089: How I Handled A Devastating Piece of News?

A Terrible News

If you receive a devastating piece of news from the school, what would you have done?

Several weeks ago, on the day that my sixteen-year-old son, Cairn, was supposed to attend his school graduation ceremony, he was abruptly removed from the list of graduates! Instead of receiving his certificate in robes like the other graduating students on the stage, Cairn was told to sit among the audience to applaud the achievement of others.

Out of concern for Cairn’s feelings, his class teacher kept a close watch on him and assured me that he was unaffected. I was told Cairn cheered enthusiastically for his friends who went up the stage.

“Class of 2020” (William WK Tan’s Photography)

When Cairn arrived home from school, all I got from him was a sealed envelope containing a letter that said his application for admission to a senior high school for students with special needs was unsuccessful.

The rejection letter carried big implications. Cairn would remain in his current high school, and make another attempt for admission to the senior high school the next year. But if he were to be rejected again, his special school education would end the next year in the current school as eighteen is the cut-off age. That is tantamount to an off-the-cliff ending to his adult education.

“Off the Cliff” (WordPress Photography)

The biggest headache at hand was we were clueless about the reasons for rejection. By all measures, Cairn had always been held as an exemplary student in his junior high school. We were under the impression from both schools that Cairn would certainly be accepted because he had met all the stipulated requirements. Without knowing the reason, we would not know what could be done to improve his chances in the next shot.

I felt indignant for my son as unpleasant memories surfaced. All the these years, Cairn had put in so much effort in everything he did. But not all his efforts paid off. For instance, last year, Cairn won his first swimming competition, but was bizarrely disqualified. The ridiculous reason was he swam a lot faster than the timing submitted before the race. In the spirit of participation, we cast aside our disappointment and did not pursue the matter further. But this time, the issue is more than dealing with disappointment, Cairn couldn’t graduate despite his good performance at school!

“Touching The Wall First!” (William WK Tan’s Photography)

I lamented to my wife, “Just when we thought that everything is moving smoothly for him at last, this has to happen!”

My wife was visibly upset as she spoke, “They gave us hope, then took it away! ”

I told her with resolve, “I’ll settle this.”

“An angry fist” (William WK Tan’s Photography)

Take Thoughtful Actions

I thought hard about the content of my appeal letter to the school principal of the new school. After I drafted the letter, I showed to my wife and fourteen-year-old son, Conan.

My wife seemed pleased that I had backed up my appeal with strong arguments and proof. Conan, however, remarked, “Dad, shouldn’t you preface with some niceties? After all, you want to work with the new principal.”

I took his advice and edited the letter accordingly.

Dear Principal,

Sorry to take up your precious time. I need to consult you regarding school admission criteria. I am also writing to appeal for my son, Cairn Tan on the following grounds:

Cairn has met the two key criteria for school admission: the WPLN ( Work Place Literacy and Numeracy) Assessment and the independent traveling requirement.

Moreover, Cairn was graded “excellent” in Housekeeping. In addition, Cairn has actual retail work experience. On a daily basis, he has been operating his snack vending machine for nearly a year since December 2019. The operation includes the checking and replenishment of stock; and changing the prices and items. Cairn can do all that independently.

“Tending To A Vending Machine” (William WK Tan’s Photography)

Cairn also knows how to key in data of inventories and keep account of daily sales in excel spreadsheets. In addition, he is also responsible for proper packing of goods ordered from our e-commerce website, for delivery to respective customers.

“Packaging his merchandise” (William WK Tan’s Photography)

Recently, we even discovered that Cairn can memorize the value of pi up to 20 places, and do square roots and indices of two and three-digit numbers mentally! That shows the boy has much more potential than we imagined!

“Solve square roots of 4 digit-figures mentally” (William WK Tan’s Photography)

To prepare Cairn for the transition, we have also trained Cairn to travel independently to and from your school. See attached pictures.

“Taking a bus ride myself” (William WK Tan’s Photography)

During the admission interview, we were told for certain that Cairn will be offered a place in your school because he meets the admission requirements. The only purpose of the interview was to find out which vocation is most suited for him.

Even his current school was under the impression that Cairn will be moving on. That was why they had him participate in the graduation ceremony rehearsal. But only today, we were told that he had been taken off the list of graduates and denied his spot at the graduation ceremony. Despite working hard to qualify for your vocational programme, Cairn will be retained for another year!

As a parent yourself, can you imagine the big disappointment to our family to receive the rejection letter? As the reason for rejection is not stated, I have no choice but to seek help directly from you.

“Help me!” (WordPress Photography)

I believe that as a respected school leader, you will help us in this matter. We have been looking forward to Cairn starting a new chapter at your school. And we are very supportive of school efforts and are most willing to work with you. Please call me to arrange a meeting ASAP.

William WK Tan

Shortly after, the principal replied with warm and encouraging words, expressing delight to receive updated information about Cairn’s ability to travel independently. A week later, the good news came. Cairn’s appeal was successful!

Immediately, I wrote another heartfelt letter to Cairn’s current school’s principal. A few days later, Cairn’s class teacher called me up cheerily to inform me of the school principal’s decision to arrange a make-up graduation ceremony for Cairn! I felt so thankful to the school leaders and teachers in both schools.

All things ended well at last.

“I have graduated!” (William WK Tan’s Photography)

Parents, what’s your takeaway from this story? If anything, I hope you pick up the following steps about how to be an effective advocate for your child:

Be An Effective Advocate For Your Child

Step 1: Do not get emotional. Think about the real issue you want to solve.

Step 2: Know your child’s rights and strengths.

Step 3: Organise your thoughts with supporting evidence.

Step 4: Seek support from stakeholders.

Step 5: Show appreciation and a strong intention to work together.

Children with special needs are often incapable of speaking up for themselves. They need their parents to be their voice. Therefore, we need to learn how to speak up on their behalf, rationally and passionately. Don’t you agree?

“Be An Effective Voice!” (WordPress Photography)

William WK Tan

28 December 2020

088: “What Would You Say To Someone in Distress?”

A Stranger In Distress

I hope she is doing well. A stranger whom I have never met is on my mind lately. Yet, I have no idea who she is, and I don’t even know her name to begin with.

