The morning after moving to our new home I noticed a visitor crawling outside on the screen of our living room window. Upon closer examination I noticed it was a beetle. I brought it in to show the kids and put it back outside on the screen once they lost interest. It remained there for a few days so I talked my wife into allowing us to keep it as a pet as it obviously likes our house and there wasn’t much for it to eat on the screen. It seems happy in its terrarium and spends most of the day under the soil I added. It often comes out at night to eat a special jelly for beetles sold in pet stores all over Taiwan. It’s a Japanese Rhinoceros Beetle [Allomyrina dichotoma] and later I found out it probably escaped from the neighbor’s house. It looks like the children of the house have a small area dedicated to breeding beetles outside their home. I hope they don’t think I maliciously stole one of their beetles.
Earlier this month we celebrated our son Nathan’s first birthday. Like most one year olds, Nathan doesn’t get too excited about cake. His sister Josie also wasn’t too thrilled about the cake, either. For some strange reason the Lightning McQueen cake we ordered turned out pink instead of red, leaving her highly disappointed.
We prepared a tray of objects for Nathan’s Zhua Zhou [抓周]. Zhua Zhou [which literally translates to "pick" and "anniversary"] is an activity held on a child’s first birthday. In the activity, objects are placed on a tray and the object a child picks can indicate his or her future career and personality traits.
The tradition, said to have started during the Three Kingdoms period, arose following the death of Sun He, the prince of the Eastern Wu Kingdom. His father, the emperor Sun Quan, grew worried about which of his grandsons would succeed him, so a Wu citizen named Jing Yang suggested he place a few items on a plate and ask each of his grandsons to pick something. Sun Hao grabbed a bamboo slip – an ancient form of Chinese paper – in one hand, and an imperial belt – symbolizing royal power – in another. Both were deemed fortuitous choices that led to him being chosen as the new emperor. [The Zhua Zhou Way]
The meanings behind some items are pretty straight-forward while others require some knowledge of Chinese language or culture to understand:
- Measuring Tape – Designer / Architect
- Sword – Law Enforcement / Soldier
- Green Onion – Intelligent [green onion (蔥 cōng) and intelligent (聰 cōng) are homophones]
- Stethoscope – Doctor
- Abacus – Businessperson
- Chicken – Food Security
- Yuanbao [(元寶) money used in ancient China] – A life of fortune
- Book – Scholar
- Calligraphy Pen – Writer
- Stamp – Civil Servant
- Peanuts – Long Life
- Microphone – Entertainer
- Celery – Industrious [celery (芹 qín) and industrious (勤 qín) are homophones]
Our son picked up the microphone first and played briefly with a few other objects before we threw his sister onto the tray. No matter what object he started playing with he always went back to the microphone. Despite the best efforts of my mother-in-law to get him to hold the yuanbao [元寶] long enough for a photo he always tossed it aside to grab his microphone.
We checked into a nearby hospital at nine o’clock yesterday evening for preparations leading up to a late night Caesarean section to deliver our son. Cathy went into the delivery room at a quarter after eleven and our son Nathaniel was born at eleven thirty-nine. Currently, he’s the largest baby at the hospital’s newborn nursery at 3.95 kilograms and 54 centimeters long. Now, I can proudly call myself a father of two.