Explaining sadness… And the concept of death

Read “Inside Out” at bedtime to Little Foot and the questions of why sadness as an emotion is necessary and why it is okay to feel sad at appropriate times came up.

I gave her the example of this…

“If a mummy has just lost her baby, and the baby goes to heaven (this is how I simplified death for her to grasp at her age), should you be sad or happy?”

We talked about how odd it would be to be laughing out loud in such situations. And how it is okay to cry when one feels sad.

And then Little Foot asked me to tell her more about the mummy and the baby that went to heaven.

And so it was that I shared with her a little-told story of how my mother lost her toddler (My elder brother) to meningitis.

These are difficult things that as a family we seldom talk about, as I related the story to her, she wanted to know details – how does he look like? What is a virus? Do you have it?

And then the final explanation of why it was extremely heart-breaking to lose a loved one – never being able to hug again, never seeing the face in person again, till we meet again in heaven.

Little Foot is 4.5 years old, but I can tell the idea of the finality of death sank in by her expression.

There are stories that we hold in our memories that sometimes becomes useful teaching material at the most unexpected moments.

And in revisiting this little spoken of memory of our family, I am made to also try to imagine the anguish my mother went through back when it happened. It made me hug my child a little tighter.

And so it was that both Little Foot and I shared a learning moment in somewhat different ways.

Death is a difficult topic to discuss and yet when asked, I felt like we shouldn’t shy away from using it to develop the emotions of our young ones and helping them to manage certain feelings inside.

Let’s hope the next learning lesson will be something a bit less heavy on my heart.

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No space for dreamers in Singapore?

Just a few days ago, at the music school Little Foot goes to for piano classes, I was handed a notice from the administrators informing that, among other things, the school will now adjust the classes to suit the ABRSM and Trinity Framework that is required for Direct School Admission (DSA). I asked if this meant that they would no longer teach using the Suzuki method, which was why I signed her up at the school in the first place. The answers I got? Were along the lines of, “Oh this is for DSA, but it doesn’t guarantee your daughter will get into the DSA programme, just that it allows you to qualify. She will still need to audition for the school”.

Seeing as this was not quite answering my question, I had to rephrase my question and asked again “What happens to the Suzuki method? She’s only 5, isn’t DSA too far away to think about at this moment? It’s not on my radar”. I eventually walked away with an unconvincing reply – “if you want, we can still stick to the Suzuki method for you if you don’t want ABRSM”.

At this point, it dawned on me that

  • The school was heading in this direction because more parents want it (or they assume this would make their selling point more attractive to kiasu parents
  • I might be an extinct specimen on earth for wanting my child to learn music for the pure joy that it brings, and not because it will provide a side door to a good school or an advantage over other children to qualify for the school of their choice
  • That perhaps the people running the administration do not understand that there is a possibility of different learning methods and still passing the piano exams?

In any case, I signed the form acknowledging that I have read the notice, knowing that any further probing would be a rather futile exercise.

And here, a week later, I am still reeling in shock that parents start strategizing ways to ensure that their kids get into the right school, even when they are still so young! As a Singaporean though, I am not surprised. It seems like it is in our DNA.

Since MOE introduced this DSA with the sports school and School of the Arts and later on, widened the scope across the other secondary schools, I have heard of parents paying for private and extra trainings with famous coaches, parents who splurge on holiday boot camps and drama camps. All to get their kid that extra edge to open that side door. No dreams come free in Singapore. And dreams are sometimes traded for something else as well.

Just writing this made me exhausted already.

Many of us would by now be familiar with this quote “To the young and to the not so old, I say, look at that horizon, follow that rainbow, go ride it”.
The quote became one of the most memorable to Singaporeans when Singapore’s founding father and first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew passed away.

And yet I cannot help but look at the way we have organised and wired ourselves as a society, as a community, that leaves perhaps not much room for the idealists, the real dreamers.

In saying “follow that rainbow, go ride it”, did he mean that we had to dash for the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow? Or he meant “focus on your dreams and go chase it”? Whether the pot of gold comes at the end is beside the point.

