Jul 17, 2012

Tales of 'Baby Duck.'

The little boy I tutor has a silly sense of humor. 

After we read the, "Ugly Duckling," last week he resorted to calling me Ugly Duckling. It came out like this, "Go away, Ugly Duckling, want play ipad." Which, if you speak "ESL kid" you would know means, "Go away, I want to play with my ipad instead of hang out with your ugly face." 

Yesterday when I walked into the house after our weekend break he called out, "Hello, Baby Duck." 

Today I was commanded, "Jackie Chan, read book!" 

So I guess that is the progression of life: ugly duckling -> baby duck -> Jackie Chan. Makes sense to me. And as long as the mom keeps wiring money to my bank account, I don't care what the kid calls me. 

Speaking of the mom. I haven't seen her since our first day of class last Monday. With this job I am being given a window into the super rich Chin.ese. I've heard about this world second hand, but never seen it with my own eyes, and boy is it interesting. 

The Fillipino nanny and I chat after class. I feel like she needs a sounding board since she knows no one in town and is stuck in the house raising these kids all day every day. Through these talks she tells me of her world. What amazing stories hidden in this women and this place.

She is 33 and divorced and 6 months into a 2 year contract with the fam. She was hired in Hong Kong (where the kids will go to school) because Ch.ina does not allow foreign nannies to get visas. I did some googling and found that there are over 140,000 Fillipino nannies in HK and the average salary is under 400USD a month. (4000HKD). 

She tells me about the family and from what she doesn't tell me, I observe myself. The parents are married, but live seperately (normal in Chi.na). The dad has a go-kart factory in another city of the province and goes to visit the kids once a month in HK. When he is there, he stays in a hotel not with the mom and just takes the kids to lunch. They are a marriage of contract, meaning they give each other "face" and can continue their businesses seperately. 

The 2.5 year old daughter was born in HK (illegal crossing of the border as a pregnant woman in order to have a baby in HK - this is big business here in Mainland among hte rich people), therefore she is a HK citizen and the family can obtain visas because of the 2 year old's status. I asked the boy if his grandpa visits him in HK and he said, "No, he has no visa." 

Today Eason was telling me how many classes he takes a summer. There is no "summer camp" like we know it in the West, just classes. Art, swimming, English, Japanese. Tutors from all over the world. Eason's last English tutor was from Norway. The one before that was Singaporean. I am the first American tutor (which I think is why his accent is funky sometimes). I asked Eason who drives him to his classes and he replied, "the driver." The man I initially thought was the dad is actually the live-in driver. 

I'm not saying this way of life is wrong, it is just so different than my own ideas of how a family should work together as a unit. I also don't believe that money takes the place of love or care. There is nothing wrong with being rich, but kids deserve present parents. What good is it for a kid to have an ipad if no one reads him a book at night and tucks him in? It is also a bird's eye view of the intense pressure that a value-less society places on children of parents whose God is money and success. Materialism looks different here. 

Interesting stuff for a Baby Duck to be observing. 

two little ducks

Besides tutoring, I have found a happy place! The pool with lane lines! I can't believe a pool has been so close to me for so long and I am just discovering it!

There's a pool in there! 

Yemi and I went together on Sunday (felt good to swim/meditate after the news of Amanda's passing - water is so healing). And today I went after tutoring - had the taxi driver take me straight there! 

The thing about swimming in Chi.na in lap lanes is that the Chin.ese swim the same way they walk on the streets, bike, do business, etc....it's orderless. There are 5-7 people in each lane and people stop in the middle of the lane, try to teach their kids in the lane, don't let people go in front of them who are faster, stop before the end of the lane, etc. As a former swimmer, I was taken aback at first by the disorder, then learned to swim around it once I put 2 and 2 together that of course people who can't stand in line at Walmart would not know proper swim lane etiquette. (ok, rant over). 

I kept thinking to myself that the old swimmers at the YMCA would be pissed. haha. 

Besides dodging people, swimming feels fabulous. The way the pool works, you pay about $2.50 for an hour and a half time slot. After every time slot, everyone is kicked out of the pool and a new rush of paying customers come in. After work I make the 12-1:30pm slot. When everyone is kicked out of the pool the real fun begins - the showers. 

It's just a big room with shower heads and the natives get naked, then form lines behind shower heads. So you wait, naked, in line while the person in front of you showers - about a foot away from you. Today, without Yemi's support, I was slow to join the herd, but alas I found myself butt naked being bumped into by hairy, old Chi.nese women and thinking to myself, "Dear God my book better be a best seller if I have stories like this one." It's really fun to be showering yourself communally and hear a little kid go, "Mom, look at the foreigner!" I had the momentary conundrum of not knowing which side to give them to look at - my cottage cheese ass or my 36 D's. Tough decision. Bless us all. (and you for reading this). 

Regardless of pool etiquette and shower experiences, having a place to swim is awesome. I told myself I can go 2x a week. Since I already have a gym membership, I don't want to spend a lot more money on working out, but swimming will be included in the "fun" category of my spending. Three cheers for the pool! 

And since you just read about my personal judgements of the rich and my shower experiences, have a good laugh, you need it. My friend sent me this pic from Walmart...

Three cheers for translation. 

pork butt. 

Catch ya later, baby ducks. 

walk slow. xoxo. 

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