Believe it or not, I spoke only Korean until I was about 4 years old. My grandmother and parents only spoke Korean to me until that point, so that’s all I knew. I knew some English. My parents tell me that when my grandmother used to take me to McDonalds near our apartment on Hollenbeck, I would say hello to everyone we passed. But essentially, I didn’t speak any English.
Anyway, my mom told me about my first experience in pre-school. I’m positive there weren’t other Koreans in the class, and at any rate, all the other students spoke English. But not me. So apparently, every time the teacher would gather the students to read a story or talk or whatever, I would just sit off by myself in the corner and do my own thing.
So the teacher told this to my mom, and my mom kept asking if I still wanted to go, but I would always insist on going. I have no idea why.
Side note. This isn’t the same preschool, but I remember for a while I carpooled to preschool with this kid on my street, Ronnie Verna. He was a year older than me. It was weird because before and after, we’d hang out, but at the school, we wouldn’t at all. I dunno, it was weird.
Anyway, my parents told me the first time I really spoke English. I was waiting with the teacher to get picked up after school, and I apparently said, “I’m hungry.” I think the teacher was a little surprised because I had never spoken English before. And those were my first English words. At least the first sentence.
So the way my parents describe it, I was just an observer. I just watched all the other kids for a long time until I decided I was ready to speak English, and then I did.
I dunno how much you believe your childhood character reflects your character today, but for me, I think I’m still like that. When I need to do something new, I’m not like some people who are able to just go in and try it, and learn by trial and error. I really need to carefully consider what I’m doing, observe people doing it, prepare myself, and then when I’m ready, go into it.
Like with Street Fighter. In my prime, when a new one came out, I didn’t just play it right away. I watched other people play it. Got a feel for the differences. Then when I felt I was ready, that’s when I played.
Same thing with playing electric guitar for worship team. Dunno if you know this. But yeah, I didn’t just go in there and play. I spent a lot of time observing what other people did. Then I did a bunch of research about guitars and effects and whatever. All this before I played a single note in public. Then when I thought I was ready, that’s when I played.
I think partly what it is is pride. Just, if I do something in public, I want it to be done at a certain level of competency, even my very first time.
But I also think it’s just a reflection of a part of my personality. Maybe I’m wrong. But I think in a lot of ways I’m more a detached observer than I really am a participator. Just like in preschool. But maybe I’m wrong.
The reason this all came to mind is Jieun’s teaching Kindergarten/1st grade this summer, and she has a lot of amusing stories. Like, the first day they were establishing ground rules, what it and isn’t acceptable behavior. And she asks the kids, and they give examples like, pushing someone else, kicking someone else, etc.
Then one kid says, “picking your nose and eating it.” And not a single student laughs – they all solemnly nod their heads in grave agreement that picking your nose and eating it is indeed unacceptable behavior. Which is true. But random.
They do other random things also, like tell jokes that make absolutely no sense. It’s pretty funny. So yeah, I was thinking about it.
So anyway, you might be wondering why, if I only spoke Korean until 4, why the heck I’m such a honky now.
This is what my dad says. He saw the people around him and their kids and in his mind, there were two options. If they (my parents) spoke Korean to us, we’d learn to speak Korean, but we wouldn’t be close. There’d be like this language barrier between us, because we’d have to speak Korean to them, and we wouldn’t be fully able to say what we wanted or needed to.
Or, they could speak English to us. Then we could say what we wanted, and we’d be closer, was his thinking. The tradeoff was, we wouldn’t speak Korean. This was possible because they both speak English really well. Like, this is a bad indicator, but you know those It Pays To Enrich Your Word Power things in Reader’s Digest? (We’ve always subscribed to Reader’s Digest.) My dad always does really well on those. And my mom speaks English so well, people frequently mistake her for my sister on the phone.
Anyway, he felt that us being close to them was more important than us speaking Korean, so they spoke mostly English to us, and that’s why I’m a honky. The point is, it was a calculated decision on their part.
So yeah, I think my family’s different in a lot of ways, this is one of them.
No point to this entry, just explaining a little bit how I am. That’s all. Money all gone. April gone too.