How tiring this society must be, if it has to tag a sort of price tag to whatever we do:

• When you go to Kidzania and watch how parents dash their children to the pilots and banks and discourage them from job like farming and delivery, because they are fixated on that narrow definition of success.

• When you send your child to learn something, whether a sport or music, with the idea in mind that this will be the ticket to walking through the doors of a prestigious school, or at least the kid won’t have to mug so hard and still get into an elite school.

• When you choose who your kids “hang out with” to make sure they are hanging out with “the right crowds” (networking starts young).

In a society like this, can a hopeless dreamer like me, hoping to raise a happy little dreamer and actually thrive and succeed by our own definitions?

It makes me wonder if at some point, I will buckle and end up being one of them.

It reminded me of the time long ago, when husband and I went for Engaged Encounter, a 2-day stay-in retreat that was sort of a fast-track marriage preparation for Catholics.
We in the company of Catholics who were born to the faith with some who have kind of fallen out along the way, or whose fiancé/fiancée were non-catholics. The reason for most of us being there? The certificate that would allow the wedding to take place in Church (some said their parents would be livid if they didn’t have a wedding presided by the priest!). Of course, there were others who chose this over the 8-week long marriage preparation by the church because of their busy schedules.

In any case, during the sharing sessions, the whole room turned quiet when I told the priest, “We haven’t actually decided if we will marry in church as I am the only Catholic on both sides of the families.”

“Then why are you here?” Another participant asked.

My reply? “Because we believe that marriage takes hard work, and preparation is necessary. And I preferred that the marriage preparation also touch on my faith, as a chance for him (Long) to get a better idea of my faith. However, I don’t want to force it if I’m the only one who wants a church wedding and make everyone else unhappy.”

I think I gave some of the participants a lot of food for thought that night, and a new way to look at something they considered a “chore”.

At the end of the 2-day retreat, we had a good chat with the priest and he strongly encouraged us to enter into marriage in the presence of God (no emotional blackmailing, no pressure, but think it through), even if it was the simplest ceremony, and to call him if we changed our minds. And in the end, we did make that call.

Like it or not, I do think that we as parents set the tone for our children. They mirror us, and some of quirks rub off on them.

Just like how I am usually quite a “random” person – I don’t like timetables and I forget important dates, but when I feel like it, for no particular reason, I’d like to go on “dates” and “treats”. I follow my feelings a lot, while Papa Long is more structured. We balance each other out. He keeps the schedule, I slot in things on whim and fancy. And both our traits have rubbed off on our little girl too, for better or for worse.

As a parent, I would like her to choose to do things that she enjoys, purely for the joy they bring her, even if there are no rewards or outcomes. At the same time, there are the things that fall into the category of “responsibility”, that she would have to ensure she fulfills (like homework, and brushing her teeth). The things in these 2 categories may intertwine, but I do not see the need to force them to be mashed together.

And in her musical journey, whether she wants to pursue it for fun or eventually take the piano exams and go to a school which can help her further the interest, it is for her to decide, and not for me to force it.
Will I change my mind later on? Who knows, but for now, I do wish that some things in life can be simpler, so the dreamers can thrive.

Hello Tayo & Friends!

Whenever weekend comes around, we go “yay!” but also constantly ask each other “Where shall we go?” … sometimes, we just run out of any bright ideas.

So when @missyjesslyn’s mummy texted me with a “hey, I remember Little Foot likes Tayo… Are you interested for playdate at Tayo Station before the place opens to the public?” of course I said YES YES YES!!!

We’d just celebrated her 4th birthday last month with an fantastic customed Tayo and Friends cake ( as always, the best creation from Cloud9 Bakeshop) and I had run around town trying to find a manageable way to create a Tayo themed party. So it’s no secret that this little girl loves Tayo. In fact, she has officially named Papa Long’s car “Tayo” and calls the Green and Red SBS buses on the roads “Rogi” and “Gani”. 😂

So Sunday came and we got up bright and early (Mummy super groggy) and drove eastwards to E-hub, Downtown East for the playdate.

The excitement on her face when we reached the floor of Tayo Station was priceless.

“Ooooh! Tayo!”

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{Anticipation}

Once we got in with our other little friends, we were spoilt for choice as to where to begin. Eventually, Little Foot headed straight for the climbing playground.

