The Hole In My Jeans

My eagerly-awaited online purchase of a pair of J Brand jeans from revolveclothing.com has arrived in the mail. They cost more than a hundred US bucks even after a heavy sale markdown. They have been carefully paint-splattered, distressed and there is a hole in the knee I’m very proud of.  WHY, you ask, didn’t I simply rip up an old pair of jeans? Because I don’t own any. (I have extremely work-appropriate very dark jeans for “casual” Fridays and nuthin’ else.)

What marvel of marketing leads you to pay for “artfully” torn, stained jeans?

So here I am, aged 33-and-a-half, with a very expensive hole in my jeans. Am I just another version of those paunchy, balding 40-ish men we see on the streets of Hong Kong revving the engine of some super-souped up Ferrari at the traffic lights in the city? Maybe they spent their youth slogging and can now finally afford the car they sit so incongruously in. Maybe they only look middle-aged, the product of an office “tan and spa”. Maybe they are exactly what us jealous others think they are – older men with something to prove of their libido.

So then how sad am I?

Not a wit, actually - I’m ecstatic. All those years dressing my 20s-self in suits. Work shirts and pencil skirts. Chunky, I-mean-business jewelry. Glasses. And at least I’m not Sarah Jessica Parker doing Sex and the City II.

JD still doesn’t get it.

People judge books by their covers. We can’t help ourselves. It’s why you see all these bus ads around Hong Kong of people in yuppie suits with hairstyles that don’t match. Do high school tuition teachers really need to wear suits every day? They do not. They borrowed a suit for the bus ad. That’s why their spikey, dyed, bed-head texturised hair doesn’t match the suit.

Alan Chan bus ad

Banishing Bad English In Suit And Spikey Hair Even As Teenaged Hong Kong Girls Swoon

Appeasing High Schoolers And Their Parents Alike

The bus ads speak to me. They scream, “HAVE SUIT, THEREFORE, AM CAPABLE!” And Brutus is an honorable man. I understand. I chopped my almost waist-length hair off into a pixie so short it looked like I had done National Service in the Singapore army one day when I hoped to redeem the Tony and Guy birthday coupon from my mum for some banking cred.

Errornomics – why we make mistakes and what we can do to avoid them quotes a study of National Football and National Hockey League games. Two teams switched to black uniforms during the study’s 16 year observation period – and their penalty minutes increased significantly. Referees, it would seem, also judge books by their covers.

Sooo whenever Rockstar starts a class or activity with a new teacher who doesn’t know him yet, I dress him in light colors (Yes, I can barely believe I do it myself. But it doesn’t hurt to simply not put him in a black or navy shirt for a few days, does it?)

In my defense, it wasn’t just Joseph T. Hallinan’s influence. In Yakuza Moon – memoirs of a gangster’s daughter Shoko Tendo talks about growing up a gangster’s daughter. What affected me most was the bullying she faced from the children whose parents had more “respectable” professions – bankers, lawyers – and the discrimination the teachers practiced against her in school. (My mother gave free English tuition to kids in notoriously tough neighborhoods in Penang, Malaysia when I was growing up, which may account a little for my “reverse-bias”.)

That hole in my jeans means a lot to me. It means that after more than a decade of dressing to build my credibility, finally I get to dress like I have none. Oh, and I'll showcase my fabulous paint splatters and hole in the knee with the diamond studs I bought myself while slogging away at previous jobs.

Splatters and hole however, will never meet Rockstar’s teachers.

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Dear Rockstar, This One’s About Career Choices

Dear Rockstar,

Mummy writes this so when you grow up and are faced with career choices, you will have something to read. If you ever consider investment banking despite, or perhaps because of your father’s reservations, realize that even if you reach the pinnacle of the industry and get hired by Goldman Sachs, that cream of the banking crop, Mummy remembers staying up very late one night watching some of their top executives get skewered live on CNN. It was right before US Senators poured lighter fluid on them and set them on fire.

A long time ago, different people were burned at the stake – they were called witches. Not all the people who were burned really were witches, and they said so. But people would burn them anyway because people were looking for someone to burn.

Even in a non-election year, you will get blamed not just for the financial crisis in particular, but the failings of the world in general. Job losses in farming states. Somehow, people will find a way to make global warming your fault. Long ago, this happened to witches too. Only, back then they got burned for bad weather. Then again today, it’s almost fashionable to be a witch. Except now people call them Wiccans. Maybe Banking will go by another name by the time you are old enough to read this. Maybe one day it will all be called Barings.

As you work on “ABC”, remember that when you reach “CDO”, run. Not because these three letters are bad. Run because if you are standing anywhere near them, people will think you are bad.