But the woman sounded despondent when she spoke about her life on a social media platform where parents seek advice from one another. She wrote anonymously,

“I feel very sad about my life. My elderly father is sick and estranged from my mom. My husband earns enough for the family but he is a temperamental man. I had to go through IVF to eventually conceive two children. Unfortunately, one turns out to be autistic. And I have to take care of both of them as a full-time housewife, making it impossible for me to earn any income. My parents-in-laws are understanding of my difficulties but they are curt in their words. They made me feel that a daughter-in-law will always remain an outsider in the husband’s family. When I am down, I have no one to share my feelings. I feel so helpless over what’s happening in my life.”

“A person in distress” (WordPress Photography)

It occurred to me that the woman might be suffering alone. Could she be suffering from burnout as a caregiver, stressed by all the problems that are beyond her control? Could she be already at her breaking point? Perhaps I was paranoid, whenever I read news of tragic news of families with children of special needs, I knew that I couldn’t just read, sigh and then pretend that there’s nothing I can do.

The Straits Times, Published on October 19, 2020

Immediately I wrote to her, as if I knew what to say. Magically, words just flowed out seamlessly with my thoughts and feelings as I wrote,

“It looks like you have been given a poor hand of cards in life—sick and estranged parents, temperamental spouse, an autistic child, hostile parents-in-laws and you, being a stay-at-home-mother who feels helpless about not making any income. Things are indeed tough on you. What can you do? I might have the answer for you.

May I suggest you look at your situation from a different perspective?

Do try to think about your circumstances the other way round:

“Although things are not easy for me, I am proud of myself for not leaving my sickly and estranged parents in the lurch. Although one of my children is autistic, he can still improve and I am blessed with another healthy child. Although my husband is temperamental, there are times he is good to me and our children. Although my laws say nasty things, they are understanding of my difficulties.”

How you feel depends on whether you choose to adopt the “half-empty or full glass”perspective of things.

“Half empty or full” (William WK Tan’s photography)

When life is hard, it either weakens or strengthens you. You make the choice. If you choose to see things positively, negativity cannot get you down. You can then find the strength to change the narrative of your life.

I know of some people who turn their lives around completely by simply waking up 2 hours earlier to do these things:

(1) improving their health by running;

(2) reflecting to become better parents;

(3) earning a side income of $200-$400 a month by distributing newspapers.

Change your perspective and find a formula that suits you!

I look forward to seeing you start a new chapter of your life in the subsequent months. Best wishes!”

I do not know if my words have helped her in any way. But I know my words have struck a chord among parents as more and more people responded. Many others also offered their own advice and encouragement. Suddenly, the suffering of one person has turned into a common concern of many people. The burden is lightened and things start looking brighter.

“Things look brighter” (William WK Tan’s photography)

Here is where I learnt an invaluable lesson— do not let anyone suffer in silence. Be kind to others. Give a smile, an encouragement, a praise or an act of service. We can all help to lighten the emotional load of others by just doing a little more.

William WK Tan

17 November 2020

087: How You Can Unleash Your Child’s Potential?

It’s hard to identify our preconceptions, let alone breaking them because most parents believe that they are always acting in the best interest of their children. On hindsight, however, we would probably admit that there were occasions when we could have made better decisions.

Using a personal story, here are four steps to breaking preconceptions that could unleash the potential of your children:

(1) Uncover your preconceptions

(2) Re-discover what your child can do

(3) Start a new learning journey

(4) Walk the journey together

Uncover Your Preconceptions

“Could I have held back my son’s development?” This startling realisation dawned on me after my sixteen-year-old autistic son, Cairn, demonstrated his Maths prowess at school recently by doing square roots of 3-4-digit figures mentally two weeks ago (See 85: “How Far Can This Child Go”). In retrospect, I had stopped teaching Cairn Maths in the last three years.

“Cairn tries to solve square root mentally” (Photography by Ms. Lim WT)

The realisation made me uncover two preconceptions— beliefs that had hindered me from pursuing my son’s abilities in certain areas further.

Preconception One:

Cairn should focus on developing independent-living skills and enhance his employability, even if it means disregarding his strengths and interest.

“Cairn packs the inventory for his e-store.” (Photography by William WK Tan)

Preconception Two:

Cairn should learn only English since he is already facing daunting obstacles in language acquisition due to his poor receptive and expressive communication ability.

“Cairn’s recent English homework.” (Photography by William WK Tan)

Do not get me wrong. Of course it is good to develop independent-living and enhance employability. And it is also prudent not to impose the burden of learning an additional language on the child when he is already struggling with learning one. The bigger question is, even as we work on these priorities, are we compromising on their strengths and interests?

Re-Discover What Your Child Can Do

I deliberated on the things Cairn can learn by utilising his strength in Maths—coding, computer literacy skills, memory and thinking techniques, and high school Maths topics such as algebraic equations and calculus. The more I thought about it, the more possibilities I could see. I felt a renewed sense of excitement, a feeling that’s often lost in parents when their children get older.

Out of curiosity, I tested Cairn’s memory using the value of PI. Cairn memorised up to 10 decimal places (3. 1415926535 ) effortlessly and could recall every digit correctly even after 2 weeks. His memory astounded me!

“Cairn writes the value of Pi” (Photography by William WK Tan)

Then I thought to myself, “Does Cairn know how to read and write any Chinese word?”

I turned to Cairn and asked, “Do you know the numbers from one to ten in Chinese?”

Without hesitation, Cairn recited and wrote the Chinese character of each numeral. Those were the characters I taught him more than ten years ago!

Start A New Learning Journey

“Would you be willing to do something for your brother for just fifteen minutes every day?”

That’s the question I asked Conan, Cairn’s fourteen-year-old younger brother, after I showed him the Chinese words that Cairn could remember. Conan started giving Cairn 15 minute-lesson from the next day.

“Conan guided Cairn to write Chinese Characters.”(Photography by William WK Tan)

“Now you copy the word, “thousand” which is “qiān” (千) in Chinese three more times,” Conan was telling Cairn to learn from copying the words that he didn’t know.

