One of the more exciting aspects about coming to this country for me was learning all the new things that came with having to reside here.

The first was the kind of foods we would be able/ not be able to get here. We spent a month or two scouring the city for types of ingredients or their substitutes to assemble Malaysian dishes so that we could feel more at home. Oh, we love our American cuisine, the burgers and tacos and pastas, but we’re still Malaysians, and we need our curries and spices and soups. Curries and spieces and soups are important to us.

The other thing was language. I’ve blogged a few times about how differently we speak, although the written language is more or less the same. I don’t speak at all like the way I write, because I think I’m more articulate when I can take my time to construct and demolish and reconstruct my sentences, so I tend to be a little bit more messy when I talk. I blame it on years of Manglish.

One other thing is getting to know the education system here for my kids. As some of you know, Rae is in her four-year preschool, and next year, she will be attending kindy. Where we live, there are four elementary schools, much like our primary schools back home, but only until Standard Four, which is for them, 5th grade. After that, Rae goes to Middle School, which is like three or four years, and then High School, which is basically Secondary School.

Apart from the structure, there are also different types of schools, some that focus more on academics, and some more on your child’s social and emotional development, which is basically what Rae’s preschool is mostly about.

As an Asian, deciding which way to go is a HUGE struggle for me. Back in Malaysia, our school system is only one tracked: academics, all the way. Math, Science, two or sometimes three languages. This results in crazy homework and students need luggage bags with wheels to drag their books to school. I don’t agree with this but I am neither educator nor policymaker, so I don’t really know what to do about it.

And so, we left. At first instance of wishy-washy education methods, pack and run!

On one hand, I don’t want to push my children, and feel that I’m in an ideal situation where I should take advantage of the different systems here and see if they actually DO better. On the other, what if they DO fall behind because I’ve not been more pushy about the books? Being Chinese, instilling the Asian ‘work ethic’ begins at home. Ensuring a bright, prosperous future for our children is a duty, not a choice. Whatever choices we give them, we must make sure most, if not all, involve growing up as financially responsible adults.

No raising of bums in this house (no matter how social or emotionally intelligent they may end up to be)!

I’m sure plenty of parents worry about this here, Asian or otherwise. For the millionth time, I wish our children came with manuals with things like  “When she turns five, Raeven will require more attention in math than she does in languages because of the way her brain is made. Make sure to send her for dance lessons on the side for creative development because she will eventually develop a love for it.”

Sometimes, having too many choices can be a bane. How nice if you can hire someone to make some decisions for you without feeling as though your kids are going to die from mal-education.