Our Ayi: Ayi Zou
We switched ayis mid-December. We hired a new full time ayi to help out with kids and cleaning around the house. We hated to see our old part time cleaning ayi go, however as Bear still ran and hid every time she walked in the same room as him, we could not continue with her employment. Our old ayi came on just a little too strong for Bear’s comfort and with Bear having trouble adjusting to different situations as it is, we felt we could not keep subjecting him to an unnecessary level of discomfort caused by an ayi in his own home. So when our current ayi became available for full time employment with an expat family’s return to the States, we snatched her up – and I have to say we are so happy that we did. I will say that having an ayi certainly spoils us! She currently works Monday through Friday from 9 to 5.
So you may be wondering about the role of our ayi. Our ayi cleans our apartment daily, washes dishes, does laundry, irons clothes, changes sheets on our beds, dusts, vacuums, cooks dinner three nights a week, watches the kids when I have errands to run, and grocery shops for us. She is amazing and I do not know what we will do without her when we move back to the United States.
As a person she is amazing and very caring – you can tell by how she interacts with my kids. She builds Bear a fort out of the couch cushions almost daily or takes the time to build a train track etc. She is just as eager to snatch up Newbie and change his diaper, rock him to sleep, etc. Some days she picks Sis up from school and is always eager to teach the kids and me Chinese. Bear is even starting to respond to her in Chinese! Even though she works for us she feels like a family member.
Our Driver: Mr. Xu
We are not allowed to drive ourselves in China (thank goodness). JD’s company does not want the liability or headache if we should get into an accident and possibly end up in jail. With the way cars are driven over here it would only be a matter of time before we were in an accident if we were driving. Therefore we have a van and driver.
Mr. Xu is an amazing driver. I cannot begin to tell you how many times that we were in the car and I think “thank the Good Lord Mr. Xu is driving and not me! We would have been killed if it were me and not him in that situation.” Mr. Xu navigates traffic like a pro and seemingly with ease. He is defensive and extremely alert. I’ve been in the car where he has done a three point turn on a busy street with lots of traffic and was amazed by his ability to maneuver the van.
When Mr. Xu drops us off somewhere, he will often park himself as close as he can so that he can readily see us to pick us up. That way we do not have to text him to come fetch us (not all drivers do this). Mr. Xu also keeps the van incredibly clean inside and out. There have been times that I have felt terrible when we are picked up after letting the kids play and sand falls out of pant legs or shoes.
Most importantly Mr. Xu is great with our kids. When I was 9 months pregnant with Newbie and had a hard time walking Sis up three flights of stairs in the morning for school, Mr. Xu would walk her in. He would also pick her up in the afternoons from her classroom. Now in the mornings, I leave Newbie and Bear with Mr. Xu as I walk Sis in. When I come out, I often find Mr. Xu sitting in the back seat trying to comfort Newbie or chat/play with Bear.
Our Agent: Fiona Xu (no relation to our driver)
Fiona is hired by JD’s company to help us out with living in China. I would honestly hate to have her job. She works very hard and tries very hard to keep us happy, which can be very difficult when things seem to constantly need fixed. Not to mention she takes care of a lot of expats here. She is constantly running to assist people.
We met Fiona back in March when we first came over here to see if we would or could make a go of this work experience. Fiona showed us around as well as took us apartment hunting. We spent two days just looking at apartments (yes it was like being on House Hunters International). She negotiated our lease with our landlord as well as helped shop for furniture we requested/needed for our apartment.
She loves to shop – which is awesome as there are definitely times where you want her along to help translate and negotiate. JD and I often say that we get the ‘pale skin price’ around here simply because vendors know we do not know enough Chinese to understand what is being said to our faces when making a purchase. It is hard for us to negotiate, argue, or even return items. So when we shop with Fiona, we actually feel as if we are getting a better deal!