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.

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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!

And then we reached 29

Over the weekend, Little Foot turned 29 months.

I had the pleasurable challenge (read daunting situation) of being alone with her till late afternoon on Sunday when Papa went for wedding lunch and Aunty was on off day. Not the easiest kid to be with especially when dealing with a stomach bug (me) but we had some fun … music class as usual,  picking out bread for ourselves (Baby chose a rainbow donut while I chose a Mentaiko covered baguette and a ham&cheese sandwich) then hanging out at my mother’s place where she is very familiar with.

We ate our bread and sandwiches, her seated in the baby chair, me beside her…

We had conversations revolving around the food, the weather, where Papa was, about “Papa Mister Moon, Mama Mister Moon and Baby Mister Moon” (a continuation from the night before when we pointed out the moon to her and she said it was a baby Mister Moon)….

I sang and played with her, at times sat aside and watched her play…

Finally, carried her in the carrier around the estate I grew up in and felt her doze off… went back upstairs, laid her down and watched her nap.

What I would give to watch her grow each day (each day that she isn’t hopefully throwing a tantrum).

And for the first time in a long time, I wondered whether I could ever handle another Little Foot.

Everyday, I am greeted with my floor to ceiling mirror in my living room covered with photos of Little Foot in her first year. Little Foot had happily pasted them all up. And whenever I’m wearing my shoes, working on something on my laptop,  or having my dinner, I get a glimpse of how much she had transformed.

For a mummy who has so much strings attached to her one and only child, it is a bittersweet encounter each day. Some mornings, I kiss one of the photos before I leave the house. I love you, I said. As much as I love the you now, I love and miss the little you too.

Still, such thoughts are fleeting. We have so much to do with Little Foot and already so little time.

Once she wake up from her nap, all fleeting thoughts like this are out of the window. Gone like the wind.

“Come, Mummy! Runaway!!” ~ her cute little voice always rings in my head, even when I am busy at work.

And each time I hear it, I can surely say, I am ready drop my work and run with her, until my back doesn’t allow me to run no more.

And the rest? I will leave it in His Hands… as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be…

For now, one is still enough.

 

Deriving my own meaning in life

The past two days, I’ve been thinking very much about what is important to me in life. What is it I want my Little Foot to learn to value and treasure over other things in life.

Maybe because the story of that KiasuParents Founder (her side of the story vs the TODAY article) set me thinking…

Maybe because we have been hearing not so good news about the health of those around us….

Maybe because I have been reading/hearing discussions about the pursuit of a “better life”…

Maybe just maybe, it’s the flu that is making me just a little fuzzy-headed.

 

The Typical Route of an 80s Singaporean Kid

I spent my early years in a clueless paper chase. My parents set goals which consisted of “Don’t fail and I don’t want to be called to see the teacher/principal”. Basically, the line used to scare us was “If you don’t study hard and go to University, you will end up as a road sweeper”.

Hahahhaa… looking back, it’s hilarious. I mean, if I did sign up for roadsweeping now, no one would employ me you know? That job has mostly gone to strong and able-bodied foreign workers who operate machines to do the sweeping.

And so we didn’t dream, because we didn’t know how to. We just tried to avoid the scary black hole of “failing”, as prescribed by our parents.

 

Finding meaning

I then spent my 20s thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, and always drew a blank.

It is in my 30s that I kind of found my footing. I wanted to find meaning in my work. It is not about having the capability to be a mover and shaker, but in my own way, what I do must contribute to the betterment of others.

At the very least, don’t cheat, lie or do something that will make me ashamed to face my Lord when the time comes. Which explains why I couldn’t reconcile with my short stint in the advertising agency and swore never to go there again.

The idealist in me.

And so, I don’t really think I’m going to get rich with this philosophy. Does it matter?

It does on some days. When I see swanky cars on the roads and wonder how it would be like to drive that (hey, our current ride is really good, but it’s Papa Long who is paying for it and we will never afford the GTR ), or see so many nice bags and shoes and want them all. in those instances, I do wonder,could I have been in a “better” situation?

Maybe yes, but maybe I would also feel empty inside every night, even if I could say, a job is a means to an end. Because, even the means to that end matters to me.

 

Going in Circles

I keep going in circles asking myself, what is it I treasure most?

Strip it all away, get to the very core.

My health.

I feel it so acutely, because my health fails me consistently. I need to fix it for My Family.

I want to be here to root for my child as she finds her footing in life.

I want to be here to watch my parents as they too grow older, and hold them when they fall, just as they have done for me when I was small.

I want to be here to hold wrinkly hands with my husband as we walk into the sunset.

