Thursday, August 29, 2013

Caught on CCTV

A few weeks ago, Little A was hit by a car while dashing across a zebra crossing. The other day, it was my turn. Different crossing, same street.

While walking back from Starbucks on the last afternoon of an inadvertent ten day break from school (caused by a storm, monsoon rains and a national holiday), Little A and I crossed the road to our apartment building.

Three quarters of the way across, walking at a regular walking pace, I heard a car horn very close behind me. I turned to see a red car inches away from my legs, midway over the zebra lines. The driver, a curly-haired Caucasian man, motioned with his hands for me to walk faster. I reached out, and he was so close that my hand got to the middle of his bonnet, and tapped it. I told him through the windscreen, "This is a pedestrian crossing."

His response was to move his car forward, so that I had to jump back to avoid being hit. He drew up next to me, rolled his window down, and shouted, "Bet you'll think twice before doing that again!" Then he zoomed into the parking entrance of the building across the road.

To say I was astonished would be putting it mildly, particularly since this happened right outside our front door. Thankfully Little A kept out of the way the entire time, all two minutes that this episode took place, if that.

A taxi had been driving behind the red car, and its driver stopped his vehicle and called out to our doorman. I assumed he was there to pick someone up, but later found out he had told the doorman to be sure to report that rude driver.

I took Little A upstairs and wrote a quick email to my neighbours telling them to be on the lookout for this car - and to avoid it at all costs. The minute Big A read it, he was out the door and across the street, demanding that the reception desk of this irate man's building connect him to said man.

The man refused to speak to Big A, so he left a message informing the Caucasian that we would be filing hit-and-run charges against him the following day, as this day was a government holiday. On returning to our building, we were asked to visit the security office, where they had found that the driveway's CCTV had captured the entire incident on video.

Around 830pm, we got a call from the doorman saying the Caucasian driver was downstairs. Big A went to talk to him while I put Little A to bed.

When Big A got back, he told me what had transpired. Caucasian Man was a retired British bigot who thought I was a Korean nanny. As he said "Koreans have no manners or education," he must have felt justified trying to run me down. But since, like my husband, I turned out to be "an educated, reasonable Filipino", he condescended to apologise, since otherwise he would likely have gone to prison. He had attempted to explain his side of the story, but Big A told him not to bother, as the CCTV footage was telling enough.

On hearing this, apparently British Bigot (henceforth, he shall be called BB) began to sob and started telling Big A the story of his life, from the young native wife who took all his money to the special needs children he'd fathered with her, and all the details in between. Big A didn't care to hear all this, and told him so, but he did mention that the woman BB took for a Korean nanny was also the mother of a special needs child.

BB then requested to meet Little A, so that he could "teach him what he taught my own kids." Big A begged off, not wanting this possibly deranged man anywhere near our son.

To end it all, and to keep BB from a civil suit, Big A asked that he write an apology letter, and send it over along with flowers, chocolates and what have you. BB complied, so while we do not know his last name, I now have his photo and that of his children from the card he delivered.

The email I sent to my neighbours found its way into the social media, courtesy of one of them, and before I knew it my parents were on the phone demanding to know the details and hoping to get BB jailed or deported and his license revoked.

I haven't seen him since, thank goodness, but I always keep an eye out for that red car now, anytime I walk down the street. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rain Weather

Among his diving friends, Big A (a certified technical diver) is called "Nature Boy." He does this party trick where he looks at the sky for a few seconds and accurately predicts when and if it will rain, how strongly, and for how long. In the twelve years I've known him, he has yet to get it wrong.

Apparently his son has inherited this talent. We have had five straight days of monsoon rains and a typhoon, causing school to be cancelled for the entire week. I have been spending entire days at the store, covering for staff who are unable to come in due to floods.

Over the weekend, at seemingly random times while playing, Little A would suddenly stop and scream. Sometimes he would wake up in the morning, listen, and start crying. When asked what was wrong, he would spell "rain today" or "rain day." We assumed that since he likes to spend a lot of the day swimming and playing outside, he was upset because the rain prevented him from doing this.

By day 3, however, he would get upset more frequently. In the car on the way to my sister's 40th birthday lunch, he grabbed my phone and typed "rain weather." I had no idea he could even spell the word "weather." And yes, it was raining at the time.

Tired of being cooped up indoors, he managed one rainy swim, and befriended a stray cat living in our building's carpark. This affectionate feline would hang around the spot where I dropped Little A off after school, and he, the Au Pair, and I have been spending hours down there instead of on the playground or by the pool.

