Reflections on Two… a year of grow grow grow

Little Foot turned Three in what feels like a blink of an eye…As with each year, I take time to reminisce this motherhood journey, and find time to write my Little Foot a little note.

No one was kidding when they said the days are long but the years are short. It never fails to amaze me that it wasn’t so long ago that I had a little bundle in my arms, so tiny we were afraid we would break a bone of hers if we were not careful… and now? She’s more than half my height, and twice the personality I am. Everything has moved so fast, but I am thankful and grateful each day that she is growing well.

What a year it has been…

From Hello Kitty to Elsa

Remember how she loves Hello Kitty soooo much? Well, she’s kinda outgrown Hello Kitty, but still “alright” with the Sanrio character which I also love. And now she has moved on to being a big fan of Elsa, so we made her wish come true and got her the full works for her birthday party.

Just play….

It was also a year of play and play, as we cut back on enrichment classes and allowed her (and ourselves) time to roam free.

We went out to meet Mr Sun..

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We had picnics…

We took selfies…

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We sang, we danced,

We giggled and we laughed…

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We had so many “birthdays” because she loved it so much…

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And we went out to see the world…

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And through it all, Little Foot learned and we learned too.

It’s been a year of great self-exploration and adventures, I daresay.

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It’s was also a year where I was more absent… And also a year where we found it trickier to deal with her tantrums and antics.

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Through it all, we learned and she learned too. We grew stronger and closer.

Dear Little Foot, this year, we all had to adjust a lot to Mummy’s new work routine, which would take me away from you a lot more, and see me more distracted when I am around. I can sense how much you miss me these days, and I feel your anguish at my sporadic absence. And I thank you for your neverending, overflowing love for me.

As we approach THREE, things may not be easier, but hopefully you will be able to better understand and be more patient with me, as I try to be with you. Let’s continue to grow together!

Thanks for a year that was filled with so many Little Foot memories that I thank God over and over again for you. As always, Mummy and Daddy hope that your days be filled with happiness, and may you grow up well and healthy. Know that through good times and bad, you will always be my baby and I only have the deepest love for you.

Happy Birthday, my dearest girl… let’s celebrate all through December!

Love as always,

Mummy

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Don’t be Me, my Little Foot

Been rather swamped at work recently, hence the blog seemed to have collected some cob webs.

(Actually, who isn’t? In this climate where even journalists get laid off, you better be busy or be gone!)

Little Foot has resumed much of her carefree ways during her time outside of preschool, and it brings a smile to my face when I sit here recollecting her cute voice singing the full “Doe A Deer” song accurately while swinging high on a swing.

She was mesmerised by the song when I first sang it to her when she came back from school doing the Solfege Do-Re-Mi hand signs. And I think she practised over a couple of days during her naptimes to perfect it.

I do wonder how long I could actually keep stresses away from her. Especially when mummies around me are talking about alphabet and numbers recognition and writing.

We had dropped all enrichment classes for nearly half a year. A break for all of us. We were all just a little burntout.

And so we played.

Besides her ambition of being a princess (must be Elsa), she’d also fallen in love with Peppa Pig and had watched the episodes on YouTube so many times, she could complete the sentences sometimes as the clips play.

There are moments like yesterday, when I paused at work late at night wondering if Little Foot’s development would have been more spectacular, and perhaps she was “wasting time” because I am hardly around and when I am, I indulge her as all guilty mamas do.

And then I pause.

She is not yet three. And I don’t want her to be me. I want her to be like Papa, never harassed, always self-assured, steady and fearless.

Why I am me…

Before 3, I was starting to write, reciting Tang poems (according to my mother, but which I have no recollection of). At 5, I had completed alot of basic chinese character words (remember writing a page full of the word “草”) , wrote and counted well in English, even basic additions and subtractions, and did some spectacular feat of drawing an apple and colouring it at the same time with with a colours pencil in each hand (I do not recall this either).

My mother loves to reminisces such things. I was that brillant child she tried to hot house. I wanted to play, she wanted results. She loved me, but she saw potential and she wanted me to shine.

And at 8 years old, I burnt out.

To end up with a month-long stay in the hospital with gastric ulcers.

Finally someone said it – she is stressed.

Whatever she did or whatever I was born with however saw me through schooling life rather easily, but I never wanted to do more anymore… a perpetual tiredness follows me, together with the gastric pangs and occasional panic attacks.

And so, I dont want Little Foot to be like me. Hopefully our slack attitude will not be a reason for her to blame us in future, but for now, I try to think we are ok.

Because I love you so very, very much.

