On our recent trip back to Singapore, I contacted 兒時的故事 Our Childhood Stories to ask if she has any new Chinese books to recommend. She lives really near my place, and I went over to select books directly from her home previously. This time round, she was very kind, and offered to bring some titles over to my place during a playdate session with my other friends, so that the other mums could also take a look at the books. Such a great idea, isn’t it? The mums can shop for books while the kids entertain themselves!
‘别说你快点快点’ was one of the titles that caught my eye, as its illustrations looked like a child’s artwork, and I immediately started thinking about how I could get N to work on his own art piece after reading this book. I’m not artistically inclined at all, so I need plenty of ideas on how to provide N with inspiration and opportunities to create his own masterpieces. I showed the book to N, and after he flipped through it, he asked if I could get it for him, so I did. I hardly ever say no to him when he asks for more books!
The story is told from the perspective of a little ship, and directed at his parents and the bigger ships around it. He talks about how everyone is different, with his/her own strengths and weaknesses, and therefore moving at various speeds. He asks his parents to stop asking him to hurry, and rather bluntly asks, “干吗那么急? 那么急，去哪里?” (“Why are you in such a hurry? Where are you going?”) By this point, I was feeling a tad uncomfortable, because I’m guilty of rushing N around, and not just in the physical sense. When he was a baby, I constantly fretted over him not being able to hit his milestones, and kept encouraging him to do more tummy time so that he could learn how to flip. (His first belly to back flip was a day before he turned six months old.)
The little ship then tells his parents not to compare him with other ships and sea creatures around, because it makes him feel scared and small. Finally, he asks his parents to stop pressurising him, but instead, to let him move forward slowly, and to head towards him slowly. “你等我吗？我等你啊。大家在一起。” (“Will you wait for me? I’ll wait for you. We can all be together.”)
Each time I read this book with N, the guilt hits me really hard. I’m reminded to slow down, and let him progress at a speed that he’s comfortable with. I’m reminded that he has complex feelings, and that I need to be more mindful about how he feels. I’m reminded not to compare him with his peers, no matter how tempting it may be, because it only serves to make him feel bad. Of course, he still needs to be pushed, otherwise nothing will get done at all, but I need to lower my expectations a little, and allow him to move at his own pace whenever possible. (Definitely not when I’m trying to get him ready for school in the mornings!)
The illustrations in this book complement the simple text perfectly, and emphasise each line’s meaning. The fact that it looks as though it was drawn by a child only serves to reinforce the idea of a young child speaking to his parents.
This seemingly simple book has a rather powerful message for us parents, and I think we could all do with a gentle reminder to stop pushing our children to move faster than what they’re comfortable with. On the surface, the story seems to be about moving faster physically, but the deeper, and more important lesson is clear: that we need to be supportive, and let our children know that we will be with them, no matter how fast or slow they are.
BUY THE BOOK 别说你快点快点 from 兒時的故事 Our Childhood Stories
Check out the previous Friday Flips posts HERE. I’ve also created a photo album on Facebook with some other good reads, and will be updating it whenever I come across more books that we enjoy. Do pop by for a look HERE.
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