Traveling With a Snail

13.pic副本I was planning to take Elijah for a long journey. I listed five pages of precautions and possible scenarios to prevent any mishaps from occurring. It should be a 100% safe, I thought, but I know in my heart that the only uncertainty of every family trip is my little mischievous, slow snail.
 
Elijah is a naive and uncomplicated child, with likes and dislikes clearly; he doesn’t know how to compliment and always does things slowly. With my child’s unique curiosity and not listening to parental commands, he used to bring me a lot of trouble. I complain that he doesn’t appreciate my hard work,and sometimes I quite envy other mothers who have well-behaved “small cotton padded jacket” (another way of saying daughters).
 
Every time before leaving, I always make a few simple rules for him to observe, which is the only way to soothe my emotion, as he is very good at giving me surprises time to time.
 
In the light of yearning for elite universities during my school time, I decided to make our first stop in Boston, where Elijah can visit the renown schools, I would like to click ten thousand “ likes” for my clever plan.
 
Upon arrival, there was a major snowstorm, the entire city of Boston was covered in white, Elijah was totally fascinated and completely occupied by the beautiful snow scene without any concern about the three-hour flight delay. I promised him to play with snow on our second day. 
 “I Only Want to be a Friend”
In order to walk to Harvard University, I specifically reserved a hotel nearby. On our second morning, we walked along the Charles River to enjoy the snowy landscape, Elijah was very excited, making snowballs to throw at me. Then, he was distracted and in awe by the little squirrels in the tree hole by the roadside.
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As we passed by Harvard Square, Elijah’s eyes were fixed on a patrol car parked on the side of the road. He has loved police cars since he was a toddler. 
I guessed that he would grab my hand and ask me to take him to touch the cool car, so I deliberately slowed down the walking pace and waited him to turn back to me for help. However, to my big astonishment, he totally ignored me, walked directly and talked to the policeman: “ I like your car, it’s pretty cool.” They introduced themselves and the policeman taught him how to turn on the lights and the siren, he was so thrilled and shouted to me with the loud speaker: “Mom, I’m here!”  Elijah was not shy at all, which was a real surprise to me.
He did not resemble my opinion of a normal six-year-old child. I recall when I was six years old only pulling my mother’s clothes to buy candies for me.
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We said good-bye to the police car, Elijah was reluctant to part—looking back several times and waving to the police—until he couldn’t see the police car any more. He took my hand and said to me, “Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a policeman. 
They make me happy, as police officers catch the bad guys, and they are inspirational and strong.”  Elijah continued, “but I don’t want to be just any policeman, I want to be an American policeman.”  I was a bit astounded and hollered, “But you are Chinese boy!” Countless images of my patriotic education appeared in my mind. Elijah kept silent for a long time, and answered in a low voice, “the United States policemen is…MY Friend. ” I suddenly realized he was trying to say” You only want to be a friend not an “Uncle” right?” “Yep!” he looked at me and gave me a big smile. He seemed so happy that I could understand him at last, and I felt humbled. For long time, I have been teaching him how to work hard and become the strongest of men, but he showed me that he just wants a peaceful, and friendly world.
We held hands and walked a long way in the snow. Harvard campus was really quiet and we could only hear the sound of boots trudging through the snow.
“You Are My Seeds”
On our fourth day in Boston, Elijah woke up in the morning, climbed to my bed and told me that last night, Mrs. Knight and he fed the swans in the swan lake behind the house. Mrs. Knight invited him to her house. I explained to him very patiently, that was only a dream.  He laid on my side, nodding his head disappointedly, “I must be thinking of Mrs. Knight,” he said to himself. Mrs. Knight was Elijah’s teacher in the Beanstalk International Bilingual School (BIBS). She is a very nice lady, speaking slowly and gently. Several times, I saw her talking to her young students and explaining patiently until they understood.
Without punishment, she always could make each kid listen to the command, not only the students like her, but the parents were influenced by her as well.  Mrs. Knight had returned to the United States.
Elijah often mentioned her to me, and I can see that he had a strong feelings for her. Since it was not a holiday travel season, we took the chance to visit her. 

