long as you keep the string taut and use the wind you have.
Chase and Porter are math versus romance, and they bruise each other every time they wrestle, but they continue to do it, and one would be so lonely without the other. Incidentally, since coming to China, they’ve taken to wearing long underwear to bed, and they’re excited for three days off, especially since their parents conveniently forget school on Saturday and Sunday. Mandatory my eye.