Growing Up!

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Hey Boy, I Love Your Attitude!

1

 

This is the 3rd and the final series of the episodes of the motor vehicles accidents by my two sons.  You can read the 2 earlier series here:

8a. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

8b. Don’t Ask Permission Ask Forgiveness.

When Cal (second son) left for New York City to do his bachelor degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Kawasaki Scramble Motorbike was naturally inherited by his younger brother, Wil.  Other hands-me-down paraphernalia for riding a motorbike also included two loose-fitting Crash Helmet, a bomber jacket and leather hand gloves.

Cal and Wil were very closed knit brothers.  Though they were two and half years apart, they were almost like two peas in a pod, often inseparable and often doing the same activities together.  To the dismay of their Tiger Mom, they would take punishment from her together when they transgressed and refused to pinpoint each other (or rat on each other as we used to say).  Often their Hero Dad was also in the fray to blunt off the wrath of Tiger Mom for when she meted out punishment with a rattan cane, it was not the pain inflicted by the cane that mattered but the shame of the reddish welt marks left on their leg calves for days that they were afraid of.

Anyway, Cal had been teaching Wil all the necessary trade craft of riding a bike safely.  Cal would tell Wil that motorbike accidents were not really fatal unless you crashed directly into a column of concrete at 80mph.  Cal often reminded Wil that whenever you met an accident you must always have the presence of mind to roll to the side road as the immediate clear and present danger were on-coming traffic that could not avoid the fallen motorist.  Or if you were flipped up in a motor vehicle crash, you must try to use your shoulder to break and land the fall, rather than your head even though you may be wearing a crash helmet.

 

I often suspected that Cal did not go the whole nine yards.  Cal was a sort of ‘mechanic’, who had a keen interest in motor vehicles and could dismantle his motorbike and assembled it back.  Whereas Wil had no interest in all these mechanical handlings, all Wil wanted to do was to count his monies in his piggy bank every night.  So if Cal had been doing some wheelies, stoppies, or drag racing stunts, he had cleverly left it out of his agenda in teaching Wil the 101 motorbike survival kit.

Wil was scheduled to leave for New York City that evening of November 30 to do his Graduate Gemologist at the Gemological Institute of America when in the morning he crashed his motorbike onto a car running a red traffic light.

I received a call that morning from Wil’s mobile but the voice belonged to somebody.  I knew it was a bad and ominous call.

I rushed to the accident scene immediately.  Wil was lying down onto the side pavement.  His crash helmet was off and obviously he was in great pain.  But he was still conscious.   I exchanged information with the car driver who apologized profusely, short of admitting that he jumped the red light.  This was no time to argue who was right or wrong, the priority was to get Wil to hospital for immediate medical attention.  After collecting all the small items, I asked some passerby to push the bike to the side road and drove straight to the hospital.

Wil was immediately admitted to the ICU Casualty Ward in the local hospital.  I sat down on the metal bench to recollect my thoughts as I awaited the surgeon to give me an appraisal of the situation.  It was not a life threatening situation but Wil must be operated immediately.  It may take as long as 8 hours in the Operating Theatre.  Yes, please do whatever is necessary, I told the doctor.   I signed every form the nurse thrusted upon me.

Then I began to make phone calls to deliver the bad news.

I called Cal in NYC.  I knew that he was near hysterical but he maintained his composure and asked that the best doctor be available to Wil.  I told him that it was not life threatening but his right arm may be very bad.  Wil also told me that he remembered his brother’s lesson to land on his shoulder if ever he flipped up in an accident.  Cal called me every hour to check on his brother’s progress in the OT.

Next I called my mother and informed her that her grandson had an accident.  She was always my pillar of strength in times of tragedy, trouble and stress.  No worries I said, Wil would live.

Next I called up My Excellency.  She rushed to the hospital right away.  Her face was pale with fright, I hugged her and said that it was not life threatening.  Wil was in the OT now and all we could do was to pray that the operation went well.

My Excellency was mumbling unintelligibly some prayers, probably pleading in supplication for the Lord’s grace and mercy to see Wil through.  It was also fortunate that she did not say anything about the safety of riding a motorbike at this time, of which she so vehemently opposed in the past, nor did she claim her last hurray.  She was just in tears and all we could do was to await the outcome of the surgery.

 

Wil’s injuries were quite extensive.  Three Kirchner wires of 8 inch length were inserted into his right shoulder so as to let the small fragments of the Scapula and Clavicle healed.  His forehead had a deep gash and he had lost quite a lot of blood.  But Wil was a bull.  He did not cry, he did not curse and he did not blame anybody.  He just kept to himself for the next few days, only occasionally talking to me or talked to his brother from NYC.

