I have a Nam Plan in action. I need a break from him, but I don't want to hurt him. He called twice on Saturday when I was at rehearsal so I know he wanted to bring Minh by...but I don't really want Minh to translate on this one, so here's what I have done:
I wrote him a note telling him two things: 1) that I don't need rides home this week because I am working on a project. This is true because we have rehearsal every day after school now; however, before the blow out I would have guestimated the pick-up time. 2) that I want him to know why I was upset with him last week - that I appreciate everything he does for me, but that at times he gets too bossy and disrespectful.
Here is the best part: I asked one of my students to translate it for me. Lisa is the most mature, sensitive, gets-it kind of person, and at times she has translated for Nam and me out on the street. I explained the situation to her and she kept saying, "Yes, I see. Yes, Ms. Marjorie, I understand." And then, "Do you mind if I add a few things to this note?" I told her to do whatever she thought best. I trust this girl completely.
After school, she brings me the translated note (in perfect script) and reads it to me. Here are the additions: 1) a term of respect for him as my elder 2) that I hope we can try to understand each other's cultures better and therefore reach a better relationship and 3) that I feel very lucky to have him as my driver because he is very safe and reliable.
Our conversation after the reading is enlightening. I ask her what I might understand about Vietnamese culture to better understand him, and she's quite definite in her answer. "You see, most Vietnamese people are very bossy. They like to tell you what to do, and they even touch you to get their point across. It doesn't mean they are bad people; in fact, it shows that they care for you and that they are looking out for you. I'm just beginning to see this about my culture this year, Ms. Marjorie. I realized I like more space than most people here give me."
What a twelve year-old human being.
I will give him the note in the morning, when I tell him that I don't need a ride in the afternoon. I hope it goes well. I'm telling you what, though, I enjoyed today so much more just knowing that I had the freedom to leave whenever I wanted.
I'll leave you with a sneak peek at Tin Man (you've met Lucky), Toto (another of my 6th graders, Loren) and Lion (7th grader, Lucky's brother, Mickey). The costumes for all of them are so cute, and they are arriving all week from the eight different seamstresses so we can have a dress rehearsal on Saturday.