Being Dad

Being a father is fraught with danger…

The Empire Strikes Back March 25, 2013

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 8:50 am
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Here’s an intriguing problem.

My daughter, courtesy of my wife, is bi-lingual. She speaks French and English fluently. Being bi-lingual is not uncommon in Hong Kong, where a large percentage of children speak 2, or even 3 languages. But this is not about that, I just like to throw that in to simply boast about my little girl and my amazing wife, this is about Missy in tears on the way to school recently.

I was walking along with her, and we were chatting away. Important things occupied us that day, such as – how come ice melts in the sun? And why aren’t buses painted pink? In short, the big issues.

Suddenly, Missy gets a little teary, so I picked her up as we walked along. “What’s the matter, my princess?” I enquired, giving her a reassuring cuddle.

“I don’t want to go to a French school.”

“Really?” I was a bit perplexed, as she adores her teacher and usually loves going.

“Why not?”

“I want to speak Japanese”.

OK… so… where did that come from??

We don’t have any Japanese friends. Sure, we’ve been to Japan, but Missy was a one-year-old and could barely speak any language then. So what prompted her suddenly wanting to ‘speak’ Japanese?

Who knows how little minds work? She was convinced a while ago that apples might kill her, or so it seamed. Then one day, she calmly picked up a slice, and away she went. We had a tantrum last week – because her dress didn’t “twirl” sufficiently when she spun around. “I’m not like a princess”, she wailed. You got that right, girl.

Later, my wife and I had a chat about her sudden yearning to embrace all that is Nippon, you know the conversations you have: realizing this is a serious concern for a 3.5 year-old, but unable to discuss it without hysterical laughter. Japanese?!? We think it might stem from her favourite boy at school; a pleasant little chap whose mother is Korean. Possibly, Missy had just confused the language when this lady talks to her son before class.

But be that as it may, that morning, poor old single-lingual dad (despite the best efforts of my French teacher) had to reach deep down to find a Japanese word to placate Missy.

“Kon-ichi-wa” I pronounced poorly, but proudly. “I think it means hello”.

The crisis was averted. We got to school.

“Bonjour Missy”, her teacher said as we walked in.

“Konichiwa”, came the solemn reply. Missy’s teacher looked at me; I shrugged.

“C’est la vie”.


Parent/Teacher/Bragging time November 12, 2012

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 6:21 pm
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My wife and I had our first parent / teacher meeting recently. I have to admit; it was kind of strange for a number of reasons.

Firstly, Missy is three, so seriously, what were we there to talk about?

Your daughter is progressing nicely, she is quite the finger painter. I do, however, think her “row-row-row the boat” singing has room for improvement”.

Second, Missy goes to a French speaking school. That’s perfect for her, as she speaks French. Of course, her teacher speaks English, but still, there is a language gap between her and me.

Misseee, is une très extraordinaire student”. Well to be honest, the teacher’s English is excellent – as opposed to my French, (despite my wife and daughter being fluent), which is abysmal. I am taking lessons though. Well, I have done one so far; so unless the teacher simply wanted to ask my name (Je m’appelle Tim), we had little choice but to speak in English.

But go we did, to our first meeting to discuss my daughter’s progress in life. We arrived at her kindergarten, and as Missy wandered off to play, we were welcomed into her classroom. The teacher kindly waved us to our seats so we could begin the meeting.  Now remember, Missy is three, so our “seats” are Lilliputian.  And there I sat – the Father of Missy – knees up around my ears on a minuscule, yellow, plastic chair.

Pleasingly, it was almost all happy news. Missy had not yet displayed any homicidal tendencies; her French and English were both advanced for her age, and she is a “delight” to have in class. OK, this was terrific stuff. Just the kind of thing parents love to casually drop into conversations with other parents:

Oh, Missy is going OK, I suppose. Her teacher is quite pleased. She can sing the French national anthem in German while solving quadratic equations in Latin. Her reading of ancient Greek seems to be a bit slow, but all in all, we are OK with that. How is your little one going?”

Oh the endless bragging potential this teacher was giving me. True, you have to try and say it to other parents as if you’re not bragging, but we all know the truth.

The problem, of course, is there is always going to be something that is not quite as you hoped. The “dark secret” of underperformance is always lurking, somewhere. That’s when the other parent strikes:

Oh how wonderful! You must be so proud. And tell me, how is Missy going with her scooter? Still riding it like a drunken monkey? I see without her helmet she would be spending most days in the hospital accident and emergency”.

And then the knife twists:

Of course, little Alexander is OK, I suppose. We don’t like it, but he insists on riding his scooter while doing a one-arm handstand. It’s quite annoying, but what can you do? It’s either that or he makes such a racket singing the Ethiopian Princess role from Aida. He is quite the three year old opera singer, really”.


But really, what’s wrong with being proud of your children? I truly believe Missy is the best little girl on earth, other parents think their little ones are the best, and we are all right.

So teacher time ends with a quiet word; “Missy does have a tendency to be a bit bossy, nothing serious, but she likes to try and organize the class.”

No, Madame teacher, it can’t be! MY little girl is perfect! Do you know she speaks French…?


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