I want to play football

I met a woman who is in a dilemma.

His son is now studying in a private high school in California. He went through 8 years in a very competitive public school in China, where sports time was always occupied by the study of other subjects. The situation hasn’t  been changed from my generation to today’s teenagers. Sports in school mean the morning broadcast physical exercise, which lasts ten minutes with more than ten minutes for lining up to go to the playground and to go back to the classroom. In the written curriculum agenda for every week, there is place for sports. However, the math teacher or the literacy teacher will always tell you that we are late for the main courses and the exams are coming, which result in the cancellation of the sports time. Children are supposed to dedicate their free time to exercise, which is never realistic because they are overwhelmed with homework and additional trainings.

So this son, like many others, wanted to leave such a school setting. This mom, like many others, tried all to ensure a better future for her child. Money is not the problem, neither time and energy. She was a wonderful woman, diligent, smart and determined.

Now his son is very happy because he can play football! He enjoys it in school and after school. He made efforts to enroll in the school’s representative team and travels around to have friendly match. He loves school although his English is not yet fluent. He is happy.

Nevertheless, the woman is not totally satisfied with this situation because this high school is not one of the best in California. If her son continues his study there, he would have less opportunities to go to a famous university such as UCLA. To ensure the enrollment to a top university, she must push his son to go to another private high shool which is better ranked. Besides, she is certain that her son, like many other Chinese children, will achieve better academic performance if she pushes more.

“But, it’s highly possible that in that school I would not be enrolled in the football team!” His son is reluctant. He is right. The woman told me that in other private schools, football is more popular and the opportunities for being a member fo school team is limited.

“I cannot decide. All I do is for his good. Short-term or long-term? Happiness for today or Success for tomorrow.” sighed she.

“But why do you want to send him to a top university?” asked I.

She was surprised because my question is non sense. Who don’t expect his or her child to go to Harvard?

We stopped our talk. I have no reason to convince her, and yet I hesitate with my answer.


Why so much verbal violence?

I have difficulty to tolerate the verbal violence which goes viral on social media. Every day, there are so many topics which can arouse the mass’s anger. Even it doesn’t concern one’s interest, showing the anger seems make people feel good, as if one has run for one hour and has swept a lot.

So when Australian swimmer Horton attacked Sun Yang as a “drug cheat” after winning the match, the most popular social media in China was exploded. Although Facebook and Instagram are censured, people found ways to get over the wall and refuted. Among the comments on Horton’s personal pages, most were personal attacks, witch revealed rather a pleasure of attack than a reasonable suggestion. The Olympic games seemed turn out to be an international war and the nationalism seemed have gained the pervasive favor.

However, when you check the situation seriously, it was so easy to attack someone on web, especially when you have a nick name which helps to hide your identity. Life is so boring in office and people need to have exciting issues to approve their existence. There is a hunger to express whatever. If we consider all these verbiage as real statements of people’s will, it would be definitely horrible. In this landscape, we only see hatred and fanaticism.

All topics can be, at a certain moment, the national’s big concern: corruption, pollution and moral fallacy…However, two days later, one month later, people have forgotten all the past controversial debate, because the actuality offers more fresh issues which allow the mass to let out their own barbarism.The same anger for different subjects. It’s so easy.

When you want to say something reasonable or have an opposing opinion, you will soon become the new object of attacks. You never know who is talking but if you are the dissent, people will soon know who you are. There are more who just enjoy this spectacle of violence and keep joking of both sides, as if they were watching a movie.

“It’s only verbal violence! Never mind!” suggested some, “the world is a soap drama, the most interesting and successful one.”

I said nothing but I’m disappointing and frustrated, because once we are familiar with violence, even it seems minor, we are letting the evil gain a little more place in our generous heart and nibble the kindness which is so hard to cultivate back.

Faster, higher, stronger

kids love sports, instinctively. But not all of them. They easily stick to some while abandon others. It usually depends on the sport’s difficulty and one’s confidence. Claire gives up quickly some activity when she has found herself not good at it.

One day, at the local Children’s museum, several volunteers were encouraging kids to do sports. They invited the small ones to sit on a board with wheels and to move foreword by their legs. A 2 year-old can already do this. The lady set the small boy at the start point. After the sign”go”, she turned on a stopwatch, which, for me, was a too serious object that usually doesn’t belong to a children’s playground. The path was only one meter and the little boy arrived easily. After the congratulation words, the lady showed the stopwatch to the boy, in a very surprised and serious manner, “wow, you did great job, only 15 seconds!” The boy thrilled.

