Of course we have a bunch of Berenstain Bears books, which are full of quaint life lessons (Bully trouble at school? Learn self-defense and punch her in the face!), and feature the usually-wrong-but-never-in-doubt clueless man-child dad trope, which had a satirical purpose once a upon time in a galaxy far far away, as the foil for the unfailingly patient and composed Mama Bear, who gently directs the show from backstage with an endless reservoir of commonsense wisdom, propriety, and savvy wifely interventions. Still, we loved them as kids and our kids love them now (though I did permanently shelve one of the religious ones).
Turns out there are tons of new ones (“new” as in, written after I graduated from primary school, once upon a time in a galaxy far far etc.), and our Chinese preschool library even has some. This one would have made me laugh even if we’d never moved to China but it’s extra funny here, where we’re the foreign neighbours. The Bear family gets some
Chinese Panda neighbours! And apparently Papa Bear has gone from picnic spots to prejudice!
So suspicious Papa Bear! Just because they’re short and their fur is different and they like to wear matching outfits… don’t you know that’s just how they do in
“What do they think they’re doing? They’re not actually moving in, are they??”
“Putting up a fence? Who puts up a fence?? Bad people who have something to hide, that’s who!”
Well, thank goodness for bamboo juice and travel stories. (Just nobody tell Papa that pandas aren’t actually bears…)
Here’s some fun we’ve had as the foreign neighbours in China:
One of our many crowd control sand castles at Qingdao’s 石老人 beach: Turns out that building a anti-social sand castles is not the most effective way to keep the overly-curious, camera-happy, Chinese public off your kids at the beach. The sand castles help, but the best way to shield your kids from strangers’ unwanted attention is to go to the beach with your Chinese friends. For whatever reasons, when we’re at the beach with a Chinese family or two, strangers pretty much leave us alone. And it requires a lot less digging.
We’ve had some fun on Qingdao beaches: