The formally resigned Song Yuan now had plenty of time to accompany Rong Ting.
She was still much more relaxed than other mothers because Rong Ting was very sensible, and her parents had helped her hire a dependable auntie. Now, she didn’t need to cook three meals a day, nor did she need to clean–her day was very free. While Rong Ting practiced his calligraphy, she did not disturb him. After all, she wasn’t a teacher, and she was unable to give him any pointers. Therefore, she was very free during this time. She could browse the Internet, catch up on dramas and variety shows, or have a cup of soda. It was quite a happy time.
Of course, Song Yuan wasn’t preparing to become a full-time mother. After they moved to B City, and Rong Ting adjusted, she would report to her father’s company.
This made Chen Linjing extremely disgruntled. She had hoped that her daughter would inherit her clothing company. But she couldn’t do anything about it, as her company hadn’t expanded into B City yet.
As time passed, Song Yuan grew more influenced by the mothers in the owners’ group chat. She began to feel that Rong Ting should learn something outside of his academics. Otherwise, with so many babies starting to take early lessons nowadays, wouldn’t Rong Ting have already lost at the starting line?
And so Song Yuan signed Rong Ting up for many trial classes1 to see what Rong Ting was more suited to learning.
When she was young, she had thought that she would be a very progressive mother who would play games with her child. But after having a child, she changed.
She was no different from other mothers. Seeing that there were mothers in the owners’ group chat flaunting awards and trophies, she was actually beginning to worry!
The weather was clear, and there was no ice on the road, so Song Yuan drove Rong Ting to the trial class. The center she had found was very popular in the city. Yesterday, she had taken Rong Ting to the bike-riding course. When Rong Ting saw that the course was full of two- and three-year-old babies, he became angry and changed to the ice-skating course last-minute. After tumbling face-first, his ears flushed red, and he told Song Yuan, he was a prince, and he didn’t need to learn ice sports2.
Song Yuan simply ignored it.
The child hadn’t realized yet that it was impossible for him to return to the ancient times. Song Yuan didn’t want to stimulate him, so she didn’t bring it up.
The child’s plan was to boil a frog in warm water3–cultivate their mother-son bond, and then let her willingly follow him back to the palace.
Although he didn’t say it outright, Song Yuan was aware of his thoughts. Thinking about his previous words, she scoffed twice. Ha, men! Too young, too simple4.
Today, she took Rong Ting to a piano trial class. Afterwards, they would go to another center for a different trial class. Their schedule was a bit tight.
On the way there, in order to prevent any unnecessary situations from occurring, Song Yuan decided to entice him. “Gugu, there’s something I regret a lot now. When I was young, my mom had me learn piano. Afterwards, my dad bought me a piano to help me cultivate my interest, but I couldn’t keep going, so I stopped learning. But everyone needs to have a special talent these days. Our school used to welcome freshmen and host talent shows, and all the students would go on stage to play the violin or piano. My college classmates can play the piano, and they occasionally go to the mall or a coffee shop to pick up work, and they earn a lot.”
“Of course, I’m not saying I want you to learn these things to earn money in the future. You people from the ancient times should have this saying, right? ‘Having many skills does not weigh down the body5.’”
“And Gugu, as soon as I imagine you going on stage and playing the piano and violin, I get so excited! Maybe I’ll take a plunge in the SLR pit6 to take pictures of you.”
Rong Ting finally gave a reaction. Although he was almost six years old, Song Yuan bought him a booster seat for safety. From his position in the booster seat, he lifted his head and said discontentedly, “Performing on stage? I don’t want to!”
Look at how much he loathed the idea. He even used “I.”
“Don’t say that. Nowadays many children learn a skill they can perform. When you enter a village, you must follow the local customs7, right?” Song Yuan added, “And all those children’s moms and dads feel so proud. I want to be proud, too.”
“Gu refuses. Gu will not go!” Rong Ting was vehemently against it.
“Alright, let’s not talk about performing on stage. Just try it. Maybe you’ll like it? I’m not that unreasonable; if you don’t like it, I won’t force you.” Song Yuan thought for a moment. “I’ve already paid the money. Just think of it as going to play, okay?”
In actuality, she couldn’t bear to force him. If he wasn’t willing, she wouldn’t press the issue.
Rong Ting nodded reluctantly. “Alright.”
He wasn’t adverse to learning things, as he was at the age where he was curious about everything, but everything in this modern age conflicted strongly with the education he had received. Thankfully, Mother Empress understood him and tried to find a balance.
When they arrived at the learning center, there were other children who had come to take the trial class this time. This was one of Song Yuan’s secret motives; she hoped for Rong Ting to come into more contact with children his own age. After all, all the people around him were adults. Although adults had also gone through that age, they couldn’t truly understand the world of children. She hoped Rong Ting could make friends.
The wall of the classroom that was facing the corridor had floor-to-ceiling windows. These windows were rather interesting; people could see what was going on from outside–probably so that parents could observe the child’s learning process–but they could not see outside from within. In case the children would be distracted by the people standing outside, the sound insulation was extremely good.
In addition to Rong Ting, there was a little girl and a little boy. The three children were about the same age, so they should have a common language.
While the teacher taught the little girl to play, the little boy quietly chatted with Rong Ting. “What do you learn every day?”
