i finally got to terminal E of logan airport by 2:58pm. it felt like the silverline took longer than my redline trip, especially stopping to drop and pick up people along the terminals. there were big crowds of people holding up signs for various camps and english schools, big business around here. here they corralled an attractive group of teenagers from madrid, there an equally stylish group of chinese teenagers. a few seemed lost, their organization forgetting about them, as logan airport staff tried to reconnect them with their groups. there were also flights from qatar and dola, happy reunions of families picking up loved ones. it's really a beautiful thing to see, it'd be worth coming to logan airport's international terminal just to watch the different greeting customs.
i waited for nearly 50 minutes before i finally saw wangyang and her son getting out of customs. i was worried i made a mistake coming to pick them up by public transportation when i could've taken the car because i'd imagine them traveling with large suitcases, but their luggage was far smaller than i'd imagined. her son - thomas - seemed like a friendly enough kid, but was complaining he wanted water, which should've been my first warning he'd be trouble. he was also taller than i'd imagined for a 6-year-old about to turn 7. at some point wangyang told me her son was "调皮," which is chinese for naughty. almost like a switch, i immediately started seeing danger signs. prone to fits of tantrums, used to getting his way, thomas was fast becoming a candidate for history's greatest monster. on the silverline he asked for his comfort toy, which was a black train wangyang dug out from her purse. he kept asking if we were there yet, when it was still about another hour before we'd get home. on the redline, he open mouth sneezed onto the arm of a man sitting next to him, i was so embarrassed i looked away, hoping he wouldn't think i was with them. i'd seen similar signs the few times i hung out with john and his son will, so i knew what to look out for. maybe thomas has undiagnosed ADHD?
we finally got to harvard square around 4:30pm. wangyang thought she could placate her son him with some ice cream when i pointed out the ben & jerry's food truck. it was so hot, the ice cream was melting immediately, and thomas was dripping vanilla everywhere even though he was eating from a cup. the only way to stop thomas from complaining was to attract his attention with something else. they discovered pedestrian cross buttons, which i forgot doesn't exist in china. thomas hit every button he saw; fortunately there wasn't a lot of car traffic today so it wasn't that much a nuisance, but still, the boy has no self-control. when he went back to his complaining, he reached a point where he didn't want to walk anymore, until i told him there was a playground just a few blocks away. excitedly he ran inside, regaining all his energy, no thoughts about getting home. we stayed for about 20 minutes, watching thomas play with the other kids. i've always wanted to check out this playground, but being an adult, it would've been creepy for me to be playing on the jungle gym. even though i had an excuse through thomas, i still refrained. i did ask wangyang about how she drives thomas back in shanghai. she said technically he's supposed to be in a booster seat, but thomas doesn't like to sit in them so now she just straps him in with the regular seat belts, which he fits just fine. good to know, returning that booster seat i bought yesterday.
we finally made it to my place by 5:50pm. i told my roommate we'd be back by 4pm. i showed wangyang and thomas to their room, and gave wangyang a quick tour of the place. in the 16 years i've lived here, i don't think i've ever had any children visitors, at most a baby or two. well, actually, dan and cymara brought clarissa over one time, but she's a well-behaved little girl, unlike thomas, a spoiled brat. anyway, i forgot how much my place is like a treasure trove for children, all the things they can play with. thomas had no qualms opening up boxes and going through my stuff, it took all the will power i had not to slap his prying hands. wangyang gave me my presents: the romano soap i'd asked her for, but also several packets of sichuan spices and hot pot base. she also gave me a necklace for my mother, something coral-beaded thing. when thomas heard about it, he was making protest noises.
to get him to do anything was a complicated series of negotiated bargaining, with him always the winner. he didn't want to go out to eat because he ate right before they got off the plane, but i was starving to the point of stomach rumblings, and i had a mind to just go off on my own, but we finally "convinced" him by saying we could go visit the playground afterwards. but with zero impulse control and never having to hear the word "no" spoken to him, he ran into the playground when we passed by and we spent another 15 minutes there, to the point where i curse the day they ever decided to build a playground so close to my house. it was interesting to see him playing with other children. despite the language barrier, there seems to be a universal language of play. at first thomas was annoyed by a little boy who was chasing him, and ran to his mother's side for protection. but the chase turned into a game of tag, with the little boy muttering in english while thomas spoke in chinese, as if the two could communicate without any problems.
we continued on our way to harvard square. thomas was complaining about wanting some water. if he doesn't get his way he pretty much throws a tantrum and doesn't stop. i finally gave him some water from my tumbler, which kept him quiet for a few minutes before he started complaining about water again. we went to the shake shack to get some shakes and burgers. they didn't seem to have water, so wangyang bought a bottle for $2.45 (expensive water). later we discovered they did have free water, we just didn't see it. that finally kept thomas quiet for the time being.
he didn't want to eat anything, and i was afraid later when we went home he'd start complaining about food, which would be a very thomas thing to do. he did eat up all the fries, playing with them first, planting them in his container of ketchup. i didn't complain since wangyang was treating. the table next door had a dog, and thomas kept shouting in his broken english, "bad dog, that dog is bad."
i wanted to take them on a tour around harvard square after we finished eating, maybe going down to the charles river. all thomas was interested in was hitting the pedestrian crosswalk buttons. we made it down a few blocks before he was complaining that he wanted to go home now. so that was that for the harvard tour, as we headed home. we passed by the harvard book store, which piqued both wangyang and thomas' interest that we stopped in for a short while to browse. thomas treated the store like a playground, playing hide and seek with his mother and running through the narrow stacks.
by that point i wanted to go home. but it would probably take another 30-45 minutes, as thomas was suddenly full of energy, playing one-sided hide-and-seek with his mother in harvard yard, hiding behind trees and columns, and then we when got close to the playground again, he ran across the street not carrying about traffic, and we stayed there for another 15 minutes, before i started getting a little angry and prepared to leave. it was getting dark, and besides, there were mosquitoes buzzing about. the original plan was to go to the supermarket to get some food (particularly ice cream), but thomas started throwing a tantrum again, said he just wanted to go home. wangyang was tempted to just leave him with GC while we went to the supermarket, but i couldn't trust history's greatest monster to be in my house unsupervised, so i told wangyang we'd go to the supermarket tomorrow morning, but i would still go anyway since this was the last day for the watermelon sale.
after wangyang took a shower, i took one too, before she gave thomas a bath. i saw thomas briefly running around the house buck naked, urinating into the toilet with the door opened. he didn't want to get clean originally, until i persuaded him with some shark toys. thank god for sharks. they soon went to sleep, leaving me alone in the living room AKA my temporary bedroom.
at this point, i'm throwing out all my original itinerary. it's obvious the next two weeks will be all about thomas, what he wants to do, what he wants to eat, when he wants to go home. i'm so happy that typically only adults stay at my place. even the worst adult roommates i've ever had are still better than an unruly 6-year-old.
(so much for a quick summary!)