“Let’s go slide!”

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The obstacles were manageable for Little Foot, who sometimes struggle when it comes to obstacle courses, but boy oh boyyy she made it …and the two slides were rather too exciting for this mummy (yeah, I chickened out on the big slide and climbed back down. Oops!).

Little Foot and her playdate mates also had a good time driving around the Garage. The little vehicles are really fun, wriggle and watch them go! Littler kids would be able to manage with the Tayo little buses which are smaller than the wriggling ones.

Ready? 3… 2… 1… Go!

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And then there was the corner with the Tayo kiddy slides and giant building bricks, suitable for the younger children. Someone spent a long time there, sliding and building a small house for herself 😉

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The Hinoki room was also something she enjoyed, as she did in Pororo Park (which she has visited many times).

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I personally like the Hinoki smell a lot as well 🙂

And of course, not forgetting the ball pit area… where she practiced stage-diving *facepalm*

The place has a mini TV theater where Tayo and the Little Buses played on screen, a rest and refuel area where there are vending machines for snacks, ice cream and drinks (sorry, no outside food allowed!)

Rest and recharge!

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Fancy some Tayo shows?

And rooms which you can book for birthday parties.

If you wish to know whether it was fun, well, Mummy Joyc and Papa Long took over an hour to coax Little Foot to leave when it was time for lunch. If we didn’t, she’d have been happy to play till closing time! Of course, she had to buy a little souvenir for keepsake, and chose Alice the Ambulance.

Thank you @missyjesslyn and mama for the invite, and thanks Tayo Station for hosting us. We’re ordinary folks who love a bit of fun, and it’s a pleasant surprise whenever we get opportunities like this, to just play and enjoy ourselves.

Little Foot is definitely looking forward to more fun with Tayo sooner if not later.

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If you are looking for a Tayo-themed place for party, this is the place to make your kid’s dream come true. And there’s a Promotion as well, so why not?

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Don’t forget to follow us at A Little Footprint on Facebook and @littlefootdemummy on Instagram for the fastest updates on Little Foot’s and Mummy Joyc’s adventures and happenings.

Kids Day at Work – When kids invade the sanctity of your work space

“Yes, yes, yes!!! I wanna go to Mummy’s office!”

Uh huh, I had about 200% enthusiasm from Little Foot when I asked if she would like to go to my office on Children’s Day. It’s the whole “bring your kids to work” gig that workplaces do, to prevent the office from becoming a ghost town for a day, because you know, schools are closed for Children’s Day. (Frankly, I signed up, and then kept asking myself for a 100th time, “why did I do that?!?!”)

D-Day

Early in the morning, of course we overslept, and so I conveniently chickened out on her request to take the “high speed train” (seriously, where do kids learn these terms???) and booked a taxi to office, with the promise of a ride on the MRT at the end of the day.

When we turned into the porch, I was totally amused at the line up of taxis and Grab cars turning into and dropping off the big and little passengers. In my head, I was thinking, “Heyyy, so I’m not the only one who thinks bringing the kid out on public transport is as arduous as climbing Mt Kinabalu!” (nope, I haven’t ticked that off my bucket list yet). Not to mention the number of helpers that came in tow, carrying the diaper bags and pushing the prams. I silently congratulated myself for bravely signing up on my own without bringing Aunty, but then again, if I had another kid, I bet you I’ll be bringing every extra pair of hands I can grab!

The Invasion 

To be honest, after 3 years back at work since Little Foot came into my life, the workplace has become appreciated as a place where I can be myself, and where I can sit and quietly hear my own thoughts, and also go for lunch in a sane manner, i.e. a lunch without nagging “Little Foot, eat your noodles!” while battling the 100 repeated requests for YouTube while her wriggly backside cannot sit still on the chair for the meal. You get what I mean, so the idea of bringing her to work always makes me hesitate, like asking if Day and Night should meet.

Mind you, not all women are naturals as mothers. At least I think I was never meant to be a mother, and here I am, nearly 4 years in this role that I cannot resign from.