“Next, do you know the Chinese word for ten thousand?” Conan asked.

Cairn replied, “wàn“(万)!”

He had actually stolen a quick glance at the book and copied the character.

“You ah!”, Conan laughed and moved on to teaching Cairn more words. Towards the end of the session, Conan was praising and hugging his brother, who was also beaming a wide smile.

Conan told me his observations, “Cairn can read and write many words like “dà” (大-big) xiǎo” (小-small), shàng (上-up), xià (下-down) even before I taught him.”

“Words that Cairn recently learnt.” (Photography by William WK Tan)

Walk The Journey Together

“I really appreciate that you are spending time with your brother like this. It takes commitment to do it daily. Thank you!” I told him.

I also told Conan my observations of his lesson, “I like how you motivate your brother with praises and encouragement. You didn’t reprimand him when he copied the word. You just moved on. That kept his motivation going!”

Conan looked pleased.

“There is, however, no need to keep testing him with questions. It can become stressful. Read to him more. You can tailor the lesson in any way to match his liking.”

Conan remarked with a chuckle, “He obviously likes to copy.”

“Cairn enjoys writing Chinese Characters” (Photography by William WK Tan)

Two weeks had lapsed since we embarked on this new endeavour. It has become a routine for Cairn to take the Chinese textbook and his Writing practise book to the sofa after dinner, where Conan would start working with him.

I have no idea how long Conan can sustain his efforts. One month; three months or a year? But I hope it would be long enough for Conan to realise that he benefits as much, if not, more than Cairn from walking this journey together with his brother.

“Rainbow” (WordPress Free Picture)

I hope our endeavour offers you some useful insights to how you can unleash the potential of your children.

William W K Tan

086: Should I Bring A Baby With Disabilities To This World?

To Keep The Child Or Not?

If someone is struggling with the painful decision of keeping a baby who is likely to be born with disabilities, what would you say to her?

Two days ago, a pregnant woman sought advice in a parenting group in the social media. She wrote about her dilemma,

“I am at the 13th week of my second pregnancy. A recent Down Syndrome test revealed an absence of nasal bone in the foetus, which caused alarm. I just did a further blood screening test, which will reveal the result in two week’s time. I am worried sick. What if the baby is inflicted with Down Syndrome? If the risk is high, should I keep the baby? Should I bring the poor child to suffer in this world.”

I was mulling over her words till the wee hours of morning. I felt compelled to share with her my thoughts, hoping that it would help the poor mother in her decision-making. Here’s my heartfelt sharing with her, which, to my surprise, garnered a lot of positive reaction from other parents.

Cherish The Opportunity To Make A Deliberate Decision

“I have a child with special needs. And I have not met any parent who deliberately CHOSE to be parenting a child with special needs. So, you have a precious opportunity to make a deliberate decision now.

I can tell you unequivocally that raising a child with special needs is a rewarding gift of love, humility and empathy. Raising my son has taught me what unconditional love and absolute patience mean. The journey so far might have been fraught with difficult moments, but I believe I have emerged a better person.

Weekend runs with my children (Photography by William WK Tan)

You can do even better. But that is only if you and your husband are willing to accept, love and support not only the child, but also each other unconditionally.

The Onus Is Solely On Parents

My son brings me much joy with his innocent smiles and every small step of progress he made. Life itself is a gift, disabilities not withstanding. It is not a suffering to any child if they are adequately loved and cared for. I am of the opinion that the argument children with disabilities will surely lead a life of hardship is flawed.

The real question is whether you and your husband are willing to accept that the child is not the problem. The real issue is whether parents are prepared to:

(1) accept the child fully;

(2) take up their responsibilities;

(3) learn about their child; and

(4) allocate time and resources wisely

Consider your family’s circumstances and the things you need to do to receive the child. If the more you know, the less scared you become, then you are ready to go on the journey.

A Journey (Photography by William WK Tan)

Let’s pray for the best and be prepared for the worst. Hopefully, it is a mistake. Meanwhile, please do serious research by watching video documentaries on raising children with Down Syndrome and read up everything you can find. If possible, visit some happy kids at the Down Syndrome Association. Better still, speak to parents of these kids.

In the end, after u have done all your research and had heart-to-heart discussion with your spouse, whatever decision you arrive is not for others to judge. You would know in your heart if you have made the right decision.”

From the heart (Photography by William WK Tan)

I hope my words have helped someone out there.

William W K Tan

24 October 2020, Saturday

085 How Far Can This Child Go?

Everyone is good at something!

This is a real story about how a teacher uncovers the extent of a child’s potential out of a genuine curiosity to find out “how far can this child go?”.

Two days ago, Ms. Lim, a special needs school teacher, decided to tell her class an important message, “Remember this—everyone has something that he or she is good at.”

Knowing that Cairn, a 16 year-old student, who has moderate autism and speech difficulties, is good at simple Maths calculations, she asked the boy to perform an addition of two six-digit figures in front of the class.

Ms Lim was astounded to hear the boy saying out the correct answer before her fingers even finished keying in the numbers on the calculator!

Testing the child’s limits!

Encouraged by Cairn’s mental calculation prowess, Ms Lim asked Cairn to solve subtraction, multiplication and even division of six-digit figures. The boy answered every question correctly without pen and paper!

Testing the child’s limit, Ms. Lim wrote 2 to the power of 3.

The whole class watched the question in bewilderment, “What’s that? Miss Lim, what’s that? How come we had never see this kind of question before?”

Before she could explain, Cairn answered, “Eight!”

Surprised, Ms Lim thought to herself quietly, “Wow! Cairn knows how to do indices! Let’s test him a little more!”

Randomly, she wrote 16 to the power of 3 on the whiteboard, half thinking that he is unlikely to solve it mentally, even if he knows indices.

To solve this question mentally, one has to perform a series of calculations on the head:

(Step 1) 16 x 6= 96;

(Step 2) 16 x10 = 160;

(Step 3) then add 96 and 160 = 256;

(Step 4) 256 x 6 = 1536 which involves several carry-overs;

(Step 5) 256 x 10 = 2560;

(Final Step 6) 1536 + 2560 = 4096.