And in the end, I want to close my eyes and say “I have done it my way”.

 

 

The World is Your Oyster

I hate this term. I hated it the day  it appeared in the GP paper as an exam question and I haven’t heard it before. Obviously, I chose another question to tackle.
The world isn’t my oyster, it is everyone’s oyster, but to think the world owes me anything would be completely crazy. I’m just one of the many bodies (nobodies) walking this earth. And I want my child to understand that, and not misread this term. The world is filled with opportunities for everyone. No one is more entitled than the other.

It is up to ourselves to find meaning and what works for us. Even if you eventually derive that meaning from road-sweeping, there is nothing intrinsically wrong, because that is your meaning and it is an honest day’s work.

I want my child to face failures, to find her own self-worth, to derive what makes her happy (or at least not sad and empty inside), and to find her own psychological strength to bounce back from failures and disappointments. Because the world isn’t just your oyster.

I want to teach my child that it is okay to fall down and cry out loud, because hard work is required to fight for what we believe in, but if we give up, then we will never see fruition, so cry and then carry on the fight.

I want my child to know that it is okay to yearn for what others have that we don’t, but to walk away and say it is okay, because we already have more than others. And with that knowledge, know that even with what little we have, we can make someone else’s day, make things better for someone else.

And eventually, I want my child to understand, come what may, at the end of it all, what matters the most is usually nothing physical.

(The thrill of chasing the physical makes me happy for a moment. And then? It give me nothing more, except a full wardrobe and an empty heart. I have yet to reconcile with this fully because I still shop and buy a lot, but then we all have our Achilles’ heel).

 

I realise over the years that it takes time, and requires going round and round in circles, sometimes repeatedly, to realise what is truly important in our lives.

I think we need to give our children that space and time to go round and round in circles too, because, the process is important… when the time comes, may I not be the one who tries to stop Little Foot from going through the process, but to let her find herself while giving her all the support she needs to get there.

 

P.S. Maybe listening to Descendants of the Sun’s OST is making me feel acutely emotional too

What space?

A personal take on this unfortunate small spaces remark taken out of context. All sparked by the headline on ST’s article “You don’t need much space to have sex”. 
Granted, Mrs Teo had bravely soldiered on to clarify that her words were taken out of context (according to CNA article), but it has sparked a conversation, and a very important one, that is needed between the government and Singaporeans.
What Space? 
It was never about space for making the babies. It has always about the space to raise that baby. It is about providing a safe haven, a suitable environment for raising children the way we want it. Singaporeans have expectations, hopes and dreams. And we expect to be given that freewill to plan how they want life to pan out, what kind of standard of living and environment they would like to provide for our children. That’s what we studied hard, slogged hard for. We didn’t ask for matchbox size flats, but we have adapted to the reality that living spaces will shrink. So, even if matchbox size, we take it, because we want that space to start our own family and have a roof over our heads. Our own roof. Not our parents’.  We are Asians. Culturally, that roof over the head has always been very important to us, at least that’s what my parents have always said. As long as we have a roof over our heads, everything else can fall in place. 
 
In other countries, it is normal to have kids first (sometimes accidentally), then marry (or not). Do we want to go down that route to up the fertility rate? I think our society is not yet ready for the Brangelina arrangements (that is, prior to their marriage and now dramatic divorce). Pragmatic Singaporeans are not ready to live on love alone – not when a giving birth can cost nearly 10K or even more when things don’t go quite as planned, and that’s just the “start-up cost” to parenthood. Childcare, medical care, everything costs money. Singaporeans plan and plan, perhaps over-plan. I’d take this attitude over reckless one-night stands any day where you get knocked up, then you go home and ask your parents “How lidat? You can help me raise my child?” and expect to continue to lean on that support from our parents who have slogged half their lives away and burst their bubble of retiring and going backpacking around the world. 
 
