Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Sha Tin is a long way to go for a class set of crayons

Like every other mother, I make my mistakes, resolve not to repeat them, and I move on.

In that cycle, I must of course forgive everyone else in the family for making me make those mistakes. Then I have to forgive them all again when they make me repeat the exact same mistake two days later. Then again within 24 hours. Motherhood is made of forgiving. It is what makes mothers eternal.

Take today for example. I take Shark to Sha Tin Town Hall.

That is not the mistake. Shark has eye spied a marine conservation competition advertised at the central library, and she is mad keen to find out about it. The poster probably caught her eye because it was all in English, and not in picture Cantonese. Also because it presented an enormous picture of an over joyous dolphin, showing off some flipper action with 'Get this! I can walk backwards on water!' Shark thinks that dolphins are more profound than humans.

So Shark says, 'Mummy, there is a talk at Sha Tin Town Hall. It's all about dolphins. Can we go?' And because Grit is a kind and supportive mother, motivated by her daughter's interests, she replies 'Of course!'

I copy down all the information on the poster. And really, for my daughter's marine education, it is no problem to make the hour long trek on the MRT underground system, plus platform changes, plus change to overground blue line train, plus half hour ferry, plus walk in aimless circles around the shopping malls of Central having my brain removed by air con Dior. Yes! I say. We'll go!

The day of the dolphin talk comes around, and I am resolved to go, even though I suspect it is less about dolphins and more about the work of the marine conservation group and the terms of the competition. But no matter. It is all supportive for my daughter's wider watery education. Dig strokes his beard and reminds me sagely, 'You'd better check the talk is conducted in English. Ring the telephone number and check.' He is very wise, isn't he?

Just then, as I hold the telephone in my hand, Tiger and Squirrel have the most earth-shattering ear-splitting cage fight over three centimetres of pink dolly ribbon. Knocked sideways by broken sound barrier, everything in Grit's brain falls out all over the floor, leaving a totally empty void where two seconds previously there was a telephone number and a wise purpose.

Following a big shout back and some high morality finger wagging, off I walk with Shark to set out on our long journey, leaving Dig in charge of Goneril and Regan and the contested control of three centimetres of ribbon.

And we do complete our trek. In record time. Under two hours, with only one aimless circuit of a shopping mall looking for a way out. Arriving at Sha Tin Town Hall, I think proudly, how wonderful I am! What a mother! What a selfless act! I hope Shark really does take her degree in Marine Biology and Ocean Whatnot because I deserve it.

But, just to casually check, because now I remember in the brouhaha of our exit from home, I forgot to telephone ahead - I made that mistake - I present us at the reception desk for the lecture on the marine biology conservation competition and ask, 'Hello, we saw your lovely poster, in English. Is the talk presented in English too?'

The young receptionist stares back at me, startled. 'English? English? No. Cantonese. Cantonese only. Have you come for the lecture? But here! Have some crayons! Take crayons!'

I made a mistake. It's just one more moment in my motherhood life. One more messed up moment, wasted time, pointless journey, squandered opportunity, loss of hours, fallout of argument, consequence of dolly ribbon.

But I offer my children my eternal forgiveness. And the thirty two packs of crayons, offloaded on me by the receptionist of the Cantonese only lecture. Magnanimous, my mistake admitted, my motherhood intact, my children colouring in, I move on.


sharon said...

Hmmm, so that's Cantonese lessons duly booked! How strange to put up a poster in English when the talk was to be in Cantonese. Still, free crayons ...not to be sneezed at ;-)

Sam said...

That's the kind of thing I'm *always* doing, for the same brain-dissolved reasons.
At least next time you visit Sha Tin, you won't even need to do the shopping mall once - you'll be straight out that exit :)

Now is your chance to try all those melted crayon activities you've always wanted to try, but never had enough crayons.

Sam x

MadameSmokinGun said...

Melted crayons! Of course! That's inspired. See? You put it out there and back comes good stuff. And in the heat you won't even need to make the effort to melt them yourselves. Dolphin-shaped moulds. Do you have mud? A project is born!