Coming Together

Tonight, my son and I did our Chinese homework together.

We both had similar exercises, with his characters more complex than mine, but with my repetitions more numerous than his.  He corrected my pronunciation, but I didn’t mind as much as I did a few months ago because I could hear the difference between what I was saying and what he was saying.  It’s still hard for me to say the words correctly, but learning to hear the difference is a big first step.

I’m learning vocabulary that he’s learned and forgotten, but is remembering as I pick it up for the first time.  He scans his homework for characters or phrases I might know, pointing out the differences between traditional and simplified, between how I’m learning to pronounce things and how they’d be pronounced in Taiwan.  He’s reading me his homework and figuring out what to do through trying to explain it to me.

We are learning Chinese, in parallel, together.

He is teaching me many things — pronunciation, patience, vocabulary, radicals.

He is learning from me other things — patience, perseverance, dedication, neatness.

I feel like the luckiest mom in the world when he says to me, “Hey Mom, let’s do our Chinese homework together.” My 13-year old wants to do something with me, and not just any something, but Chinese homework — the most dreaded of homework activities for him.

While he’s working, he tells me stories of his experiences, when he learned the characters I’m learning (Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd or 3rd grade), what it was like coming into a new Chinese school when we first moved to Southern California, how he doesn’t really understand why he’s learning some of the vocabulary he’s learning that he doesn’t really think will be useful in everyday life.  They’re good stories and good questions.  I don’t have answers, but he’s not really looking for them.  Somehow he knows that even if he never uses that random character he’s learning, that this is important to me and to us, and so he diligently does his work; we do our work; together.

Then he’s done.  He goes back to Youtube.  I go to tuck in his sister, and come back to work on reviewing an action research proposal that one of my students has written, for a conference we’ll have tomorrow afternoon, and then begin on this blog.

I am grateful.

I am learning.

Things are coming together.

We are coming together.

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