Now You Know What We Did Last Summer Part I

Rockstar's laptop* got left in a foodcourt this summer. The Queen had not wanted to wait for Rockstar to finish his breakfast before going in to Summer Putonghua Camp, so I walked her in first. Rockstar brushed past me hurriedly going in the doorway, on my way back out to get him. Glancing at his heavy book bag, I assumed he had stuffed his laptop back in it before leaving the table, and so I went straight down to Wan Chai to check out a first draft print for a work assignment. Rockstar had however left his laptop on the foodcourt table, assuming I would go back and sit there.

Three+ hours later, to our mutual horror, we realised our mistake. The foodcourt was now so packed with office lunchtime crowd there wasn't a table free.

Several floors down, the Lost & Found staff are kind, but apologetic.

"No one's turned in a laptop. I suggest you go back up and ask the foodcourt staff who were working in the morning. They may not have had time to come down here yet."

Assumed Translation: "RIP Laptop"

Rockstar valiantly attempts to ask around for his beloved lost machine, following a harried foodcourt worker who is somehow managing to navigate a heavily-laden trolley full of used plates and with two large almost-filled trash bins attached to either side of it through the queues of office workers and packed tables. He hesitates when the worker stops to clear yet another messy table for waiting lunchers, and I realise Rockstar is trying to figure out how to make himself understood in Cantonese. That's when I recognise another worker, a relatively older auntie, pushing a similarly laden trolley nearby. She also cleans the public toilets in the building, Queen E and I passed her just that morning.

Foodcourt Auntie blinks. "I've got one in our cleaner's room, I wasn't off work yet, so I didn't have time to bring it down to Lost & Found." 

We follow her in back and wait in the doorway, frequently moving aside for trolleys, washing buckets, and other foodcourt workers changing out of their cleaner's uniform as they finish their shift. She appears to take a bit longer than we would expect. Eventually she emerges, and we realise she was rummaging about for a suitable paperbag - which she hands to us, with Rockstar's double-Articuno-stickered machine in it.

(OMG!!!!!!!!! Like it wasn't already enough that she saved our laptop!!!)

It's like you just want to apologise for all the times you didn't check if you flushed a public toilet properly before fussing your little kid out of the cubicle, or left the foodcourt table in the most awful state without a thought about who cleans it.

"Don't ever disrespect someone cleaning your table, this lady saved your laptop!!!!!" <calms down sufficiently to proceed without exclamation marks> "Just think - if you had been a brat who decided it would be fun to mess with your leftovers by smearing the oily sauce on the table or dropping your food on the floor to squish it (we've actually seen random kids we don't know do this, and the Queen has asked me before when she was younger why she isn't allowed, she loves messes so) your laptop can join the leftovers in that greasy trash bin" (Well metaphorically, at least :P)

It was an incredibly humbling lesson. All the nicely dressed corporate types with the cool enviable jobs sitting at lunch to discuss all those important projects. Foodcourt Auntie clears the tables and cleans the toilets, I guess you could say she's got a pretty lousy retirement job. And she saved that laptop. When Rockstar and I approached her, we're basically a 9.5yr old child with his own laptop*. She then also decided to find us a paperbag to carry it in.

In other words, Foodcourt Auntie drove over any self-important ego we had with a monster truck.

*Rockstar has no iPad, Xbox or Playstation though; won a cellphone in a raffle draw several years ago, no line on it, he just uses it for Pokemon.. and speaking of kids with laptops...

Rockstar went to IDTech camp at HKU for a couple weeks; for this class the kids spend a day assembling that dayglo green laptop that they bring home at the end of the week

(Don't be fooled by the small number of kids in his groups, almost all the courses were fully booked up more than a month before the break - they kept the groups very small, I think this is the first time they had this camp in HK with most instructors being computer science undergrads from HKU or the States (New York, I think some of them said))

Now for the fun part. But first, the disclaimer: None of the kids in Rockstar's narrations are pictured in this post.

Firstly, it was not uncommon for someone in the lab to start erm, "raging," as Rockstar calls it, when the stuff they were working on well, didn't work. When they lost it and tried to pick up the chairs or table (yes really), they found the furniture couldn't be moved. (Well, one of his friends managed to pick up a chair on the first day but when they came in next day onwards the chairs were swapped for the rest of the course <impressed>)

Secondly, no swearing, fighting or taking others' stuff, on threat of being sent home for the day. (According to Rockstar, everyone really wanted to be there, so this one was super effective.)

Thirdly, "lunch". Another spectator sport for Rockstar and new friends. One kid in the younger age group apparently came to camp each day with a fresh HKD 500 bill he would "break" by purchasing 11 ice creams or, once, a whole chocolate cake. (I asked Rockstar to see if he could pick out a difference in the kid's productivity in the afternoon session; according to him there was a lot more "raging" after lunch.)

