My eldest grandson Scott was 18 and going nowhere fast. A very intelligent boy, but a square peg in a round hole! I had been living and working in China for about 18 months and was making my first visit home. I was fed up listening to complaints about how he was not doing whatever others thought he should be doing. I decided to take over and took him back to China with me. He had no useful work/teaching experience, but I also knew that at that time it was easy to learn how to teach English on the job (He would never get away with that now). I had no idea how it would all pan out, I just knew I had to get him away from his over protective mother, my daughter, and find out. I told him that I was not going to pander him and what I said was what I meant, no pussy footing around. It helped that we got on well, but he also knew he had only me to rely on.
From the minute Scott stepped foot in China he felt at home. It would be another nine years before he made a visit back to visit his family. It took him only eight months to be fluent enough in Mandarin to talk on the phone to a non English speaker. There were many ups and downs and challenges, but whenever there was a major hiccup I would say to him “what have you learnt from this?” We would talk it through and he moved on. The biggest hassle I had with him was his love of video games and he was in video heaven. There are internet cafes everywhere that are open all the time. He would stay there for two-three days at a time in the early days. No-one cared as long as he paid for his time online. He could sleep in his chair, ring up for food to be delivered and buy drinks at the café. Sometimes he would just watch movies. I would go ballistic. He was like a walking zombie after one of these sessions. He also likes his beer. He eventually learnt that “no, you cannot stay home with a hangover because by lunchtime you will have no job”. When he ran out of money he only had me to rely on. No government handouts or Mum making excuses for him. I was not that kind: I only gave him enough money to barely live on. I had learnt to art of tough love with my four children.
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However he survived and matured and made some very good decisions for himself. He was 19 when he came to visit me. I had relocated to teach at a high school in the beautiful town of Yangshuo. One of my students had asked me to join her family lunch for Spring Festival. This is like our Christmas. I told her Scott was visiting. “No problem, bring him too”. This was the day he met his future wife and her family. She was 17. They kept in constant contact for the next few years while she finished high school and went to college. He had various girlfriends and moved around a bit as he changed jobs. Eventually they moved in to live together, finally getting married when he was 24.
Scott knew that by marrying a Chinese girl with no brothers it would be a package deal. He told me that if he had not liked her parents he would not marry her. Fortunately we all love her parents. They now have a daughter who is nearly two, a nephew 18 months and her parents living with them in their newly purchased home. Her niece is back living with her own parents so she can go to school. She used to live with them too. Her parents look after the children and do household chores and meals. His wife works full time. Scott eventually opened his own English training college. This was a huge learning curve and very successful. It is now closed, but he still teaches children who have been his students for many years. He is now involved with some business projects. He has totally accepted the Chinese lifestyle and I suspect he will never return to Australia. Three years ago his mother moved to China to join him. She eventually found her own apartment and is very happy. She works in IT and teaches English part-time.
Tell us, have you had to give hard love to any of your grandchildren? What happened?