Kentang Little Foot Reads Chinese 

Last June, I wrote about how I am trying to raise my baby to be a book lover like me. 

I can safely say, if like me, you have introduced the tablet and YouTube, you know know how challenging it is, to try to lure them to the world of reading while something more exciting is the other option. 

Luckily for school. Little Foot’s preschool is huge on literacy and reading. So other than storytelling time, there’s also natural literacy sessions weekly and every Friday, our toddler drags 2 little books home in her trolley bag. 

That’s homework for the weekend. 

READ. 

So from very sporadic moments of flipping books for novelty, Little Foot has recently been asking me to read to her. She would suddenly walk to her cupboard and tell me that it is reading time. 

Yesterday, we breezed through 3 books and 2 short stories in the Baby Bible.

And today more impressive – I read two Chinese books to her. Complete story! And she skimmed through a third one from the same series. And she could tell me the animals’ names in Chinese “小熊”, “小兔” and “大象”. 

I could leap for joy! Because we’ve been fretting about how she refuses to engage us in Mandarin , and would always reply in English. (Or maybe I am being too demanding of my 28 month old, who has been extremely impressive with her speech and singing). 

Papa had spotted this series of books when shopping on Ezbuy. The characters in these books were the same as the ones in the Chinese books that Little Foot brings home on Fridays.

Familiarity with the characters probably contributed to her interest in going through the books. 

We like the storylines, simple, engaging and teaches some manners/values/habits, like saying “thank you”. And the illustrations are cute and easy on the eyes. 

So yes, good find online!

So pleased to see Little Foot growing in love with books. 

Guess what? Her favourite is reaching the end of the book and saying “The End”. 

Too Cute.

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A promise of cake

28 months is a lovely age to be…

It is the age when Mummy is your fairy godmother who grants all your wishes  🙂

This morning, we were scrolling through my phone gallery and Little Foot saw a photo of her eating cake (from the previous weekend). 

She agreed to stop being fussy about changing out of her diaper and PJs after I said I will buy her a chocolate cake. 

So, fast forward to evening. Work tied me down (again!), but I was determined to complete my fairy godmother mission!

I walked really fast to the MRT station, got on the train (Aunty Lily texted to say Little Foot is waiting and keeps talking about the cake. She’s singing ‘Happy Birthday’) argh…. prayed for the train to go faster!

Dashed to the Chateraise shop, bought the cakes, walked as fast as I could home. 

On the way, Aunty Lily texted again.- “We go dwn n wait for u dwnstair…  dwnstair wait for u coz she screaming at home”

Extra pressure. Ahhhh….Walk faster! And don’t fall and smash the cakes!
FINALLY! Reached my void deck and there she is! Eyes wide open looking out for me.

“Mummy!!!!!”

“What is it you buy?!!”

“Is it for me?” 

Ohhh my heart melted…. I made it! Phew! Happily carried her to the lift. 

Happy baby got her cake and party…she was do happy to put the candles, sing the birthday song, and ate the cream and fruits.

A promise is a promise. And I’m glad I managed to keep it. Happy times… just thankful I decided to leave the office with a “whatever!”.  

And before she slept,she kissed us, played and got me to read stories to her. Rare and precious mood for books! 

Good day indeed… no working mothers should be deprived of this precious window of time to spend with their child. 

#alittlefootprint 

Of tears, snot, poo and tantrums

Over the past month, Little Foot and I have been falling ill, getting better then falling ill again. 

Worrisome and tiresome times. 

We’ve counted 5 consecutive cases of HFMD thus far in her school, so we have been on tenterhooks, wondering if we were the next victims of the dreaded virus. 

Crossing fingers that we have somehow escaped unscathed somewhat. 

Perhaps all the essential oils we were diffusing and applying helped to shield her from catching it, perhaps we were just that little bit lucky.  