The knives Jie-jie uses to prepare dinner are not bad. A knife used to rob another person is not bad (the person who used it for this purpose is). If you give a monkey a knife, well, don’t expect it to whip up breakfast in bed. The problem is, it has not been that easy to tell monkeys from men. They both wear suits and can be trained to use Bloomberg. Because of the naughty things monkeys have done, people who invest are too afraid of the monkeys to give the men a chance. This means even if you are a good man (and Mummy will be so proud if you grow to be one of the few), you will have to work extra hard to convince investors you are not a monkey. And some people will never believe you.

Sorry, darling. Mummy did not want a relevant picture for this post badly enough to give you a knife. Knives are not for little children. Or monkeys.

Mummy does not know much about lawyers, but it seems they have a future. This is because many investment bankers will need them.

Sincerely,

Mummy

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Education in Hong Kong

“Worms fly,” my son declares.

“Because birds eat them.”

It’s a reminder for us to indulge our imagination with every possible flight. And I don’t want Rockstar’s imagination educated right out of him either.

When we learn all the schools have decided we should know, all the facts we have been told to accept, who then writes the extraordinary dissent? The one-man opinion that is before its time, but one day provides someone with the spark necessary to make something great?

It’s a gripping story, to be sure

Real page-turner

Doc Chan, his regular pediatrician, once said to us at a well-baby checkup, “As a parent, your biggest responsibility will be to develop his mind. His brain. And if you don’t have anyone who can do this for you while you’re at work then well, you’re just going to have to do it yourself.”

Dot-dot-dash

It’s why I keep going back to Dr Leo Chan’s clinic despite Rockstar hating him and his nurses with the force of a thousand suns. The good doctor doesn’t give two hoots how I feel. His responsibility is to tell me the best thing for my son, even if GlaMum’s feelings are dragged thru a paper shredder.

“Surely you don’t work for 24 hours.” Sigh. But no, I don’t.

Rockstar had 2 interviews sometime back. One was with the Canadian International School, the other English School Foundation. Would’ve had more, but Rockstar’s birthday misses some cutoffs (ie he’s too young, even for the evaluation). We’re still coming to grips with planning an education for Rockstar based on all the choices in HK – we’re both products of a public Malaysian (and later Singaporean) education system, along with like, 95% of Malaysian kids in our day. Basically, we went to public school. None of this private school interview stuff. But every parent wants the best for their child and we badly wanted to ace the Canadian IS interview – we’d read all about their state-of-the-art facilities, teachers, academic excellence.

Apparently in Hong Kong some toddlers get school interview tuition – tuition specifically to ace the evaluation interview, and some pre-school classes prepare them to better handle evaluations by mimicking exactly the order in which they’re evaluated (15mins free play followed by songs, followed by introducing themselves, followed by books – I’m told that’s Baby Buddies which focuses on kids going to Victoria School).

Pre-school at Christmas

He made reindeer antlers

I don’t understand. Why would anyone want to get into a school system that bases its evaluation of young minds on how well they memorize answers to set questions/ don’t wig out? I thought schools were supposed to well, look for the mind at work. And decide if that mind could best be developed with what they had to offer. But we were caught up in the tide. We wanted our kid to ace every damn interview there was and then some. We wanted the school authorities to be astounded at how gifted our child was <appropriate fanfare music>. We wanted every other parent’s jaw to drop at how far ahead our rockstar was. Every parent does sizing up of other kids to some extent – it’s why Rockstar gets so many “how old is he?” remarks, being way small for his age.

We flunked the Canadian IS interview spectacularly. I was proud. I say “we” not “Rockstar” because I’m pretty sure Kings and I flunked as parents too. “None of that riff raff coming in <cue Canadian national anthem>, we have to look out for our own.” I’m just saying. We never had a chance to meet the teachers, only the admin staff, actually.

While we were in the holding room, the staff made a loud announcement over the public address system for the 5 or so toddlers left waiting to be evaluated (no, I’m not kidding – the room had emptied out and in the quiet of the last batch waiting to be told where to go for evaluation, the announcement must have sounded deafening to Rockstar.) It was something along the lines of parents must leave their children alone for evaluation.

Rockstar wigged out. WHY did his parents have to leave him alone there? WHAT were they going to do to him? He wouldn’t let us leave. So we all had to. Together.

Wouldn’t move from the table til he completed every single jigsaw. Twice.

English School Foundation’s was actually the first interview we had ever been to. We hadn’t heard much (no glowing recommendations) beyond a general consensus that their Putonghua program was limited, compared to other schools (but Rockstar has had Putonghua speakers hanging out with him and more recently a Putonghua tutor he loves for pretty much as long as he can remember). With government subsidies, ESF was the cheapest (bar local schools which aren’t an option since Cantonese is a distant 3rd language for Rockstar), and were set up to ensure every non-Hongkie would have access to English education.

ESF was absolutely nowhere on our list of Schools to Educate Rockstar. They were our practice interview.

ESF is where Rockstar will be starting school as the youngest for his intake, late August this year.

I remember only one thing about the briefing: “Regardless whether your child is selected for this intake, we do not want the evaluation process to be a negative experience on your child.”

