I hate meeting new moms and their kids. You never know how awkward it's going to be (and it can get pretty awkward). So, how old is your child? Oh, yay, 2! *silence......................*
But despite the potential awkwardness AND being sick as a dog, I forced myself to go with the kids in tow. And before I get into the 'why', can we just talk about how totally sick and horrible I've been feeling?
I caught some ungodly germ and have been sick for about 4 days now, but I only seem to be getting worse. Last night I wanted someone to mercifully cut my over-congested head off. It felt like every single possible cavity in my head was pregnant with octopulets (ah, I miss octo mom, wonder how she's doing, can you imagine having octopulets!...sorry, I digress)...what was I saying? Oh yeah, I was congested like a mother up in there and when my nasal drip finally traveled down to one nostril, thereby clearing the other, I could breathe well for about 2 seconds before my one clear nostril felt like the hot-smelting furnaces of Mordor resided there.
It hurt to nose-breathe. But it also hurt to mouth-breathe (as my throat was also on fire and totally sore). But breathe I must...musted? So I lay in bed, in agony, and slept maybe a good 2-3 hours last night.
But why didn't I take Nyquil or Sudafed or any of the other modern miracles of medicine that would've made my congestion much more bearable? Because none of them are FDA approved for nursing mothers. Yes, I'm still nursing. Longish story, we can talk about it another time. Maybe. Kinda boring story really. So maybe not. But this is a mommy-ish kinda blog so maybe yes. Whatever, let's get off the subject of my breasts.
So where was I? Oh yes, this morning, totally sleep-deprived, feeling like road-kill, trudging off to an awkward new playgroup.
Because a few weeks ago I found out that one of my neighbors is a native Mandarin speaker and early childhood educator. And basically, to this Chinese-American mom who is trying so hard to teach her (completely resistant and non-cooperative) preschooler Mandarin, my neighbor was my savior.
She was, to me, the answer to all my Mandarin-language based prayers. A miracle that dropped right in my backyard--close to literally!
I asked her to please, please, please host a Mandarin-language play group in which she would lead the kids in Chinese songs and stories and to my extreme delight, she said YES! YESSSS!!!!! So I invited some other moms to come and, fast forward to today, we finally met and did it!
It was everything I envisioned it would be. A song, a story, some flashcards, some finger-puppets, and a very basic lesson using 4 key vocabulary words. Perfection. Except...(and of course there's an "except." You know by now this blog isn't filled with success tales)...except...I learned that Judah transforms into a total monster when someone is trying to teach him Chinese.
I already knew that about him with respect to myself as his teacher, but I thought it would be different if someone else taught him. He's such a social guy and he's so great at paying attention to his teachers in preschool, but turns out, nope. He just hates learning Chinese.
|I really can't explain this picture. Maybe Judah heard a Chinese word.|
I just don't get it. He's happy to learn about dinosaurs and outer-space and every superhero that ever lived, but when it comes to a new language he completely melts down. Does he feel threatened? Does he feel too challenged? Does he feel too much implied pressure from me?
Of course I asked him all these questions, just like that, and got a very intelligible response--I DON'T WANT TO LEARN CHINESE!!!!!!!
It made me recall my own childhood experiences with learning Mandarin, and another dreaded subject, playing the piano. I hated both. Absolutely hated them.
Why? Because it's boring? Because it's hard? Because I didn't have a natural interest in either? Probably yes to all the above.
But kids have to learn a lot of things they don't naturally want to learn. Heck, if learning was fun and painless, we'd all be Rhode scholars by now. So my parents did what any other Asian immigrant parent did back then. They forced it on us.
I remember sitting at the piano at an early age--maybe 5 or 6, tears running down my face as I was being forced to practice my pieces. My vision was so blurred by my tears I could barely make out the notes in front of me. Which made me feel so sorry for my poor, young, privileged self. I vowed, like many kids I'm sure, that I would never be so cruel as to force my kids to learn something they hated.
And...fast-forward to today. I was about ready to strangle Judah and threaten him with certain death if he didn't stop whining and crying at the Mandarin playgroup and causing The Biggest Scene Ever.
But I didn't. Because I wonder if there's a better way. How do you get a child to learn something they really don't want to? How do you do it gently? Humanely? Even, gasp, enjoyably? Certainly this kind of resistance is not going to stop at "peripheral" subjects like a second-language or musical instruments. Kids hate math. Kids hate science. Kids hate reading. Kids hate school!
They have a lot to learn.
I have a lot to learn.
Time to consult Dr. Child Expert--Google.