So we just deferred his admission to GIA for six months and postponed the air ticket to NYC to a latter date.

Three months later, the surgeon removed the 3 K-wires.  He asked Wil whether he wanted to take anesthetic or the doctor would just use pliers to pull them out.  Wil opted for the later and he told me that the pain was so excruciating that he almost fainted.

After the removal of the K-wires the doctor prescribed some sedatives to him.  When he awoke, I told him that the motorcycle was almost a complete wreck and there was little savage value.

“Are you going to ride a motorbike anymore?” I just could not help rubbing it in a bit.

Wil looked at me intently and remarked, “Sure Dad, me and Cal are going to get a Harvey Davidson huge bike of at least 750cc when we start to earn money.”  He closed his left fist tightly as a gesture of defiance.

My face suddenly brightened up and I pointed my right index finger at him, ”Hey boy! I love your attitude.  Never give up something because of a nasty fall.  Excellent!”

I nearly shouted into his ears and gave him a slight pat onto his right shoulders.  Oh, I forgot that he just had the K-wires removed.

He yelped with pain.

 

Don’t Ask Permission Ask Forgiveness

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Wil & Cal in Washington D.C. (File pic about 6 years ago)

When Cal (second son) was of legal age to ride a motorbike, he started badgering Tiger Mom to buy him a Kawasaki scrambler bike.  He reasoned with her that instead of taking a bus to school he would be able to ride his motorbike to school with his younger brother, Wil, as pillion rider.

 

But like a large number of concerned parents who did not wish their children to ride a motorbike as they considered it to be too exposed and dangerous, Cal was repeatedly rejected.

Tiger Mom would say. “Wait another year when you are of legal age to drive a car.  Motorbike is too dangerous and accidents are normally fatal.”

But Cal didn’t give up.  He would constantly bring up the matter when Tiger Mom was in one of her good moods.  Or he would go to her room and appeal once more.  But if the door to her room was always opened, her mind was closed.

So dejectedly Cal would see me, his Hero Dad, to blow some steam and lamented that all his friends were going round in bikes while he still had to take the school bus, what with so many girls who loved to sit beside him and asked him silly questions.  Hmm, maybe Cal was a handsome chap but really he didn’t give two hoots, and the more he didn’t bother, the more the girls loved to sit beside him.

Atta Atta Boy!

One day, Cal asked me for ideas on how to persuade Tiger Mom to give way.  He knew that I must also be supportive of him in buying a motorbike, though his great Hero Dad was only an order taker and had no capacity to make such trivial domestic decision in the family.  Crafty bugger, I may not decide but I could be a spoiler, so he must muster up allies first.  He said that it was Mom’s perception that it was dangerous to ride a motorbike.  Well, I told him that one could get killed even while crossing the road.

Now we were on the same page.

I placed the palm of my hand over my mouth and whispered to Cal conspiratory, as if I was about to impart to him some sacred knowledge of the greatest secret ever.

“Now you listen good, boy.  Don’t ask permission, you will never get it.  Just do it and ask forgiveness later.  As to how, you have to think about it.”

Cal listened attentively. He nodded his head. This was a profound statement made by Hero Dad and it set the whole machinery into motion, which later I only had to marvel at Cal’s creativity and ingenuity.

One week later when My Excellency and I came home in the evening, we saw a gleaming Kawasaki Scramble Bike parked in front of the car porch.

Gosh! Where did Cal get this bike from?

Cal was practicing his piano when we came into the dining hall.  There was a crash helmet and a bomber jacket lying neatly on the phone table.  Upon seeing us, Cal quickly stood up, greeted us and waited with bated breath the wrath of Tiger Mom which he knew would descend upon him anytime.

“Where did you get this motorbike and whose bike is this?” Tiger Mom asked sternly.

“Oh! Please forgive me Mom.  My friend requested me to take his bike home as he has to go outstation with his family.  He asked me to keep it for a few days and to polish it until I can see my face on the chrome exhaust.” Cal explained earnestly.

I could have sworn that the ears of Tiger Mom grew an inch longer when she heard Cal apologizing.  Her voice softened and her face creased into a motherly loving smile, “Alright, take care of the bike and be careful when you drive around.”

I didn’t look at Cal and Cal didn’t look at me, just in case Tiger Mom got a whiff of a conspiracy about to hatch out between us.