Personally, we only started thinking if we should have a child after we have finally settled down in our own flat. We had lived apart for a year after marriage for a myriad of reasons. And it was only when things stabilised mentally, emotionally, financially, then we finally felt ready and confident that we can provide a good home for our child, then I started to even entertain the idea of being a parent. 
“Home” not “House”.  
Home is that place where make memories, where we get to decide how the sleeping arrangements will be, have our own cosy corners, babyproof it, and ensure it is a feasible place emotionally for the child. Our way. At our parents’ place, we wouldn’t be able to decide many things. Space is limited, you can’t tell the smoker not to smoke, can’t decide on whim to redecorate the spare room (what spare room?) etc. Living three generations together adds a layer of complexity in the family dynamics, sometimes adding stress, which may rub off on the kids.
Sure, there are pros to living with parents too… extra pair of hands and eyes, but we also need to understand that not all parents want to be that pair of hands and eyes. My mother quickly swatted off the idea of quitting her job to help any of us look after our children. Fair enough. Why should she? She too wants to look after her career, and not all grandparents are the “coochie coochie!” kind. She’s happy being a weekend grandmother.
I ramble, but put simply, living separately from my parents made relationship better and healthier. We see them every weekend, we call and Whatsapp regularly, share photos and nuggets of information. It’s all good. Let’s face it, they too deserve a break from us.
One can say “you can just make the baby first”, then everything else will fall in place. True, Mrs Teo’s got a point. Perhaps there lies in our society a growing population of people who want to do first think later, live the YOLO life. Not me. If you are, then good for you. Being responsible for another human life is a huge huge responsibility, and I’m not going to just say YOLO and do it. 
Yes, the clock continues to tick when we wait for the flat. For many like me who will lose sleep over this unstable/uncertain arrangement, we will say, “so be it”.
In the end, you can nudge, you can bait, you can try to influence, but it will always be a personal choice, how early/how late, how many kids to have, between the couple.
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The arduous journey for a flat….
We balloted for flats since I was 27. From Blangah Heights to Senja in Bukit Panjang, to Punggol… even various sale of balance flats. Each time we would put the $10.70 and later be informed that we were unsuccessful, sometimes with a 4-digit queue number. I still remember how I cried in frustration when even Senja, so near my in-laws, was not successful (while 2 other friends of his balloted successfully). By the time we finally got to choose our flat through the DBSS route, it would be ready in our early 30s. Little Foot was born when I was 33, a year after we moved in.
It wasn’t even about the $10.70 each time… it was about the painful disappointment because you wonder why, you supposedly accumulated more chance with each unsuccessful attempt, and yet, you keep getting your hopes dashed. Eventually, we did think, we should go for resale or something else. Finally we got queue number 899 for the estate where we live now. That day of selection, was sweaty palms moment when we were waiting for those before us to select their units, holding hands and fervently going , “don’t choose that, don’t choose that!”
A long long journey to finally getting the key to our own home. Can you understand? That’s all we want really.
 

Mr logical…never let go

“The road ahead is long… you can walk fast, you can walk slow…. but more importantly, as husband and wife, we need to walk side by side at the same pace, helping each other along the way, never letting go.”

On Tuesday, we woke up to what we thought would be a usual work day.

Then our phones kept buzzing. Friends were sending us screenshots of the post “My imperfect husband” which kept appearing all over their Facebook feeds.

Yay, it had gone viral. Which blogger didn’t hope that their blog would go viral? Still, I was having a nagging feeling at the situation. It was a blogpost from April after all. Why did it suddenly spin off?

I guess it got shared so much to a point that it got into the wrong hands. A friend alerted me to a screenshot of a certain trashy news site in Singapore (let’s not drive more traffic to them, since that was their purpose in the first place, with ads plastered all over).

We’re talking bad headline, accompanied by  trashy photos (of a woman in some ridiculous skimpy dress sitting on a man. Sorry, those people don’t look half as good as us IMHO). And we started to see people scolding me and calling me names online both on that page and in comments posted to my blog.

I asked Papa Long, “How?”

Because we were at work, I turned off this blog. The amount of notifications were just too distracting. Friends were asking me if I was okay and rallying around me while concurrently, strangers were condemning me because they missed the whole point of “My imperfect husband”.

Too much buzz around me. I tuned out and concentrated on work.

After work, Papa Long went for dinner and drinks with his buddies. The boys posted a group shot of themselves having coffee together with the caption “Dinner with kakis. We are all imperfect 😛

They sure know how to spin a positive note to the whole situation. I laughed out loud to myself in the darkness of our bedroom while Little Foot was soundly sleeping when I saw the photo and the caption. And I’m sure all the wives at home were laughing too.

When he got home at night, we chatted about it. Logical as usual, Papa Long said “you shouldn’t have made the blog private. It just made people searching for the article go to the trashy site, and gave them more traffic! And they see the distorted version!”

I asked him how he felt. Was he sad? (Since that was the question people were throwing at me online, that I had shamed him and he would be sad that I badmouthed him publicly) He laughed and said “Those people missed your point. It is all about not staying angry and moving on so that you get a better outcome”. As usual, he was never one to make a big deal out of anything. He also happily showed me a photo of one of his buddies who took a photo with our car, as it was now the “celebrity car”.