Still, with the cough and flu came crankiness. Dealing with a tired yet resisting sleep toddler, who had skipped her afternoon naps because of vomitting bouts was completely no joke. Much less when I am also flu bugged.  


One of the random tantrums

Being a considerate Doc when I told her “Mummy is sickypoo

But I do remember, of all things, some thing that Pink (the singer) said in and interview long ago -it went something like ” motherhood meant that you had traded tears alcohol and cigarettes with tears, snot and poo”…. a sacrifice she said was worth it. 

For me at this stage, I have to add tantrums to tears, snot and poo…. to what I traded my old life for. 
There are days I think about how I had traded my orchard road trips, Friday date nights, drinking sessions, movies and self-pampering lifestyle for the life of rushing home, anyhow swallowing down my dinner, reading books, singing along to “Wheels on the Bus”, helping Little Foot dress her “baby”, wiping snot, battling terrible twos tantrums and going to work feeling like the bus just ran me over some days. 

All groggy in the morning

And on those days I think I am crazy.  

But yet dig deep, I find that it is a purposeful existence, despite the appearance of it being a dull, mundane, unadventurous life to onlookers. 

Seriously, in fact it is anything but mundane if you live the moment! 

  • I have sang so many kiddy songs nursery rhyme and “Happy Birthdays”, that if I had a dollar for each song I sang, we’d be on the next plane to London! 
  • I have gotten drenched in puke, splattered by poo, and had baby weewee drench the front of my shirt and pants in public places. 
  • I have done 28 months and counting of disrupted sleep since she was born. 
  • I have conjured up countless stories and “drama” antics just to attract/distract Little Foot as mitigation before she swings into full blown meltdowns. 
  • I have carried a 2.65kg tiny tot to the current 12.6kg toddler strapped to my small frame, and still counting. (These days, I tell myself… smell her hair, ignore the weight!!)
  • I have received much unabashed affection from Little Foot… who now asks after me with phrases like “Mummy, you eat full full already?” Who plants kisses on my lips and give me big hugs. 
  • I have also received many a bruise and strained muscles from dealing with a toddler trashing around in tantrums.  

I could write on and on… but my point is, I have traded my old life for this. It isn’t a basket of roses, all the time, yet it never stops to amaze me how, as a parent, I have found courage and strength to keep going and learn to enjoy it along the way. 

Even if on days I lose my temper at the fussing toddler…. even on days I’m so ill or exhausted  I just want to lie down and hide in my wardrobe. 

I keep going. 

There is only one reason. Her. 

And I borrow strength from Papa Long ans Aunty Lily… between the three of us, we somehow will wing it. 

And my only regret these days is not being able to be around the tears, snot, poo and tantrums more. 

Hard to fathom. That’s what parenting is I suppose.  

 For the storms will always pass, and we ride them out anticipating the brightest rainbow that will greet us at the end of it.  Your smile is my rainbow, my little one…  did you know? 

An incomplete post…

I found this incomplete blogpost in my archives… never published. Written when Little Foot was about a year old.

Everyone around me knows, I didn’t want children.

As a Catholic,  it was a real struggle… from the time we went through Engaged Encounter, this question repeatedly haunted me. Soon after marriage that tiresome question of “when are you having a baby?” Would keep cropping up in conversations.  And then the horrified “whyyy? !!!!” would follow when I said no kids.  Rude/insensitive people would actually tell me in my face, “then you get married for what?”. Yet I was very clear I didn’t want to be a parent. I was happy to play with my niece and nephew and then return them to their parents when i was tired of playing. Why make life difficult?

Two years into the marriage, Pico, our dearest dog passed away… he was already a senior,  and we knew it was a matter of time… but not amount of prepping yourself every makes you quite ready to face death when it comes.

Devastated, I reflected a lot on our childless marriage. I thought about how if either of us were to leave this world,  the one left behind would have nothing real to hold on to the memory of the one who passed on. Photos were just photos…. I know how inadequate photos were.  I wanted to smell him, touch him, hear him… and I know if I died, I hoped my husband would be able to see glimpses of me still here on this earth.