After the first day, Rockstar insisted on getting his lunch each day from the HKU foodcourt, which he says is just brilliant. Halfway through he discovered the curry stall and it wasn't long before the (very nice) staff started asking him if he really ate all that chilli stuff (he does).

Fourthly, the stuff. Rockstar and his new friends were incredibly entertained by some of the gadgets the other kids, predominantly in the younger age groups, brought. As in, HKD 3,000 mouse, HKD 7000 keyboard, some headset which all the kids liked because it was the only one with a mouthpiece...

Me: How d'you guys know how much the mouse and keyboard cost?

Rockstar: The price tags were right there! Like, right where you could see it if you walked by and knew where to look! In big letters! We were like 'OMG it really says that much on the price tag!' Ok maybe they wrote it themselves but I don't think so.

Me: Yeah in this case I don't think so either (some of the kids were quite young, sounded more like super-excited doting parents sending little kid to first tech camp on HKU campus). D'you.... ever wish you had those?

Rockstar: What? No way! What if I'm really lousy (at coding) but I have the most expensive stuff?? <cringes> But they look nice, and we were like Whoa!! Go see what that kid's got over there. The older groups all seem to use cheaper stuff though. Also, I'd be so scared I was going to lose it at camp. Oh, Guy With Headset lost it right away.

Me: !!

Rockstar: <nodding vigorously> Yeah!! Someone else was walking around wearing them. 

Me: What, kids beat each other up over tech accessories now, not sneakers? 😛

Rockstar: Nah, when they were gone from his desk he went to the instructor who asked, "Anyone seen a headset?" and one kid called out, "I wonder where it could be?" - and he was the one wearing it! They still threatened to call his parents if he did it again, though.  

I mention by way of saying I don't think anyone steals stuff for real in this camp, if they saw something they liked they'd probably just go home and ask their own parents for it 😀 

After seeing how privileged our kids can be nowadays, we really needed the laptop foodcourt scare lesson.

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Miss-Speak #89: Little Miss Fabulous And Her Imaginary Fish Friend (Or, Clash of the Titans Round II)

#89

Remember when I said the Queen enjoys spicing things up when nothing seems to be happening...
Queen E: (conversationally) You know Daddy <sidles over and indicates his halfway-through dinner> .......that really looks like my Imaginary Friend.
Kings: That I am eating?!
Queen E: <nods convincingly, eyes wide open> His name is "Fish".
Rockstar: <ROARS with laughter>
Queen E: <blandly> Yah Ko-ko, and we mustn't waste food...


Overheard, roughly to the tune of the original "Spiderman" theme:
"Hamster-land, hamster-land, does what-ever, hamsters can..."


Bedtime is often a struggle...
Me (reading): ...Little Miss Fabulous had fabulous hair... that everyone else had to follow...
Queen E:(after a few pages) <frowns> She always wears the same shoes, though...
After nightly prayer
Queen E: <plaintively> Oh Mummy, if I'm bad, does that mean I won't go to Heaven?
Me: ?? !!!! Erm, erm, there are many different beliefs in this world and many people do believe that what happens to you after you die has to do with how you behaved in your life. Christians believe that you are saved when you believe, not by what you do or not do. BUT you are then called to be "good" because you don't need to be, but still want to be. In fact, it's supposed to make you want even more to be good. I like to refer to that as "conscience" -
Queen E: Ok, how about That Place In Between? When you're not good or bad enough?
Me: What?? You mean like Purgatory? Where did you ever hear about "The Place In Between"???
Queen E: Well, that place. Ko-ko said -
Me: No way. When would you guys ever come up with this - Rockstar! Can you come in here for a minute please?
Rockstar: <eventually opens door and peeks in> Yeah what?
Me: Did you tell your sister that <pause> if she doesn't make it to Heaven she might end up in Purgatory?"
Rockstar: <bursts out laughing> Whaa-at? What in the wha-aaat??
Me: <turn to her and catch her facial expression> It's already past 10.30pm, had enough yet, how long more do you want to delay bedtime for?
Queen E: <still trying><theatrically tragic face> But... what's going to happen to me when I die?
Me: We can delay awhile more if I can take a picture of that face.

"That" face

ps: She fell asleep a bit past 11. On a day of multi-sports camp, and an hour on the bouncing castle after. No nap during the day.. 

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Goodbye, ESF Kindergarten

Kindy Graduation

In an intimate class ceremony before the break, our second child received her certificate of completion following 2 years of Kindergarten, 5 years after her brother did the same before her. We don't plan on having any more kids, so you know we mean it when we say we're happy both kids got to attend this kindy, and grateful they took our monsters in no one got hurt I don't think the kids are doing drugs for 2 wonderful years of early learning and stimulation of imaginations, support, and memories. (Can't blame me for having a little fun now we're leaving for good right..)

