“Mrs. Zhang, you are still in the living room? I thought you went back to your room already.” Shi Lei closed the door and beamed at Zhang Meimei.
What Shi Lei meant was very obvious. Zhang Meimei blushed and pushed her glasses up again: “I accidentally made a sound just then, you heard it, right? That’s why you tried to warn me. Please forgive my worries as a mother.”
Shi Lei also found it awkward as he did not expect Zhang Meimei to be this straightforward. Shi Lei also regretted it after he made a comment teasing her. He was accustomed to joking around with his friends and he couldn’t control himself. What he said was clearly accusing that Zhang Meimei was eavesdropping on them.
“Uh…… No, not really, I really want to get a glass of water.”
Zhang Meimei quickly composed herself as she had dealt with plenty of situations before. She picked up a glass from the table and passed to Shi Lei.
She had a thought and passed her own to Shi Lei too: “I can’t just keep pretending I’m drinking without water in my glass. Please fill it for me too.”
Shi Lei filled both glasses with water and passed Zhang Meimei’s glass back.
“Thank you.” Zhang Meimei naturally replied and crossed her legs. Because she was at home, she only wore a turtleneck knitted sweater on her upper body. It was very tight and her good body shape was displayed perfectly. Shi Lei’s vision accidentally fell on her chest and he quickly shifted his gaze as he felt himself turning pink.
Zhang Meimei crossed her legs. Seeing that Shi Lei didn’t go back to the room, she looked at him and said: “You have something to tell me?”
Shi Lei had a thought and stopped in front of her: “Mrs. Zhang, there are some things I would like to discuss with you.”
“When I thanked you just then, I wasn’t only thanking you for filling my glass. I mainly wanted to thank you for making er’jie return to normal and not like before.”
Shi Lei was sizzy. He thought that even Zhang Meimei called her own daughter er’jie, except he didn’t know that she was the one who gave the nickname of er’jie to her own daughter.
“That’s nothing to worry about. I’m getting paid and this is what I should do. If I couldn’t do it, I would’ve apologized to you.”
Zhang Meimei nodded and said seriously: “What do you want to talk to me about? Do you think you are not getting paid enough and want more pay? Of course I know that you played a great part in er’jie’s drastic change, but……”
Shi Lei quickly gestured her to paused: “Hold on, I don’t want more pay. It’s quite opposite, I feel ashamed to take all these money, honestly, I don’t have much to teach er’jie. Originally, I was indeed in need for money, so I asked my friend to give me this tutoring job. When I saw er’jie for the first time, I was rather lost and didn’t know how I could help to make her go back to normal, but it wasn’t that bad because er’jie is very smart and everything she did was for the sake of grabbing your attention, even scolding her. Except, I think that you don’t even want to scold her. There’s a lack of communication between you and her.”
Seeing that Zhang Meimei wanted to speak, Shi Lei sat down opposite her and gestured to be quiet first.
“Don’t be in a hurry to stop me, let me finish talking first. Er’jie is very smart and she probably got that from you. You are a great lawyer and I think you dealt with exams and study very easily.. Er’jie is actually the same. When I first saw her, I thought she was failing. Although I returned majority of what I learnt in high school back to my teachers in the past three years of university, but I do remember the basics and I can remember them after flipping through the book, if er’jie was really failing then I could help her push her marks up. Then, I realised that er’jie doesn’t need my help at all, she doesn’t need anyone’s help. With her cleverness, she could deal with the middle school graduation exams quite easily. It shouldn’t even be a difficult thing for her to make it into a selective or international school. Of course, you mentioned before that you need someone who can watch over er’jie so she doesn’t go out and hang out with the shady kids. But when I get paid, I’m doing nothing but spending a few hours to accompany her when she does her homework.”
Zhang Meimei didn’t speak. She looked at Shi Lei with interest and smiled in her eyes, waiting to see what else Shi Lei had to say.
“I talked to er’jie about my thoughts last week. I thought that it wasn’t nice for me to take your money but she was furious at me, she said she didn’t have a father, her mother didn’t care about her, and now even I don’t want to look after her anymore. If she didn’t get angry at me, I wouldn’t even know that I was that important to her. I considered that and realized that if I was really that important, 60 yuan for an hour wasn’t too much. But today, I saw your concerns as she’s your daughter, and it’s natural for you to be concerned and be on your guard against me because I’m at a not so mature age and er’jie is rather young. What I wanted to say is that, you worry and care about her, and I can definitely see that, even er’jie understands. Of course, I understand that you need to work for money and it’s difficult for you to earn money and support the family as a single mother, but because er’jie is rather young, her needs aren’t too materialistic yet. She just needs you to communicate with her more. You are busy, I know, but I don’t think you are so busy that you can’t even spare the time to WeChat or call her. You definitely won’t work till late and just ask her whether she had dinner or not, or at most, tell her to sleep early or tell you if she doesn’t have enough money. Between mother and daughter, you need to communicate more. Er’jie likes me, and you can treat that as the liking of a child to an older brother, it’s only because I have enough time to be with her, if you can do that, I don’t think you would need me and er’jie wouldn’t need me either.”
Zhang Meimei nodded and asked: “Are you done talking?”
Shi Lei also nodded and said: “About this much. Perhaps I wasn’t very clear with my expressions and it was wordy, but that was about it.”
Zhang Meimei sighed and smiled: “First, thank you for willing to tell me these things. To be honest, I understand what you said perfectly well. Everyone has a rebellious phase when they are young. When I was at your age, I was like this too. It looks like I don’t talk to her often because one, I’m indeed busy, and two, my personality isn’t someone who’s good at persuading or negotiating. On this point, you are doing it much, much better than me. It wasn’t that I’ve never tried to communicate with her, but it was because it always ended on a bad note. It was like this when I listened to your advice. When I wanted to take er’jie out to play, I screwed up everything. Of course, it wasn’t er’jie’s responsibility, but mine. That’s how I am as a mother and er’jie could only learn to be independent.”
“I can’t agree on that. Er’jie is very independent already. I’ve never seen such independent 16 year old child before. Mrs. Zhang, perhaps you don’t understand, but even if it was an argument, although the outcome wasn’t exactly what you expected, but it’s better than no communication at all. Perhaps it’s related to your occupation, you are accustomed to put in efforts and receive a positive outcome, but this is life, not work, the process is often far more important than the outcome.”