Playgroups & Schools in Hong Kong
So, as you know…being a Mum of Twins is never easy at the best of times. Well… actually being a Mum is never that easy and is probably THE most thankless job … especially to Twins. Now, I also have to contend with finding a good preschool/Reception class for the kids to get into in Hong Kong. On top of all of that, I’m dealing with some serious “unfriendliness” at my local playgroup, with a leading Nursery on the Southside being my new pet hate. When I say unfriendly, I mean, downright bitchy!! I try to make conversation with Mums and get a laconic reply to even the smallest “so, how old’s you little girl?”. The response is normally (a) “It’s a boy”, or (b) “one years old and 2 days”, with a long sigh before a friend arrives at the Playgroup and Im shunned from all conversation immediately as they exchange bull-shit chit-chat of their weekends together. LIKE I GIVE A SHIT!!!
I’ll firstly begin with the whole “putting your kids name down for a good school”, which has turned out to be an absolute nightmare, and sooooo competitive. To begin with, I want a school which also has a UK curriculum (of some sort) only because I’m hoping/trusting, we will one day return back home and the kids can slot right back into school (despite the massive upheaval, Tax issues and shock of the cold shitty, rainy UK weather & rude service staff).
Anyhow, back to School visits, The Captain asked one of the Fathers, (also doing a tour of one of the many “International Schools” we were going to look at) if he’d seen many good schools so far. The Fathers response was “yeh”. Not, “yes, we’ve been to bla ba bla…”. Nothing just a point-blank, competitive, terse, dickhead (they also had Twins as it turns out), “yeh”. Arsehole. The Captain in response to this blokes total “unfriendliness” and the other set of Parents also on Tour of the school, decided to ask AS MANY QUESTIONS possible during the tour. I mean, sooo many questions, I even looked over at him to say “Mate, we don’t even like this school, relax”. He couldn’t though as although The Captain sounds normal, he is just as nuts (if not more so) than I am. He’s also hugely argumentative and LOVES to wind people up. Seriously. He asked me for a “pen & pad” and starting writing stuff down. Where is that notepad now?! Who cares! Winding people up is his speciality. I’ve never seen anything like it. Sometimes genius, sometimes, very annoying (especially when you need to be somewhere else).
Sooo…. what is it with this whole school business in Hong Kong? I mean, if we were in the UK, I would (a) be escorting my services out once again to pay for private schools, (b) begging all Grandparents to pitch in as they don’t really need a retirement fund anyway in this day and age when anything can happen to their money or (c) pick our favourite and send her (ooops, or him) off to private school while the other braves a harsh state school sooo hardcore, you have your shoes, lunch and usually house keys stolen before you’ve got to your first class. Harsh? Yes. Honest? Yes!!
My younger brother went to a state school in Wimbledon, South London. One of the better ones allegedly. He got bullied sooo much (hey, even the Headmaster did by some of the 16 year olds, that scared the crap out of me when I used to collect him from school), he once walked out of school with a bloody nose and dried nail marks down the side of his face. He was 6 years old. I, being 10 years older, stormed into the Headmaster’s shitty office with peeling wall paper and after much bullshit, got an apology but that was it. I was only 16 years old after all and who cares what I said, I wasn’t his parent… but close enough as I pretty much raised him. I wanted blood for what those silly bitches had done to him. My little brother, who had been taught from a young age, never to hit girls (no matter how irritating they were), was picked on by 2 little cows in the boys loo. Even to this day, I could picture those little faces as I wanted to cause them some serious harm. One of the girls Mums rang my parents to sloppily “apologise” but it was all just an act. If one of my own kids came out of school with anything like that, I’d go fucking mad and I wouldn’t make any apologies for going in and giving that kid (whoever that poor sod was) a good old verbal telling off, unless he/she/it really pissed me off, in which case, I’d remove a flip fop, start hitting …. and wait for the Police to turn up.
Since we moved to HK, I’ve witnessed brats on a different level to anything I’ve ever seen before. To be fair… I grew up with lovely, polite, well spoken (to our parents anyway) girls who never ever did, what I have experienced since moving to Hong Kong. I’ve seen Helpers give kids a good whack when they misbehave, but, to be fair, I’ve also seen the most vulgar behaviour from kids here (between the ages of 7 ish to 12 ish). Rude screaming, shouting at their helpers … no parents in sight though. My kids…. for the record… are aware of boundaries, with me anyway. I grew up with very strong, harsh boundaries and that’s what they will get too (hopefully). I am a better, stronger person for it. My poor helper walked away from a baby-milk-drinking situation a few days ago, as my son cried for her over me, as she would have given in to holding his cup. HOLDING HIS CUP. Did I give in, so he liked me more? No. I carried that cheeky monkey and he will not remember her over me, I’m afraid to say, in a few years. I’m setting boundaries. Life is not easy. He comes to me first and foremost always though and this gives me the strength to carry on, feeling like a complete 1950’s Mum-type cow. I’m raising them after all & I’m not mean, but you are not helping them by just handing over everything they need. I’m also there so I am not, in any way, saying, all helpers are bad, or all mothers in HK give in. I’m NOT saying this. I’m saying, I’m not sure… in fact thats a big fat lie… in my mind… I dont want Itchy & Scratchy being complete arseholes who expect everything on a plate. I never had it. I wouldn’t give things that easily to a friend i was trying to teach something to. You wouldn’t do it with your best friend. Why do it with your kids?! Kids know they can try it on (hell, I did!) and will do anything if no one stands in. My kids, I’m afraid to say, only understand me telling them off in my own language (which was always English until I gave birth). My Original language though, I wont say which, but, maybe because it sounds angry… well.. lets just say, they dont argue with Mum. I’m not mean, I don’t need to scream. I just do the old fashioned “Mum stare”.