Cairn took a while to think as the class waited in silence. The moment he said the correct answer, the whole class erupted in applause. Classmates went up and gave Cairn a huge pat on his shoulder and congratulated him after he could answer all of the questions! The students were saying to him like they were talking to their younger brother, “Ah boy!!!! Good ah!” Their euphoria also attracted teachers from other classes to see what Cairn was doing!

Keep Searching What Your Strength Is

Cairn’s spectacular performance had many students started thinking, “How come he is so good at math? What am I good at then?”

This was a great teaching moment. Ms Lim took the opportunity to encourage the class, “Like I said, everyone is good at something. All you have to do is to keep searching what your strength is!”

The next day, Ms Lim took a video of how Cairn learns and performs square root for the first time.

Looking at the examples she created for Cairn on the whiteboard, I could tell how much she believed in my boy’s ability to figure the logic on his own. All this while, I am fully aware of Cairn’s strength in Maths, but unlike Ms Lim, I had stopped asking, “how much more can his strength be expanded?”, after I had switched my focus to work on enhancing his employability.

Do not underestimate the intrinsic value of learning

That’s the problem with most typical Singaporean parents. In the face of practical concerns, we would encourage children to learn only what is of use, instead of what is in their interest and strength.

I do not think that I am wrong to focus on my son’s employability, but I had unwittingly neglected on expanding his strengths further. Yet, I have kept on polishing my writing and photography skills as a hobby in recent years. And I know how much personal satisfaction I had gained from doing such endeavours.

Although I do not know how Cairn’s strength in mental calculation can be translated to employable skills, I now know the intrinsic value in encouraging Cairn to pursue a subject or area where his interest lies. Can you feel the enthusiasm that overflows from his back when he is trying to learn a Maths concept on his own?

William

p.s: Special thanks to Ms Lim Wan Ting for your passion and commitment in discovering children’s potential! And for being such a wonderful teacher!

Ms Lim is not the only wonderful teacher I know. Over these years at Grace Orchard School (GOS), Cairn had encountered many excellent Teachers and therapists who had gone the extra mile to help him. Thank you, GOS principal, Mrs Goh and your team!

#specialneeds#autism#strengths#sgenable#discoverstrengthe#teachers#greatteacher#

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084 Getting Started With An Online Store

“Do You Expect Apples To Fall From The Sky?”

After weeks of preparation, the newly set-up online store was at last ready for business. I didn’t tell anyone except a friend, ET who has been helping her family business go online in the midst of COVID-19. I sought ET’s advice,

“Should I promote to my friends about my newly set-up online store? I am hesitant.”

ET replied in humour, “Do you expect apples to fall from the sky? Don’t be shy! Send to all your friends! You need to build a customer base!”

Her advice prompted me to send to you a promotion message out to all my contacts

Is Your Business Sustainable?

Fifteen minutes later, a friend EL texted me, “Bought! 😊”. That’s all she said.

Two hours later, my cousin ST made a purchase. ST told me, “I hope your online business can be sustainable. I paid less than $9 after discounts. I am concerned over how little Cairn can earn after all the discounts and other costs.”

I felt warmed by his concern. ST knew that the online store is an endeavour to help my sixteen-year-old son, Cairn, who is moderately autistic. In two years’ time, Cairn will complete his special-school education and has to look for work, that is, if he can find employment. I am not leaving that to chance. Certainly I do not want him to just stay home in his adult life. I am determined that my son gets ample opportunities to lead a productive life.

Over the next three days, I received four more orders— two orders came from friends whom I had not met for years, and one was from my younger brother. Surprisingly, one order came from an acquaintance who bought without saying a word. I felt thankful! All in all, we received six orders and sold 30 packets of potato chips!

The Work Behind The Scene

In excitement, I retrieved the orders as soon as I received them. But I waited patiently for Cairn to return home from school to do the job together.

We had to package everything within certain size requirements to avoid hefty shipping cost. It was more difficult than I had imagined. Luckily, our domestic helper was dexterous enough to pack the potato chips nicely.  Then she taught Cairn to complete the packaging using bubble wraps. As always, Cairn did his work meticulously.

There was one thing that Cairn could do entirely on his own. He cut the mailing labels to appropriate size before pasting them on each parcel.

The next thing was to wait for the delivery company, Ninjavan to pick up the parcels from our home and deliver to the respective customers. But the Ninjavan delivery man didn’t turn up as scheduled. I was told that it’s probably due to the sharp increase in delivery requests during the nationwide partial lockdown, euphemistically known as the Circuit Breaker in Singapore.

I couldn’t wait. The next day, Cairn and I took a bus to the nearest shopping mall, and deposited the parcels in a collection machine stationed there. Cairn learnt to operate the touchscreen quickly and was able to deposit the parcels independently.  Cairn is a half a head taller than me, which proves to be very useful in certain situations.

The Rewarding Moments

The most rewarding moment was to know that our work brought joy to others.  Cairn’s 12 year-old cousin texted us excitedly when she received the parcel. She behaved as if she had  received a gift.

I didn’t quite understand her euphoric reaction until my friend SK told me, “It’s so beautifully wrapped like a present!”. Another friend, PY also wrote in her review, “Very well-packaged! No damage at all. Immediately, I opened a pack and enjoyed it! Yummy!”  I read all these reviews to Cairn, which made him beam confidently in broad smiles.

Now that we are left with only 2 orders, I wonder when they will be sold out. When the next two orders arrive, I will let Cairn do everything as much as possible. That’ll be another great milestone!

I wonder who our final two customers will be. Will it be you?

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William Tan

3 July 2020

Afterword

By the time you read this article, the truffle potato chips may be sold out. No worries. Here is one other thing you can do to encourage us.

Click “like” on the heart button, and enter “View Shop” to follow us for future product updates.

I am now sourcing for quality products at better prices. And I am eager to find good “lobang”, a Singlish word that means “good bargains”. Let me know if you know of any good products or you have interesting ideas. I’ve got to make this business work!

Updates as at 04/07/2020 11:00.