By and by, the few days as mentioned by Cal had grown longer.  Now the Kawasaki bike had become a familiar fixture in the car porch, the crash helmet and bomber jacket would always be at the phone table in the evening.  Occasionally when we were in the house, Cal would proudly don his jacket, said bye to his Mom, winked at me behind her back and drove off in his bike.

One month later, Tiger Mom forked out 5 grand to get a brand new Kawasaki scramble bike for Cal.  We had known that Tiger Mom didn’t like borrowing things for too long.

When I was about to leave for overseas, Cal came to send me off and said, “Pop, you are terrific.  You taught me B.F.D., taught me to be rebellious in school, teach me all those English phases and he he he, I still remember this, Close your eyes and think of England (another post later!). And don’t ask permission, ask forgiveness, I love that Dad, have a good trip.”

We fist-bumped, hi-fived and hugged each other.  Then I was on my way.

Poor Excellency didn’t know that Hero Dad had been undermining her authority by cutting her legs subtly and slowly.  Ha Ha Ha, the two boys and me did have our last hurray.

Or did we really have it?

Next Post : 8c. Hey Boy, I Love Your Attitude!

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

8

The nightmare came again.

I woke up with a mild headache and my forehead was beaded with perspiration.  It has been coming back to me for the past few years, at almost around this date.  Last night the nightmare was dead-on at the anniversary date of an event which happened several years ago.  It was as if my body has been set with a ‘date’ clock and every June 13, it would give me a frightful wakeup call without fail.

For the first two years, the flashbacks were in vivid color and as the ‘anniversaries’ wore on, the ‘color scenes’ became less intense.  Flashback of last night was in monochrome, black, white and gray pictures running in sequence of the accident scene.  Still the flashbacks were clear as if it happened yesterday.

Several years ago, friends of Cal (second son) and Wil (youngest son) were throwing a farewell party for them.   They were to leave the following night.  Cal was going to Beijing for an indeterminate period to explore some jade business ventures and Wil was enrolled at a university in New York City to begin his freshman as an undergraduate.

Wow! they gonna have a late party before they leave …….

At around 5:00am that morning, my mobile rang with a shrill.  The bluish luminescence showed that the call was from Cal.  Damn the kids, must have ran out of petrol again and calling their Rabbit Dad to fetch them a jelly can of gas, which had happened before and in the middle of a rainy night.

I pressed the green button and placed the mobile to my left ear.

“Yes!” I spoke with my eyes still closed.

“You father of the boys, erh” came the booming voice on my son’s mobile.

‘Oh I am dead’ I thought and sat upright immediately.  This was the type of calls which all parents dread.  Somebody’s calling you on your son’s mobile.

“Better come quick. Your son’s car is involved in a serious accident!” He gave me the address, which was not far from my house.

I sat immobile on my wooden bed for some time, holding my breath and trying to blank out my mind.  Exhaling and inhaling slowly I focused at a point slightly above my eye brows.  Directly and immediately behind was the pineal gland, where the so-called third eye and the sixth chakra resided.

“Guide me to the next step,” I silently pleaded in supplication.

Then I sprung into action.  Grabbing my mobile and putting on a T-shirt, I hurried down the staircase.  It was wiser not to wake up My Excellency, who was sleeping in another room, as it was better to let her ‘finish’ her beauty sleep.

Dawn was breaking as the sky was brightening gradually on the Eastern horizon.  I stomped on the accelerator, put on the fog light with its rhythmic ticks, flashed the high beam light on and off continuously, my palm heel on the honk and jumped 2 traffic lights as I drove to the said destination. Along the way I hurriedly recited, “Our Father who art in Heaven,….. Hail Mother Mary Full of Grace,….Om Ma Ni Pad Mi Ohm…., Ateh Malkuth, ve-Geburah, ve-Gedurah, Thou Art the Kingdom the Power and the Glory….some Taoist rites of passage, some verses of the Buddha Diamond Sutras …” and every religious mantras which I had learnt in the past and which had come to mind.

When I reached the junction, there was already a crowd of people milling around. The car had crashed through a chain-link iron fence and struck a tall lamp post.  An iron strut that held the fence pieced through the car front glass screen, narrowly missing the three of them.  The front screen had been shattered into various patches of spider cobwebs.  The right hand signal kept twinkling on its orange light.

Cal was sitting on the pavement, there was dried blood on his forehead which was cut by a glass splinter.  Wil was lying in a fetus position, his hands clutching his stomach with both hands.  Both were in shock. The girl, who was their classmate, was the most seriously injured.  She was almost to the point of unconscious and groaning in pain.  I held her and called her name and she nodded.  There was no outward sign of serious injuries.  I sniffed all three of them at their mouths.  There was minimal  trace of alcohol.