This morning, while playing, the cat suddenly started miaowing loudly. After a few seconds, Little A started to scream. I thought he was annoyed with the cat's noise, but he marched over to the wall and pointed out the letters R, A, I, N from the sign that says "Please park your cars facing wall". I pointed out the window at the sun shining on the golf course next door and told him not to be upset as the sun was shining.

He carried on screaming and spelling out "rain" I took him upstairs, got my mobile phone and asked him again what was upsetting him. He typed in "Rain Baby Noah". Then he ran up to the hedge in front of our window and buried his face in it.

Two minutes later, while we were still standing on the (covered) balcony, the rain poured down. I asked Little A if he knew it was going to rain, and if that was why he was upset. He nodded his head, yes. I apologised for calling him overdramatic, and we had a hug.

I wonder if this weather prediction talent is something we can exploit in future. For the meantime, I must remember to tell his teachers that in case Little A suddenly gets upset in class and spells out "rain," they should cease all outdoor activities for the time being and remain safely indoors.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

First Week Done

Boy. When it rains, it pours. Little A's first week of school coincided with the beginning of monsoon season.
Normally, rains start in June, and by August a couple of schooldays have been cancelled due to typhoons. This year, summer took its time leaving, which was great for us as Little A loves to swim, and would jump happily into the pool sometimes twice a day.

The night before school was due to begin, there was a lot of rain. By 9pm, school was called off the next day. I didn't mind this, as I figured the first week would be a huge adjustment period.

Little A started on Tuesday with a full day, from 8am to 3pm. I was quite apprehensive about how he would manage, more so when I looked at the classroom doors and found that he actually had proper subjects already! Literacy, numeracy, science, then a lunch break and preschool in the afternoon.

In addition, I found out there were to be 3 meal breaks a day - morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack. Usually Little A has two sets of food - cornflakes and a container of rice and meat. He can eat one, both, or some of each. All that is enough for two meal breaks, but not three!

I stuck around for the first hour and a half, and good thing too, as I discovered during morning snack period that he was already eating his rice! I asked the teacher to stop him, as he had not only had breakfast just two hours earlier, but because he would have nothing substantial to eat at lunchtime.

That afternoon, I rushed him home in case he was starving. He'd eaten all his food. The next days, he was armed with enough for three meal breaks.

During the summer session, as soon as class was over, Little A was out the door and into the car. Now, however, he is reluctant to leave as he used to be at his last school. He walks around and peeks into the other rooms or sits in the media centre and plays with letter tiles. I think the presence of many other children is something he enjoys, though he still does not interact with them enough.

At dismissal on Thursday, he came to me with tears in his eyes and a different pair of shorts on than the ones he went to school in. One of the teachers explained that in the morning, Little A had indicated he needed to use the toilet. The female teacher called the male nurse to accompany him to the restroom. Unfortunately, Little A really needed to go, and didn't quite make it there before wetting his pants. As he has not had a toilet accident in years, he was quite upset.

I explained to him in the car that he'd have to let them know earlier next time, and that it wasn't his fault. He seemed to accept this.

The next day, each of the teachers came up to me separately to tell me how well Little A had behaved in all of his classes that day. I was pleased and proud as any parent could be.

The end of week one bodes well for the weeks to come. Now we look forward to Monday.

Friday, August 9, 2013

In Other News...

In Chinese culture, August is called "Hungry Ghost Month." For those who believe in  this, and in feng shui principles, this is a period when it is considered unlucky to open a new business, move into a new home, get married, or even, I think, have a baby.

My family doesn't really believe in this, but we were scheduled to open a new shop around this time. This is is the second branch of our little card and gift kiosk, and this time it is a proper store, located in the new wing of a posh mall. 

The administration team of this shopping centre has been desperate for shops to open as the foot traffic is low and the overhead costs high. They offered a discount on rental rates for the next two months to all tenants who open shop in the month of July. 

In a rush to avail of this discount, we managed to open on the very last day of the month. However, there were still some small kinks to be ironed out, particularly with our new POS system. Nevertheless, we opened, and are now running fairly smoothly. 

So just before the start of Little A's new schoolyear has me rushing between two shops, training new staff and sorting out various accounting issues. The timing is good, so next week will be entirely devoted to Little A's start of school.

Hungry Ghosts, begone!