Saturday, 10 March 2012

Sporting fun

Using that streak of ferocious tenacity that all home ed parents must at some time employ, Chris defies Chinese logic and organises for our off-beat/illegal home ed group a one-day visit to Tso Kung Tam Outdoor Recreation Centre.

Normally, this place is used by school parties. Here, the children may experience authorised physical activities outdoors en masse and under supervision. It is built in that friendly Chinese institutional style from concrete, glass, and the silent tears of Chinese children who dread all organised sport.

Well, they must engage in approved physical movement somewhere. It is the law. And you have to remember, we're dealing with a country where schools ban running in the playgrounds (no space) and where children are forbidden from making a noise at playtime (passed through the courts). So it makes sense to create an edifice where you can spend time moving your limbs in controlled rotation.

I suppose I should be grateful to the Tso Kung Tam Outdoor Recreation Centre, even if it gives me that foreboding sense of threat and brutality I've come to associate with having fun at organised team sports. At least they allowed entry to our illegal non-school party, which none of the others would.

And they did leave us alone. We were clearly out of control, the moment we arrived, milling about and making loud noises. Maybe the staff didn't know what to do with us.

Our kids chose mostly ropes, archery, running about in the dining hall (seating for 10,000), and mucking about in the playgrounds. All illegal, probably. But it could be that the staff didn't have enough English to complain, so let us get on with it.

It was enjoyable enough for our thick-skinned, brass-necked group, but probably not for all Chinese children, some of whom I can sympathise with, as they weep into their residential pillows, willing the entire fun outdoor sporting experience to be over so they are free to go back to being chained at their desks.

We had a glimpse of their experience. Thanks to the dining guard, shouting orders at the five-year olds through the megaphone. And the grumpy, miserable bastard who bizarrely went by the name of 'instructor' but whose job was basically to control the ropes on the climbing wall.

He showed his 'perfect-to-work-with-children' disposition by refusing to acknowledge the hopeful kids staring up at the prison wall, and refusing to help them with climbing kit.

When finally forced by circumstance to let our kids have a go (and the fact that we have a Cantonese speaker in the group), he spent his time practising his sour face while grumbling, complaining, and yanking them off the wall when he thought their fun was up.

I felt sorry for those schoolchildren who come away feeling they had no choice at all, and whose enjoyment of physical movement was aided not one bit by the control and supervision orders.

But I guess there's always a way to help them out.


MadameSmokinGun said...

Love your last picture.

My memory of school sport and Room 101 are synonymous. Gods that took me 5 attempts to spell. I'm sure there's no connection to lack of exercise and lack of brain-power.... gods forbid..

Irene said...

Those poor Chinese children. It must be awful to be them. I have never experienced this, yet I can picture this very well in my head. Have I met taciturn adults like this in my life? I'm sure I must have in a distant past. People who ddn't realize that I was supposed to be having fun.