At the requests of some very warm-hearted friends who are eager to give their support, I have just uploaded another product, “Best-Selling Mogu Mogu Grape Juice Drink With Nata de Coco”. Check out the link below if you are interested:

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083 A Touching Love Story- I Love You

It’s late at night. A young man was waiting patiently for a lady who was ascending the steps hurriedly. The lady said, “I’m late.”

Hiding a ring box behind his back, the man nervously told the lady, “You know, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things…”

That was his prelude to a marriage proposal.

But before he could finish his sentence, the lady said, “Let’s go separate ways.”

Taken aback, the man exclaimed, “What?!”

“Let’s end our relationship.” She said resolutely.

Just when It seemed that a love story had abruptly ended, it did not. 

One day, the man unexpectedly received a parcel from his lost loved one. Opening the parcel, he found a sketchbook with these words written on the first page— “It’s quiz time!”. 

Flipping to the second page, the first question emerged,

“Q1 How did we get to know each other? (Time limit: 3 minutes)”

The man’s mind drifted into the memory lane. His memories were mostly sweet. But some became sour, and even turned bitter. Then, as if the lady could read his mind, she wrote her second question, 

“Q2 Recall the happy memories we had together. Multiple answers allowed. (Time limit: 10 minutes)”

This is the love story of Takaya and Yumiki, the man and the lady in the music video— “I Love You”. Why did Yukimi break up with Takaya? And why did she pose those questions to Takaya? My curiosity was aroused. But more than anything, I had a sense of foreboding when Yukimi said, “I think a life like fireworks would be nice. Fireworks make people happy in a burst and then scatter away without a trace.” 

Needless to say, the biggest draw of the music video was the soulful voice of an American black man, Chris Hart who successfully broke into the Japanese music scene in recent years. I could hear the authenticity in his emotions and a tinge of melancholic tenderness in his voice. No wonder the song has amassed more than 30 million views on YouTube. For days, I watched the music video repeatedly and learnt to sing the song. 

 

Chris’s music and the beautifully-made music video got to reach more people outside Japan! I searched high and low for a version that comes with English translation of the lyric and the drama, but to no avail. I know I can deliver a good translation, but it would take time and effort. Still, the idea did not go away. I have long known that learning language from songs is one of the best ways to learn a new language. 


I have always been keen to impart language skills to others as a part-time hustle.  As a matter of fact, before I started working from home three months ago, a friend JO had been receiving one-on-one Japanese-lesson coaching from me for several months. Another friend SK from Malaysia picks up new English phrases from every blogpost I wrote and expanded her vocabulary by guessing the meaning of those phrases. And most recently, I started giving pointers to a new friend from Myanmar, RM who shared her self-constructed Chinese sentences on the Facebook. Thanks to these friends, a teacher thrives on in my heart.  


Convinced that this music video will make a good lesson material for Japanese learners, I made a recording of the video and was about to input the subtitles. But I do not have the permission to use the video. It will be an infringement of copyright even though I have no motive for personal monetary profit.  In the end, I decided to transcribe, translate and write a review instead. For those who are keen to enjoy the entire music video, please go to its official YouTube channel with the link below:

https://youtu.be/k7D6CguCXqc


Don’t worry if you do not understand a word of Japanese. For the benefit of Japanese language learners, I am providing my translation for free below.


If you find it useful, I’ll make time to write another review for the sequel, “Still Loving You”, where you’ll get to know the full story of Takaya and Yukimi.
It’s a tear-jerker and makes a great stress relief if you still believe in love stories.


William WK Tan

14 June 2020

Document1 : Drama Transcript

Translation by William WK Tan

Title: I LOVE YOU 爱你

Artist: クリス・ハート Chris Hart 克里斯 哈特 Album: Song for You 给你的歌

Lyricist: H.U.B.・坂詰美紗子 Misako Sakazume Composer: 坂詰美紗子 Misako Sakazume

< Scene 1>

: 遅くなっちやたね。

On’na: Osoku natchiyata ne. Woman: I’m late.

: 我来迟了。

: あのさ、俺、色々考えたんだけど。

Otoko: Ano sa, ore, iroiro kangaetan dakedo.

Man: You know, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things.

:知道吗,我想了好多好多。

: 別れよ。

On’na: Wakare yo.

Woman: Let’s go separate ways.

:分手吧。

: ええ?!

Otoko: Ē? !

Man: What?! :什么?!

: 私たち、もう終わりにしよう。

On’na: Watashitachi, mō owari ni shiyou. Woman: We’re done.

:们,就这么结束吧。

< Scene 2>

:はい

Otoko: Hai.

Man: Yes

:是的。

配達人: こんばんは、鈴木孝也様宛てに届き物があります。ここにサインをお願いします。

Haitatsunin: Kobanwa. Suzuki Takaya-sama-ate ni todoki-mono ga arimasu. Koko ni sain o onegaishimasu.

Delivery man: Good evening. There is a delivery for Mr. Takaya Suzuki. Please sign here.

货员: 晚上好。给铃木孝也先生的东西到了。请在这里签收。

(箱に書いてあることー受取人:鈴木孝也 ご依頼主:須藤幸美)

(Hako ni kaite aru koto. Uketori hito: Suzuki Takaya, Go irai-nushi: Sudō Yukimi)

(Written on the boxAddressee: Suzuki Takaya. Sender: Sudo Yukimi Takaya: Dōmo gokurōsandesu.)

(箱子上写着收信人:铃木孝也,寄信人:须藤幸美)

孝也:どうもご苦労さんです。

Takaya: Dōmo gokurōsandesu

Takaya: Thank you for your hard work. 孝也:谢谢。辛苦您了。

配達人: はい。ありがとうございました。Haitatsunin: Hai. Arigatou gozaimasushita. Delivery man: Yes, thank you.

货员:好的,谢谢您了。

<Scene 3>

クイズです!”

“It’s quiz time!”

问答时间!”

Q1 2 人の出会いを答えよ。(制限時間 3 )

Q 1 futari no deai o kotaeyo. (Seigen jikan 3-bu)

Q1 Please answer, “How did we get to know each other?” (Time limit 3 minutes)

Q1 们是如何相遇的?请作答。( 3 )

<Scene 4>

幸美:ちょっと、君、何をしているの?

