Thursday, October 28, 2010

waste of time

One of my daughters attends a dual-immersion program for school, English & Mandarin. Last week I attended a parent informational meeting, which meetings are held periodically to make sure that there is no confusion with the program, that teachers and parents are on the same page, etc., and which I find to be a helpful touch to assisting the kids in this new world of language.

The meeting began with the typical announcement that any questions about individual concerns should be held until the group presentation was finished. This is something I appreciate, as I am not keen on sitting in meetings where things are being discussed which don't pertain to me (snob? sure, I'll take that).

The first 45 or so minutes of the scheduled 60-minute meeting went very well and were executed efficiently. And then the questions began. "Excuse me, um, my son..." I stopped listening, except to search out an appropriate time to stand up from my front row seat and exit. That is when I heard the following:

"I have a question. Each night my child has to work on writing characters. I mean, do we have to do this? It takes such a long time, and it doesn't even make any sense. It's not like they're actually letters. It just seems like a huge waste of time to me."


Friday, October 15, 2010

just something i've been thinking about

When I was a teenager, my mom bought a brand new Jeep. Having only had it for a few weeks, I was driving the jeep to a ski resort with my boyfriend when I, going down a steep hill and around a corner, hit a patch of black ice. I overcorrected, but it didn't matter (because it was ice). I am so, so grateful that there weren't any cars on that road at that time. We ended up on the opposite side of the road, facing the direction from which we'd come, and the jeep was on its side -- the passenger side. Fortunately, we landed in a thick snow bank which seemed to sort of cushion the blow. We had to climb up and out the driver's side door to get out. I was dizzy.

We walked to the nearest house and explained what happened, I asked the woman if I could use her phone. I remember her house being warm and smelling good -- she was cooking something. This sweet woman welcomed us in, and as I was talking with Eric about how mad my mom would be, this woman said, "Oh, Honey, I'm sure she'll just be glad that you're alright!"



"We haven't made it out of town yet. I hit some ice."

"Where's the jeep?"

"It's on the side of the road."


"Um...we're fine. We didn't get hurt."

I gave her the address and she hung up on me.

She arrived with the tow truck, and she didn't say a word to me with her mouth; her eyes, however, were piercing, her lips pursed into a straight line.

"Mom, I'm sorry."

"You had better pray that there isn't anything wrong with the jeep," is all she said.

The tow truck cables set, the beloved jeep was pulled from the snow bank and the result was revealed: not a scratch.

My mom didn't talk to me for a while after that. When she did, I got plenty of reminders of . . . well, frankly, of what didn't (but could have!) happen with her Brand New Jeep.

When my oldest daughter was four years old, we were at our neighbor's house for a party. Li'l ~j. was excited to have some red punch, but also loved to sit on the neighbor's Love Sac, which is an oversized bean bag used as a piece of furniture. I think that bean bag was one of my daughter's favorite places on the planet, it was so comfortable. At this party, however, I reminded her that she was not, under any circumstances, to sit on the bean bag with a drink.

Our neighbor even reminded her, "Sweetie, please listen to your mommy. You can have the drink in the kitchen and then sit on the bean bag."

You know what happened next.

Embarrassed and mentally calculating how I could afford to buy our neighbors a new bean bag, I began cleaning it up as best I could. It was a small stain, but it was still there.

It was clear that my daughter, now seeing why we had given her the direction about her drink, felt bad. She, too, was embarrassed. She apologized to my neighbor.

It was at this point that my neighbor did something I don't think I'll ever forget.

She walked up to my daughter, kneeled down in front of her so as to be at eye-level, and took both of my daughter's hands into her own. She looked into her eyes and asked, "What do you think I love more, you or that bean bag? Hm?"

Sheepishly, my daughter answered, "Me?"

"That's right," came the answer, "You are more important to me than a bean bag. I love you more than a bean bag."

And for years following, at random times my daughter would look at me and with a smile say, "Hey, Mom? La Yen loves me more than a bean bag."