Fortune cookie wisdom (what it really means to be smart)

Kathy Krugeradoption, love, motherhood30 Comments

Do you believe in fortune cookie wisdom? Being into all things yin and yang, it’s not surprising that I do. Actually what I believe in is wisdom that runs much deeper than intelligence and learning, that it is full of insight and knowing and is earned through experience.

So last Friday for Harmony Day, Mr Yang and I braved a classroom of prep school students (specifically Little Yang’s class) to make dumplings, along with sang choy bau (well I made it beforehand but we assembled and ate it there). We finished off lunch with fortune cookies. We brought in a whole lot of Chinese stuff (maybe not the right word for cultural items) and Little Yang proudly showed off his heritage to his class. We’d arranged to bring in chopsticks and the teachers organised a ‘picking up things with chopsticks’ activity, as well as other activities to keep the kids amused in between dumpling-making with me, and Chinese stamping with Mr Yang.

It looked a bit like this (well this is the sanitised, no-other-kids-in-the-picture version), and was a lot of fun. Believe me, your admiration for what teachers do every day soars!

But back to the fortune cookies – we brought three boxes and had left-overs, but not enough to go around. So we came home with a 2/3 box full – the kids proceeded to eat the remaining cookies and perhaps feel fortunate. Meanwhile I collected the words of wisdom.

A good fortune may forebode a bad luck which may in turn disguise a good fortuneMr Fortune Cookie

Oh, I like that one. Very yin, yang and yin again. Or yang, yin and yang again. Whatever.

I like this fortune even more because it was hidden in two cookies. Double luck. I’ll take that.

Other fortunes revealed included:


  • Worry pulls tomorrow’s cloud over today’s sunshine
  • One should cherish opportunities and work with joy
  • This is a great day to handle those real estate matters (not so sure about that one)
  • You are progressing at the right speed
Mrs Fortune Cookie

I called to mind that last one when we returned to school at 3.15pm – as the kid’s went off to the disco while we had a parent-teacher interview with Little Yang’s teacher.

We were surprised. Having arranged a referral to a speech therapist, we were already aware of the assistance he’ll need with his speech (we’d flagged an issue last year but hoped he’d mature into being clearer with some sounds. IMHO his vocabulary is good but he still mis-pronounces some sounds and his sentence structure could be better at times). What we weren’t expecting was the assessment that although he’s enthusiastic to learn, Little Yang appears to have delayed learning.

But he’s our little smart and perceptive guy. Our budding engineer who the morning after brings me the small screwdriver case to open up for him, so he can fix his glowing, spinning disco fan that is broken already. He’s a savvy little man who problem-solves his way out of punishment and somehow even engineers extra treats.

Now I’m trying not to worry, but Little Mr Perceptive (aka Little Yang) asks me what’s wrong when he spies me looking at him quizzically, wondering what the future holds, aching to protect him from it.

Thoughts about his background – how we don’t know what his nutrition was like in the womb but we do know that he was born small; how we don’t know how much stimulation he had for the first (almost) nine months of his life but we do know that he was stuck in the orphanage we visited, which looked good, but who knows? How we do know about cognitive issues in children whose brain isn’t able to develop to meet required milestones as babies. How we wish he’d had a foster mother like Miss Yin had. How we can’t change the lottery of genetics and circumstances that gave him his start in life.

Have we done the best by him since adoption? Great, big, ugly, guilty thoughts of how we might have been able to pick things up earlier (even though he has met all his major milestones), how we could have/should have read to him more (he’s always been less interested than his sister), how we’ve emphasised socialisation and play over ABC’s in pre-school, how perhaps we haven’t been proactive enough, choosing to believe in the best rather than anticipate the worst.

Rational thoughts about how I’m maybe just being a a little bit hysterical and that I need to let time take its course, being vigilant along the way (Little Yang has only just turned 5 after all).

And then reassuring thoughts about how personality outsmarts intelligence at school (research has proven it), how wisdom doesn’t come out of a textbook any more than it comes out of a fortune cookie, how we each learn at our own pace, according to our own interests, so we can live our own lives (how Miss Yin learns to dance so easily, yet often struggles to understand the patterns in maths – me too, and I can’t dance!).


How if I’m really wise I’ll learn patience and persistence, and if I put them together with love, Little Yang will be just fine.

I know he’ll be fine. The getting of wisdom can be hard though – a sage point no doubt contained within a fortune cookie somewhere.

I’ll just have to try harder.

What do you think makes someone smart, wise? Do you believe in fortune cookie wisdom? Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT and Grace for FYBF. And joining in the Weekend link-up with Sonia, Kelly, Bron and Sonia Styling.

Namaste sign off_edited-1

Kathy X

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Kathy KrugerFortune cookie wisdom (what it really means to be smart)

30 Comments on “Fortune cookie wisdom (what it really means to be smart)”

  1. lorkindf

    Those fortune cookies can give you food for thought! Little yang will be fine, with love, time and a little extra help he’ll get there in the end. His class is very lucky to have such a rich cultural experience too.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thank you so much for your reassurance and nice comment. Yep I love how fortune cookies can arrive with the right message at the right time. Thanks for visiting.

  2. Kirri White (@kirri_white)

    I can relate deeply to this story Kathy. I know YOU already know that Little Yang will be perfectly fine….but rest assured – he really will be! PS – Your cookie fortune humor and wisdom made me smile today – Thank you x

  3. Kirsty @ Smarter Happier

    It’s hard when you just want the best for your child but you’re not sure how best to achieve it. We are grappling with selecting a high school and working out strategies to help Gilbert learn as he is a very smart kid but struggles with traditional teaching. Little Yang has your love and support – he will thrive!