And so, when people like me, when we bring the kids to work, we literally let the two roles converge as one for a day, which sounds like a nightmare. But of course I exaggerate. Everyone is bringing their kids, I tell myself it can’t be soooooo bad right? And so I gave myself courage and went ahead and did it for the second time in my life.

The programme for the day had a magic show, movie screening, play time at the bouncy castles, popcorn and candy floss machines, face painting and balloon sculpting, I decided to let Little Foot play whatever she wanted, but we ditched the free lunch and movie screening (Papa screens Disney and Pixar movies at home regularly anyway), so she got to have lunch with my colleagues, and then sat beside me at my workstation while I did some work. She snacked and watched Tayo the Little Bus on her Mi Note and then did some drawings and cut out her artwork after that.

If anything, my personal target that day was to show her a semblance of what Mummy really did when I say I go to work. Work isn’t all bouncy castles and playtime. Work usually involves me staring at 3 screens and getting into discussions with my colleagues.

So it was that I did complete a piece of assignment, managed to get up to speed on my emails, while she enjoyed a big bag of chips and ice cream from me, some candy floss, popcorn, a flower balloon and a good time on the bouncy castle.

And so just before 5pm, I put her into the stroller, carried my JJB BRB, packed to the brim with my laptop and her barang barang and toys, and set off for the train ride to run an errand en-route home.

Going Public

It would have been easier to take a taxi home of course. But a promise is a promise.

There was the painful need to make detours on the stroller/wheelchair routes as opposed to what I would take if I were alone. Just imagine, I had to take 3 lifts at Doby Ghaut station just to change from the purple to the red line. There was also the dirty looks from the train riders who were probably silently cursing me for my pram which took up the standing space of 3 to 4 people, and they were probably wondering why my kid still needs to be in the stroller (because I cannot carry her for long distance and our house is a 10-min walk for an adult from the station).

Along the way, Little Foot fell asleep, and I patted myself on the back for a tantrum-free, temper-free day from both of us.

Bought myself a Koi along the way as reward for saving the cab fare. Sweated profusely.

At night, when Little Foot woke up from her long nap, she told her Papa very seriously – “Daddy, you know, Mummy’s office is like a cinema!”

I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

Till the next time you follow me to work on a weekend, my big baby.

First time to the movies: Preparing Little Foot for a great experience

During the long Hari Raya weekend, almost on a whim, we brought Little Foot to the cinema for the first time in her life.

Little Foot is 3.5 years young now, and I did begin to wonder if she would be considered rather suaku to not have gone to the cinemas before. After all, she has become quite acquainted with the watching Disney movies on your home TV, and her deft fingers find the spots to touch, swipe and press when she’s having a dose of PJ Masks on her tablet phone.

It was not entirely a whim, as I have seeded the idea to her some days before, and mentally prepared her for what a cinema experience was like. The last thing we needed to her to freak out when the lights all went out!
So here’s how we got it to work out:

P.S. you may not agree with all that’s on this list, but hey, sometimes we should just loosen up really.

a) Choose the right movie

At her age, children in her class are carrying all kinds of cartoon characters on their bags and water bottles. She has a classmate who is a fan of The Incredibles, and so she has heard of it and recently watched the first version and told us she liked Violet (oh well, because she’s a girl with long hair). So this June, it was a no brainer that we went with The Incredibles II, considering that there weren’t other Disney options.

b) Choose the right day

Toddlers have moods, and boy oh boy, does mine have a temper to reckon with. There are just some of those days when they wake up incredibly grouchy remain disagreeable for the better part of the day. Well, those are not the good days that’s for sure. Hence I said we went on a whim, because I assessed that it was definitely a good mood day for her and we thus have a higher chance of having a good time, so let’s just go now, now, now!

c) Helping the little one visualize and imagine what is a cinema

Days before, when I first seeded the idea of going to the cinema, Little Foot asked “What’s a cinema?” and so I pulled a photo from Google images, showed her this is how it looks like, and what people do. We go through questions like “Can you talk loudly in a cinema?”, “Can you cry and say you want to leave halfway through the show of want to change to other cartoons?” and I explained that only the best behaved children get to go watch the cartoons on the giant screen. She was all excited and fascinated at the idea of going to the cinema filled with other people.

