Posts Tagged 'Leo'

Got to love them

After all, who doesn’t love kids?

Rosie is getting bigger and sweeter every day.


Leo loves his new bicycle!


Getting schooled

Every parent must dread the point in their lives when their children start to outpace them in some way. Maybe in an athletic sport, or in an understanding of some new technology. JM remembers setting up the VCR for his parents as a teenager, because he was the only one who understood where all the cables went in and out.

For us, this moment has already arrived with our three year old.

Sometimes we speak Chinese to him at home, just to reinforce the language he spends the rest of the time speaking outside. But at this point, he’s started being the one to reinforce OUR Chinese.

JM in Chinese: "Leo, don’t eat too much candy. Your stomach will pain."

Leo in Chinese right back: "My stomach will hurt."

How does it feel to know that you have to watch what you say to your own three year old, lest you be corrected? We now know how it feels. Ouch.

They start early

Our three year old goes to a Chinese kindergarten. What does he do there besides play, have snack time, sing songs, and take potty breaks? From the small smattering of materials he comes home with and short glimpses in the classroom, it seems he does considerably more. Botany lessons from growing seeds, counting exercises, socialization lessons from videos telling you not to bully other kids, and consistent partnering with ‘older brother’ from the higher class level (without siblings at home, you make do as best you can).

Doubtless there’s a lot more than even this. What’s great is Leo really enjoys it. We got him into a pretty selective kindergarten here in town. And let us tell you, if your three year old isn’t in a selective kindergarten, *tsk-tsk*, good luck with his entire future.

The funny thing today, though, is the flyer that came home from school with him. Chinese New Year affords a whole three weeks vacation for the students in January. A nice break, right? No! Wasted time! They’re offering a ‘winter school’ program for nine days of that vacation, for an additional fee.

This is classic Chinese educational culture. There’s very little in the way of free, unstructured time. If your kids aren’t busy with extra classes after school or on the weekends, you run the danger of falling behind. Good luck competing with all those other motivated students (i.e.- parents). China’s economy may be faring well, but the job market is just as fierce here as anywhere else in the world right now. Three years old is not too soon to start grooming for the realities of life ahead, in other words.

So will we send Leo to winter school? Umm.. probably not!

Just stop!

Where do they learn to do this??

OK! It’s yours! Whatever you want! We can’t resist! Just stop torturing us!


All hail!


You know something is a little strange when your two year old’s first choice for a bedtime story is Mao Tsedong’s Little Red Book of sayings.

Better have that chat with his nanny again.

Picture of summer

Summer in the U.S. that is:

Taking a leap

Kicked out of Kindergarten?

Leo came home with his Ayi one morning, happily spouting 21 month old nonsensical jargon (which everyone here assumes is English) as usual. Cheng Ayi, however, had a less carefree attitude about her. She had begun in recent months to bring Leo to a local kindergarten to play with the children on their recess. They happen to have a nice playground with slides and swings and jungle gyms (a hard thing to find here), which Leo loves. I had always heard fun stories of their time at the kindergarten, but today was the last day Leo would play there.

Cheng Ayi sheepishly told me that Leo had been asked not to come back. I was slightly dumbfounded, wondering what naughty thing my 21 month old could have done to get kicked out of kindergarten. She explained that Leo was simply "too intense" for the teachers and administrators. I asked what that meant. She told me that Leo was able to climb around the jungle gym and slide down the slides all by himself, and this was very unusual for such a little boy in China. The teachers all were too nervous to continue allowing him to play there. They were also incredulous that such a little boy was able to do these things by himself already.

I had to agree that Leo is unusual for his age here in China. Most children his age are always in the hand of a parent, and have little opportunity to walk or run by themselves. I have been surprised how many times random strangers have come up to me to tell me my son is in mortal danger because he is climbing a set of stairs without my direct help (or touching something on the ground, or jumping up and down, etc). As an American, I tend to encourage Leo to explore and do his own thing while playing, and offer much less overt direction. Of course Chinese children learn to do things on their own too (and very well, I might add!), but on a different timetable, and with differing customs.

Well, Ayi and I were sad that Leo got kicked out of kindergarten, but we both admitted that we harbored some pride at this ‘distinction’!

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June 2018
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