Monday, November 9, 2009

Ni hao...

In a few minutes I'm off to the Chinese Club for Parents at Alexander's school. It's incredibly hard and I can't remember looking at a clock this intensely since High School Math. The fact that it's right after lunch and I can barely keep my eyes open doesn't help. The teachers taught AJ last year and are actually quite friendly and helpful. Last class they asked me what Ao Liu' means? I thought that was a trick question since it's Alexander's self-appointed Chinese name. "Soaring Eagle?" I sheepishly replied. (I have a vague memory of finding his name on a 'Get a Chinese Name' internet site when he first started school).
"Oh, no. No soaring eagle (huge grin) Ao liu' means: 'stay there'." What? The name my son has been using for the past three years in Chinese class means: "Stay there?" And I'm the one who found it for him. Son, about that name: 'soaring eagle'....May not be the cool name we originally thought it was.

Learning Chinese is so, what's the word I'm looking for? Hard. Impossible. If there were any diplomatic way of getting out of the class I would in a flash. But then Alexander would (rightly so) say: "well, if it's so hard how do you expect me to do it?" I think the teachers have an inkling because last time they kept complimenting me on my pronunciation. That sounded sincere.
When I try out my Mandarin on Alexander he just shakes his head and says: "I have no idea what you're saying. You're getting all the tones wrong."
There are only about four parents in the class and we do have occasional laughs. Usually involving the pronunciation of words and the discovery that 'He' means: 'drink' but it also means 'box.' And that 'gege kele ne shui' means 'brother thirsty drink water' but accidently revert the order and you might end up with: 'Drink your thirsty brother.'

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Toothless Eliot
I have to stop leaving loose change around the house. The reason I say this is because of Alexander's never ending tooth fairy money. Very suspicious. If he had this many teeth fall out he would be a toothless old man by now. He's bought himself a yoyo, a super bouncy ball, a folder and even princess stickers for Eliot. I caught her looking in the mirror the other day wondering out loud: "When am I going to lose a tooth?"
Now when she's mad at 'boy' her new threat (having replaced: "I'm not going to invite you to my party.") is: "I'm not going to buy you something with my tooth fairy money."
So I guess now the two main question running around in her pretty little head are:
"When am I going to lose a tooth?" and "Why Peter Pan never comes to my house?"

(Photo from a time when Eliot was more interested in getting teeth rather than losing them.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maybe it won't rain?

My first coffee of the day. Nothing like it. And both kids at school. Silence in the house. Heaven. I feel like skipping from room to room and playing Billy Holiday. Maybe not.
I just brought Alexander downstairs to get the bus in a torrential downpour but by the time I had to walk with Eliot to her kindergarten down the street it had stopped. Thank goodness for that and thank goodness for her no longer finding her pink flute (hmmm) which yesterday she insisted on playing the whole way to school. I mean, she's not the pied piper. And, more importantly, I'm not deaf.
Yesterday was a different story. I went to pick her up without an umbrella (never a good idea in Singapore during rainy season). Halfway there the random drop turned into a heavy downfall. After a few seconds I could barely see where I was going it was that dense. I was completely drenched. Money well spent at the hairdresser's was all I could think. When I got to the school I looked like something the cat had dragged in. Yet still wearing my sunglasses. (They are prescription and without them I could easily wander into another preschool and God knows who I could pick up).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chinese homework

Alexander didn't want to go to school today. Actually it was the first time ever. He was scared about not remembering a Chinese poem he needed to recite by heart. Seems the teacher yelled at him yesterday, threatened to cane him, and had him stand outside the door for the duration of the class. Probably the fact that he was more interested in reading "Percy Jackson" than doing his Chinese homework had something to do with it. Having gone through the Italian school system I wasn't overly sympathetic and just answered: "But did you SEE a cane?"
By this morning he had learned all of it. I was quite impressed and asked him what it meant. "Something about the moon?"
Over the weekend, he got me quite angry so much that I told him I would be looking up boarding schools on the computer. The fact that a few moments later, Eliot wondered out loud: "Is boy going to an orphanage?" didn't really help.
Later that day, he was good as gold, even bought me some flowers ('not purple even though they are your favorites because they were too expensive'). He even bought Baby some princess stickers with his tooth fairy money. Still, boarding school is always an option.

Shhh, don't tell Baby.

I could tell you that my name is Alexander, that I am 8 yrs old, and that I'm in the third grade at the Chinese International School. I live in Singapore, in a house, well really it's a condo, with three pools. I have a little sister called Eliot, she is 3 yrs old. In a few days it will be her birthday so there is a lot of organizing going on in the house. I love riding my swave board, playing soccer, and reading Geronimo Stilton. These things are all important but there is one other thing that you should really know about me and that is that I want a dog. (Refer to previous post).
As I said my Mom is always joking. She thinks she's a born comedian or something and she's always making jokes. She can scare me too. Playing hide and seek with her can be a very terrifying experience. I had to even warn my little sister that she would really scare her so we needed to be careful. Like the time Eliot and I hid under my bed. She yelled from a very faraway place: "ready or not here I come."
We thought we had plenty of time. But she must have whipped off her super loud slippers and run at the speed of light all the way into my room, gingerly climbing onto my bed until she was right where the pillow was and then out of nowhere she popped her head down at us and said: "boo!" We nearly had a heart attack.

But why can't I have a dog?

"But why can't I have a dog?"
Well, let's see, you really wanted to get a guitar and then you lost interest.
"But that's because I wanted an electric guitar and you got me a classical one."
You wanted to do wushu and then you quit, tennis and then you quit.
"But that's because I'm a quitter."
Don't say that. You are not a quitter. Okay, you really wanted that thing that shoots darts and then you lost interest, the Ben 10 watch, where is it now?
"On the high shelf in your closet because you said that when my friends came over they would want to play with it and they would break it."
Good point.
"Mom, those are all things but a dog is not a thing."
That's what I'm worried about.
"A dog is different. I would love a puppy. Or at least a rip stick. Or a scooter. One of those three things. Or a PSP."
How about a puppy that goes on a rip stick. Or a scooter that barks. That would be cool.
"See, now you're doing that thing, joking. I don't like it when you do that."

(Okay, I can see why he didn't like this part when he read my: 'Diary of an Expat Kid'. It is the exact conversation we had!) More to come...

Not my biggest fan...

I am trying to write a book called 'Diary of an Expat Kid' from the point of view of my 8 yr old son. I have to admit I got the idea from the very first book he couldn't put down: "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." Not that he's wimpy.

I intended it to be something he would enjoy reading and couldn't put down. He was very excited when I told him about my project and even volunteered to do the illustrations. That was until he read it. I guess he thought it would about some random boy that he could laugh about. After reading only three pages and underlining most of it with a pencil (the parts I would need to change) he claimed: "It's terrible. You need to change almost everything."
When asked to elaborate, he yelled: "It's my life!"
Not too encouraging...