Rockstar aced the interview. In fact, we left him there – he’d forgotten about us as he knocked the ball out of the park.

The "best" facilities and teachers in the world are meaningless if they don’t bring out the best in your child.

I don’t want someone to tell Rockstar worms don’t fly. I want them to work with why he says they can.

“Worms fly,” my son declares.

“Because birds eat them.”

It’s a reminder for us to indulge our imagination with every possible flight. And I don’t want Ryan’s imagination educated right out of him either.

When we learn all the schools have decided we should know, all the facts we have been told to accept, who then writes the extraordinary dissent? The one-man opinion that is before its time, but one day provides someone with the spark necessary to make something great?

It’s a gripping story, to be sure

Real page-turner

Doc Chan, his regular pediatrician, once said to us at a well-baby checkup, “As a parent, your biggest responsibility will be to develop his mind. His brain. And if you don’t have anyone who can do this for you while you’re at work then well, you’re just going to have to do it yourself.”

Dot-dot-dash

It’s why I keep going back to Dr Leo Chan’s clinic despite Ryan hating him and his nurses with the force of a thousand suns. The good doctor doesn’t give two hoots how I feel. His responsibility is to tell me the best thing for my son, even if GlaMum’s feelings are dragged thru a paper shredder.

“Surely you don’t work for 24 hours.” Sigh. But no, I don’t.

Ryan had 2 interviews sometime back. One was with the Canadian International School, the other English School Foundation. Would’ve had more, but Ryan’s birthday misses some cutoffs (ie he’s too young, even for the evaluation). We’re still coming to grips with planning an education for Ryan based on all the choices in HK – we’re both products of a public Malaysian (and later Singaporean) education system, along with like, 95% of Malaysian kids in our day. Basically, we went to public school. None of this private school interview stuff. But every parent wants the best for their child and we badly wanted to ace the Canadian IS interview – we’d read all about their state-of-the-art facilities, teachers, academic excellence.

Apparently in Hong Kong some toddlers get school interview tuition – tuition specifically to ace the evaluation interview, and some pre-school classes prepare them to better handle evaluations by mimicking exactly the order in which they’re evaluated (15mins free play followed by songs, followed by introducing themselves, followed by books – I’m told that’s Baby Buddies which focuses on kids going to Victoria School).

Pre-school at Christmas

He made reindeer antlers

I don’t understand. Why would anyone want to get into a school system that bases its evaluation of young minds on how well they memorize answers to set questions/ don’t wig out? I thought schools were supposed to well, look for the mind at work. And decide if that mind could best be developed with what they had to offer. But we were caught up in the tide. We wanted our kid to ace every damn interview there was and then some. We wanted the school authorities to be astounded at how gifted our child was <appropriate fanfare music>. We wanted every other parent’s jaw to drop at how far ahead our rockstar was. Every parent does sizing up of other kids to some extent – it’s why Ryan gets so many “how old is he?” remarks, being way small for his age.

We flunked the Canadian IS interview spectacularly. I was proud. I say “we” not “Ryan” because I’m pretty sure Kings and I flunked as parents too. “None of that riff raff coming in <cue Canadian national anthem>, we have to look out for our own.” I’m just saying. We never had a chance to meet the teachers, only the admin staff, actually.

While we were in the holding room, the staff made a loud announcement over the public address system for the 5 or so toddlers left waiting to be evaluated (no, I’m not kidding – the room had emptied out and in the quiet of the last batch waiting to be told where to go for evaluation, the announcement must have sounded deafening to Ryan.) It was something along the lines of parents must leave their children alone for evaluation.

Ryan wigged out. WHY did his parents have to leave him alone there? WHAT were they going to do to him? He wouldn’t let us leave. So we all had to. Together.

Wouldn’t move from the table til he completed every single jigsaw. Twice.

English School Foundation’s was actually the first interview we had ever been to. We hadn’t heard much (no glowing recommendations) beyond a general consensus that their Putonghua program was limited, compared to other schools (but Ryan has had Putonghua speakers hanging out with him and more recently a Putonghua tutor he loves for pretty much as long as he can remember). With government subsidies, ESF was the cheapest (bar local schools which aren’t an option since Cantonese is a distant 3rd language for Ryan), and were set up to ensure every non-Hongkie would have access to English education.

Made a Catamaran last night. (Fine, Daddy made it and I helped.) Learned the word Catamaran last night.

ESF was absolutely nowhere on our list of Schools to Educate Rockstar. They were our practice interview.

ESF is where Ryan will be starting school as the youngest for his intake, late August this year.

I remember only one thing about the briefing: “Regardless whether your child is selected for this intake, we do not want the evaluation process to be a negative experience on your child.”

Ryan aced the interview. In fact, we left him there – he’d forgotten about us as he knocked the ball out of the park.

The best facilities and teachers in the world are meaningless if they don’t bring out the best in your child.

I don’t want someone to tell Ryan worms don’t fly. I want them to work with why he says they can.

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