Monday, January 27, 2014

Memories of Madeleine #10


Mummy Hearts Money is sharing 13 memories of my biggest little girl, in tribute to her 13th birthday this month. Most of these stories are "Have to be there" kind of memories, but I love them, they make me smile.

When Maddy was in year 1, only 6 years old, she came home from school and solemnly told me she was going to compete in a Chinese speaking competition.

Just in case you missed the memo - our household is half Lebanese, half Australian. No Chinese in there anywhere.

But we had sent her to a school that taught Chinese as a second language, although for the majority of children that would mean 7 years of counting to 10, saying "Hello, my name is Madeleine", "Mum" and "Dad".

7 years of learning Mandarin and she couldn't even walk into a Macca's and order a happy meal. If you can't even do that no way could you let these kids loose in China on the basis of 7 years of classes. I digress.

Husband and I gamely enough paid the entry fee and turned up on the day to this competition with Maddy in her uniform representing her school (among others). She had been practising at home for days, and I could have recited her poem myself, although with no real understanding of what it means ("its about a stream Mummy, a stream trickling through a forest"). I was horrified to arrive at the competition though to realise that 99% of the kids entered appeared to be of a Chinese background. I had sort of assumed it was for beginners, but I guess it makes sense that the majority of children learning a second language would usually be picking it up at home from their parents. These other kids got up and rippled through their poems like the natives they almost were. I was so worried about my little girl, nervous as she stepped up for her turn, would her confidence be shaken? Would she scared now, like she was never scared before at home? Of course not.

She stood up on the podium with her little chin up in the air and delivered her poem perfectly. Admittedly I wouldn't know if she made mistakes, but it sounded wonderful. She had no concerns, nodded her chin as she finished, gave a stiff little bow and stepped down.

She didn't win that day. She didn't place either, but it didn't bother her. And we were so proud. That was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to let my kid do. Something I couldn't help her with in any way. I couldn't coach her, correct her mistakes, provide any guidance whatsoever. I could only support her with smiles and applause. She got plenty of it, and entered that competition a few more times over the years. She never quite placed, her accent I guess couldn't quite compete and that's OK. She really enjoyed learning Chines right up until she finished primary and start high school last year.

I just hope she enjoys learning Japanese just as much since that's her new schools chosen language.

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