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Kirsty – you and Nathan are such wonderful parents always advocating and supporting. I guess it is just the unknown at this stage, but I’m sure Little Yang will be fine. Good luck with the high school decision for Gilbert and enjoy your upcoming big trip.

  4. Michelle@myslowlivingadventure

    He will get there Kathy. They all mostly do. My youngest is super smart in so many ways, but such a slow academic learner. While his peer group is already starting to read, he can barely remember a handful of letters. But I just know he will get there and will be there to support him. Little Yang is in an awesome family full of love and that’s the actually the main thing!

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Michelle – I know there are lots of great parents out there trying to help their kids navigate a system of academic learning – glad to know there is that shared solidarity.

  5. toniazemek

    You sound like a such lovely mum, Kathy. Whatever challenges you and Little Yang face, together you’ll find a way through with grace and good humour, I’m sure. p.s. love those fortune cookies and their words of wisdom.

  6. Malinda (@MBPaperPackages)

    We all want the best for our kids and it is our job to wonder if we are doing the right things, if we have them on track. He will be fine, the fact that you are thinking about it shows that you are interested in his well being which is a far leap beyond what some are doing.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      The thing is I used to be on adoption support groups and they would basically (in my opinion) go looking for problems – it depressed me and I couldn’t see why they couldn’t expect everything to be OK (they would also judge people who didn’t look for problems as naive). So I’ve probably gone the other way, expecting things to be fine. But you are right Malinda, some parents are oblivious or just don’t seem to care. Because I care I find it hard not to judge my actions but I will try to just be positive moving forward.

  7. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me

    You know what I reckon with your love, patience and understanding he’ll overcome these few difficulties, and he’s still so young. It’s good they’ve been picked up early and big ups to you for embracing it and thinking the best. Love fortune cookies, I tried looking for some in the supermarket but no, might have to head to Chinese markets! x

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Emily. You should find fortune cookies in the Asian section of the supermarket (our Coles has them), but if not the Asian supermarket. You are right – he is still so young and time will tell. X

  8. Sonia Life Love Hiccups

    Little Yang is going to be so fine I just know it. In fact with you guys supporting him he is going to be a zillion times more than fine. I worry too as my youngest has some learning difficulties but I truly believe they all catch up in their own good time and besides some of the greatest people in the world are certainly not the most intelligent and that in itself is pretty damn awesome. What a gorgeous thing to do for your little man’s class – he must have been the proudest boy on earth that day xx

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Sonia – I really appreciate your support and I know I’m not the only parent wondering how their child is going to navigate the academic school system. Early days and lots of reason to be positive – I’ll just have to ditch the guilt first.

  9. mummywifeme

    You are such a loving and considerate mum, Kathy. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to not know about his time in the womb or his first few months. Please try to not worry about him too much. Just go with the flow and as you say keep an eye on things. My daughter is approaching five and a couple of her friends still don’t speak clearly and are see speech therapists. With a little time, I’m sure it will all come together for Little Yang. He is so cute. I just want to squish him 🙂

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Renee – there are unknowns but we just have to accept them and move forward proactively. None of us know how our kids will grow and learn, we just have a little less to go on.

  10. Tegan Churchill

    I think intelligence is a mixture of book smarts, street smarts and emotional smarts. I know people who are so ridiculously smart that they can work out the square root of 498 in about 30 seconds but have the social and emotional maturity of a small child. As you know we have been seeing a pediatrician and have seen a psychologist for Mr 5 and they both said that starting school often puts a spotlight on any issues kids have because it’s such a structured environment.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Hi Tegan – that combo of smarts is exactly it. And I think you are right about the structure highlighting the areas kids have issues in – I guess the focus is working on their strengths and helping them cope with the challenging aspects. You are really engaged to get your son the help he needs. I think I was so conscious of some adoptive parents making a big deal out of everything, looking for problems, that perhaps I have gone the other way.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      I couldn’t agree more Pinky – empathy is up there with resilience as the two thing I want to ‘instil’ in our kids. Just need to navigate the school definition of smarts.

      1. Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)

        That last comment I left was a tad shallow Kathy. It was a bit… throw away. My youngest son had a congenital hearing impairment which wasn’t picked up until after Grade 1, when I suddenly realised he was way behind. He repeated Grade 1 (which I’ve to this day never heard the end of) but the reading recovery team got him back on track. My two ‘middle’ boys were never academic. They hated school but once out of the system, after suffering through Year Twelve, they’ve both embraced Tech and one of them has been awarded the top electrical apprentice in the city two years in a row. He just had to find his place. I’m no expert but I think you’re the type of mother who will guide and inspire Little Yang to be the best he can be in whatever passion he chooses to pursue x

  11. Kim Allan

    Hi Kathy, Thankyou for your words. We are walking the same path together. The same beautiful treasures in our lives, and the same questions about the past, and the same guilt about (our) adequateness as a parent. All we can do is have a plan and deliver with love what we think is best, and then allow our children to teach us what really matters. Kim xx

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  13. deb dane

    Big hugs lovely. Delayed to me just means he is going to take a little longer to get to the same place, but he will arrive in his own time. Everything you described still applies to your smart little engineer. Xxx

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Deb – I’ve ‘calmed down’ a bit now and I’m going to give it time (and attention). He’s so little I just don’t want the pressure on him. X

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