Dengue Alert At ESF Kindergarten

In a cab, on my way to lunch, my cellphone rings.

It’s Kings, on business trip in Singapore. From the din in the background, I imagine him scrolling his Berry as he exits one meeting, then calling me as he power walks thru Raffles Place to his next client’s office.

“Is Rockstar in school?” No, it’s Putonghua day.

(Neither Kings nor I are Chinese-literate. Living in Hong Kong we definitely feel the lack, so Rockstar gets one-on-ones with a Putonghua schoolteacher who’s been speaking to him in perfect Putonghua since he was a baby.

If you think that’s weird, then fyi some popular childcare places here have “5 rooms”. A different language, only that language, is spoken in each little room – Japanese, Putonghua, English, French and Spanish – and they import native speakers over. The youngest child enrolled when we checked the place out was 2 months old.

One girl toddler we met at church had gone thru just such a program. I think she was Japanese, but she was extremely fluent in English. I was not equipped to test her French, Spanish or Putonghua…)

“Second dengue case. They’re doing blood tests.”

I’m ??!!?? The staff are probably swamped. Some crazy kid messes about the station before they can coral him. An image of dirty needles puncturing my first born, my only child’s delicate skin and introducing all manner of- of – germs directly into his bloodstream fills my head.

“Check out how serious it is. Whether we need to take him out of school.” Kings rings off.

Dengue fever isn’t transmitted between toddlers no matter how many toys they put in their mouth. But the school does have an outdoor compound the kids play in once a week. We’ve been reminded to apply repellent at least twice and, “I notice he has repellent in his back pack. Please make sure you apply it before he arrives at school each day…”

I’m still 5 minutes away from Ap Lei Chau warehouse so I access my email from my cell. I’m done by the time we pull up at the warehouse entrance and well, this blog entry saves me an email to my husband. (Seriously. This is what our marriage is like especially during working hours and business trips but well, it works for us.)

I log on in the café and re-read the email sent by the school 45 minutes ago while I was putting Rockstar down for a nap. And this is why so many stay-at-home mummies I’ve met are carrying iPhones and Blackberries.

“Dear Parents,

I am writing to inform you about another confirmed case of dengue fever that recently occurred in a child in the Dolphin AM class.”

[Hmm. Not Rockstar’s classmate.

On an aside, I’ve been wondering if it’s acceptable Mummy etiquette to mention Rockstar does however count a Hong Kong Small Screen Star’s daughter as a classmate. We were the only 2 mums who were a few minutes late doing school run yesterday, which was how I noticed who that little girl’s mum was.

Oh dear. It’s a school run. Felt bad for taking a second look at little girl’s mum. So tried to pretend I didn’t recognise her from all the Cantonese series Kings watches. Quite sure that series aired in Malaysia too.

I’m beginning to understand why there was a release form in Rockstar’s school pack requiring parents to formally allow/ confirm they don’t allow pictures of their children to be used for school promo material. There was even another one requiring parents acknowledge we’re aware we aren’t allowed to publish any pictures taken of kids on school premises.

Anyway. Rockstar is impartial. He hates ALL the girls in his class.]

“Please note that I am writing simply to inform you of the situation, so that if you hear any conflicting reports in the media, you will know that there is no cause for concern.”

[Poor guy. I imagine the school front desk being inundated by freaky parents. One of them just called me. I happen to be married to him. Somehow I had a baby and my husband has picked up a permanent case of raging Mummy hormones. Haha but seriously, we take turns.]

“CHP [Center for Health Protection] contacted all parents in the Dolphin AM class and offered them the option of blood testing for their children. One of the children tested positive for dengue fever. However, the parents of the child have been in contact with us……………..
………………Given that CHP have investigated the kindergarten and the surrounding area and have found no evidence of dengue-carrying mosquitoes or places where they breed, it seems that the source of dengue is in the Deepwater Bay area.”

[Flashback to conversations I had the day before:

1. (With 2 Victoria Primary School teachers while we were all walking our dogs)

Me: So… there seems to be some dengue scare in ESF

Them: Oh, that didn’t really originate from your son’s school. Think that was in Deepwater Bay area.

2. (With Hongkie friend who has a 14 year old son)

Me: So… there seems to be some dengue scare in ESF

Him: Originally people thought that came from ESF, so they gassed the whole place. But local news has it there was an adult case in the child’s apartment building and that’s probably where she got it.

(Conversation 1 teachers were actually referring to this latest (second) dengue case. I’m still wondering how they picked that up, it’s not even remotely close to where they are located and many Kindergartens are completely separate from the Pri schools.)

Him: This is news because Hong Kong hasn’t had this kind of dengue scare in a long time. (According to some news bulletins, it’s been seven years.)

There’s a rumour they’re about to close your son’s school.

Rockstar: No school, can I go swimming?

One thing I like about Hong Kong is how on the ball responsive people are to things like this – they pick it up so fast.

Oh, and -

Yup, free govie Wifi zones even if you’re not on a smartphone. No excuse for being distracted by a bumblebee.

Anyway. I call the school.

“ESF Kindergartens.”

“Umm. Is the school closed?” I don’t even identify myself as a parent. And I’m guessing I won’t need to say more.

“No. The school. Is. Not. Closed.” She knows exactly why I’m asking.

“Goodbye.” It’s all she says.

Sorry, Rockstar Sweetie. No swimming…

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About Aileen

I blog about living and raising my son in Hong Kong - where toddlers have entrance interviews, parents keep test score spreadsheets, private school debentures can trade for more than half a million USD. Raising Rockstar's the most important thing I'll ever do. We show our true colors by the choices we make in bringing up our children. My blog is a message to my toddler son, about what the world and his parents are like today - for when he becomes a teenager and knows everything.
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