Taipei: City of Cousinly Love

March 22nd, 2012  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  5 Comments

Cousins: See the family resemblance?

Sasha slept through the night last night. Now, normally, this would not be a big deal, but the thing is, we’ve been here in Taipei most of the last week, and jetlag… Well, jetlag is bad enough when you know what it is and can try to adjust. But when you’re a 3-year-old and have no conception of the Earth, its rotation, time zones, and sleeping patterns, it can be a real bitch.

Actually, Sasha’s adjusted surprisingly well. Last year, when we made this same trip to visit Jean’s family, it was a total fucking nightmare. Sasha was just off-schedule the entire time, and made the rest of us miserable. (I know, I promised to write a full account of the trip last year, but I never did. Oh well.) This year, she’s mostly been tired in general, taking extra-long naps in the afternoon, and waking up for an hour or so at 2 or 4 a.m., hungry and desperate for attention. That we can deal with.

Especially because Sasha has a new friend—her 4-year-old cousin, Jen-jen. Or, as Sasha usually refers to her, jie-jie, “big sister” in Mandarin. To watch them play together is incredible: they tear around the living room, copying each other’s every move. They’ll hide from monsters together on the couch, and take baths together, and wave magic wands, and watch “Dora” and “Diego.”

Things aren’t always perfect, of course. When both kids put on identical hairbands, Jen-jen called it a “halo,” while Sasha insisted on calling it a “hat”—which infuriated her cousin so much that Jen-jen ran upstairs in anger. Sasha, meanwhile, has begun copying some of Jen-jen’s less-stellar habits, like “flashing” us—lifting up her skirt to show off her undies. Not great, kid!

Oh, and did I mention Sasha’s doing all this in Mandarin? This bilingual thing is really working out!

Watching them, I do get a little misty-eyed, perhaps because I never really had any cousins I knew well. No first cousins at all, and the second (or once-removed or whatever) lived far enough away that I rarely saw them and we never grew close. When Sasha and Jen-jen run around together, I wonder: Is this what having a cousin is like—a kind of fake sibling who can be your good friend, but still with enough distance that you’re not competing for parental attention/affection? Or am I just thinking this because of my rather fraught relationship with my own brother?

Either way, I see these closer family connections as a net plus, especially because the relationship with Jen-jen has Sasha excited about becoming a jie-jie herself: Yes, like my esteemed colleague Theodore, we are also having another kid, due in September. Already, Sasha is going around telling anyone who will listen that Mommy has a baby in her 肚子 (belly), and that she’s going to be a jie-jie and get really, really big. For my part, I’ve been trying to get Sasha’s assurances that she’s going to help change diapers and share her toys.

Uh-huh, Sasha says.

One last note that may be of interest to those of you with mixed kids: Sasha gets her picture taken here a lot—by strangers. They see her, and no matter how she’s dressed or what kind of mood she’s in, they want to capture her. I guess mixed kids are still kind of newfangled here. Either that or, as I’ve long know, she really is the cutest child in the whole entire world.


  1. Lori says:

    March 22nd, 2012at 3:09 pm(#)

    Congrats Matt! That is terrific news!

  2. Stephen Gross says:

    March 23rd, 2012at 2:23 pm(#)

    She is the cutest :)

  3. karen says:

    March 27th, 2012at 10:37 pm(#)

    Uh, did I miss an announcement somewheres along the way? I didn’t know that both of your parents were also only children! (I too have absolutely no cousins, and distant seconds that have plenty of firsts so never really understood when I got excited about seeing them.)

    Also … um, did I miss an announcement?!

    Whopppeeeee! Two is way WAY easier than one, in my opinion (and three is brilliant). Congratulations to you all, after the brutality of the first year (or three) you won’t be sorry. Until you hit the teens, of course.

  4. Matt says:

    March 28th, 2012at 2:06 am(#)

    Karen, that was the announcement!


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