A Letter to my Little Foot – Sometimes, it is okay to challenge rules

Dear Little Foot,

Today is Children’s Day, and coincidentally, today you turn 34 months old.

As we inch closer towards your Terrific Three, which I am sure will be more amazing and full of mountains and molehills that we can conquer together, I wanted to write you a letter about our experience today, and a lesson that your 36-year-old mother learnt on this day.

Today, Daddy and I brought you to the Mindchamps “I’m Proud of You” Day. Almost everyone in your class attended as well.

What we were told when we paid for tickets (nearly $80) to this Family Festival to celebrate you and your little friends was this – that this was a day for us to share fun challenges, activities, and events that bonds the family… and it will immerse you and your little friends, in Confidence, Gratitude, Compassion, Seeing the Beauty in Others and Embracing Setbacks as Setups. These are values that I feel strongly for.

What I did NOT know, as most of the other parents did (because Mummy has been so engrossed in work that I sometimes do not pay attention), was that the Daddies and Mummies were told that attendance was compulsory.

We went today because Mummy felt that an event to celebrate you and celebrate family, and an event filled with promises of fun challenges, pony rides and bouncy castles sounds like a treat for Children’s Day. Yes we went on our own accord.

However, it turned out to be an event that made us wait and wait.

  • Little kids like yourself, and some even younger than you sat through a long wait for the event to start, a long spiel on why we are doing “I’m proud of you” from the founder of Mindchamps, while Mummy had to disappoint you for countless times telling you that you have to wait and not go on the bouncy castles which were in set up all over the hall. I saw many mummies and daddies telling your little friends the same thing too. I suppose this taught us Patience and Delayed Gratification.
  • Once the boring part was over, we were greeted with long queues for all the activities. Don’t get Mummy wrong. It is okay to wait, as we did at Disneyland, and many places we have visited since you were barely half a year old. In fact, it is only right that take our place in a queue properly. That is courtesy. However, Mummy and Daddy couldn’t help but wonder why there was only one Pony when there were hundreds of little ones like you attending the event. And there were only two bouncy castles for younger ones like you.

It also turned out to be a series of disappointments for us…

  • When we queued for the pony ride (there seemed to be only one pony for riding), and were told to come back later. And when we did come back, the queue had ended. We had talked about the pony rides for days, and it was a shame that Mummy and Daddy were so lost in the chaos that we did not go back in time. I couldn’t help but wonder why there was only one pony.
  • When we were turned away at the door of the pottery workshop although Mummy had bothered to do the pre-registration some days earlier and told to return at 1pm which is the universal naptime for all little kids in this preschool programme. So we never got to see how a pottery session looked like, nor got to feel how the clay for pottery making felt to our fingers.

And in the end, was it for you or for us? We wonder…

With the numerous sponsored booths – the filled up one side of the hall, conducting activities from the golfing station to bubble performance, to pottery classes, to mini tennis and skate scooting, even the Pororo booth right in the middle of the hall, and the AIA station dangling walk-the-dog balloons, we got confused.

And we wondered if this was really an event to celebrate you, or an event for them to get exposure to this captive audience, because we had paid for tickets, we were not going to leave.

A silver lining of sorts however was our insistence that we should not have the day wasted, and so we did go around trying to enjoy whatever that was available, and so you did have little pockets of enjoyment, such as the pleasure of putting coins into a vending machine for your favourite Green Tea, successfully putting two golf balls, and trying out some new age block toys, where you spent quite some time at.


What I want to say is this…

  • I want to tell you never to make this mistake of thinking that little children could stretch their patience and attention span like rubber bands. God did not make little children this way, nature can only be trained to a certain extent.
  • I want to also tell you that in whatever you set out to do in future, if it was anything that took up others people’s time, effort (whether or not it costs money), learn to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. The people who planned this had not thought much about how disappointing it was for you and your little friends to queue very, very long and only get less than 10 minutes on the bouncy castle, to have waited in anticipation for weeks to try a pony ride, only to have walked away with nothing except a coupon to visit the stables another day, they had also not thought about the mummies and daddies who had to deal with the fidgets, which is not your fault because you are very young, and to deal with the disappointed faces and meltdowns – which we have to do anyway every day because we are daddies and mummies, but any extra episode, especially at an outing meant to make you happy makes us upset in more ways than one. And in the face of this, Mummy and Daddy still felt we had to set good examples to you, and so we did not lose our tempers, take it out on any of the people manning the queues, or try to shove others out of our way as some did to us just to get a little ahead of the queues.

