Monday, March 08, 2010

The Lord's Prayer: Owain's version:
“…give us today our deadly breath,
Forgive us our sins…”

“…pray for us enough, now and at the hour of our death, amen.” (The Hail Mary according to Owain)

“…as it was in the beginning and now it shall be, world without men, amen.” (The Glory Be)

“I will continue, O my God to do all the actions for the love of you.” Er, what actions?

Yes, all these gems came from Owain. I cracked up especially at the 'deadly breath'! He was proudly reciting all the prayers he had learned in school and rattling them off like he was catching a train. And I was trying to keep a straight face. He was so proud of being able to say all his prayers.

What a contrast this was to what happened a week ago.

The other day he called me sobbing and crying over the phone. The fellow was panicking over not knowing his Chinese hanyu pinyin spelling. He had procrastinated over the weekend, dawdled until it was too late to get any help in terms of the pronunciation, the tonal sounds etc. So on the phone that day, he sobbed hysterically - I could not get a word in edgewise and in any case, he was not really listening, just busy sobbing.

I told him to calm down and take deep breaths so that he could hear what I was saying and how I could help him. I tried to tell him that all was not lost - that he knew the tones enough and as long as he knew how to match those with the consonants and vowels, he would be fine. I also tried reminding him how I had gone through spelling with him the week before, testing him on unfamiliar words and he had no problem matching the tones with the vowels etc. But he was having none of that and working himself into a real cry-fest.

Nothing was getting through but I kept my cool and my sympathy remained intact until he said: "Its your fault. YOU knew I needed help and YOU didn't ask me to study!"

Wow that really made me see red.

When will he begin to learn that he has to take responsibility for his own learning? I read him a stern lecture, reminding him that I did tell him to revise over the weekend and even the night before, but it had fallen on deaf ears. He had chosen to ignore what I said and now he would pay the price. It was nobody's fault but his. I was really angry and did not realise I was getting louder and louder.

By the end of the phonecall, I realised that my whole office had fallen silent. Working in an open-concept office just meant everyone was privy to all the goss that would go around, and eavesdropping is not intentional but a given. Some gave me sympathetic looks and quite a few said, "Oh he's so young, be less hard on him!"

But I stuck to my guns: he needed to learn and he might as well learn, starting now that he would get no sympathy from me if he was not more responsible for his work. My colleagues clucked and said I was too strict and too hard on Owain.

By the day's end, they again reminded me as we said our goodbyes for the day: don't be so hard, use a softer tone, be more forgiving, etc. Truth be told, I was already reflecting if I could have done it in a different way. Yes, the message needed to get across, but perhaps it could have been more gently put. I felt sad too, over the phone, even as I spoke so harshly, that he was afraid and sobbing away and I did not offer any comfort. My anger had once again over-ridden my better instinct as a mother. More than that, I was sad that he had to learn this hard lesson right now - that he would not do well in this test. What would that do to his sense of confidence? And being so strong and distant in my anger that morning surely could not have helped him learn. So I was feeling regretful enough to be especially loving, resolving to comfort him for getting 0 upon 8.I was ready to reassure him that it was okay, he could try again and this time, we would do it together.

But then back home, he breezed through the door, saying slyly, eyes downcast: "I got zero upon eight! I'm sure you won't want to sign my paper!" Then he waved it at me and shouted gleefully: "Tricked you! 8 upon 8! Hahaha! Wahooo!"

I glared at him but was still quite pleased. I reminded him that he had done it all by himself, he hadn't needed my help after all, and he obviously knew his work enough to mix and match the sounds of hanyu pinyin despite not studying for it. That is what hanyu pinyin is about after all - not memorising the words for spelling, but being familiar enough with the tones and letter sounds to combine them successfully. It felt good to be responsible for his success on his own terms.

His perfectionist behaviour in P1 reminded me of Cait's early days in P1 too. The same desire for perfection, and the angst and anxiety when he might not achieve that. In certain ways, he is still very playful, still likes to suss out the better deal, the shorter route etc. But he has had a taste of good grades and success and he obviously likes it. For now at least, he seems more driven to achieve this.


Anonymous said...

Hi patricia,
Our "daily bread" became "deadly breath" in that prayer!
When will kids learnt to take responsibility for their own learning?


mummyof3 said...

i love the "deadly breath" lol! what a hoot!

re: losing your cool over the phone. don't be so hard on yourself. to a certain extent, he needed it. i so agree tt he HAS to take responsibility for his own learning, and what better time for him to learn tt than now when the stakes are still low - it's only a weekly spelling test. yes, the message cld probably have been got across more calmly, but sigh, i'd prob have hit the roof faster than you did, if i were in your shoes.

and i also have a boy who's yet to learn to take responsibility for himself so i see myself doing the same thing you did for a while yet. on the weeks when i revise with him he gets good scores, when i forget he gets 1 or 2 upon 6. and it's not just school work, he still needs lots of prodding abt daily routines. sigh.

but it's good tt O got tt perfect score - what a great confidence boost! well done O!

Anonymous said...

".. world without men, amen!" I laughed so hard. This is priceless!