After having spent an entire semester pursuing a formal education, I asked Truett what’s the best part about Primary School and he practically yelled “SCHOOL HOLIDAYS!!”
Nice. His favourite part about school is not being in it.
Was I really expecting a different answer though? Because I’m not even going to pretend like it wasn’t also my favourite part about school when I was a kid. But I thought maybe I should play my responsible mom card and try to inject some level of enthusiasm into the other parts of his school-going experience, particularly the parts where he’s actually in it. So I went with a leading question and asked him about his favourite subjects. Hopefully there are some that he actually enjoys.
“PE! I get to play with my friends during PE, you know? PE is the best.”
“Good choice. Yeah PE is really fun. Um, how about your next favourite?”
He thought for a while. Either he had too many favourites or none at all. Probably the second one.
“English is also quite fun.” he said, after a considerable pause.
“English! Phew! That’s my favourite too! Why do you like English?”
“I always get 10/10 for my spelling and my teacher will give me a smiley face sticker.”
This wasn’t always the case. The first couple of times he had spelling, he came home with 4/10. Then it got worse. 3/10. I’d try to teach him the words and he would tell me about how much his head hurt, or he was so bored, or that he needed to poop. Practising spelling or 听写 always magically made him want to poop. On the bright side, he didn’t have to worry about constipation during those first few weeks of school.
Then one spelling day, he came home with 10/10. From that point on, it seemed like everything changed. He started getting full marks every week and he would rush home to show Kirsten his happy emoticon sticker.
Spelling practice didn’t make him want to poop anymore. He actually WANTED to learn! He would spend his afternoons writing the words over and over again in his little practice book and even when I had to take a timeout to feed Theo, he’d get Kirsten to test him on the words until he nailed every single one of them. Suddenly, he wasn’t tripping over bark or tea like he used to. He was spelling fire-engine and vintage car like a pro.
“Helicopter? So easy.” were his exact words. Now can be so hao lian.
What changed? I’m not really sure. I’m guessing it’s both confidence and the satisfaction that comes from knowing that he’s good at something. When he was convinced that he couldn’t do it, spelling practice seemed as painful as eating glass shards. But once he started getting good at it, spelling became like a super fun piece of cake.
“Hey Tru, how about Chinese? 听写 can be quite fun too, right?” I asked, perhaps a little too enthusiastically.
“Hahahahahahahha good one, mom. Chinese is not even a little bit fun. Chinese is zero fun.”
Well, that was worth a shot.