Rong Ting was much more down-to-earth than he had been when he first transmigrated. Before, he had been indifferent to other children’s attempt to strike a conversation. Now, he would respond to some questions. “Learned to skate yesterday.”
“Oh, I’m sick of it. My parents are devils!” The young boy whispered in complaint. “I have to learn English and Taekwondo, and now they’re planning to enroll me in piano classes. Yesterday, they even discussed having me learn painting. I’m simply not being treated like a human being!”
Rong Ting had been titled the crown prince since birth, and the requirements of the imperial family were stricter and more severe, so the little boy’s misfortune would not be met with sympathy.
“Oh, really.” Rong Ting remembered that Mother Empress said to be polite and to not be cold and indifferent to others. He hadn’t wanted to pay attention to this kid, so he could only say this sentence.
“Yeah! I bet you’re like me. Parents nowadays are crazy!”
Rong Ting let out an “oh” in response.
He didn’t feel sorry for the kids these days. This much was nothing.
“What have you learned?” The young boy asked Rong Ting again.
Rong Ting thought, then replied, “Painting, calligraphy, horse riding, archery, poetry…”
He also said some things that the little boy didn’t understand, but in short, they all sounded like very difficult and advanced skills.
The little boy gaped in astonishment. Clenching his little fist, he whispered, “You’re so pitiful. Suddenly I feel like my mom and dad are very good to me.”
Song Yuan stood outside. Seeing that Rong Ting was chatting away quite happily with the little boy, she also smiled.
Yes, that’s it! Gugu, make more friends, and I hope you have a happy childhood!
One could not do without friends while growing up. Song Yuan even considered exchanging contact information with that boy’s mother so that they could meet up and have playdates together later. This way, Rong Ting’s life would become a lot more rich and colorful!
As Song Yuan imagined scenes of Rong Ting making friends in the future, a gentle male voice spoke. “Miss Song, what a coincidence.”
Song Yuan turned in the direction of the voice and saw that it was Rong Heng. She was extremely surprised. “Mr. Xie, why are you here?”
Rong Heng smiled. “I have a friend who works here, and I made an appointment to eat with him today. He’s still in a meeting, so I was just walking around. I thought I was seeing things when I saw you. Why are you here?”
He followed her previous line of sight into the classroom and smiled in understanding. “Was it to accompany your son to class? Which one is your son?”
“En.” Song Yuan pointed to Rong Ting, who was standing not far from the piano. “The one with the hat.”
Rong Ting refused to cut his hair. Now, when he wore modern clothes, it wasn’t good to have a traditional hairstyle, so if he went out, he would wear a hat.
Rong Heng laughed. “So big. I feel like he strongly resembles you.”
“Really? That phrase ‘the son takes after the mother, and the daughter takes after the father’ probably has some truth to it.”
“Is he taking piano lessons?”
Song Yuan nodded. “Yes. He’s actually quite excellent and learned a little bit of everything. I don’t know what he’s interested in learning, so I brought him to a few trial classes to see what he likes.”
“He’s definitely different from other children,” Rong Heng evaluated after some careful consideration.
Other people were evaluating her child; Song Yuan was naturally interested in this topic. She asked, “How is he different?”
“You see, his back is straight when he stands, and he also doesn’t look around. This is very good.” Rong Heng paused. “Although I’ve never interacted with your son, I can tell that he’s been taught well and that he is an excellent child.”
“Yes.” Song Yuan was delighted to hear him say this. Perhaps, as a mother, she was a hundred times happier to hear someone praise her child than to hear praise about herself. “But I can’t take credit–it’s thanks to his father. His father is quite excellent, but I think that my son is too obedient. Sometimes, I wish that he could be noisy and behave like other children.”
Rong Heng smiled. “He must be much happier being with you right now. Children still prefer to be with their mothers, rather than have nothing to speak about with their fathers.”
“Probably. Since his dad taught him so well, now that he’s with me, I want to do a little better, at least so that I don’t hold him back.”
This was the reason why Song Yuan was so anxious. Rong Ting was too outstanding–if he followed her and became an ordinary person in the end, she would feel guilty.
“How could that be.” Rong Heng watched Rong Ting standing straight. His gaze was profound. “Some people are not destined to be mediocre8.”
 体验课: experience for yourself + courses?? Sounds like introductory courses designed to garner interest in future similar courses
 冰嬉: at first I thought this was just a term that Rong Ting made up, but it looks like it was an actual thing. A sport that was very popular during the Qing Dynasty, to the point that it was seen as a national tradition
 温水煮青蛙: the idea is that a frog thrown in a pot of already boiling water will immediately jump out, but a frog put in tepid water that’s slowly heated up, it won’t notice it’s being boiled. Here, Rong Ting is hatching a long-term plan.
 图样图森破: it doesn’t inherently mean anything, but when pronounced out loud, this phrase sounds like the English phrase “too young, too simple.”
 艺多不压身: it’s always good to have more skills
 入单反坑: enter the (Digital) Single-lens reflex (camera) (SLR) pit. Seems to be a phrase meaning to take up photography
 入乡随俗: when in Rome, do as the Romans do
 池中物: lit. thing in the pool; a person of no particular talent
Cbeese: i watched someone streaming “hades” yesterday and like. im terrible at roguelike but the graphics and music make me extrEmely tempted to try it out