I took stock calmly and requested help from a man and his wife who were nearby.  The car was a complete wreck.  Cal got up and came to me. I asked him to check their wallets, mobiles and other small items.  With the help of passerby, the three of them got into my car.

“Dad, I am sorry.” Said Cal.

This was no time for recrimination.  “You all will live. No worries.” I nodded my head imperceptibly and touched his hand.

“Wil was driving when he suddenly swerved to avoid a morning jogger.  We were not drunk.  We were very tired.” Cal continued to explain. He knew his dad well.  I had never beaten them in all their years, not even a light spanking when they misbehaved.

“Is ok, boy. We go to hospital now for a thorough examination.” I remarked softly.  “Keep talking to me.”

Three weeks later, all the three of them were up and running.  Wil still made it to New York City while Cal left for Beijing later.  The car was a write-off.

Two years ago, Wil was also involved in another accident when he crashed his scramble bike onto a car running a red light.  That time was around 9am in the morning when I received a call on his mobile but it was not his voice. It was a man’s voice telling me that your son was involved in an accident.

Wil was very seriously injured and was warded for a month.

Wil was to leave for New York City to do his Graduate Gemologist on that night. We had to defer his admission for his GG by another six months.

That was November 30, and it was also a date marked into my biological clock. The recurring nightmare will also come around that date without fail.

Surely, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder does not only happen to war veterans.

Now, I have to say this to the boys.  Don’t make that a habit. You do another number of this nature, you will probably find me in the hospital first with a massive heart attack.

From Wikipedia : Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any events that results in psychological trauma.  This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one’s own or someone else’s physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual’s ability to cope.. As an effect of psychological trauma, PTSD is less frequent and more enduring than the more commonly seen acute stress response.  Diagnostic symptoms for PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks, or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and increased arousal – such as difficulty in falling or staying asleep, anger and hypervigilance.

Pix courtesy : http://www.naturalsleep.org

Teaching Them Kids To Read

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The kids at Hue, Central Vietnam

When the 3 kids were slowly growing up My Excellency would harangue me often that the kids must learn English from me.  They were all studying in a Chinese based primary school.  And I had a Bachelor degree from a local university and a Masters degree from London to boot. That was when I was still based in my home town while I was working in a foreign bank.

She reprimanded, “You must take responsibility for the education of the children as you have some fancy degrees while I have none. I have never heard you speak to them in English.  All you do is to speak to them in Cantonese and occasionally with a sprinkling of some crude and coarse language, too.”  Cantonese is an excellent language with all its subtle nuances, sarcastic inflexion, flowery adjectives, swearing and cursing verbs and dramatical highlights.  Well, that was my Mother’s Tongue.

Bla bla bla and bla, and so on and so forth.  Maybe I heard it for the first few times. Then subsequently I still had to listen to her as she continued her tirade but I thought that I was not hearing no more. It was just like an old LP broken record which stayed on the same groove while it was still spinning on the required rounds-per-minute on its table.

S.O.S. (distressed signal of Mayday Mayday, Same Old Story or Same Old Sh**)

“Every week you must sit down with them for 3 days in the evening for a 2-hr session. OR ELSE!” She shouted, arms akimbo, eyes glared and legs apart with a kung-fu hard stance.  Oops, there went my peace and my own yoga meditation and inward journey astral traveling to far away places.

As Her Excellency or perhaps Her Royal Highness or maybe the Empress had commanded, so let it be said and let it be done.

I dutifully, as a good old father would do, went to the bookstore and bought some English books suitable for the 3 kids.  School text books were out.  They had enough of that at school and if they were to score 100 marks in English, where I coached them at home with the same text books used at school, that was no B.F.D.

So we had our few good lessons.  And the first thing I thought them was how to write proper sentences. Then repetitiveness and fatigue set in.  Before long, the boys were having the comics on their laps while their text books were on the table and I was part reading my favorite novel, beneath the table too.  The eldest girl was studious so I left her alone, giving her some titles to write about.  The TV set was of course switched off.

My Excellency or the kids Tiger Mom gave up.  She employed an English tutor for the 3 kids and I said onto her. “That should be the way, Excellency.  One can never teach our own kids on school subjects.  They must be taught by outsiders.”  After having made this smart-ass remark, I quickly scooted off before her verbal assault just might shattered my frail ear-drums.