And so I opened my heart and prayed. After 2 years of confessions over and over for being unable to keep the vows I made on my wedding day that I would welcome the children that God blesses me, I finally opened my heart and prayed. I still remember what I told Him. “Father, I am ready if You are”. I prayed after we had a false alarm when we started trying after our Switzerland trip.

And a month later, I tested positive. A simple prayer, yet so powerful to me… it was my reconciliation. And He breathed life into my prayer.

The transition from “no kids” to “ok, let’s have 1 child” was a long road of struggles. I could list down the reasons why I didn’t want children : it’s going to change my lifestyle, and i like my dates with husband on friday nights, traveling 3 times a year, drinking leisurely and meeting friends when I felt like it…weekend cafe hopping, why have a kid to make life so complicated? Furthermore, I always felt children were one of the most sure – lose investments. You pour love, time, money into your child. You get heartaches, and a kid that would grow up to be angsty teen who find you troublesome, naggy, old fashioned…..  (I was relating to the me in my youth).

Yet once the Little Foot started growing in my tummy, all these “rational” stuff that I used to believe in just became irrelevant.  I spent my pregnancy loving this baby… I sang to her at night, I talked to her unabashedly while I walked home each evening, I prayed a lot, and I let Him lead the way. No need to be afraid,  this is the child that God gave me. I started seeing life very differently. My footsteps slowed down and I started to be at peace with myself.
Giving birth to Little Foot, via emergency Caesarean, I thought I could deal with whatever came my way. Yet it was so trying at times, I do ask myself the rhetoric question of “who ask you to have a child?” on trying days.

Yet, when I see her smile, giggle, yawn, stretch her arms…. made O shape with her mouth, sleep soundly…. even her cries…all these stupid questions become irrelevant.

I surprised many people when I insisted on persevering with breastfeeding.  I further surprised many people when I decided to take time off work and be a stay-at-home mum until Little Foot was nearly 11 mths old.

I don’t have time to think about my old lifestyle…. on some occasions I think about how Friday nights were so chillax. And then I move on. The present was more important. There was always something to do.

 

Revisiting this train of thought, I am reminded of the very small Little Foot made such a big change in our lives, and the power of believing. When you threw caution to the wind, and leave things to the Almighty, a new door of happiness, hope, adventure and opportunity opens.

I am also reminded of how the little bubs has grown…. when was the last time I saw her made O shape with her little mouth?

Frankly, where was I heading with this post? I couldn’t quite recall.

Perhaps I wanted to write about how we were happy to be a one-child only family. No apologies, no shame.

Perhaps I wanted to reflect on how a death had opened an impossible door for me.

Who knows…

Today,  as work takes me away from my feisty toddler more and more, it does make me think of my days as a SAHM. I know Little Foot misses me a lot these days.  So do I. Such an irony, to work so that we could enjoy all the comforts that life can give, but what the little one really asks for is my time and affection.

What she would give to plaster to me 24/7.

So a year on, did this incomplete blog make any sense to the present me? Yes, still very much so. Parenthood is an irrational decision, and an investment that doesn’t make sense in all practical terms. However it is the priceless moments and memories build as a family that makes it worth its while.

All the things money can’t buy.

My thoughts on that breastfeeding photo

Some friends asked me how I felt about the photo circulating around on social media, of a lady breastfeeding openly on the mrt train. And then her subsequent facebook post declaring that she was not affected by the photo going around AND standing firm that there is nothing wrong with it. 

Well, before I start, congratulations on making it to the news and raising awareness on breastfeeding. 

My personal views on this episode? 