Yukimi: Chotto,-kun, nani o shite iru no? Yukimi: Hey, you, what are you doing?

幸美:喂,你在干嘛?

孝也:あー、すみません。

Takaya: A, gomen’nasai

Takaya: Oh, I’m sorry.

孝也:啊,对不起。

幸美:えー、ここ、私の場所だから。 Yukimi: E ̄ , koko, watashi no bashodakara.

Yukimi: Um, because this place is mine.

嗯,这可是我的地方哦。

孝也:好きです!

Takaya: suki desu!

Takaya: I like you!

孝也:我喜欢你!

<Scene 5>

幸美:暖かい!

Yukimi: attakai! Yukimi: It’s warm!

幸美:好温暖!

幸美: 私、花火みたいな人生がいいなあ。ぱぁっと人を楽しませて、潔く散る。

Yukimi: Watashi, hanabi mitaina jinsei ga ī nā. Pa~atto hito o tanoshima sete, isagiyoku chiru.

Yukimi: I think a life like fireworks would be nice. Fireworks make people happy in a burst and then scatter away without a trace.

幸美: 我想人生像烟花该多好。啪的一声令人快乐,然后干干净净地 散去。

<Scene 6>

孝也:何で用事があって、何でいつも連絡を取れないの??

Takaya: Nande yōji ga atte, nande itsumo renraku o torenai no? Otoko?

Takata: Why are you always so busy? Why is it always so hard to reach you? Is there another man?

孝也:为什么你总是有事,总是联络不上人?你有别的男人?

幸美:?

Yukimi: ha?

Yukimi: What?

幸美:什么?

孝也:ふざけんなよ!ふざけんなよ!

Takaya: Fuzaken na yo! Fuzaken na yo!

Takaya: Stop your prank! Stop your prank!

孝也:闹了!闹了!

<Scene 7>

Q2 楽しかった思い出を答えよ。複数回答可。(制限時間 10 )

Q2 Recall those happy memories we had together. Multiple answers allowed. (Time limit: 10 minutes)

Q2 们过去的快乐回忆,请作答。接受复数的答案。( 10 )

To Be Continued

故事待

xxxxxxxx

Document 2: Song Transcript

Translation by William W K Tan Title: I LOVE YOU 爱你

Artist: クリス・ハート Chris Hart 克里斯 哈特 Album: Song for You 给你的歌Lyricist: H.U.B.・坂詰美紗子 Misako Sakazume

Composer: 坂詰美紗子 Misako Sakazume

<歌詞 Lyric>

ねぇ 君はなぜ 哀しそうに うつむくの?

nee kimi wa naze kanashi sou ni utsumuku no?

Hey, why are you looking down so sadly? 欸,你为什么这样难过的低着头呢?

まぶしいほど 青い空 なのに

mabushii hodo aoi sora na no ni It’s such a bright blue sky. 明明这样耀眼的蓝天,

いつからだろう? 君と手を つないでも

itsu kara darou? kimi to te wo tsunaide mo

ギュッと握り返してはくれないんだね

gyutto nigirikaeshite wa kurenai n da ne

When did it all happen? Even when I held your hand, you did not hold on to my hand back tightly.

究竟是什么时候开始的?就算牵着你的手

妳也不紧紧握回了呢?

何を言えたなら あの日に帰れるの?

nani wo ietanara ano hi ni kaereru no?

What can I say so that we can return to those days? 我要说什么才能回到那些日子呢?

胸を埋め尽くす不安だけが

mune wo umetsukusu fuan dake ga

My heart is wholly filled with anxiety.

深埋在胸口里的尽是不安

泣いても 泣いても 消えてくれないの

naite mo naite mo kiete kurenai no

No matter how much I cry, no matter how much I cry, it does not go away.

我再怎么哭,再怎么哭,也不会消逝。

I love you I love you I need you ずっと愛されたいあの頃のように

I love you I love you I need you zutto aisaretai ano koro no you ni

I love you I love you I need you. I want to be loved all the time, like those times back then.

爱你 爱你 我需要你 过去一直你爱着我的那个时候

叶わない願いでも この気持ちはいつもそうその胸に届いています ?

kanawanai negai de mo kono kimochi wa itsu mo sou sono mune ni todoite imasu ka?

Even if it is a wish that does not come true, has my feeling reached your heart?

就算是无法实现的愿望,我的感受也一直传递到你心里吗?

I love you I love you I need you どうして 僕の心だけ奪ったまま

I love you I love you I need you dou shite boku no kokoro dake ubatta mama

I love you I love you I need you. Why did you still take away my heart?

爱你 爱你 我需要你 为什么你把我的心夺走?

叶わない願いなら さよならを告げて

kanawanai negai nara sayonara wo tsugete

Even if it is a wish that does not come true, can’t you just say goodbye? 就算是无法实现的愿望,也要向我说声再见呀。

ねぇ お揃いで着けていたあの時計は

nee wo soroide tsukete ita ano tokei wa Hey, that matching watch we used to wear

喂,那对曾经相衬戴着的手表

止まったまま 外しただけだよね?

tomatta mama hazushita dake da yo ne?

It had stopped moving. That’s why you had removed it, right?

这么停下不动了,你是因为这样才不戴了吧?

確かめたい でも答えは 聞きたくないの

tashikametai de mo kotae wa kikitaku nai no

I want to ask you. But I do not want to hear your answer.

我想问你,但是不想听你的答案

しあわせな時間まで消えそうだから

shiawase na jikan made kie sou da kara

Because it feels like even those happy times are going to disappear.

为感觉连幸福的时光也像要消失了

春は咲く花を見に行ったよね

haru wa saku hana wo mi ni itta yo ne

We went to see the blooming flowers in the spring

们在春天的时候赏了花,

冬はぬくもりの部屋でキスをした

fuyu wa nukumori no heya de kisu wo shita And kissed in the cozy room in the winter.

在冬天里的温暖的小屋亲吻了对方

あの輝きさえ 忘れたと言うの?

ano kagayaki sae wasureta to iu no?

Are you telling me you have even forgotten all those sparkling moments? 这些光辉的时光,难道你说都忘了吗?