More importantly, I wanted to tell you this – sometimes, it is alright to say “No” to rules.

You may think it is shocking that as your mother, I say this, but I say it as it is.

In life, there will be people who set rules, and there will be some people who follow rules, and some people who do not.

Of the people who do not, we have to sort them into two groups – those who break rules for the sake of being anti-establishment (without reason), and those who break rules because the rules did not make sense, and they feel strongly that they should have the rule changed rather than blindly comply.

I say this because today is the first instance that you have encountered (although you would not remember) of a situation where we were told it is “compulsory” and therefore we have to go, whether we like it or not. And then on hindsight felt that there are compelling reasons to challenge this rule.

And so I say it is okay to be in the latter group.

There will be rules in place that may not make sense for one reason or another. Sometimes they are rules that have become obsolete over time. We see that with our laws. That is why we regularly see amendment bills passed in Parliament. The rules must befit the times.

Sometimes there are rules that are put in place by people who may have other underlying motivations for putting that rule in place. They may have a hidden agenda. And so it is for us to uncover the truth, and challenge the rule. Fix things.

Sometimes there are rules put in place by people who do not know any better, or based on superstitions. Ancient history has many of such lessons. Rules such as having people buried together with the Emperor who passed away is one such rule. If you lived in that era and did not fight that rule. You may be one of those buried. Would you not challenge the rule if your life is on the line?

So, even as we have felt disappointed today, I wanted to walk away with a strong message to you when you are older and understand what I am saying.

Yes, some rules are meant to be challenged and if need be, break them.

In this instance, if the “rule” applies again next year, you know I will ask questions and not readily accept it as a rule to comply with.

I have lived my 36 years of life with conviction, believing in work that will make this place we call home a better place. In helping to lay good foundations for a better future for you.

Your Daddy and I work very hard each day to do work of value, and work that befits our conscience. Sometimes we feel our contributions may be so little, we do not know if there is indeed any impact to the future that you will see. Yet we keep at it. And we never give up. It is fortunate that while we hold on to our conviction, we make enough to pay for things that we feel matter to you and us, such as your education and our holidays. Not everyone who work for their beliefs can be so lucky. Some sacrifice their freedom and their lives for conviction.

As your parents, we want to raise you this way – have a strong moral compass, have compassion, have faith, and enjoy what you do. And when you see something that is not quite right, never fear to stand up and say so. Moral courage is a value that is underrated in today’s society, but still a value that one must desire.

And so I hope I leave with you this legacy for years to come. That if the rules are wrong, dare to stand up, speak up, and if need be, break it. As Nelson Mandela once said, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears”.

Love Deeply as Always,

Mummy Joyc

A conversation on over-indulgence

We had an interesting conversation in the lift today, after a trip to Kiddy Palace, and it went like this…

Papa Long’s Spiel in the lift:

那些小玩具真的很贵… 一只是一个穷人的两 盘菜饭

[Translation: know those small toys are really damn expensive? One toy can be a 2 meals for a poor person.]

My reply:

Yah, a bit ex(pensive) lah…

*give act blur face*

He continued:

等你真的穷的那时候,肚子饿, 你拿那个toy 来看, then you say to it ” Ohhhh, let me eat your head first for lunch now, later I eat another part for dinner…”

[Translation: wait till you poor and hungry, you will look at the toy and say to it ” Oh, let me eat your head first for lunch, later I eat another part for dinner…”]

Me: 😑😑😑😑

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He was talking about the little tikam tikam toys we have been collecting since we first found them in Woolsworth supermarket during our Perth trip.

And since we came back, I have added probably another 10 more or so to Little Foot’s collection which she keeps in her Hello Kitty backpack.

I have to admit, he is right. At S$4.90 for a blind buy Disney Princess and S$5.90 for a blind buy My Little Pony, they really don’t come cheap.

The elevator speech made me muse about how different we are and how appropriate it was for a spendthrift, never-wanna-grow-up me to have married a person like him. Otherwise, as he also often like to say, “If I also spent like you, we will be living under a bridge already!”

And you should have seen how he says these things with a straight face… totally cracked me up and made me remember how he once made a similar spiel about “those expensive bags”.

I must say, for an engineer who talks very little, he really could make people sit up when he does make such in-your-face speeches.

Now, to learn to remind myself not to always just buy whatever Little Foot wants, because he also pointed out how I caved in and ended up buying her 2 big toys and many of the small blind buy toys when she was supposed to buy only 1 toy for herself and 1 toy for a birthday party we are attending tomorrow.

Oops.

Really an over-indulgent mama!

