Dear Diary,

As soon as you step into first grade in a Chinese elementary school, you are required to keep a journal for the teacher to check.  This continues until you graduate from high school.

My older son (9) doesn’t like to talk a lot, and hates writing, and can’t see the point in this exercise.  I constantly have to give him ideas, and throughout the two month winter holiday I just let him copy paragraphs from an encyclopedia of the animal world, just to keep his hand moving. 

A few days ago I found a little book called 好作文 in my office.  It has 300 examples of these kinds of diary entries.  I think it’s basically designed for copying, to fool your teacher into thinking that you’re such a little angel who can write such sugary crap.

I don’t subscribe to the Chinese official attitude towards education, in which one simply copies everything and avoids using one’s imagination.  I told my son to use one of them as a model, changing it to fit his own details.  The beginning of it went like this:

我的小弟弟叫陈明,今年4岁,也长了一双大大的眼睛,小小的嘴。(My little brother’s name is Chen Ming.  He’s four years old and has big eyes and a small mouth.) [It sounds cuter in Chinese.]

So he wrote:

我的弟弟叫(谁谁谁),6岁,他有一双大大的眼睛,方头。 (My little brother’s name is (XYZ).  He’s six years old and has big eyes and a square head.)

6 responses to “Dear Diary,”

  1. Sima says:


  2. GAC says:

    Hilarious! Your child will be at the forefront of the “innovative society”.

  3. Syz says:

    Terse. Hemingwayesque. Deliciously subversive.

  4. Chris says:

    Definately better than the example!

Leave a Reply