Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Calvin's Dad

I grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes and one of my great parenting takeaways was that from Calvin's dad who would make him do miserable stuff in the name of building character. And as parents, we sometimes, meanly create character building occasions for JED.

Tangentially, as a very banana-kantang family, Chinese as a struggle for JED. We don't speak much of it but the demands of it in school are getting increasingly great. And having struggled with it as kids, we know how important it is to get the basics right.

Evan doesn't like languages. He doesn't like reading as much as his sister and he hates writing. He's very male in that he's very terse. Why write it in so many words when a simple 'no' could suffice? And add to that, writing in a second language with pictographic characters?  So even as a 7 year old, I suspect he is already at the point where he doesn't like the Chinese language.

Unfortunately for him, we aren't going to pay money to get some hack to certify him unfit to do a second language. And we'll try to help him as much as possible. That help comes in the form of tuition, unfortunately because mine truly sucks and Packrat's is worse than I am. We discovered a tuition centre that teaches Chinese composition, something that he'll have to do in the coming year. We tried it out during the holidays and it's a pretty decent class but it's extremely rigorous and requires them to write quite a bit.

Evan hated the holiday class on account of the writing. He complained that it was exhausting and he was always last to finish. For him, anything that requires a bit more effort and tires him out is probably not worth doing.

This is where Calvin's Dad looms.

Evan chucked a manic fit when he found out that we had enrolled both Jordan and himself for the weekly version of the holiday class. The tears and tantrums came fast and furious because it was difficult. 

While everyone tells me that I have the manic evil eye and am the quintessential tiger mom, when the kids cry, I feel for them and I felt for him. I started to question if perhaps it was too difficult for him and if he was ready for such rigour. There could be an easier and more palatable alternative. 

Packrat unfortunately, is the sterner version of Calvin's dad. He doesn't want Evan to run away from it because it's difficult. He wants Evan to realise that work is work and you gotta work hard to do well. And that getting by and being mediocre because it is just easier that way is unacceptable. As he said all this to Evan, my heart hurt for the sobbing boy. 

But deep in my heart, I knew that Packrat was right and that it was the right thing to do. And I would probably say that to my students. So it was just me, being totally Mommy about it. And if we had withdrawn him on account of his having chucked a fit, what sort of message would we be sending to him? 

So, come tomorrow, he's going for it with Jordan and another friend. Even though it's Christmas Eve. I guess a Chinese language school isn't all that big on Christmas. And the only way he's ever going to know that I'm not as mean as I sound (for having him go for the class) is when he starts reading this blog. 


  1. Lol on big Chinese school not being big in Christmas! I also think one of the hardest things of being a parent is focusing on the big picture at times. For us, it was swimming lessons.

  2. Adora, I think it's safe to say that every time we think we've got this figured out, they'll throw something else at us, right out of left field.