The Act

Sohee was the first Korean I formally tutored. She was 9 years old. She had this rule: on Mondays, I had to call her Sandy; on Tuesdays, Candy; Wednesdays, Winny; Thursdays, Annie; then she'd be back to being Sandy (her English name) on Fridays. That's how cute she was.

Imagine the horror I felt when I was assigned to tutor her for 3 hours every day, from 8 to 11 am. I had to teach her 2 books. She was naughty, playful, proud, smart. After a week, we learned to fall in love with each other. But this is about the first time we met, and something else.

We drew and played games for an hour and a half, as she didn't like to study. When I started feeling too irresponsible for not doing my job, I thought of being strict and forced her to read with me. After a few minutes, she acted as if she was choking. I just looked at her, thinking, What do I do with this kid... Since she got no response from me, she stopped her act, sat on her chair, then read with me.

It came to my mind all those times I acted myself, cheated my way with things. I first remembered my parents, when I would tell them about fictive school projects, so as to get some money to buy cassette tapes. Then there was high school when I would fake headaches and sleep in the clinic so as to skip unwanted classes.

And then now. Somehow I am amazed at our ability--or our choice--to let people we care about act like fools around us. I know now that my parents all along knew about those lies. It's embarrassing.

I recently found this Robert Walser statement: "No one has the right to act as though he knows me." Ouch. The very thing I love and fear most about people is their intelligence.

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