This is my sixteenth trip to China since 1995, when I met Jonathan for his spring break during the semester abroad that apparently sealed his future. This is my first trip as a Nainai, grandma on the dad’s side! Not only have Eli (aka, Yeye, whose fourteenth visit it is) and I done all of the conventional Beijing tourist sites, we’ve delved deeper into arts developments, have explored museums, kept up on new shopping malls, visited embassies, attended Jewish services, taken the subway. There’s usually somewhere new to go, but this time we have our new granddaughter here, and that’s all the new we need.

It’s likely that, when we get home, people will ask us about what the Chinese think of Trump, how the air is, and other generic China questions. But let me say that our focus has been elsewhere. Like Mirah’s first “swimming lesson.”

Since we’re all going to Thailand, where the warmer weather will make hotel pools and a beach resort very welcome, Amy decided Mirah needed some prep. So, off we went on Sunday afternoon to the Beijing franchise location of Dr. Ma Baby Swimming. Basically, the child gets a float around the neck and is lifted naked into a small tank lined with disposable paper, where he or she can propel around by kicking. Mirah is a champion kicker at this point, so she went round and round for her ten minute allotment. Afterward, the attendants, bathed, shampooed, and massaged her, a process she likes at home, too. At eight months she will graduate to a bigger pool for one-on-one instruction. Of course, Mirah excelled in her first lesson. Given her heredity of swimming genes from my mother and me, what else would we expect?  My brother commented that the place looks like a cross between a mikveh (Jewish ceremonial pool) and a laundromat for kids. Now, how many tourists in Beijing get to Dr. Ma’s?

Note: As I’m writing this post while still in Beijing and the hotel WiFi, rather than a VPN, the Great (Fire) Wall has prevented me from posting the Dr. Ma signage “for security reasons.” I will try to add it from Thailand. 

Below are photos with Eli’s narrative of what Mirah might have been thinking.

First Swimming

“That is me peeking out while Ba (Daddy) & Nainai played lifeguard.”




“Embarrassing — this is a nude swimming pool.”

Still at it. I could use a bigger pool.

“Still at it. I could use a bigger pool.”






When I am8 months old, I get to use a bigger pool.

“When I am 8 months old, I get to use a bigger pool.”

I get a bath

“I get a bath.”

And I get a massage--I have a great life.

“And I get a massage–I have a great life.”


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