Saturday, March 17, 2007


For some reason, son was reluctant to go to school last Friday. He had been off sick on the previous Tuesday but appeared to be dying to get back for Wednesday so that he does not miss his Science class.

Friday was, "Hmm, isn't it sad I do not have the same religion as my parents?"

And so we had a long discussion on how it is not up to us to dictate to him what religion he should embrace. Yes, we would very much like him to choose Christianity, but us Christians also know that God made free will and son has to decide for himself.

He then seemed happy enough to go to school.

Pick-up time I was told that he was so distressed in the pool he had to be taken out. Apparently he was hysterical and started "making animal noises" and continued to make these noises for a long time after this.

Got him home in a hurry and we tried to talk about his upset. Of course it was difficult to get anything that he does not want to tell out of him.

The issue seemed to be he felt he was 'rubbish' (again) as he could not do a forward somersault in the water. "I tried three times!"

After much cajoling I learned that he had done all sorts of wonderful things in the pool: all kinds of floating patterns, on the front and back, log rolls, etc. But he could not swim under water and stumbled at the somersault.

I myself cannot do the somersault, so I am not surprised. To have achieve so much and yet get distraught about not being able to do one thing perfectly after three tries sounds just like my son.

We persuaded each other to go to the public pool on Saturday to practice the 'roly-poly'. (I don't like going to the public pool as the changing facilities can be filthy sometimes.)

In the pool on Saturday he was no problem at all. He was relaxed, comfortable and enthusiastic. He kept trying his somersault and swimming under water. (Earlier we talked through the physics of getting into water and staying submerged.) I couldn't get him out of the water.

"OK, I've had enough. Let's go home now," I kept saying.

"No, I'm having so much fun!"

So it was till he needed to go to the toilet.

I wrote a long letter to the teacher to recount what happened at the pool, and since I was writing, decided to list the disappointments that my son had faced this year. They are not grievances, just events which I thought would help the teachers understand how his mind works.

We were told to meet with the teacher mid-week. Husband happened to have had a hospital check-up and so was able to attend the meeting.

We were told that son has an IQ of 144 and a reading age of 13 when tested last year. He is going on seven end of April.

I was gobsmacked. I knew he read well and I know he is highly intelligent, but I certainly did not expect these kinds of results.

Teaching him is like treading on eggshells all the time, we were told. He is very sensitive to sound, and hates disruptive children, ill-discipline, etc.

But both teacher and us agree that sometimes -- because he seems so grown up in some ways -- we tend to treat him as an adult. The teacher also agreed that perhaps she had been expecting much more from him than any other child.

So while a little improvement or effort by another boy would have warranted a reward, my son has been rewarded more on results, and is expected to go further than others.

I can imagine a little of how he feels when he is expected to cheer someone else on for making a tiny improvement in behaviour or in work when he himself had already far exceeded this milestone himself. But no matter how hard he tries, all he gets is yet another sticker in his homework book. There has been no public recognition of his good results, let alone his effort.

How does one get better than 100% at spelling every week, even when random tests are given without notice?

So we hope that things would improve as now the teachers are more aware of how he feels about the lack of recognition of his effort.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Surplus Value

Can't remember how we got into that conversation. Son learned the idea of 'profit' as we talked about 'the little girl in China who makes my toys'.

It came down to "Does Daddy make a profit in his work?"

"You go ask him yourself."

Daddy was duly summoned upstairs, "Dad, in the work that you do at your office, do you make a profit?"

"Yes," came the decisive and immediate answer.

Son was shocked. In his little mind surely his Daddy, his hero, does not stoop to making a profit out of the labour of others.

When he had recovered from this shock, "If I told the man who employs the girls who make my toys that I really appreciate the toys, would he pay them more money?"

"I don't think so," came the answer. "I'm afraid that's called economics. People pay as little as possible to get as much out of it as possible."

"Unless we are willing to pay more," said I, "Which is what fair trade is all about."

"But that does not mean that the girls will be paid more, until and unless customers make it clear that they are not going to buy from these manufacturers until they are willing to treat their workers properly and give them a fair wage," wise old Dad said.

I don't think son got the answers he needed or wanted to hear, but I'm making some headway, I think, in getting him to understand that our lifestyle of needless consumption is only making a few people very rich to the detriment of hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of others who have little or no bargaining power at all.

Profit is not an evil thing when profits like those made by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett can be put to good use for the rest of humanity. It is extreme profit that is the issue, when a human being is taken to be nothing more than a 'resource', to be exploited, squeezed dry, and like a piece of machinery that has outlived its usefulness , could then be 'de-commissioned', dismissed, whatever.

Money is NOT the root of all evil as has often been misquoted. It is the "love of money", an excessive worship of profit, that is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).