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Elijah was very pleased to accept my proposal, and we booked the tickets and headed south to Dallas, Texas. Mrs. Knight was very happy to see us and prepared a superb dinner to treat us. For the entire evening, Elijah was talking to Mrs. Knight about the interesting stories happening at our school since she left.  I sat on the side and didn’t have a chance to get a word in.
He spoke in a very vivid way that I could only look at him, and made every effort to suppress my surprise. I was so stunned that his oral English had become so fluent with an extensive vocabulary, and moreover, in that moment, I realized how mature my little son had become.  I was overtaken with emotions, which made me even more content and touched.
On the way back, Elijah suddenly asked me, “Mom, do you think I have bloomed?” I was amazed. 
He said, “when leaving, Mrs. Knight, she said, “we are all her seeds, and every morning, she waters us, takes us out for sunshine, but now she needs to go home, so she hands us over to Ms. Carolina to educate and safeguard us. When we blossom as a flower, she will be very happy.  When I saw Mrs. Knight today and she was proud, so I guess that I must be. “
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Along the way, Elijah was overjoyed about his maturity, and I was moved by Mrs. Knight’s unique interpretation of his child development. It is the most beautiful farewell I ever heard, making the separation easier, with no sadness, which planted a growing seed in children’s hearts.
I touched Elijah’s head gently and said, “Honey, Mom is so happy to see you blossom!”
 “ Not Every Favorite Thing Can Be Taken Home ”
Our last stop was Mexico. Fortunately, while we had a few days of sunbathing on the beach, we heard it was snowing in Beijing. During this part of the trip, I had time to reflect on Elijah’s remarkable progress. In order to encourage him for the cooperation and good behavior, I gave him 200 pesos so that he could buy a favorite souvenir at the airport duty-free shop. He wandered around for a long time, finally selected a toy car. When he took the car to the register, the salesman told him the price of the car was far more than 200 pesos.
Then, we heard the announcement that our plane was boarding.  He suddenly turned, fighting back his tears and put back the car, and then pulled my hand and walked forward without even looking back.
I stopped and said to him, “if you really want it, Mom can buy it for you.”  He shook his head and said: “Mom let’s go, I don’t need to buy it although I will remember it.”16.pic副本
While in line to board, Elijah was about to burst into tears, and doing his very best to control himself.  Once in our seats, his tears stopped and he said, my teacher said, “Not every favorite thing can be taken home, and I have a lot of cars at home already. ” Ah, those cars at home are waiting for you to play with them. He added, “but it has shiny and star patterns on it. I really like it.
I feel a little sad without it. I just want to cry for a while, can I?”  I couldn’t help smiling, not only for his juvenile reply, but also for his continued growth.
This is the first time for him to cry because of his favorite thing. Suddenly, I was put in a trance—was this little boy Elijah who formerly cried in the street for ice cream? 
Love is Another Method of Education
I insisted on sending Elijah to an international school with 70 percent of our family members opposing the idea. I doubted my decision as well when I heard public school children his same age, who could recite advanced multiplication and division problems with great skill such as the three-character primer, which is a famous introductory mathematics book for child in China. However, every time when I see Elijah’s progress in his critical thinking and independent ideas–some even going beyond me.
I believe the BIBS curriculum has the best of both of worlds: a bilingual program and the student-centered IB PYP and with Elijah learning these new attributes: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-taker, balanced and reflective – I am confident that he will flourish emotionally, socially and academically throughout his life. I know I made the right school choice for my son.untitled
There is an old Chinese saying that “dutiful sons come from sticks.” However, today, we should understand that love is another way of education.
I feel lucky for my initial decision, and would like to give my heartfelt thanks to BIBS for the progress in his growth, letting the children understand that life is so beautiful.
                                                                         
 ———-  By Vena Wu