Now, I’m in Hong Kong, trying to PAY for a private privileged education and STILL, you have no guarantee of getting your kids into a Reception class (from the age of 4 years old!?! wot the fuck?!). I told the Captain, I will be happy to sleep with the Headmaster (or Mistress if needs be) of our chosen school. I even dressed a little too slutty for our look around which appeared to make the old chap happy (by that I actually mean The Captain who kept perving at me all morning) as we wandered around an AMAZING school with views over mountains. MOUNTAINS PEOPLE?!?! How lucky are my kids?! Or any child living it up in Hong Kong. I had a view of the Dartford Tunnel, Kent (its shit… Google it if you care) when I went to school.
So, that’s my trying to get the kids into a school story. Pay a shit load of money (you don’t get refunds on “administration fees and deposits”) and even then, despite putting their names down THREE YEARS in advance, you don’t know if they get in. Debentures from companies work wonders though and bump you up to the front of a huge line of parents waiting for their Prince or Princess to get in. FUCK OFF YOU ELITE GITS!!! How unfair is that? It wouldn’t be if we had one of course, but we don’t. So I’m pissed off. If I could be arsed, I may try doing the whole home schooling thing, but really…. I personally need time out for myself (plus there are too many happy hours to leave undrunk in Hong Kong).
Now, part two of my joyous last few weeks involves the godforsaken hell that is the “Playgroup” which you actually pay for at a Nursery. I HATE going to these. I feel like the naughty kid in school for a start as all the Mums turn up in floaty dresses (when did they come back in fashion btw?!) and I feel all “rock n’ roll” (Captains words not mine) in jean shorts, T-shirt (usually saying “burn in hell”) and smoking a spilff (ok I’m joking but I may as well bloody be?!). I did see one HOT Mama today picking up an older child who I immediately wanted to be mates with (she had jean shorts on, ripped shirt… no friends but bloody gorgeous).
Now, I have explained to The Captain, that I HATE playgroups. Hate them. Yes, they may allegedly be great for the kids to encourage social skills of all kinds but, really?! Why can’t I just meet up with people who have kids (which I also hate doing BTW as its such hard work)? I mean, this “free play” time business is basically something you could do at home. They don’t have padded floors (much-needed with my Daughter who thinks her head is made of sponge), it’s all the same, plus germs, viral infections and horrible kids/parents.
One Mum turned up today with a child soooo sick, he was coughing and spluttering all over everything. When I say “everything, I mean things your kids then pick up and put right in their mouth. The stupid selfish cow. Yes, I’m being mean but they’ve all been soo unfriendly from day one, i can’t even give a crap to be polite about this. I never ever go to a playgroup/persons home, if I or one of the kids have been sick. Especially when people have kids of their own. It’s just fucking selfish.
Everyone in the playgroup was moving away from this woman and her coughing son, who then had the balls to try to HIT my daughter in the face as she happily ran past him during “freetime”. She managed to duck his slap but, he still clipped the side of her ear and …. I then tripped him up. Yes. I did. He was mean to all the kids in the class and before you say it’s because he was “ill or out of sorts”, it’s not. This boy is nasty. I hate him. He’s only 1.5 years old but he has hurt approx 70% of the playgroup class with paint brushes, slaps directly to the mouth, hitting kids with the tambourine (during the marvel that is music time) and all other kinds of crap that his Mum needs to reel in ASAP. What kinda woman have I turned into?! I used to love kids until they started trying to torture my own.
Anyhow…that’s it from me. I’ll let you know if we ever get into a school I like. Sorry, I mean “we”... The Captain keeps pointing out the kids also do belong to him…. even if I did carry them for 9 months and all the fertility shit that came with it.
I can’t name the school’s I’m keen on for Legal reasons (I’m sure) and also, I wont name my painful playgroup I’m subjecting the kids to weekly, as we’re all STILL, 9 mothes later, still trying to settle into this new home. One thing though. One AMAZING thing for me. I’m soooo in love with our kids …. they are really becoming people now, you know. They do things every day, where I go “wow!!” And that can involve anything from holding a cup, to eating Pizza (for kids with acid reflux.. this is a huge deal for me right now!).
Hope you’re all well out there.
* Photo taken from the top of The Dragons Back trek in Hong Kong.
Tags: administration fees and deposits for schools in Hong Kong, bullying in playgroups in Hong Kong, competitive parents in Hong Kong, Elite, International Schools in Hong Kong, Parents, Play Groups Southside Hong Kong, playgroups in Hong Kong, reception schools in Hong Kong, Schools in Hong Kong, twin parents, twins, waiting lists for schools in Hong Kong
About Sharzad MichaelsA food loving, punk (and chef) wannabe, divorced, single parent champion of 3 young children. An ex(ex) pat, ex-wife & ex lawyer. SW15 Londoner, born and raised.
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