When the two older boys were in primary school, I attended their parent-teachers meeting at NYPS once for each boy. I remembered waiting for hours just to hear the teachers complaint that they were playful and talkative in class. Ivan’s primary-six form teacher had high hopes for him, and told me that only Ivan can help himself if he wanted to, and for me to concentrate on 5-year-old Aaron, who was with us then. Ivan must want to do well for himself, and he knows he can if he wanted to, her gaze on Ivan while she said that.
After that, I decided not to attend any more primary school teachers’ meeting. I knew roughly what I’d hear, based on past experiences. True enough, Aaron’s teacher’s emails to me said pretty much the same thing. However, I decided to attend this year for I had received a few complaints from his teachers and I wanted to show Aaron that his parents and teachers are working together.
Aaron has a very laid back attitude towards life, an easy going demeanour that is found in rich Chinese towkay 大老板, in Teochew, we call Ah Sia. He makes himself comfortable and relax even when he is working. When I’m teaching him, his elbows would be drapped at the back of his chair, one foot resting on another knee, his chin lifted while he listens to what I’m saying. During Chinese tuition, one stretched leg would be resting on another chair. When he is playing piano, his foot would come up too, either to rest on the knee, or on the bench. I have to remind him countless times to sit properly and put both foot on the floor and both arms on the table. I wonder if he has a medical condition.
At yesterday’s meeting, Mike and I faced five teachers sitting in a row – SS, English, Science, Maths and Chinese. The form teacher, Mr Weng, who is also the Maths teacher started by saying diplomatically that Aaron is playful and he is unaware that he is being disruptive in class. The other teachers nodded in agreement. He can switch on and off effortlessly. Just when you think he is not paying attention, he can put up his hand and give you the correct answer. Mr Weng also took pains to explan the pink slip given to Aaron for a minor offence he commited, which Mr Weng had telephoned Mike about. Chinese Teacher Mdm Tay commented that Aaron has improved and gained confidence in class and assured me not to worry about the email correspondance about signing his 听写.
We asked if he had been moved to the front of the class as requested. They shook their head and explained why. Aaron needs his space, a big space, when he works. He sits like he is the boss in class, his arms and legs stretch out, very relax – so relax that he sprawls on the ceramic tiled floor to do his writing, or lie down on the floor to read. In the middle of lesson, he’d move his chair to the empty space at the back of the class, right under the whirling ceiling fan, oblivious of the teacher in front.
His Chinese teacher asked, 为什么在趴地板上? and he told her 舒服.
Mike and I are speechless 哑口无言. We tried to explain his skin problem and the teachers nodded in understanding – that’s why they told him he should stay clean and not lie on the floor. Mr Weng also requested my help to ensure that Aaron completes his projects on time. He had a hard time thinking about his project. He told me he had to think about it, but when I asked him a few weeks later, he said he was still thinking. So I had to propose a project for him.
I left the meeting, burdened with the tasks of helping Aaron complete three projects that I believe he has yet to begin. I remind myself, behind every successful man or towkey is a woman, and in Aaron’s case – his mother.