I've been spotting little hints that JD's sight might not be 20/20 over recent months (having been there myself 50 years ago) and so we took him to the hospital the other day to have a thorough check-up. Long story short, he now needs glasses. So today we picked up his first pair.
JD works very hard in Chinese language lessons/homework to keep up with his classmates (especially since less than 50% of his home life is conducted in Chinese). It doesn't help that he's in the top-rated class of his year group (of 10 classes), in the top-rated Primary School in Yunnan Province! But with our current plans to move back to the UK in 3-4 years time, it's also important to keep JD's levels of English up.
So, an hour of each term-time weekend, plus a daily hour during holidays, is devoted to MY English lessons with JD. His reading is up to scratch for his age and his oral English is above expectations. His handwriting is all joined up beautifully too, possibly because of the care he has to take with his Chinese calligraphy. But spelling is an ongoing problem! So we focus on that, whilst trying to keep the lessons interesting and challenging.
JD had a blast last weekend, spending an afternoon/evening with his best friend, "LiuLiu" (translates as "66") and his younger brother. LiuLiu is in JD's school/year but a different class. They became friends at Kindergarten and still meet up at school break times to play together.
While JiaJia chatted to LiuLiu's mum, I watched the kids running around and playing in the forest. Then we had a nice meal together at a nearby restaurant. Fresh air, exercise and tasty food.
JD has his mid-term maths exam today (Sunday!) and spent most of yesterday (Saturday) practising for it. Let's hope he does as well today as he did in his mock exam yesterday when he finished the hour-long exam in 20 minutes, scoring 99%. Fingers crossed.
When Jiajia took JD to his first sushi meal a month ago (I was away) he fell in love with it. He wanted to take his friends to the restaurant for his birthday, but it only seats a dozen people so we vetoed that. However this last weekend he declared that he wanted to treat Jiajia and I to a sushi meal with some of his Birthday money. Very sweet.
So we went there yesterday. JD loved it and Jiajia is happy to eat it, but it was a bit of a trial for me. I don't like seafood and it doesn't like me. I settled for a seaweed soup with minimal fishy bits, but I still woke with a gout attack this morning and I suspect it's no coincidence.
My tongue was bleeding all last week from the number of times I had to bite it - JD's English teacher has been driving me crazy!
First she criticises JD for using joined-up writing. Then she sends home a list of the "mistakes" being made in his letter writing. I see nothing wrong with his G and k. I see lots wrong with her Q, and who puts a tail on a capital U? Not even JD's English textbook shows written letters the way his teacher insists on!
And then today we get "example sentences" to copy which include the following...
I'm told I should keep my mouth shut - it's the Chinese way. But sometimes it's hard to ignore a teacher insisting on mangled language!
JD had his first day back at school yesterday, preceded by some tears for fear of not having finished all of the huge amounts of holiday work his school gave him to complete. As it turned out, he'd done enough and, by the time he got to after-school homework club [see above], he was much happier. Here's to the new term.
We spent a fun day yesterday at "Yunnan Colourful Paradise" - the biggest theme park in Yunnan, an hour's drive away. Joining us were JD's best school friend GuoDingEr and her parents. Together, we went on some rides, watched some shows, saw a big parade and ate some snacks. The day ended with a spectacular water display and firework show. As you can see below, I am not a fan of scary rides and regret being pressured into two of them! Nightmare! JD had a blast, though.
JD and I climbed a mountain near Kunming today for vegetarian lunch in the temple and some spring water.
JD's Primary School held their "End of Term Closing Ceremony" this morning and JD had a nice surprise, winning an award for "Most Improved Student" in his class! Admittedly this represents improving from last place to "5th from last" (in written Chinese anyhow, with a score of 85%), but all his other exam grades were 95-100% and he has indeed worked very hard this term. It's nice to have that recognised.
JD's Primary School have been ramping up the homework these last two weeks in preparation for the upcoming end-of-term exams. We pay for an "after-school club" to pick him up from school each day at 3.30pm and then one of their teachers goes through his homework, corrections and review with him until it's all finished. They also feed him. At first he managed to finish everything by about 7pm but more recently it's sipped to 8pm or 9pm and this week he hasn't left before 10pm. I get him home for a quick shower and then straight to bed, poor kid.
JD and I visited Kunming's Zoological Museum last weekend. When JD was 4-5 years old we bought an annual family pass for a couple of years, so we've visited the museum 20-30 times before, but not for a couple of years. There were a few changes this time. Some things we had fond memories of had disappeared (the interactive computer games, the snack area etc) but there were also some fun new exhibits, such as the tank full of stick insects [see right] and a stuffed "lion catches zebra" display [see below]. All good fun.
JD wanted to try out his air-powered rocket (Christmas gift) somewhere with a big open space, so this weekend we headed for a couple of nearby University running tracks. Unfortunately, guards are still stopping non-University personnel from entering (COVID hangover) and so we ended up at a public play area. It actually turned out to be a much better option.
JD doesn't have any close friends living near us and his schoolfriends are often too busy with extra-curricular classes to play much (as is JD a lot of the time). Thankfully, he is very outgoing and can quickly make temporary friends in a public setting such as this and play nicely with strangers, despite knowing that he may never see them again!
Seems like Santa visited last night. The snacks left out for him and Rudolph were nibbled and consumed, and JD's stockings were filled.
JD had decided to try and trick Father Christmas this year by leaving two stockings out in the hope that Santa would fill both. Santa duly obliged and at 8am Jiajia and I heard the pattering of not-so-tiny feet as JD came in and opened his presents with us. After his 2-hour home-schooling and lunch, we'll start on the pile of presies under the tree!
Our friends returned our recent "conveyor-belt hotpot" treat by inviting JD and I (and another family) to their house, which is in in our neighbourhood, for a home-made hotpot (Jiajia is away on business).
The family live on the top floor of their building and have built a glass frame over the rooftop where they can eat and look out on the city skyline. The reflection in the glass also allows you to look up and see down to your food! [see left]
Their son, Johnny, is in JD's school/year, but in a different class. They both go the the same after-school homework club though and are slowly forming a nice friendship.
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