First, as a breastfeeding mother, I  feel the difficulties. Many times over the last 2 years,  Little Foot wants milk at the most inappropriate moments. And she wasn’t going to guai guai keep quiet if I didn’t let her get to the tap. And nope, she wasn’t going to wait till we reach the next private spot. 
Sometime before her 1st birthday, she also started to protest about the nursing cover. So I would run. Literally carry her and run to find a nursing room or sit in the car (oh yes, the luxury of having the mobile space). So we will not be nursing in full view of others. 

Then I started to educate her. Logic + nagging. Because I got tired of the situation!

“Do you want other babies to drink milk milk?” …”do you want uncles to see mummy milk?” . She got the idea somewhere along the way. And so we reached a nice compromise. She goes into the carrier and she would say “cover cover!” and nurse. Only in the car or when we have a room of sorts can she nurse without restriction. Fair deal.
So that’s us.  

Second, we all have rights. Your rights don’t overshadow mine and vice versa. I feel that perhaps all parties need not be self-entitled/ overly self-righteous.
It was not right for the busybody person to take the photo and post it online. That person ought to be ashamed of him/herself for doing it. 

Yet I also wonder if it was a little much to demand that a cabin full of folks who are not used to such a sight be made to watch in discomfort or “just look away” as the lady puts it. Just because “#proudbreastfeedingmama #useplasticbagtocoveryourselfwhenyoueat#nowrong #mybabywillalwayscomefirst #breastservingdifferentpurposes #notjustsex“?

 (so many hashtags…#fierce)

No babies are the same. Some prefer bottles, some want to directly latch, some reject milk. Some are feisty, some are gentle. So are adults. No two persons comfort level are the same. 

Personally, I respect that breastfeeding may make others uncomfortable. I have been there. I respect Papa Long’s discomfort at letting other men view what he felt they weren’t entitled to. 

And I respect our community’s awkwardness at what they feel is too much while some mothers, especially those who champion breastfeeding, challenge that it is a natural thing to do.

I also understand that there are girls and women who haven’t gotten to my stage and will be uncomfortable at the sight. I remember declaring how I was “scarred for life” when I witnessed my elder sister expressed milk some 10 years ago. And I almost never got round to accepting that I will do it one day because that is a natural thing to do. 

Today, people are actually awkward when I mention that I am still breastfeeding. Some of the elders frown discreetly. Some tell me in my face “够了” (enough already). I take it in my stride. Imagine me getting all riled up, whipping out my boob and breastfeeding in front of them just to make a stand. A bit much isn’t it? 

As an early Gen Yer, I watch how people from Gen X and older complain about us and the millenials saying we have a false sense of entitlement. Perhaps they are not too far from the truth? 

The lady challenged naysayers to try eating and drinking under covers.likely adapted from  arguments of “if you wouldn’t eat your lunch in the toilet, don’t ask my baby to.”

Telling people this is common space. Not happy you look away also hint of that sense of self-entitlement. 

Well…. if it was me, perhaps I would have gotten off the train and searched for a quiet corner to nurse. Maybe on days when I have more resolve, I may have tried to promote delayed gratification (a necessary lifeskill that parents today are stuggling to help their children learn because of or “instant” society and indulgent ways, and which Papa Long nags me about) and told Little Foot to wait or she can cry till we reach our destination (woe betide the other commuters). I would definitely have first offered alternatives like milk bottle (is it still no milk bottle drinking policy on trains?) or tried other distraction techniques. 

Still, who am I to say or judge? Because her comfort levels, views on this subject, and circumstances are not the same as mine. 

So I will reserve my judgement on this. 

And I wish her well on her motherhood journey. 

Meantime, I prefer that people don’t make sweeping statements about breastfeeding mums. 

We are have something in common, but that’s almost as good as just saying we are all humans. 

What I write may rile us some in the breastfeeding, but well, it is my personal stance. No offence. 
Peace. Out. 

Little Foot noticed !

Got home unexpectedly early this evening. 

As I approached our unit, I called out “Baby, Babyyyyy!!!” as usual and was greeted with the ever-enthusiastic “Mameeeeee!!!!”

