From Rockstar’s weekly school email one day: ….. all K2 children to participate in a special “Show & Tell”…… We are asking for children to gather artifacts (photographs, drawings, flags, maps, objects) that identify their home. Keep the questions above in mind when selecting items for sharing. For children that have lived in different countries, they are invited to bring in as many items as they need to discuss where they have lived and where they are currently living. For children that are native to Hong Kong, can you please focus on your home and the specific area where you are currently living (ex. Pokfulam, Causeway Bay, Repulse Bay, Discovery Bay)………..
Ordinarily I would’ve been quite pleased – and Rockstar’s class is quite multiracial, that I know of he’s got American, Aussie, Canadian, Indian, Hongkie, Taiwanese heritages all mixed in – but this time I’m stumped about what to let Rockstar bring in. He’s brought everything that’s relevant and “cool” that I can think of to school at least several times before. Especially his Tourism Malaysia bug collection.
When your child is the tiniest AND has a real “Thou Shalt Not Push Nor Make Other Red Choices” stick-up-your-butt attitude about “rules” you kinda try to give him cooler stuff to bring to school in the hopes potential friends of his will overlook the proverbial tiny “Phua Chu Being” imagery (in the opening credits of Singapore sitcom Phua Chu Kang when all the other kids are running around with a soccer ball there’s this little bespectacled kid everyone ignores who’s calling ineffectively after them, “Hey that’s MY ball!”……… And no one cares.)
So Show n Tell. The Rockstar loves bringing in “cool” stuff (“cool” being a matter of opinion, mainly, His and his Partners In Crime’s) or getting to tell some “cool” fact (see above re definition of “cool”.) So my problem now is I don’t have anything “cool” Rockstar can bring re Malaysia that he hasn’t brought at least several times before. And I would try in vain to find something Cyberport-related that Rockstar could bring in (well we are Malaysians living in the Cyberport area). No luck.
Then at some point, Rockstar tells me he wants to talk about the solar system at his next Show n Tell. Darn. More good news for me. The school said………….! Ordinarily I might have a more “why not get used to doing well within the rules” attitude, especially as Rockstar gets older, because at the end of the day you can’t win a sporting competition or get good grades by not following the rules of the sport and you’d flunk an exam for writing an essay out of point. (With debates at secondary and varsity level I used to bemoan this – if you draw a topic you suck at, or come up on the wrong side of the argument (you personally believe say, “Deep Blue Has Put Us In Deep Shit” but have been given the opposing side to argue), you curse and swear and then you have to do the best job you can anyway.)
BUT – I thought this was possibly Rockstar’s last Kindergarten Show n Tell. I wanted him to really, REALLY enjoy it and come out feeling very confident, because he’s about to experience a new sibling with lotsa baby crying chaos, AND a new primary school where I’m almost certain even if he isn’t the absolute smallest child across 6 grades, he’s gonna figure in like, the top 3. 6 grades, there are gonna be much bigger kids at the new school. To be fair to Rockstar, with a little luck he can hold his own in conversations with older kids and at Playtown/ Funzone nowadays fairly often succeeds in attaching himself to some friendly child who towers head and shoulders above him – but I do worry a little that for every friendly and kind “upper class man” there’s also gonna be one (or a group of em) going “he’s too little to be here…”
And so I try to get out of following the theme in favor of the solar system. However, having neglected initially to explain to his teacher why I want to let him do what he wants, I get a note in his diary saying he’s gotta at least do Malaysia first and maybe the solar system after. Ok, guess K2 Show n Tells are getting more serious, in preparation for Pri 1. Ah well…….
Next morning however, when I actually have to prepare Rockstar for his Show n Tell is when I start to curse and swear about it (unbeknownst to Rockstar, of course – blowing up would negate having him enjoy the school activity anyway). Because I freaking can’t get my child interested. The difference in motivation levels is obvious. Any other time it wouldn’t matter that much, its just cos this might be his last Show n Tell and it’s the one he’s going to remember and take with him to his new primary school life that I’m a little worried. For the first time I even text Kings in my frustration. As I watch faintly dismayed at Rockstar glazing his eyes over yet another Tourism Malaysia YouTube, my phone buzzes in reply.
“You still prefer to talk about the solar system, don’t you?” <vigorous hopeful nod> “Then I think your best bet is to get the Malaysia bits over with and then relate how that fits in the world, planet Earth, and yes the solar system.”
Rockstar starts jumping up and down gleefully as I pick up JD’s rubber ball which bizarrely looks like a globe. Rockstar locates Malaysia, close to the Equator (he claims he remembered to explain in school that Malaysia is hot all year round because of its position near the Equator, as is Singapore which he also visits pretty often, I’m dubious because I know he couldn’t wait to launch into a Solar System and Planet soliloquy). Relates that to planet Earth being the third planet from the Sun and the only one with life on it because it is neither too close nor too far away…….. And we’re off to the races. I’m not even paying attention anymore, he’s been blurting solar system facts for small talk for a week anyway. We’ve gotten stopped by people who overhear and are a little surprised by Pluto Being A Dwarf Planet (maybe they also think he’s 3 years old).
So I print a few Malaysia-related pictures off the internet and write down the keywords. Quite a “cheat”, cos I tell Rockstar to make sure he’s said those words before he gallops off on the solar system rant and I manage to talk him into leaving his solar system mobile at home in favor of a simple printed picture because in the first place we weren’t suppose to veer that off topic.
At the end of the day, I collect a prone Rockstar, completely knocked out fast asleep in the back of the car, and find a note in his diary to say he managed to relate Malaysia to its place on Earth and in the solar system. Idly I wonder if he simply went, “Multi-racial Peoples, Agriculture, Tourism, Forestry, This is Malaysia on Planet Earth” – and then got lost in space.
(Oh, and that’s the book we’ve been reading – I found it at OUB Center, Raffles Place Singapore, on a recent trip )
PS: Rockstar knows the Rock Planets, Gas Planets, all 8 planets and a few dwarf planets (because of Pluto having been relegated to dwarf status in 2006), why other planets are uninhabitable (he just learned in school how plants and other living things need sunlight, water and air to grow so he could relate), and yes there are times when I think WHY didn’t I just use that crazy obsessiveness for memorizing multiplication tables or learning an instrument… Except like the Lego, the solar system kinda happened because I hadn’t wanted to park him in front of the tv when I felt sick from the pregnancy and had to lie down. Aside from spending an obscene amount on Lego, I’d offered to read him anything he wanted when I was in bed – and for a week it’s been a book about yes, the solar system.