Pride goes before a fall. Or something like that.

Where's Everybody? I must be so LATE! I tried to drop my child off at school when there's no school today (teachers on training, I forgot to check the school calendar in his diary.. d-uh how come it takes me 5 minutes tops to explain a CDO (or really most investment products I dabbled in) in simple language to RMs but managing the Rockstar continues to confound me?)

"But it's Monday!" Dismayed, disappointed Rockstar. So I offer him a few arcade games as compensation Because Mum Forgot To Prepare The Rockstar For No School. (Am I the only person who finds arcade games as runner up to school for my son just a little bizarre? Craziest headgame I'm working on with strong-willed-Mr-has-to-forge-his-own-way is:

1. School Good. School Make You Plenty Smart. Plenty Smart Give You Good Job. Good Job Give You Important Responsibility. Like What The Important People on West Wing Have (yes it's possible my child will at some point develop an understanding for US politics and well possibly also the stock and currency markets and whatever the hell else CNBC reports before he masters the penmanship to write a decent A-Z or sketch something other than monsters and the Problem Blob on Cbeebies' Numberjacks - I'm really not fussed about penmanship honestly, and he keeps going Why, Why, WHY at the home background noise).

2. Arcade Games And Mindless TV Watching Bad. If Done Too Much. Make You Plenty Birdbrain  - Opinion by Rockstar, Formed All On His Own. Ahem.)

"Mum. Come help me." I hit Player No. 2 on some mindless shooting soldier game that not even the most creative games software sales exec can possibly pronounce "educational" or even a vague "good for honing kids' finger coordination." It is a bad game. They should not have it, and free of charge, anywhere there are kids, teens or youth, 20-minute Rule be damned. I start shooting a bunch of innocent virtual soldiers who never did me any harm. I blow up a tank. Bring down a giant helicopter to Rockstar's delight. Boom.  Kapow. Budda budda budda.

5 minutes... 10... "I'm getting bored, Rockstar. They (the tanks, soldiers, planes) all look the same after this." "I'm not bored yet." Rockstar considers. "Can I go drive some cars after this?"

"Well...  You're giving up already?" Reverse psychology has to be the oldest trick in in the book. Gradually I get stuck on the same scene for longer. "I want something else." Total time on the soldier machine: maybe 15 mins. Rockstar wanders off, leaving me at the game. Messes with a couple machines and then stops at the pool table. (Yippee. So rather he be rolling the full-sized cue balls about perched on a chair or playing Air Hockey or the football table game than staring at a screen blowing things up killing virtual people.)

Even as arcade games beckon... (Taken on separate occasion)

So that's where he is when another boy who looks to be under 5 runs in unaccompanied. The new boy grabs one of the full sized cue sticks and starts competing with Rockstar to push the cue balls into the pockets. I quickly come over. Those sticks are like, 5 feet long and both boys are brandishing them about precariously. I scan the clubhouse. There is a helper busily selecting magazines to read outside the room, her back turned.

My blood starts to boil. The way in which some (I concede not all) helpers enjoy facilities while blatantly neglecting the children under their care is a pet peeve. I get to say that because I had a previous helper who took extra time off to swim in the Bel-Air indoor pool (I daresay she had way more time to use it than I did when I worked - I was fine with it because she was caring for Rockstar and I wanted her to be happy) and then cooked nothing from the carefully written-out menus she was given with which to prepare Rockstar's food, "He don't eat so I don't cook."

New boy's helper finally saunters in with her chosen reading - by which time I've already overseen a full game between the two cue-swinging boys. I frown at her, she is of course impervious, she sits for 2 minutes before sauntering back out to use the toilet and find something else to read. All the while I'm doing her job for her, minding both boys (because mine is the smaller and they are armed with sticks) and she has not said a single word - not even to the boy under her care - before walking in and out like she owns the place.


With the gym and magazines in background

New boy moves off to soldier game, but doesn't know how to work it. His questions and pleas, louder and louder, echo in the room and fall on deaf ears. Well, almost all deaf ears. "Mum. He's not playing." "Mum. Can you help?" I note with satisfaction that Rockstar himself has no interest in the game anymore, even when the older boy is trying valiantly to play it. I note with less satisfaction he has no problem lending the older boy his mum.

Sigh. The only reason I didn't respond (I find questions very hard to ignore, I answer almost as a reflex because I'm mildly obsessive compulsive) was because I thought maybe his mum left instructions he was not supposed to play the soldier game and that's why his helper is ignoring him (though she was ignoring him before too.) Half-heartedly I explain, wondering if the helper is now going home to report, "Not me Mam. This other Mam she taught him!" She also taught him to eat candy! Not eat veggies! Turn to a life of crime!

I get deployed by my Rent-A-Mum Offspring to answer a couple more times before his helper finishes the second periodical she's reading and throws a very unconvincing do you need help on the soldier machine from across the room. Hell. So he's not actually prohibited from playing (I was thinking if he was she shouldn't even bring him anywhere near it, I don't know any little boys - even older babies - who don't somehow get fascinated with it, it's the most popular machine in the room by a long shot.)

She slowly walks over then proceeds to not answer any of his questions, instead using the mirror right next to the soldier machine to squeeze her pimples. And occasionally watch me scowl in the reflection. F*** F*** F**************!!!!

"Mum." Rockstar whispers. He messed up something. Not badly, but carelessly (warned him several times he still did it) and now I have to report it.

I'm mortified. And furious at Rockstar. More furious than if we had been in the room alone. (But not by a lot more.) So much for my self-righteousness about minding kids.

And so I can't even look at the idiot helper for the idiot mum who didn't manage to keep her child out of trouble. We leave immediately, my being unable to look anyone in the eye aggravated by a very dense club house receptionist who cannot understand my heartfelt apology, thereby making me repeat it and Rockstar's misdemeanor several more times for all to hear.

What a crap day.

But if you have a helper who has zits and might be bringing your 5-or-under boy to the arcade room in the Bel-Air Clubhouse sometime after lunch, email me. I will tell you the exact time to request a play back of the CCTV tape (they are usually very helpful about this, they have even offered to play back tapes without residents' asking, some other residents have told me) and you can decide if you want to keep the zit-popping helper after you watch it.

Caught on tape also, of course, will be Rockstar's mess up and my mortification. But I'm not kidding about believing kids really should not be left alone with negligent helpers. The other day, also in the clubhouse, I barely kept another small child from toppling off a tall stool - he'd been calling for help and his helper was too busy playing the sound-mixing game. She had the unmitigated gall to scowl when, while keeping him from falling, I asked her to come help him off. Bloody lazy, stupid -

So I'll bite the bullet about my own child's misdemeanor/ my mortification getting watched over and over. Don't leave your child with a helper like that. Hey. All those cameras - it's a good way to check on your helpers, all you working mums who install cameras at home like I used to. The helper's probably more careful near your home camera.


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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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  • bill hannay

    saw your post from my bro’s so to speak-my parenting skills are absolutely zero- no experience of it nor likely to – but i see a rugby player in him or even better – a cricketer!