When I got home tonight, Shu Mei opened up the front door as I approached it and gave me a big hug and kiss. That was something she had never done before and it felt good. In addition, she had dinner ready for me, another first. It was a good one too, some sort of Chinese shrimp dish. What a great way to come home.
I thought that she might be feeling better, as she has been getting sick on a daily basis for quite some time. However, shortly after we ate, Shu Mei got sick. Seeing her like that really makes me appreciate what the woman that gave birth to me must have gone through. She must have been a courageous woman, knowing that she was going to give me up for adoption and still enduring all of the physical suffering. Although I appreciate my mother far more for the sacrifices that she made for me in the subsequent years, I am thankful for that woman who gave birth to me. Why, I owe her my life, of course.
I don’t want to get off on my pro-life tangent here. I’ll save that for a later date. I want to talk about the experiences I went through today.
Waking up, I could hear the rain pounding against the side of our house. It reminded me of when I lived in Brazil, during the monsoon season. Living in Phoenix, I experienced what they like to call a monsoon season, but it was nothing compared to what occurs in these tropical climates.
Also, this morning, there was plenty of thunder to go along with the rain. I have never heard thunder so load and long in duration. It was as if half the sky was in a great battle against the other half. Repeatedly it roared overhead. I wondered if it would ever stop. Then suddenly, both the rain and thunder stopped. For about ten minutes, all was quiet.
Then, the rain began again. This time, it was not accompanied by the thunder. The war must have moved to a different battleground. I love the rain. It comes at a good time, too. The news reported that parts of Taipei were undergoing water rationing last week and it would soon occur farther south, in the area where we live. Undoubtedly, today’s rain put a cork in those plans. I am so thankful that I do not have to undergo water rationing. Who knows what that would entail!?
Colin today…well, was Colin. No, actually he sat by me on our new sofa and paid attention, for the most part. Because he is an active boy, he did squirm about a bit, but he managed to learn a few things in the process. (“Process”, I like that word. Unfortunately, it is overused in the corporate world. It seems that everything is called a “process” at “the company”.)
Shu Mei wants to buy a car. She said that riding in the van is too uncomfortable for her. She feels that the van is partly responsible for her getting sick all of the time. I do not follow that analogy, because the van rides a lot smoother than a car. However, if that is how Shu Mei feels, then… well… that is how Shu Mei feels. So, she has sent a check to my mother from the US account, so my mother can wire it to the Taiwan account. After that process (there is that word again) is complete, we will begin looking for a car.
Shu Mei already has her preference in the type of car we will buy, a white Toyota Camry. White is her favorite color. Green is mine. Not just any green, but forest green. Our living room is done in a forest green motif. Our new sofa is, of course, forest green in color. As for white, we have very little in that color. So, I guess we will have to look for a white Toyota Camry. In addition, she wants a four-door, because “two doors are rude.” (What she meant by that is when we give people a ride and they have to sit in the back seat, she thinks it is rude to make them push the front seat forward so they can get back there. I think that they should just be glad we are giving them a ride.)
The school went relatively smooth. Shu Mei taught the morning hours and had a bit of a mishap. One of the children, “John”, cut the finger of another child, “Bill”, with a pair of scissors. It was a small cut, so nothing to write home about. However, Linda had to explain it to the parents. That could have been hairy, but I was told it went okay.
When I got there, all of the morning children were taking their midday nap, as usual. I began teaching the afternoon children, the older children. Today, I focused on helping them write some words. They learned words such as “strong” and “weak”. (I used myself as the example for “strong”, of course.) I also used them as a sort of testing grounds for an idea I had.
As a child, I loved playing with Lego’s. Recently, I bought some Lego’s for the school. Actually, they are Lego knockoffs, but work for our purposes. I used to love building cars out of the pieces and play demolition derby with my friends, who had built their own cars. We would get in opposite sides of a room and send our cars rolling toward each other to the center of the room, where they would smash together. Pieces of Lego’s would fly everywhere. It was very fun!
I decided to make this a game for the Ch’ing-shui students. Using the schoolchildren as guinea pigs, I tried it out. What I found out from them is that they are a lot smarter than I was, as a child. Instead of pushing their cars to the center of the room in reckless abandonment, they hesitated. You see, each of them knew that the first car to be pushed out into the center of the room was a sitting duck. None of them wanted to have their car be the first, the one that would be obliterated. (Isn’t there a law of physics that deals with this situation?)
So, I adapted and changed the rules of the game a bit. I made it so the first one past a line on the other side of the room was the “strong” one. Although that really does not have anything to do with “strong”, they enjoyed the game and learned the words. I felt that I could still use the Lego’s in Ch’ing-shui for the original game concept. If they demonstrated the same hesitation, I could always alter the rules again.
The children got riled up during the art period. Keeping with our dinosaur theme, I had them make miniature dinosaurs out of clay. (After they harden tomorrow, they will get to take them home.) Their high energy level passed over into the kitchen period. So, I had them all sit down and be quiet for a full minute. Usually, this works, but it didn’t today. So, I told them that if they were good, they could eat. If they were bad, they would not eat. This also works, in a pinch, but it didn’t today. Therefore, I picked out the one who was being the most boisterous, “Bill”, and took his plate away from him. I said, “Bill, you’re not eating”. He started crying.
Now, Bill is one of our quickest learners right now. In addition to that, he is such a sweet boy. He just happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing. I had to follow through or they would eat me alive in the future. (I have found that out the hard way. With children, threats do not amount to a hill of beans.) I told “Bill” that if he wanted to cry, he should go to the bathroom. He kept crying. So, I pointed to the bathroom and said, “Go!” (I felt bad, but I had to be stern.) He walked sullenly to the bathroom.
I looked at the clock. In one minute, I was going to go get him and, after a brief talk with him, bring him back to the kitchen. However, a few moments after he left he began crying hard from the bathroom, yelling something in Chinese. I asked “Billy”, another child who is about the same age as “Bill”, around five years old, what “Bill” was saying. “He wants to go to the bathroom,” he said. I said, “He’s already in the bathroom.” “No,” he continued, pointing at his crotch, “He wants to go to the bathroom.” “Oh,” I said, realizing what he meant. I headed to the bathroom. Before I got there, Linda had already helped him “go to the bathroom”. He thought that he just had to stand there and could not do anything. Poor boy. He is such a sweet kid. I felt like such a mean teacher. However, I still believe that I had to do it. It certainly restored the peace during the kitchen period. Not a peep was heard in the room after that.
Ch’ing-shui was a wreck. I did manage to eek out some education during the first half of the class. Nevertheless, the Lego’s game was a flop. They got too into the making of the cars and forgot about learning the words and speaking English. Several times during the process (I spent too many years in corporate America), they spoke out to one another in Chinese. That is a big no-no and I had to take circles from them for doing it. (Each table has two students seated at it. They get circles on the whiteboard for good behavior and taken away for the opposite, according to their table number. At the end of class, the table with the most circles gets five tokens each.)
Overall, it was a productive day. The night was spent talking to Shu Mei about the baby, changing the bedding, and responding to email.