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.'