Teachers’ Day Cards & Tags in the making

It’s our second year getting ready for Teachers’ Day in school and still as much a scramble as last year!

By chance, tonight was going back to basics with Brushables markers & watercolour pencils…

Little Foot (32 months old) had done stamping in the evening on normal drawing block paper after picking out her preferred stamps. And she had also tried her tiny hands at using the Brushables markers.

I believe in helping her do these “thank you” gestures rather than simply do a scrapbook mama session and hand nicely handcrafted cards out to her teachers. I mean, to be fair they are her teachers, not mine! Hence I try to get her to be involved in the making process. And she had fun (that is, until the part she wanted to take wet wipes and wipe the drawing block to clean off what she had stamped, and we had to whisk her away).

To make the Teachers’ Day cards meaningful, I didn’t redo the stamping, but simply inked in what she had started.

Also, at this late hour everything else thst wasn’t taken out was in the bedroom where Aunty Lily was sleeping. As a result, it was back to the basic colouring tools I used 7-8 years ago when I first discovered the joys I found from these wooden stamps from Penny Black.

I loved how everything turned out. On hindsight, thankfully I had let her use my Versafine pigment inkpad instead of those washable ones for kids. Otherwise, nothing would have stayed once the ink from the Brushables went in.

All done for now, and to continue tomorrow evening. Just two more days to the celebrations! *gasp!!!* Somehow, I will have to turn these into nice cards (for the main teachers who have been teaching and caring for her) and gift tags for the gifts we will be giving to all the teachers and assistants at the school.

Frankly, I am zonked out but happy to touch my scrapbooking materials again. Especially as it has been really draining at work these days. The inking really is cathartic. Heals the soul.

Alright…time to turn off the lights. Will share the end results when I am done. Stay tuned!

*UPDATE*

Visit A Little Footprint Facebook page to see photos of our finished products. Happy Teachers’ Day!

Do one thing every morning

Begin the day by making your bed. You’ll feel better. (And if you’re male, shave) And the rest of the day, never give in to the sharks.

One weekend, I saw this text from the boss in a work chatgroup, and I didn’t dwell much on it, except secretly say “oops!” because I hardly ever make my bed.

AND yet another crazy week went by.

This week, I had several appointments for work, with so many early mornings I had to take Grab cars almost every morning just to make it in time. And so I mused again about this line “Begin the day by making your bed” because, actually, while I do not make the bed every morning, thanks to Little Foot, I begin every day by having one good task done – I change Little Foot’s diaper.

Just some months ago, she had taken to insisting that only Mummy can change her diapers, so whether I was supposed to sleep in for some days or whether I was rushing off for work, so would be rejecting everyone and cry “Mummy change!” while still half asleep.

And so this week, everyday I made myself get up earlier than I needed so I could get ready, and before I left for work, woke her up, changed her diapers, got her ready for school, as if it was any other day, waved her off before I grabbed my bag and took the next lift down to set off for work (otherwise she will be demanding that I send her to school in Papa’s car).

I must say I am mighty pleased with myself for having been able to still do the morning diaper session despite the tight schedule. It keeps me sane, knowing that I have done that one task every morning, so I don’t feel like I have not accomplished anything as a mother.

Next term, Little Foot’s school will start their toilet-training, so this arrangement won’t be forever. Oh Little Foot is growing up too fast! So I am enjoying the responsibility as much as I can for now.

When the time comes where there are no longer any diapers to change, I will have to find another task that I can do every morning.

And so, this week didn’t go so badly after all. Glad to have conquered it.

And in case you are wondering, I still don’t make my beds *shhh!*

I had a quiet lunch but it felt so empty

Today I had a quiet lunch before I set off for work in the afternoon.

Having the chance to sleep in later, to walk around the market at leisure, to sit down and quietly enjoy my hipster cafe lunch.

It felt like I had my old life back. And it felt strangely empty.

A mama walked into the cafe with her toddler in a Tula, and sat 2 tables away from me. I watched their interaction and it made me smile and feel an ache deep inside my heart.

A glimpse of my life not too ago.

I missed my Little Foot sorely (she went to her childcare preschool as usual). Her demands, her constant “why?”, even her tantrums which disrupts my meals a lot.

I really missed her presence at this meal.

And tonight, she will reach home to find biscuits and the papaya I just bought for her. And no mummy. And she will wait in vain until her eyelids are too heavy. Only Papa will be around.

For the umpteenth time, I wondered what I had gotten myself into, this job that takes me away from her more and more.

And I have no answer… really.

Sigh