When are you going to start learning Chinese?

The same time I started learning English – as a young kid?

For English, I remember my parents getting me a stack of Peter and Jane hardcover books.
The ones that come with painted illustrations of the titular characters and go:

Here is Peter.
Here is Jane.
Here is the horse.
Peter and Jane like the horse.
I like the horse.

Such engaging material.
I’m sure the 5-year-old me was riveted to the spot, hastily thumbing through the pages to find out what was going to happen to Peter and Jane and the horse.

For Chinese, my dad would get me these note books, the ones with squares on every page, and he would sit me down at the study table and make me handwrite various Chinese characters, over and over again. 10 characters, each one 10 times, then rinse and repeat with the same 10 characters…

Chinese calligraphy was part of these at-home lessons too.
My dad’s calligraphy skills were – and still are – extremely impressive, so he would also watch over me like a hawk as I practiced my calligraphy skills – and sigh resignedly as I made ugly mistake after ugly mistake.

I don’t think my dad has ever been truly satisfied with my calligraphy skills, even as an adult.
Even as an adult who still practices calligraphy on those same square-segmented pages.
The things we do to make our parents proud.

Leave a Comment