Friday, October 17, 2008


A baby cries outside my window. It’s Chinese, but some emotions speak all languages. It’s hungry, or it’s crying for its mom. I think of my Chinese tutor. She won’t go home to her baby until after it falls asleep. She will sneak into its room and peak at her while she’s sleeping. She’s trying to wean it from her breast milk. She has not let her baby see her this whole week. Other methods of weaning her baby didn’t work, so she’s trying this more traditional Chinese method. Her eyes are puffy, her demeanor worn, she misses her little one very much. She asks me if I know of any other methods. I have no helpful suggestions on this topic.

She asks me a lot of questions about my family this week. Or maybe it’s just in my head. Maybe I want to talk about my family more so I thwart all questions into short stories about my family.

I let her read a card I have stuck in my textbook. It’s from dad. He starts, “Hey toots!” My tutor is confused. I explain. She continues reading. She finishes and says, “your father tells you interesting things about life.” I try to recall what might be so interesting in the card. I skim it…it’s written in the form of short points about the week: the activities, the highs the lows…all these things captured in only 5 sentences. (My dad’s efficient). I see the line: “your mom had a shower last night. I went on a bike-ride.” I start to laugh. How funny these sentences must seem to my tutor or to any second language learner. It sounds as though mom took an actual shower, and dad thought this event significant enough to include in the though she only showers once a month or so. I explained it to my tutor. We laughed.

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