Then came the day when I was head-hunted for an overseas job to head the business of a consortium group in Indo-China (Cambodia, Vietnam & Laos).  So their education was left to My Excellency who in her infinite wisdom and motherly guidance used the reward and punishment system of making them take their studies seriously.  Some said one should speak softly but wield a big stick, oh no, she spoke loudly but she used a small cane which the kids feared at first but after some time they would ignore it.

Anyway, whenever I had the opportunity, I would teach them My Way.  And that was to learn from experience, to go to strange places and to read and read as there was a limit as to what a teacher and parents could taught them.  So I had to inculcate in them a reading habit. But I had a problem here.  MoneyLena, my eldest daughter was no problem child.  She read avidly.  But the 2 boys were only interested in Pokemon cards, comics, computer games and other activities in vogue at their time.  I bought them books like Famous Five, Biggles, Tom Sawyer, Hardy boys but all these books were lined up very orderly in their room while other things were all helter-skelter.  It was just like some Great English Classics, they were excellent in adorning the personal library of a house to give the impression that a man or a woman was well read, but they were just some pieces of nice furniture.  Apart from dusting off motes of fine dust occasionally, they were never read at all.

Perhaps I was wrong to introduce to them the books I loved when I was a kid.  I was an avid reader by the age of 8 and I devoured a few books in a week.  Times had changed but I was still clinging onto the old idea of what was good for me then was good for them.

Then I had a brilliant flash-in-the-pan idea while on one of our family travels abroad.  We were at the Tunnels of Cu Chi, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam when Cal (my second son who was then 12 years of age) caught on the reading habit where I creatively set him on the path of a well read person.

Next post : The Tunnels of Cu Chi.

Thinking Kills Brain Cells

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Cal in Hong Kong when he was 13.

I was in my study room one night when Cal, my second son, came in and wanted to have a word with me.  He was crestfallen and I thought perhaps he had a bad day at school.

“What’s wrong, boy?” I asked gently.

“My biology teacher screwed me blue today.” He remarked.  Gosh, that was not original and he must have picked up this phase from me.  If Tiger Mom heard this she would really screw me blue, literally.

“What happened?” I asked.

“We have our biology class today.  The teacher was teaching us the brain functions, the neurons, the right and left hemispheres and all the boring stuff.  She mentioned that unlike other body cells the brain cells once damaged could not be re-generated.”

“And then” I cajoled him to continue.

“I said loudly that the process of thinking kills brain cells.”  Now, this was too much.  I chuckled and sighed inwardly.  This rascal was picking up all my car-bumper sticker wisdom too quickly.

He continued, “She was very angry and scolded me harshly.  She went into a long lecture of how thinking was food to the brain to prevent one from getting some Azhimer disease or something like that, I don’t know what is it.”

“Did she give you a whacking?” I was a bit concerned by now.  And I reminded myself to be careful in future of minding my language in front of them kids.

“No, Pop.  She ordered me to stand on the chair for the whole period.” He said dejectedly.

“In front of all the boys and girls, now that was indeed shameful, boy!” I raised my tone a pitch notch.

“That was just some sarcastic remark we used to down talk a subordinate when we wanted them to work and don’t start thinking.  You better learn to differentiate the occasion of using certain English phases.”  I was almost at a loss of words as I explained to him.

Then all of a sudden, his face brightened up, grinned, balled up both his fists and punched his arms into the air, like some great football star scoring a victory goal at the last minute.

“Yeah, Dad! I became an instant celebrity among my classmates.  When that old hag left, the class gave me a standing ovation and cheered and clapped their hands.  And the whole class was chaotic with laughter.”  His sudden change of demeanor took me by surprise.  Then he came forward and hugged me.

“That was great, Dad.  I finally managed to grand-stand on her.  The whole class hated her for all the stupid home work she gave us.” He laughed aloud. Now he seemed so animated unlike moments ago.

“Goodnite Dad,” He made a step backward and raised his palms in a gesture of surrender.  As he walked out of my room, I could still recall his mischievous face and his silly grin after all these years.

I was thinking then, did he say grand-stand?  Where did a 13 year old boy managed all these vocabulary? A keen ear and a loose tongue must have been a powerful combination in educating a child. Perhaps one day the pupil would surpass the Master, if not the Master would have failed.

Bad, bad Rabbit Dad.

But it’s too late to mind my language now as the kids have all grown up.  Anyway, the 2 boys are as refined as any gentlemen you will find as we sent them off to the Big Apple NYC to be educated when they were 17 going onto 18.

