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Later on when Xiao Tu was seven years old, she was about to start elementary school.
On registration day, Ling Chao’s mother also went with her son.
The school gave every child who enrolled a placement test. Normal students would just start school, while some irregular students would be advised to first go through kindergarten. Xiao Tu was unfortunately in the minority.
Contrary to expectations, her mother didn’t care. It wasn’t like it affected her daughter’s life or death.
If she went to kindergarten, then wouldn’t Ling Chao be ahead of her by a grade? How could the older sister be one grade below the little brother? Xiao Tu could not accept this. She annoyed her mother, complaining that she must go to first grade.
Her mother was annoyed to the point where she had no other options but to go and speak with the principal.
The first time they went, they failed.
The second time they went, they brought along two jins of apples, and the principle agreed.
As a result, Xiao Tu carried her backpack to go and start first grade, while Ling Chao started second grade.
What? You ask how come their grades were different? The reason was simple; during the placement test, Ling Chao had gotten full marks, becoming the only new student to start directly in the second grade.
In the end, Xiao Tu was still a grade lower.
As a result of Xiao Tu’s foundation being poor and her unwillingness to go to kindergarten, learning in class was difficult. During final exams, she and Ling Chao had both gotten one hundred points.
However, Ling Chao got a hundred in both language and math, while she only got a hundred points in language and math combined.
Holding these two pieces of tragic test results, Xiao Tu’s mother felt miserable: “Heavens, how could you bully a child who was born premature like this?”
So she decided to get Xiao Tu a tutor.
The first tutor she hired was an old retired teacher. After teaching for two days, he left shaking his head while repeating: “Rotten wood cannot be carved, and children cannot be taught….”
Mother couldn’t understand what the old man said and decided to find a younger tutor.
The second tutor was their next-door neighbor, Grandma Wang’s granddaughter, who was staying for summer vacation. It was said that she was studying to be a teacher, and her performance was very good.
Unfortunately, after two days of teaching, she packed up her stuff and ran away with an excuse that she had some matters at home that required her attention.
Later on, Grandma Wang mentioned that her granddaughter had applied to change majors. However, that was a story for another time, one that could be ignored.
The issues of finding a tutor for Xiao Tu worried her mother endlessly. When she was hanging the laundry in the courtyard, she accidentally mentioned the issue to Ling Chao’s mother. His mother suggested on the spot, “It would be better to let Tu Tu do her homework together with Ling Chao. If she doesn’t understand something, she can just ask.”
This suggestion really suited Mrs. Xiao. That night, she sent her daughter to the Lings’ house.
That day, Xiao Tu unexpectedly finished her homework before eight. The next day she even received a star.
From then on, she never did homework at her own house.
When the term ended, Xiao Tu’s two exam results’ overall score went from one hundred points to one hundred and fifty points for the very first time. Ling Chao still had full marks.
During third grade, Xiao Tu joined her very first class cadre—the labor committee.
In Xiao Tu’s class, the teacher required that labor committee members must stay after class each day to direct fellow classmates in cleaning the room. This was the reason why only Xiao Tu had volunteered for the position in their class.
Xiao Tu had never been a class cadre before, therefore she treated the two red armbands with great care. Every day she would stay until the classroom were clean before leaving, even if it was very late.
This caused Ling Chao, who went home with her every day, to become very impatient.
“Why do you need me to wait for you every day?”
Xiao Tu revealed her two red armbands and said: “I am a labor committee member!”
“I don’t care. If you’re so late every day, then I won’t wait for you.” After saying this, Ling Chao left by himself without waiting for Xiao Tu.
Xiao Tu didn’t care, and every day she would wait until everyone else finished cleaning before leaving.
After a few days, she was going down the stairs one time when she ran into Ling Chao, who was packing his bag, about to leave.
She asked, “How come you’re here so late today?”
Ling Chao laughed: “I’m inspecting the sanitation.”
Xiao Tu didn’t understand: “You couldn’t also be a labor committee….”
Ling Chao glanced at her: “I’m the class president.”
That’s right, Ling Chao had already become the class president of the third graders.
From then on, their class president, Ling Chao, performed one more duty. Every day after everyone finished cleaning, he would inspect their work before leaving.
This way, they could leave together like before.
Later, when it was Xiao Tu’s birthday, her mother gave her a green turtle.
Xiao Tu really liked this green turtle, raising it as if it were a treasure. Her mother felt that her daughter and this turtle had been brought together by fate. She joked with Xiao Tu’s father saying, “Look how close our daughter is with the turtle. Maybe she can get a golden turtle (wealthy husband) in the future.”
Xiao Tu’s father didn’t take it seriously and just said ‘okay’ before moving on. Better to not let Xiao Tu learn about it.
That day, while doing homework, Xiao Tu asked Ling Chao, “What’s a golden turtle?”
Ling Chao was working on math olympiad questions with his head down and didn’t answer her.
Xiao Tu raised her voice and yelled, “Hey! I’m asking you a question. What’s a golden turtle?”
Ling Chao put down his pen, raised his head, and said one word: “Superficial.”
“Superficial”. This word was in the dictionaries commonly used by elementary students. Xiao Tu found the word pretty quickly and became angry after reading the definition.
Wasn’t this child only higher than her by one grade? Why was he calling her superficial? In the end, he was still the younger brother!
Xiao Tu was angry, and when it was time to wait for Ling Chao, she just ran home alone, reaching her house in a moment. After a long time, Ling Chao walked home slowly without any urgency and didn’t ask Xiao Tu why she ran.
This deadlock lasted a few days. One day after class, Xiao Tu’s deskmate Miao Ke Yan curiously asked her, “Tu Tu, did you have a fight with your boyfriend?”
Xiao Tu didn’t understand what Miao Ke Yan was saying, blinking her eyes, baffled.
Miao Ke Yan saw her blinking eyes: “Stop concealing it from me! I’m talking about the class monitor of class 2-5, Ling Chao! If he’s not your boyfriend, why does he wait so late for you every day? Once I even saw you guys walking holding hands!”
Xiao Tu almost jumped out of her seat.
Ling Chao? His height was shorter than hers, his arms were skinnier than hers, his skin was paler than hers, and most importantly, he unexpectedly scolded her for being superficial! Still a boyfriend? Simply a–JOKE!
Although Xiao Tu tried to explain every way possible, Miao Ke Yan didn’t believe her. She had already been publicly recognized as Ling Chao’s girlfriend. There was no use in trying to explain anything.
As it turned out, these past few years Ling Chao had participated in all the big and small International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) competitions and had won them all. From early on, he had became known as a child prodigy in mathematics. Somehow, word about Xiao Tu spread through the elementary school gossip site; she then became publicly known as Ling Chao’s girlfriend.
“Innocence” destroyed. Xiao Tu wasn’t angry, she was simply… furious.
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