School Outing To Watch The Gruffalo

1 Gloucester Road.

How hard can it be? I may not know how to say “Hong Kong Academy Of Performing Arts” in Cantonese, but I got “Gloucester Road” down pretty good. “Glow-See-Ta Tow”. (“Tow” for “road”).

The taxi pulls up at – a car dealership.

“#1 Gloucester Road” the aged cabbie announces triumphantly.

My heart sinks. This is so not where they are showing a play about a hairy monster made up by a mouse. I timed it just right. We’re going to be late. I can’t make the cabbie understand no matter how frantically I gesticulate.

(And btw you bloody cabbie - you insisting so loudly this is #1 that I can’t get a word in and have to wait for you to shut up still does NOT make it #1. Why the hell would I be bringing my school-uniformed son on school trip (which we were just chatting about) to a car showroom?)

He’s not moving. He still wants to argue this is #1. Time is ticking by and I look at the Wan Chai traffic in despair.

“Go home, mum?”

Not helping. Rockstar's latest smartass answer has been “go home,” for any glitch under the sun. And how come he's not more interested in the show? Because he'd rather have normal school on the day I'm guessing.

Somehow I remember the Cantonese word for “theater.” You-know, people-performing. School-children-watching. “OH. ------------“. I have no idea what he just said. He keeps repeating in Cantonese. He can’t make me understand no matter how loudly he says it. Then he keeps apologizing. Gives us a HKD 10 discount on his fare. I really don't care about the money. I want to not be late.

We lose 15 minutes navigating that short distance to the right address because that road is congested with loading and unloading trucks. Guiltily I wonder if we were really lucky enough to just make it in time or whether his class was kind of giving us a few minutes before heading in. I feel terrible. Make mental note to try to be especially helpful next time I get to volunteer.

(Honestly if I hadn’t got to volunteer at the school a lot of these things wouldn’t cross my mind. Now any time my own child has a school activity, I think Yeah he’s just 1 kid if he’s late/ brings peanut snacks/ little choking-hazardous toys – but they have like, 80 little kids on that floor. Even if just 1 in 5 mums has that thought like I do, that’s a lot more work.)

We try to relax as the 55 minute show starts. 20 minutes later, “I need the toilet.” “I asked you just now. Can you wait?” <Nod> He does.

No further comment til the Gruffalo comes lumbering into the audience, hugs a bearded dad and pronounces the rest of us unhairy people “rubbish”.

Rockstar is affronted. “I’m not rubbish.” He says it quietly and clearly - in a tone I have come to recognize. I’m not surprised when he says he liked Stick Man better.

Then as we exit the theater -


Sigh. For a split second I wish I was back in the days when that meant the interest rate differential between the 3-month LIBOR, fixed quarterly for the next 5 years, and the 5-year interest rate swap.

I look down. I know why it's coming.

My pint-sized 3 year old knows I don’t want a scene at his school event. He’s right. He doesn't try it much when he knows I'll leave him to scream. But..... a school event. Parents. School staff.

Other turquoise-and-navy uniforms everywhere, I am conspicuously the only carry-er in the HKAPA lobby. Rockstar is well aware he is the only carry-ee. <Smug Rockstar>

Rockstar: 1

Me: 0

His teacher puts an end to it and I mouth a thank you before we leave. The moment she's out of earshot he tries it again. We somehow make it outdoors (lots of loud traffic, he can scream) and then I leave him to stand at the overhead bridge stairs until he climbs up by himself. He finally does - but we're 20 minutes late for his last haircut before CNY.

Final score: I'm not sure.

(In case you’re wondering, I sent Rockstar to school without his lunch once because he refused to feed himself. Didn’t believe he would be hungry and uncomfortable in school without food. 3 hours later he wolfed down an adult-sized spaghetti bolognaise. He never refused to eat something before school again.

When we travel, I have tipped waitresses to carry him off to the kitchen to do the dishes if he misbehaves in restaurants. Usually when the restaurant is relatively empty and he can scream all he wants. (Tip more if he screams more.)

Why not, no one in that country knows us. I love countries with a tipping culture.

Wish I knew what to do about school events.)

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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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  • Mag

    I’m going to try the tipping waitress trick the next time my son screams too. Although he’s very wriggly, especially more when he’s throwing a tantrum. Did your rockstar always get carried without much fuss by waitresses, how did you do it?

    The not feeding trick may come in useful since he’s in the say ‘no’ to everything phase now… thanks Aileen!