In the end, he always reads me best, and he’s always the chill one. When I’m unsettled, he provides an anchoring point and clarity. He took the situation, removed the emotions, evaluated it, then presented it in plain simple terms. Then figure out the next steps.

Perhaps that’s all there is to it. Where I am lacking, you fill in those gaps. Where you can’t do well, I help you along. We are all imperfect, but we complement each other.

The road ahead is long… you can walk fast, you can walk slow…. but more importantly, as husband and wife, we need to walk side by side at the same pace, helping each other along the way, never letting go. Along the way we will continue to have debates and bickers e.g. whether we should have ice cubes in our freezer again, or whether organic foods are just a marketing ploy to cheat our money (I still buy organic veggies for Little Foot).

The important thing is to keep walking together, and be good role models for Little Foot.

And we hope that when we reach the sunset at the end of the journey, it would have been a meaningful walk together… then we could sit down, pat each other on the back and say “I guess we didn’t do too badly”.

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P.S. We won the battle in some way as the post of the offensive article was removed from the trashy site’s Facebook page on Tuesday afternoon (thanks to strength in numbers), and the article was removed last evening.

 

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Of working mothers and our unnecessary guilt

…don’t think of working mothers as people who just leave office on time and do less than you. Think of us as people who have to try to do 48 hours of work in 24 hours.

It’s been half a year since I returned to work. As I gear up at work (not really by choice, but one should always have an honourable sense of responsibility), I find that I’m stretched thin when I try to be my best at home and at work.

It’s not just the past two weeks, but it’s a nagging guilt that I suppose every working mother carries.

I think I give myself a hard time too much and too unnecessarily.

I feel bad when I am home later than usual.

I feel bad saying goodbye every morning when Little Foot would sputter and burst into tears, try to reach for me, try to stop me from leaving.

I feel bad when I go do ” me things” like get a haircut after work instead of running straight home.

Heck, I feel bad even about slowly sauntering home instead of brisk walking home from the train station!

Imagine how bad I felt when I had to pry myself from her on Sunday morning while she was kicking up an epic tantrum,  because I have to go be somewhere for work.

Some days I wonder if I’m the only mum in this world that beat myself over every second not given to my daughter.  Maybe not.

As I grapple with my feelings and try to continue to keep work and life separate, I sometimes pause to ask myself “why am I making things so hard for myself?”

And I would remind myself that it’s ok to have “me time” it is ok to still want to excel beyond motherhood. Otherwise,  there is no me left. I cannot simply be Little Foot’s mummy without also living for myself. My hopes, my aspirations,  my needs and wants, they still matter.

To the other folks out there… don’t think of working mothers as people who just leave office on time and do less than you. Think of us as people who have to try to do 48 hours of work in 24 hours. We juggle, we struggle…sometimes we look like we aren’t putting in as much as you.  I beg to differ if you think that way. We are just forced to become more effective and efficient. The work of a mother never ends. At 1am, we may be dealing with a kid awakened by nightmare. At 3am we could be dealing with a dirtied bed because baby puked… we have teething and fevers, flu and vaccinations to deal with. These things don’t make appointments with you. They happen whether a mother likes it or not.

AND we still reply the Whatsapp messages related to work at night, or boot up the laptop at odd hours to get some work done after the baby is asleep.

AND we still turn up for work the next morning (after dealing with a whole set of morning routine with the kid), grab a caffeine fix, and proceed to try to meet whatever deadlines we have, and look sharp at meetings. We would like to dream of our beds, but we don’t.  We tell ourselves not to waste time thinking about the bed. Because then the unnecessary guilt kicks in and we say “Hurry up,  get the work done. Baby’s waiting”.

We don’t bring our moods to work. Because moods and tantrums makes us less effective at work. And we know, we know there is always that one unmarried/childless colleague or boss who is lurking in the corner, waiting to see us trip up and think, “see, these mummies… they aren’t as committed, they aren’t as good….”. So we try harder than anyone else to be professional, because the odds are not in our favour.

Of course, there may be some working mothers who really don’t commit as much as the bare minimum,  those are not the ones I speak for… I speak for those who are like me, trying to be the best on all fronts and always guilt-tripping ourselves unnecessarily all the time because, really we wish we could do more on all fronts. We’ve given up gym and spas and “chill out after work” sessions with colleagues, all so that we can give more to work and home. Think of us while you chill. Have a beer in our honour.

The road ahead as a working mother is long… somehow, I know things will pan out fine. Because when in doubt, I come home to hug my baby and let her smiles wash all my worries and fears away.

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Every morning, Little Foot waves goodbye to me tearfully. A shot taken from the lift landing that peers into my balcony.

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