This is one of those posts that Mummy hopes you aren’t going to read one day and hate her for. You have a friend named Joe coming today. At the tender age of almost 33 months, you’ve decided Joe, at 16 years, is your idol (after Daddy of course).
Joe's the big, blonde English boy who towers over your 5ft 6 ½ inch Mummy, is on his school rugby team (Rugby! How cool is that??) and – he treats you with respect and listens patiently when many of the slightly older kids in school and around you haven’t been.
Mummy and Daddy used to pay Joe to visit. We got to know him back when you were a baby and he was the stepson of Mummy’s colleague. Joe’s stepfather told Mummy back then he was saving up for a trip to Vietnam and looking for odd jobs.
But now with all the rugby he hasn’t seen you in awhile and wanted to see how you are. (Your parents are still trying to give him lai see/ ang pow though.)
During the last Swine Flu scare, you caught a (not Swine Flu but nonetheless particularly nasty) throat infection, and The Nice Lady Doctor You Like Visiting advised us to keep you at home from your very crowded local playschool for awhile.
Mummy and Daddy were both working hard back then and we didn’t want to simply leave you at home for long hours with a helper, so we started paying kids we knew to come in and speak to you in perfect English or Putonghua when you were still a baby (and Jie-jie was supposed to speak to you in Bahasa instead of broken English). That was The Plan.
Your parents filled the house with all kinds of books and educational toys for them to entertain you with, even a life-sized toddler cardboard house you could paint. Jie-jie’s instructions within The Plan were to be prepared to tidy up 3, 4 times a day if you decided to finger paint the afternoon away with your teenaged companions. We had to replace the cardboard house 3 times, that's what you and your friends' trashing period was like.
(Btw now you also make your own powdered milk or Ovaltine - you got the practice in because Mummy had the energy to tolerate a few extra spills since there is someone else who helps with the general cleaning).
Part of the reason you currently think all the kids in your school are “rude” with the pushing and the toy snatching is because you didn’t spend as much time with other toddlers who were pushing and snatching (sorry). This might explain your current little Mr Holier Than Thou phase, to the other kids’ irritation and bewilderment. (Mummy said she was sorry - it was that or Swine Flu. But she hopes you outgrow that soon because you're just begging to get picked on with that 'tude.)
Joe was the tubby long-haired teenager with glasses who surprised and impressed your parents with how well-mannered he was. Mummy's colleague mentioned he's also growing up with a stepbrother who is about 2 years older than you.
Of all your visitors, including the Asian ones on their way to top universities like Oxford, Joe was the only one who would tidy up your play area with you at the end of your play session, instead of leaving Jie-jie to do it. Jie-jie happened to mention this in passing one day, and Mummy figured if Joe was doing that, he was probably also treating Jie-jie with respect in front of you and she valued that. You see, Mummy thinks some things in life you will not learn from books.
(Much to some of her local friends' amusement, your mother also fired a highly credentialed (on paper) preschool teacher who gave you one-on-ones for awhile. You probably don't remember her, but boy, do your parents remember. She had your parents buy almost HKD 800 in rattles, bells and other portable musical instruments (when we already added to the existing electric piano several strings of bells and a castanet for you) online at a site she recommended before she was even willing to start.
Mummy's local friends find this hilarious because they're convinced she owned that website or something.
But honestly that's not why Mummy fired her. She was often about 15 minutes late to arrive, very timely to leave and dared Mummy to "check if (she) was ever less than professional about (her) timing." <roll eyes>
Just SO asking for it.
Credentials, straight A’s or talent are not a license to behave badly or treat others like they matter less, Mummy thinks. (Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton still went to jail.)
Then your tubby teenaged friend made his school rugby team and within the space of about 6 months grew into a strapping, handsome young man with a heavy stubble who now has contact lenses and a grueling training schedule that is near impossible to schedule your playdates around.
Mummy isn't sure if she's more amazed you still remember Joe after having not seen him for about 6 months or that you can even recognise him because actually Mummy didn't. He looks completely different now, and yet you didn't blink - he's still Joe to you. Mummy still hasn't figured how you knew it was him.
But after he left, you gravely suggested Mummy do away with your Putonghua lessons so Joe could visit more often. (Tell that to the rugby).
Since last night when you heard he was coming, you have been preparing to entertain your “guest” at home with all your train sets and cars, after school today. You have also been thinking of all the things you'd like to catch your old friend up on.
So Mummy took the liberty of telling Joe about your recent painful encounters with older kids who don’t listen to you, take you seriously or treat you with respect, hint, hint.
Mummy's just totally milking it - "Joe's bigger than those rude kids at that horrible birthday party, isn't he? Joe's so much bigger than the naughty kids in school isn't he? And - you know what? He DOESN'T BULLY! He DOESN'T SPIT! He says please and thank you!"
Wow. Like a lightbulb went off in your head. <Ding>
(Fine, if you checked your parent-teacher diary or Joe’s text and email messages, you would find also find your mother's notes about topics, sore points, achievements you’ve been particularly proud (you put on your big boy underpants and uniform by yourself today!) - anything useful for your teachers and companions to strike up conversation with you about. Just in case you need a little help keeping your conversation going with them.)
So someday you’ll find out about Joe’s arrangement. Just remember Joe offers to visit for free now.
Besides, you seem perfectly fine with Grandmum spending a little money to make you happy (yes this is a picture of you with the fire engine truck that came in the mail from Penang and that you’ve taken to bed 2 days in a row – you even wanted a pillow for your truck and to pull the blanket over it.)
Ps: Aren’t you glad you got to talk about your underpants in school today?
Pps: By the time you're old enough to read this you'll have your own friends and be well adjusted. So feel free to call Mummy a little psycho, she's fine with it.