もう一度 思い出して どうか

mouō ichi do omoidashite dou ka Please, can you recall it one more time?

论如何请你回想起好吗?

I love you I love you I need you ずっと愛されたいあの頃のように

I love you I love you I need you zutto aisaretai ano koro no you ni

I love you I love you I need you. I want to be loved all the time, like those times back then.

爱你 爱你 我需要你 过去一直你爱着我的那个时候

叶わない願いでも この気持ちはいつもそうその胸に届いています ?

kanawanai negai de mo kono kimochi wa itsu mo sou sono mune ni todoite imasu ka?

Even if it is a wish that does not come true, has my feeling reached your heart?

就算是无法实现的愿望,我的感受也一直传递到你心里吗?

I love you I love you I need you どうして 僕の心だけ奪ったまま

I love you I love you I need you dou shite boku no kokoro dake ubatta mama

I love you I love you I need you. Why did you still take away my heart?

爱你 爱你 我需要你 为什么你把我的心夺走?

叶わない願いなら さよならを告げて

kanawanai negai nara sayonara wo tsugete

Even if it is a wish that does not come true, can’t you just say goodbye?

就算是无法实现的愿望,也要向我说声再见呀。

 

 

082 How About Learning Some Chinese Today?

Rain was intermittent and the winds were gutsy last night. A deep sleep did not dispel the residual effect of wine on me. I had to ask the servant who was rolling up the curtain, “How are the begonia flowers out there?”

She replied nonchalantly, “They are still the same.”

I retorted, “Do you know? Do you know? By now, the green leaves probably remain luxuriant, but the red flowers must have withered.”

Could have you imagined that these words were uttered by a sixteen year old young lady, Li Qingzhao (李清照)who lived nine hundred twenty years ago, at around the year 1100?!

I was instantly drawn to the innocence of a young girl who became concerned about the begonia flowers outside the window after a night of sporadic rain and blustery winds. And I was bemused to find out that Li wrote this poem at about sixteen years old, which is beneath the legal age of drinking at eighteen in contemporary times.

An illustrated portrait of Li at sixteen years old. Image taken from http://m.nxhh.net/chuntian/1998.html

The lyrical poem, or more rightly called a verse as it was written to an ancient tune, was brought to my attention by a friend, PH who sent me a YouTube link to a Mainland Chinese Singing Program that attempted to revive ancient verses with modern music and popular Singers.

Li’s original verse. Image taken from https://kknews.cc/

A newly-composed song borrowed Li’s verse to be the chorus. I was immediately won over by the beautiful rendition of the song, which was performed as a duet by two of my favourite singing artistes, Hu Xia (胡夏)and Yu Ke Wei (郁可唯)who are both well-known for their melodious and storytelling vocals in the Chinese music industry. Check out their performance below.

(Source: China Central Television 中国中央电视台)

I liked the song so much that I listened to it repeatedly for days . I found the original verse intriguing but somewhat obscure, so I rewrote in contemporary Chinese prose after doing some research. Then I thought it might interest others to learn more about Chinese culture and language if I could translate into English. So, for your ease in learning, I have created two charts for both the English language and Chinese language users. Hopefully, you’ll find these tools useful.

Eight lines of lyrics were newly added to Li’s verse to make this song that is titled “Do you know? Do you know?” (知否知否). These lines make reference to a heartrending love story in the yesteryear featured in a TV drama. The added lyrics connect seamlessly with Li’s verse using a thread of shared sentiments — a worry over the fate of fallen flowers (protagonists) that were battered by the rain and winds (troubles and trials). I had not translated these added lyrics in order not to distract you from focusing on Li’s verse.

An illustration taken from https://www.aboluowang.com/

I would suggest these tips to help you enjoy your learning:

(1) Increase familiarity

Listen to the song repeatedly and focus at learning the chorus.

(2) Increase relevance

Relate to your personal experiences and sentiments. Because the greater the relevance, the easier for you to pick up more words and vocabularies.

(3) Increase applicability

Sing and read aloud the phrases that you love most. You will be surprised how much easier it is to learn Chinese language through songs.

Finally, here is a list of Chinese phrases that you might pick up from learning this verse:

1. 昨夜 last night

2. 雨疏 intermittent rain

3. 风骤 gusty winds

4. 浓睡 deep sleep

5. 不消 does not dispel

6. 残酒 the residual wine

7. 试问 tried asking

8. 卷帘人 the person who raises the curtain

9. 却道 but was told

10. “海棠依旧” “the begonia flowers are as usual”

11. “知否?” “Do you know?”

12. 应是 “Should be”

13. 绿肥红瘦 flourishing green leaves and withering red flowers

How many phrases have you learnt? And which one is your favourite? Most importantly,  let me know if this article ignites an interest in you or your children to learn more Chinese. That will motivate me to prepare more such lessons.

William WK Tan

9 May 2020, Saturday

爱唱歌的朋友,以下是《知否知否》的歌词。前八句是后来的人为配合电视剧主题而加的。后六句是李清照的《如梦令:昨夜雨疏风骤》原文。

演唱:胡夏 、郁可唯

作词:李清照、张靖怡

作曲:刘炫豆

编曲:刘炫豆

郁可唯:

一朝花开傍柳

寻香误觅亭侯

纵饮朝霞半日晖

风雨著不透

胡夏:

一任宫长骁瘦

台高冰泪难流

锦书送罢蓦回首

无余岁可偷

郁可唯:

昨夜雨疏风骤

浓睡不消残酒

试问卷帘人

却道海棠依旧

知否 知否

应是绿肥红瘦

胡夏:

昨夜雨疏风骤

浓睡不消残酒

合:

试问卷帘人

却道海棠依旧

郁可唯:知否

胡夏:知否

合:应是绿肥红瘦

郁可唯:

一朝花开傍柳

寻香误觅亭侯

纵饮朝霞半日晖

风雨著不透

胡夏:

一任宫长骁瘦

台高冰泪难流

锦书送罢蓦回首

无余岁可偷

郁可唯:

昨夜雨疏风骤

浓睡不消残酒

试问卷帘人

却道海棠依旧

知否 知否

应是绿肥红瘦

胡夏:

昨夜雨疏风骤

浓睡不消残酒

合:

试问卷帘人

却道海棠依旧

郁可唯:知否

胡夏:知否

合:应是绿肥红瘦

郁可唯:

昨夜雨疏风骤

浓睡不消残酒

试问卷帘人

却道海棠依旧

知否 知否

应是绿肥红瘦

胡夏:

昨夜雨疏风骤

浓睡不消残酒

合:

试问卷帘人

却道海棠依旧

郁可唯:知否

胡夏:知否

合:应是绿肥红瘦

胡夏:知否

郁可唯:知否

合:应是绿肥红瘦

来源: https://mojim.com/cny108440x30x1.htm

081 How To Discover Joy From Tending To A Vending Machine?

How does an autistic child discover joy from work?