Next Post: 7. It All Began At The Tunnels of Cu Chi, Saigon.

B.F.D. That’s from Rabbit Dad

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The 2 Boys in Edinburgh

Once in a while I would express some off-cuff quotes to my two young boys, sometimes vulgar and not so prim and proper for kids of their age, and they were all ears.  Perhaps I advocated a laissez-faire form of learning for these two boys or perhaps I felt that they learnt faster when lessons were given to them at the one moment in time.

Now.

The boys just loved to hear my wise cracks.  If My Excellency would be within earshot, then there would be trouble for me and I would have to endure a harsh reprimand from her to teach them kids properly.  So when something cropped up and I needed to impart some wisdom to the two boys, the three of us would herd together closely and conspire in a hush-hush manner on the basis of strictly-among-us-girls only.  We would immediately ‘freeze’ upon the sudden appearance of My Excellency, but truth be told she always had an uncanny ability of having a nose into our affairs when we did not want her presence.

A case in point…

Some many years ago a long time friend invited us to her house, My Excellency, our two boys and me while my eldest daughter was away, to taste her home baked cakes.  My two boys were then of age 7 and 9.  Connie, our close friend had a son, who was one year junior than Wil, my youngest son.

Connie was just plain Vanilla with ordinary looks.  Although educated only to the equivalent of a Grade 7 level, she was an intelligent woman who possessed a killer’s innate of marrying for security.  Her husband was a professional engineer who amply provided for her because she followed her instinct that to get to a man’s heart was via his stomach.

Much as she was an excellent cook, she was long on mouth and short on ears.  While we were savoring her lovely layered fruit cake, she just kept talking on the achievements of her son at his kindergarten school.  And we had heard it for the umpteen time, how smart he was, how hard working he was, how obedient he was and how this and how that, just the same old song playing on the same old recorder.  But we always maintained our social grace as we understood how proud she was to bear her husband the only son after a decade of marriage and spending a fortune on an IUI fertility lab as well as for her lovely home baked cakes.

Just then her son walked into the dining hall.  He greeted us courteously and sat besides his mother. Connie told us that recently her husband had been teaching him all about dinosaurs.  She asked him to relate to us how many dinosaurs had he identified.  The young boy then rattled off a number of names, Allosaurus, Aucasaurus, T-Rex, Velociraptor, Sellosaurus, et cetera, et cetera and et cetera.  Wow, a 6 year old kid who could memorize so many names.  Then Connie told us that his Dad had also taught him multiplication tables up to 6.  He then recited Multiplication table 5 and 6 to the pleasure of his mother.

“Smart Boy”, I said encouragingly.

“What is 7 times 6?” I continued.

He began to fumble, unsure of himself and looked timidly to his mother for support. He had no answer for that.  By then Connie was an unhappy mother and her countenance darkened for an instant as her son had just stood down on her.

My Excellency sensing some great calamity was about to happen quickly came to his rescue and said that 6 times 7 was the same as 7 times 6 and the answer was 42.

Poor kid with such a demanding mother – another Tiger Mom!

Then her son went up the stairs to his room and the two ladies took the plates to the kitchen, leaving me and my two boys watching a cartoon program on TV.

I took hold of their shoulders and whispered mischievously to them, “B.F.D”

“What is that, Pop?” Cal, my eldest son asked eagerly.

“Big F**king Deal”, I remarked.

The boys roared with laughter.  It was not that they were sadist to see the mother of the boy being thrown off her high horses but it was the three macho words that I so spoken that bedazzled them.  Bad, bad, Rabbit Dad to use such language.   Anyway, I already knew that they had been doing that among their friends so that it was of no use trying to impose some sanctimonious decency in a between-us-girls situation.

Unbeknown to us, My Excellency was watching us from the kitchen.  I doubted that she had heard us but she could always smell a conspiracy five miles up-wind when we were huddled together like this.  But then, in her infinite wisdom and understanding, she retreated back to the kitchen to give company to Connie.

“Look boys, learning things by rote, ie by hard memorizing is really no big deal.   You have to learn by understanding.  It is better if he spend his time reading a book then by memorizing the thousand of dinosaurs’ names just to please his mother.  That type of learning is only for the nincompoop.” I told them with a grin and with a heavy emphasis on the last syllable ‘poop’.

Cal was by now very excited and would like to learn more. “What is that again, Pop?”

“N.I.N.C.O.M.P.O.O.P”, I spelled it out to them.

“Now you go figure it out what it means”

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