d) Getting the right ammo

Yes, indeed, I call that giant popcorn and large iced lemon tea my ammunition. Little Foot loves iced lemon tea, so much so that Pokka Green Tea has been relegated to 2nd string on her choice of drinks whenever she has a chance to choose (Don’t worry, she still drinks a good dose of her Nan Pro 3 daily). The best part about the drink? There was an Incredibles II collectible cup and she got to choose one with a Violet figurine on top. Yeap, you can call me a carrot head, but it’s an outing and when you wanna have fun, just go all out for it! And she did in fact behave well throughout the show while sipping on the lemon tea which we shared.

e) Holding hands

In the dark, it is easy for us to get absorbed in the show, but we are also mindful that Little Foot may get anxious. And she does get scared whenever there is a villain or monster, or some fights going on in the shows she watches, so we held hands through the show. In fact, she hugged Papa’s arm throughout most of the movies (I’ve said many times, she’s just like his little lover!)

f) Preempting toilet emergencies

So proud that our little girl has started her toilet training this June, and she has more or less gotten the hang of it, but to prevent any mishaps, we got her to wear a pull-up pants anyway, so that we do not end up having an “accident” which will surely spark her cries. Anyhow, this brave little one sat throughout 95% of the movie and only towards the end kept telling us she’s gotta go, and dead firmly refused to do it in her diaper. So after the villain was defeated, Papa whizzed her off to the toilet.

All in all, we really had a good time. And I think this means that there will be more to come, when the stars align again 🙂

June Holidays Giveaway!

Yay! Giveaway time!

Has the holiday fever hit you yet?

Well Little Foot’s mummy is also restless at home wishing for some sun, sand and sea time fun! Remember to protect yourselves from the sun when you are out to play!

Mummy Joyc decided to share some love from her Ju-ju-be collection this June, and will be giving away one Ju-Ju-be Iconic 2.0 Be Shady to one lucky reader of A Little Footprint.

How to take part

Simply complete the following steps:

  1. Like A Little Footprint Facebook page.
  2. Like and share the Facebook post of our Giveaway (make sure you make it a “public” post!)
  3. Comment “I need a Shady for my Shades!” and tag at least 5 friends in the post.

Terms & conditions:

  • Contest is open to participants residing in Singapore only.
  • ONE comment per participant, duplicate entries will be disqualified.
  • The giveaway runs from now till 8 June 2018, 2359hrs.
  • Winner will be announced on A Little Footprint pages and will be contacted via Facebook message. The winner shall provide A Little Footprint with your Singapore mailing address for the prize to be mailed to him/her via Smartpac.
  • The draw will be conducted using Random.org.
  • Decisions relating to the results of the giveaway is final.
  • The contest is in no way related to Ju-ju-be or its subsidiary entities.

Thanks for supporting Mummy Joyc’s random musings over the past years, and stay tuned as I intend to pump some life back into this blog again.

XOXOXO,

Mummy Joyc & Little Foot

Reminiscing Waterplay

Dear Baby Pie, I write this as I am on the way to the hospital…

Just a simple gastroscopy, but still unsettling nevertheless, to think of undergoing sedation.

Before my eyelids grow heavy, I wanted to remember our weekend, a weekend of play and play.

The school excursion on Friday was a trip to the water playground. You have never been to one properly to play, and I know you were apprehensive as I was about running through the jets of water.

“Be careful!” Must be ringing in your mind whenever you ran through the grounds. My bad. Yet you ran when your favourite teacher and your good friend came to bring you along. And you enjoyed yourselves so much, so did I as we got soaked through and didn’t give a care about it.

And then the next day you wanted papa to swim with you because he had missed the excursion. And so we ended up at Punggol Safra for more waterplay.

Watching you play to your heart’s content made me happy too. It also made me a little wistful that I spend too much time away from you… that is, till your next tantrum.

You take after me too much, baby, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Wearing your heart on your sleeve too much – your happiness, sadness and anger shows all too easily. And a mind of your own, wanting to walk your own paths, a thing that I’m not sure the world truly cherishes.

Grow up well baby, and I pray that I will continue to kiss you good night every night at bedtime.

Love you lots and lots!

~ Mummy Joyc