She gleefully informed me,  “I cut the cake!! You see? Birthday Cake!!” Referring to the toy birthday cake she was playing with. Then when I walked through the door she stunned me with the next question. 

Little Foot: “You change bag?” 

Me: *floored* ummm yes. I changed my bag. 

Little Foot: Why!!?

Me: because the other bag too small for my laptop. 

Little Foot: Why!!? 

Me: Because I have to bring laptop home.  This bag is bigger, the other one cannot fit the laptop. 

Little Foot: Mummy change bag? Yes!

And then she moved on to the next line of questioning (about my top and my pants).

The thing is…I have a lot of bags and I change them ever so often. Who would have known that my daughter would notice the mustard laptop bag was different from the Jujube bag I carried out? 

W.O.W. Still overwhelmed with amazement. 

Looks like she’s gonna grow up to be a bag addict like me. 

Tissue Paper Sellers

If you are living in Singapore and you commute daily by public transportation, the usual sight that would greet you each morning would be tissue paper sellers – old ladies or disabled people who stand at walkways, underpasses, at the exits of train stations and bus interchanges, holding out tissue packets.

This morning, I counted on my way to work, 1 old lady, 2 old men selling tissue. And the rather famous old man who plays the harmonica for your spare change. The blind couple who usually sits where I enter the MRT station were not at their position this morning. So my usual route to work would see me walk past six elder or disabled folks either selling tissue or busking for a living.

The heaviness of a Monday morning is made worse when you meet them. Not because I loathe them or they irk me. Because they present the existence of people who have been left behind by society, and have benefited little or nothing from this nation’s progress.

 

Over the last 10 years, Long had reminded me on occasions that if we (actually more me than him) are not careful with our money and savings, we could well end up there.

He said seeing the old people selling tissue papers, collecting empty cardboard boxes and empty cans for a pittance always affects him. He is right. it affects me too, but somehow it didn’t quite stop me whenever I feel like “rewarding myself”.

Over the years, as an adult, I have been very careless with my spending… I like pretty things. I get swayed easily when something is “in”, and I want it too.  I like a good cup of coffee. I like eating at hipster cafes and Japanese food. I forget to pause when Little Foot takes a mount of things in the toy store or grabs yet another Barney toy at NTUC and I would just pay for them without thinking. I forgot about the days when I had $50 left in my bank account when my pay was pathetic.

The presences of tissue paper sellers all over Singapore weigh heavily on me, and I’m sure on other Singaporeans too.

The sight of them –  some with resignation on their faces, some with a slight embarrassment on their faces, some just exhausted with life, some missing a limb – it tugs at something deep inside.

Fear.  That we could end up there (because I have squandered).

Embarrassment.  That I think twice each day, wondering to give or not to give (I usually give a $2 note and take 1 pack of tissue so as not to embarassed the seller). That I hold back when I walk past these poor folks each day, but I had not held back when there is a new Ju-Ju-Be range to be released, or when I walked into a boutique and buy myself a new pair of shoes or an expensive bag. Or when I carelessly cart and checkout pretty clothes and cute things for Little Foot.

Questions in my head.

How far can the money I hand out help them?  I wonder whether the Uncle or Aunty who gets the $2 from me occasionally has a good meal from it, or if the money goes to medicine, or pays for some necessities at home.

What did they use to do? Was life always so hard for them? Where are their children (or maybe they do not have any)?

 

And the biggest question of all — why is it that their presence are such a common sight in Singapore and yet, government bodies, volunteer welfare organisations and whoever should be doing something, are not able to do something for them.

Life is never fair we say. So cliche, but so true.

Nobody in his or her 70s or 80s deserve to be out there, exposed to the weather, swallowing their pride, and holding out a hand hoping that people who walk past will stop and buy a pack of tissue paper.

That’s not how anyone’s life story should end.

What will our old age be like? It really is a depressing and sobering thought.

It is the season to curb spending. Better late than never.

 

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