About two weeks ago, I received a picture sent from an unknown phone number. The picture depicted a hand holding two packets of snacks high up, next to a note I wrote and pasted on the vending machine — “Party Snacks at $2 only. We just wanted to bring you more smiles!” These party snacks were specially packed by Cairn to sell snacks in bundle at a discounted price to the residents.

Beneath that picture, the sender wrote me an encouraging message, “Keep up the good work!! The packs really brought more smiles to my family.”

Screenshot with consent from customer.

I was moved. A customer reciprocated the efforts that we have put in and wrote us a feedback.

Excitedly, I shared the customer’s feedback with my family – “People appreciate what we are doing.”

I praised my sixteen-year old son, Cairn, who has been running the snacks machine since three months ago, “You are doing a great job! Your work brings smiles to others.”

Cairn grinned at my compliments, but it was unclear to me how much an autistic boy can comprehend the significance. Cairn understands well that his job is to refill snacks and collect money. But does he know the higher purpose, that is, to bring convenience and joy to others?

I hope my son discovers the joy of working. But it seemed like a tall order to explain that to an autistic person with limited verbal ability.

An Opportunity To See A Happy Customer 

Shortly, another learning opportunity arose when Cairn and I chanced upon a little boy in orange pyjamas one evening. Pointing at a snicker bar in the vending machine, the boy pleaded repeatedly to his care-giver and domestic helper, “Aunty, I want that chocolate!”

Picture taken of the boy and his domestic helper.

I pulled Cairn aside and said, “Don’t go too near. Let your customer buy first.”

Cairn watched on quietly as the domestic helper pocketed out some coins and inserted into the machine. The boy picked up a bar of chocolate in jubilation. I asked Cairn, “What did the boy buy?”

“Snicker!” A quick and confident reply ensued.

“And how does the boy feel?” I asked.

Cairn smiled and replied, “The boy feels happy!”

“Why?” I probed further.

“The boy feels happy because he eats chocolate!” Cairn explained. The boy had un-wrapped his snicker and was munching away happily!

I nodded approvingly, “Yes, you are right.” I continued, “You see? You make people happy by refilling the snacks for them. Good job!”

Cairn’s grin grew wider.

A Close Encounter With A Customer

Two days ago, a man in his thirties approached us most unexpectedly as when we were about to refill the machine. He said, “I wanted to tell you…”

I was half-expecting him to say something like “the snacks did not drop the previous time I bought”. I hear that kind of complaint occasionally.

That kind of problems were largely solved after I provided my mobile number as the customer service hotline on the machine. I remembered how pleasantly surprised a sweet-looking lady was to find her problem solved shortly after she texted me at night.

Screenshot with consent from customer.

Instead, the man said,“… You are doing a great job!”

Surprised, I could only reply with a “Thank you” and became tongue-tied. Receiving compliments from customers in text messages is nothing new, but it felt different hearing such encouraging words in person.

The man said with a chuckle, “You kept improving the selection of snacks. I really liked that Hainanese Chicken Rice Mamee Noodle you recommended in the machine! The taste is so authentic that I took a picture and shared with my friends.”

Source: https://mothership.sg/2019/08/hainanese-chicken-rice-mamee-where-to-buy/

I said “Thank you” profusely. The man probably thought that I was not good with words, as he had no idea the emotion stirring in me. Cairn probably felt it. He was standing next to me, grinning even wider than ever. He couldn’t say in words but he understood.

Gradually, Cairn is getting the idea that he is doing a happy business. It brings great joy to my family to see the excitement on his face as Carin collects and count his daily earnings, though meagre at this stage. Cairn would meticulously stacks the coins and adds up the sum.

Cairn counts his daily earnings.

Thoughts on moving forward

I have received several queries about setting up the vending business.

Let me be upfront, it costs me only SGD$5000 to get started, that’s all. You may spend more, up to SGD$10K if you chose newer and more sophisticated models of vending machine. The real challenge is not the money involved, but the real work behind — the business set-up, the types of machine, the sourcing of merchandise, the placement of machine, and the methods to improve sales and so forth. All that takes a lot of time and energy, and I can imagine people giving up easily. But looking at how Cairn has flourished, it is worth all the effort I have put in.

What I need to do next is to improve the earning yield of the vending machine and increase the number of machines for my son. One day, I hope Cairn can operate multiple machines in the neighbourhood and earn his own keep. It is important that my son, like any other person in the society, leads a productive and fulfilling life.

https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/news/

I hope to help others too. That’s why I had shared the five principles of job-creation in the previous post. Helping more families will spur me to look out for more locations, more machines and create more job opportunities for the disadvantaged ones in the society is a meaningful thing to do. And I envision that it would be beneficial for Cairn and other children in disadvantaged situations to form a closely-knitted network where families help each other to improve their children’s livelihood. And this is where I can truly apply my coaching skills and know-how as an education consultant.

So, if you are asking me questions on behalf of a friend with a child with disabilities, get your friend to contact me directly. But if you are asking just out of personal interest, please be patient to read and learn more from my blogs.

WordPress Free Photo Library

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging across the world now, we are grateful to all the personnel working tirelessly at the front line to keep us safe. For me, I stay focus on simple things that brings joy to me and my family. I hope you are doing the same too. Take good care, everyone! For ourselves and others!

William W K Tan

28 March 2020