I tried to ignore it. I wanted to go back to sleep and let my dreams tell me the true meaning of my final Research Methodology report, but before I could even set the phone down, it exploded again.
It was Leo, the breakfast shop owner's son. I knew it was a mistake to call that phone one morning to place an order for food. Now the 15 year old had a direct line to a friendly laowai. I've created a monster!
Rather than wait for another barrage of texts I decided it was as good a time as any to head down for breakfast. I made my way across the street and ordered the usual, slumping into my favorite spot against the wall... and waited impatiently for my coffee to arrive. Leo was working the grill while his Dad was on a smoke break, but the second he was done he came rushing over to sit with me.
“我們玩個遊戲！" he said as I placed my phone on the table. Ever since I showed him some of the games I had on my smart phone he has been obsessed. Instead I pick up the news paper and glanced at the first article... it was perfect. I glanced over the article and couldn't help but ask Leo if he knew what “低頭族" was.
“當然”, he replied. "就是你啊! It's true, most mornings you will find my head facing down (低頭) and I guess that would make me a part of the "head down group," but I was shocked that Leo, who spent ever second playing games on his tablet PC until it broke, had the audacity to call me a part of the group without including himself among the ranks!
And then it hit me... this kid looks up to me (maybe). He thinks it is okay to sit around while he is "at work" playing his games because he sees me doing it every weekend. We continued to chat for a while about the article, and a few other things we found in the paper, but the whole time I was thinking to myself, this is a test.
See, Leo is a gamer, and a self-proclaimed poor student. He doesn't like to study English, he doesn't do well in school, and he spends just about ever minute of his weekend at home playing Counter Strike with his friends. But, he looks up to me. So what if I could change that, what if I could figure out a way to make learning fun for him? This will eventually be my job as a Chinese teacher, so why not try it with a kid who already speaks Chinese?
So after about an hour of chatting and messing around on Skritter together I told him it was time for me to get going. And then I added... "我明天不會帶我的手機來吃早餐". He gave me a look of sheer terror, but I pressed on "要帶一本書，我們可以一起看！” He was puzzled, but intrigued.
Now I just have to figure out what a kid like Leo would actually enjoy reading. Perhaps it is time to start that Chinese version of Lord of the Rings that has been sitting on my shelf for months!