Well we're coming right back if we somehow end up with a third kid (IF, that is - IF they'll have us. I remember during Queen E's admissions she had an external activities classmate who told us they hadn't yet made interview at the kindy - there were 700+ applicants for.... maybe 150 spots? Sometimes in the bustle of school run during admissions season we would pass desk staff over the phone erm, "politely managing expectations" of applicants regarding the waitlist..)

Anyway..

We even saved a set each, of the turquoise-and-navy uniforms our kids wore (matching rubber boots model's own, it was pouring that day) because..

This is the new school uniform going forward:

Tara! (Although the boys won't get to wear headbands..)

(...the mascots will. Yay!)

I have now managed to find an excuse to post a picture of our 15-year old Border Collie in gachapon-procured bunny ears. My work here is done <dusts off hands>

For real though, we love this kindergarten: They were really there for us when we were all OMG Baby. And baby now has to go to proper school. And "school" now refers to early education that bears little resemblance to what we ourselves remember when we were kids. What are we supposed to do now???

So Hillside, we love you. And now people (yes, all two of them) who search my blog will send Wonder Woman through your doors with a border collie dressed as a bunny BUAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

That was my way of saying dear readers, that this is a personal blog that I do not publicise, so caveat lector. But no, I'm not on pseudonym 🙂

And now without further ado, the Life and Times of Her Highness At Kindy, In A Few Choice Photos.

This was shortly after a school theatre trip to watch The Way Back Home. It involved just a couple actors and..... very home made props. Almost everything you could make with just paper and other scraps. Then the kids came back to school to construct their own.

In the last few weeks her school bag strap broke, and so she was allowed to carry the Pom-pom-ed Zebra Bag. The sunglasses are mine (but yes she wears em Like A Boss) - schoolrun some days was in the blazing sun, just because of where our block is

This one was "an introduction to computational thinking skills for young children; (they were) encouraged to analyse the problem, break it down into smaller parts and then develop step by step instruction" to get the bear to the honeypot

I think this one was from the various-building-of-structures phase (note bridge diagram on easel)..

...which culminated in...

...the "Parthenon Challenge"!

(This being the real Parthenon) - pic from Wikipedia

The kids were challenged to build a structure with materials from around the school (and much brainstorming - they ultimately went with board and paper cups), "because the ancient Greeks didn't have any modern technology or machines and yet were able to erect such heavy and tall pillars"...

...that ended up strong enough to stand on!

(Recall, Queen E loves snakes!)

(Among Others; yes it's real - she had a huge kick out of the animal visitors, especially some of the more exotic ones!)

Then they designed their own snakes and ladders and took turns playing it

...And of course many, many, many "junk modelling" structures and wacky little inventions she would bring home almost every single day. We accumulated easily two HUGE bags of the stuff, and so over the last week of school and with probably our one and only purchased blank canvas (everything else being recycled many times over):

    ...we started making our own Kindy souvenir...

...finally settling on this... (Anyone recognise any of your donations to the junk modelling table on our walls? 😀 )

So one weekend Kings came home and a lot of the stuff on the walls had changed, and he was "Erm, does anything ever fall off the walls?"

...and this.

The flower is from Queen E's "Not-S0-Secret Friend" - each child makes a paper flower and presents it on graduation day to another friend; we then stuck it on a background that was one of Rockstars' old artjamming canvases - it's supposed to be Minecraft Redstone, which is about the only time you will see Rockstar use colour willingly haha - and the giant bean pod did come home one day from the junk modelling table.

Not.... that we didn't also come home with this brilliant thing: How freaking awesome is that? 

Goodbye, Hillside..

Thanks for all the memories.

ps: 

"...for every student to be the best they can be..." - on the board of the classroom Queen E's little graduation group used - I really, really like that. Aside from corresponding large appetites and apparent need for a bit less sleep than other kids, our two children who have gone through this kindergarten have had very different personalities (as well as strengths and weaknesses 🙂

Rockstar began K1 roaming the empty stairwells by himself during Free Play (where the kids can choose what they want to do), because he couldn't stand the noise and chaos of the open concept with the entire school running about. (He's fine with me telling this now because anyone who meets him today after 2 years at Hillside Kindy and 5 at Kennedy Pri School (both of the ESF Group) not to mention ESF Multi-sports camp - we're on our third camp with both kids now - will find that quite difficult to believe 🙂 

Queen E on the other hand... Looks forward every day to the adventure and unpredictability of activities like Free Play. Where Rockstar was Accidental Tourist Goes To Kindergarten, Her Highness was "Why Are You Still Here, Mum-may?" on her first day. She'll go looking for unpredictable outcomes if nothing seems to be happening. Unlike her hyper-sensitive brother, she's slightly hard of hearing (we have to syringe her ears and watch the colds because her hearing tends to get especially affected when she has a cold). And where Rockstars colours of choice are almost always muted - black or navy - the Queen is one big psychedelic explosion of colour. Exciting times, or as the Queen sang with her friends on graduation day "The future's looking bright to me!" Just so.         

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