Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time of the Season

So it's that time of the year again for parent-teacher meetings. I just attended 2 yesterday, one of which was, to my horror, conducted in Chinese. It is a constant embarrassment to me that The Son's Chinese language abilities may already have surpassed my own and that, with every new Chinese word he learns, another one slips from my memory.

In effort to spare The Son the torture of going through 12 years of mediocre grades in his Chinese classes, we have enrolled him in not one, but two, Chinese language tuition courses. Having done this, I suppose it would only be natural and expected for us to receive, at the end of each term, 2 progress reports for The Son but what I certainly did not expect was for both of them to be written in Chinese. Not the simple stuff that The Son has been learning, but of the standard that one would expect to find in Lianhe Zaobao.

Do the teachers not know their audience??? The type of parent that would send their child to a Chinese tuition centre would be unlikely to be conversant, or even have a passing acquaintance, with the Chinese language. I have passed the reports to a friend to translate for me - she has a great laugh at my expense every time I do this, but how else am I going to understand what the progress is.

At yesterday's meeting with the Chinese teacher, she passed me the report and waited expectantly for me to read it so that we could discuss any questions I had. She watched my finger crawl laboriously under each word for about 2 minutes as I tried my damndest to pronounce each word under my breath. We got past the second sentence before I gave up. I had a nightmare flashback to my last Chinese oral examination.

I wonder what she thought when, whilst writing The Son's Chinese name at the back of the cheque for the term fees, she saw me surreptitiously referring to the Chinese characters of his name written at the top of his progress report. I'm told that I'm not alone in this - a friend told me once that he was in the process of writing his son's Chinese name down for school registration when he realised that he had forgotten how to write 2 out of the 3 characters and had to take the form home.

In other news, The Son and I checked out the rather intriguing Body Works Exhibition at the Science Centre recently. We encircled the various displays of preserved human bodies while The Son clung to me and asked me whether "Daddy will grow old" and "Will Daddy die". He did not enquire after my mortality. In my typical motherly passive-aggressive style, I informed him that everybody dies. Daddy, mommy, even our dog, will eventually die. This may take a long time, but everybody dies. No one is spared.

At one point, we found ourselves staring at a display of a male carcass sitting on a carriage drawn by 2 skinned deer in mid-gallop. The Son points at the man and his question carries across the room: "DID SANTA DIE???"


At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking through your Flickr. Amazing photos of children! Your daughter's name is Aubrey?

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Mr. O said...

I've been taking American Sign Language classes with hopes for better communication with my CoWorkers. It's hard, but it can't be any close to what you are trying to learn. I hear Chinese is one of the harder languages to learn.

I'm sure your son will be very motivating in all aspects of your life.

Mr. O

At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder about the day he learns the other certainty in life

At 1:43 AM, Blogger -ben said...

I informed him that everybody dies. Daddy, mommy, even our dog, will eventually die. This may take a long time, but everybody dies. No one is spared.

Actually, that's not true. Papa Lee promises to pull off a second Lazarus if the monkeys on this island so much as screw up after he leaves.* Personally, I find the concept of Gandalf returning as Gandalf the White — rather than Gandalf the Ghoul — to set things right more appealing, but maybe that's just me :-P

* See conclusion of "Who’s afraid of Catherine Lim? The State in Patriarchal Singapore."

At 5:46 AM, Anonymous Qing said...

oh your children are adorable!!!!

At 11:52 PM, Blogger expat@large said...

Yep, Santa's dead. Christmas is cancelled. Next question.

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did you take your photography lessons? Could you give me the contact? Your pictures are amazing.

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