Tales Of Confinement Past (Part 1)

"You want to eat a dead chicken?"

Uh, they aren't all dead when you eat them?

"Soup better if you make with chicken just killed. I need a bit more time at the market so (the chicken seller) can kill it for you." <chopping motion that could also vaguely pass for brandishing of samurai-sword>

Oh Yummy. "Just get a dead one."

<incredulous> "You want to eat a cold dead chicken?!"

"Yes I want to eat 'a cold dead chicken'. In fact even better if you tell me the chicken was never alive. Or if it died of old age in its sleep."

You know, the ones in Park n Shop don't have this problem. Nicely cling-film-wrapped wings. Drumlets. Whatever. Packed in neat little rows. It's almost as easy, picturing cling-filmed styrofoam packets of chicken fillet growing from big shady trees. You look at those and it's that much harder to imagine they were ever something bok-bok-bok-ing in a yard. Like my cousin's super-territorial cockerel that used to chase me around his yard as a little girl. "Oui oui" was not an agreeable bird. Hated the damned thing, but still...

I will forgo some taste for a more humane way of killing the creature. Another reason I could never be an RM, especially in Northasia - I keep thinking at some point there are always clients who want to eat something that involves a semi-alive creature of some sort because it's a "delicacy". (You know, like when they eat the live, scrabbling lobsters on hot plate in Central.) One of my ex-RMs even told me lobsters feel little pain... I'm still on Did You Ask It?

Anyway. As always, my confinement nanny has this look as she wanders off. I get The Look a lot. When I tell her I don't want Chinese medicines in our soups - The Look. When I insist I don't want the baby in mittens (because I want the baby to be able to touch and feel things with her fingers - I have friends who get massages for their babies that 'awaken' their senses by touching them, rubbing them, making them more aware of their surroundings) - The Look.

Ling Jie came highly recommended by a former RM. As a young woman, she started as an office cleaner for DHL. Obviously, nanny-ing pays a lot more, especially here - she's been a confinement nanny for decades, often booked solid 6 months or more in advance. She picks her holidays, where she goes to China for long massages in between jobs. She wears a face mask when she travels and at her massages so she doesn't get sick - it's bad for business.

As age catches up, Ling Jie hopes to quit confinement nanny-ing (back problems) and open a Chinese medicine shop. I'm not sure how much formal education she's had in Chinese - in English she's completely illiterate - but she is super sharp. She looks for tips on Hongkie stocks to tell her next employer. She still remembers, from when she cared for Rockstar, that I like to invest in paper gold. That was freaking 4.5 years ago. 4.5 years of screaming babies and night feedings and she can remember that - I would forget my own name if I did my confinement period of night feedings etc by myself.

She keeps a log of baby feedings and wakings, which is immensely useful for pediatric visits. Mildly peeved I bring the baby for pediatric checkups on my own if Kings' is tied up, she grills me for information when I return. What shots has the baby had? Second month checkup will involve two shots, right? That's the one where the baby may run a low grade fever? You can get a lot of information comparing babies, from her. Of course I'm not sure how much is embellished, but there' no way around the fact she's real smart...

The reason however Ling Jie was not my original first choice is because she's also a shark. Aggressively opportunistic, she doesn't miss a chance to "sell" her nanny-ing abilities. Or really any abilities. That includes ingratiating herself to certain members of your family. It gets in the way of us noticing how good she really is because I don't like "politicking" in my household, I believe it "pollutes" the environment I raise my kids in a bit <sheepish>. Rockstar may eventually learn about politicking and fibbing on the playground, but he is also going to learn that it's not the only way to be, you can choose not to be that way and still be happy, do well in life, whatever (though I guess you still have to be aware it exists in the world - more in part 2).

Rockstar reading nicely to "his girls" as the baby snoozes with one ear open... No really, I'm dreaming, aren't I?

Ps: I rewrote my confinement post quite a few times, because I couldn't figure what to do with the nanny - I swing between almost firing her on the spot and wanting to contract her semi-long term for couple hours' nannying several times a week because I hope to also volunteer at Rockstar's new school, or even have a date night; our helper is daft (but relatively honest and sincere which is why I'm trying to keep her) and can't be left alone with a small baby. (The daftness means I will also severely limit her contact with Rockstar, but then he'll be going to school for much longer hours in a couple months anyway and I may as well turn that into a "plus" by teaching him to be more aware of which school bus he is put on (Kings once almost put him on the wrong ESF bus except he refused to get on), dosage and what medicine he may be given etc......).

Every challenge in life might be used to get better at something or other, I think...

Look at that, now he's smiling. Please Lord, if it IS a dream let me not wake too soon to find them both screaming...

Pps: Rockstar's reading National Geographic Kids' Weird But True Facts... Not sure if my mum brought them from Penang or bought them in HK, but we recently found them really useful - the facts are pretty bizarre (Octopus have 3 hearts) and Rockstar doesn't feel like he has to read a whole book each time we pick up something for him to read - he still gets a kind of "sense of accomplishment" and our "impressed faces" from a couple facts on a page...   

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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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  • http://lifeafter38.blogspot.com/ zmun2

    I am impressed that Rockstar is reading that book meant for children age 6 and up. Nice to know that he loves reading about facts – a scholar in the making! 🙂

    It must be good for you all that Little Miss Rockstar can sleep soundly with her brother reading aloud. 😀

    Does the confinement nanny know that you are thinking of hiring her for semi long term part time? If yes, is she eager to do it?

    • http://raisingrockstar.com Aileen

      Is it for 6 and up?? I didn’t know, it’s not on the book covers, that I can see… He definitely needs help with some words.. 

      Ms Rockstar has to sleep with a lot of background noise, hope she gets used to it… But it’s true she is very used to Rockstar’s noise and my barking at him to shut it because that’s what she’s heard most often in my tummy 😛

      Yeah nanny knows – everything depends on money, she’d only do our part time thing around her 24 hour confinement block periods since it obviously pays less, but she’d hope to sneak in and out for us on her off days/ hours… 

      It’s interesting she is still so aggressive about earning money, she must be about my parents’ age (mid-60s) and has 3 grown sons around our age – she’s very close to at least one of em, I kinda tried to ask and she kinda said that as their mum she doesn’t want to expect of them that they give her “everything,” not even float her to start chinese medicine shop.

      I say interesting because had she been more educated she would probably be one of the more cutthroat investment bankers around, that is her inherent personality – BUT as a mum, with her 3 sons, she is SO not like that and still working so hard at her age… After remarking that I was (apparently to her) one of the more “hands-on” mums around, she then asked me very gravely, “Would YOU expect your son to totally take care of you financially etc, what with your dedication to him now?” And when I said no of course not she said “YES, ME TOO!” That was an education…

      • http://lifeafter38.blogspot.com/ zmun2

        I got the “for children age 6 and up” from amazon dot com (for book one anyway) – the one Rockstar was reading is book three but I assume the level should be the same.

        Mid-60s and want to start a chinese medicine shop – that’s very ambitious and hard working. Does she expect to “jaga” the shop until she is in her 80s? 

        I wouldn’t expect her sons to offer her the money to start her shop but I would expect them to ask her to stop working if she wants to stop being a confinement nanny and just enjoy her retirement days.

      • http://raisingrockstar.com Aileen

        O I c… He has all 3 books, they seem to b the same level yes…

        I think my nanny’s idea of “retirement” is the shop 😀 and I vaguely remember she has mentioned one of her sons did ask her to stop, I think the middle one whom she is closest to…