expat living, life in korea

Supposed-to-be Benefit of the Playroom

My son plays very well even without me. He had been used to being left alone with my part-time nanny that all I have to do is to tell him I have a surprise for him when I get back. He nonchalantly says “Bye” when I leave. So, I happily leave when need be.

Tomorrow would have been an important day but I have no nanny. Our place has a playroom in the second floor of the building where my son frequently plays… always with me or the nanny around. I calmly settled with the idea of leaving him alone for one hour and half tomorrow. To test my son’s readiness, I brought him to the playroom today. To my disappointment, I can’t leave him alone.

It isn’t because he isn’t ready. In fact, he didn’t cry. The songsaengnim (teacher) informed me that I could only leave him alone when he reaches 36 months alone. Surprise I was! I may not understand much Korean but I know for a fact that some kids below 36 months old are being left alone there.

The playroom is for the exclusive use of the apartment residents. It is actually a cozy place for kids… a good place where kids could safely get exhausted. The cold climate makes the place very well attended these days. Picture below was taken during my son’s second birthday:

I’m quite disappointed that I can’t speak much Korean. I’m disappointed that the songsaengnim can’t speak English. I couldn’t befriend her as I could the others. I couldn’t build a relationship with her as I naturally would if there is no language barrier. I don’t feel any bitterness that she can’t bend the rules for my son as she has done with the others. It’s her prerogative. I don’t feel any bitterness against the other moms who got the benefit which would otherwise not have been given to them had the songsaengnim followed the rules. If I am in my own country, or if we share the same language, I am sure to have made a very good relationship with her. I am sure I will be a recipient of a few bended, but harmless, rules.

To the sognsaengnim’s credit, she did bend the rule for me “onol man” (only for today). I was supposed to go to the gym but I changed my mind at the last minute. I spent the time cooking and relaxing a bit at home and going to the laundry. When I went back to the playroom, my son hardly noticed me as he was playing with the other toddlers:-)

I’m just disappointed because I’m facing limitations. Language. The capacity to make friends with just anyone. Lack of human resources/faces I could call on to for help when needed.

I remember I once promised myself not to think of my limitations while I’m here in a foreign land. But I guess, there are just moments when I can’t help thinking about them.

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