It was the stopwatch that attracted Claire’s attention, who wanted to give a shot herself. She was excited to learn that her performance was better. This game was no longer an attractive activity for her age but she insisted to try again. “You can do better,” the lady generously gave her permission.

On the other side of the room, an other lady was animating a game, which is supposed to test the balance ability. Children were asked to hold a wooden spoon with a plastic egg on it and to move foreword. They held in the other hand a measure tap while the lady kept the main part of the measure tap at the start point. Concentrated and staring at the egg, Claire stepped out. “You have walked for 10 feet! Congratulations!” these words cheered her up and made her day. Even at home, she wanted to do it again and asked me to measure up the distance.

I was amazed by these professional tools, which turned to make kids more motivated to try and to practice some sports. We always say, “you can do it! you can do it better!” However, sometimes, these words are so common that thy don’t have a effective impact on kids.

When Claire turns the Hula hoop, she easily gets frustrated and even refuses to do it again. One day, I proposed to write down the number of turns she had achieved. The next day, I suddenly praised her former performance by emphasizing the number:” You did 9 yesterday, great job! You want to try again?” She picked up the hoop. Even she failed to do better, she didn’t appear to be annoyed. Maybe she was impressed by her formal performance that was written down. With some nearly “official count”, kids may imagine that they were acting professionally.

Learning to swim still frighten Claire. “I will always wear my jacket, even I’m thirty years old, one hundred years old, one thousand years old.”swore she. I needed to begin in the bath tub. “Can you put your heard one second under the water?” I suggested. “Too long!” refuted she. “Zero point one second?” I tried another day. “What does it mean?” she seemed interested. “A very very short time,” then I put her mouth under the water and cheered,” wow, you did it.” It was a false one but that made the thing become interesting. I will try another day the “on second” and made it a huge success. If the one second is passed, then two seconds, three seconds…

I’m not an exigent mom and I do believe that achievements should not shadow the joy. Maybe it’s too early to be competitive. Nevertheless, if kids are sensitive with numbers and progress, I will encourage them to do better and be as proud as themselves.

You can do it! You can do it better!

I can do it !

It is really good thing for us that Claire is getting healthier and healthier. She indeed benefits the clean air here, but the most important thing is she takes more outdoor exercise. In weekends, we take her to nearby parks, partly because our life isn’t as diversified as in Shanghai.

When we were in Shanghai, her grandparents took her to walk around or go scooting in the residence. We lived in a small apartment in a tall building. Most of the kids in the community were raised by grandparents who live in the same apartment or nearby. Like other elders, my parents in law took good care of Claire but always overprotected her. They didn’t want to make mistake, especially with the only child. So it was forbidden to climb high, neither to ride the scooter too fast. If Claire wanted to try, they would say that it appeared dangerous. Be safe and don’t get injured is the golden rule for kids.

Claire is shy. Sometimes we thought that it might not be her real nature. Besides, my husband and me we are both extravert persons. She is shy because in her early years, she was always told not to do this, not to do that. She was always sick. Being sick made her learn to keep herself safe.

But now it’s time to build her confidence, first and especially in sports.

The other day, in the part, a little boy was climbing a ladder, which was too high for his age. But he kept saying “I can do it”. His father was at one meter away.The boy unfortunately missed his last step. I was really frightened. He didn’t fall down but made himself stick to the ladder with two legs in the air. Two seconds later, he began to cry and his mom ran to him.

If it happened in our residence in Shanghai, parents or grandparents would not allow the boy to try this ladder again, at least within several weeks. Even I was not sure to let my child try again. However, after wiping his tears, the boy’s mom encouraged him to do it again. He hesitated a while before his climbing but his face showed his determination.

I walked towards under the ladder, thinking that in case of any incident, I could help. Claire let him to go first, staring at him on the bottom.

“I can do it,” his little face turned to me, showing me that it was not necessary to be there to help. He really succeeded this time. I could not keep myself from saying “good job”!

This accident made me think a lot. Now every time we go to park, I encourage Claire not to stick to the swing, but to try other facilities. I keep saying “you can do it” and “good job”, two sentences that I heard most frequently in her preschool. If she needs my help, I will be there.

Now, she laughs a lot in sports time.