Should the State raise my child?

Recently, online chatter, coffeeshop talk, chit-chat with friends were all about cost of living going up – Water prices going up by 30%, Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) increasing. Essentially, money no enough. Some say having children is too expensive, and not enough help being given to families. 

Feeds appearing on my Facebook inevitably steered in this direction. People talked about having to cut down, cutback and lead simpler lives (less visits to hipster cafes, look for the best lobangs for family trips). I guess that’s being responsible adults. If we can’t suddenly hit a windfall, and pay increments only happen annually if at all, we will have to think of how to stretch each dollar more.

This, coming from Little Foot’s Mummy is really quite a feat, considering that Papa Long always nags about how I spend too much on Ju-Ju-Be bags and other Baby/Mummy gear and have not savings to speak of, not after I exhausted the piggybank to stay at home with Little Foot for a period of time.

Being adult sometimes sucks. You have to do adult things, make adult decisions, but that is life. As my brother displayed, he once pressed the calculator over bills (was it for the wedding or for the HDB flat?) until he had a mega-migraine and needed to lie down before he just died from the shocking idea of emptying his savings. Welcome to adulthood. 

Among the vast materials, criticisms and comments online, one interesting article stood out: Budget 2017: Time to break up the Baby Bonus.

In this article, the writer suggested that the Baby Bonus was not working, apparent from the low Total Fertility Rate of this country despite all the carrots dangling, and should perhaps be done away with. The interesting part comes in the suggestion that the Government give each Singaporean child a living wage allowance, say $500 a month, until the child turns 18 years of age. Not an entirely new idea, he said, as some countries do have this in place.

This made me dig deep inside and ask myself the fundamental question “Do I want the State to raise my child (for me)?”

It is tempting, no doubt, that if Little Foot receives $500 a month, that will lighten the milk and diapers cost and means having more leftover to go towards school fees (hefty bill that is, because we chose the better school).

If this is tempting to me, from a family with one child, where we are two graduate working parents with stable incomes (we live in HDB flat and have 1 family car), how much more tempting would this be for those with Single Income families? The idea first strikes me with thoughts like, “Wow, I could really consider maybe working part-time, or freelance, or even be a SAHM!” (ok, maybe not if I only get $500 with one kid). Essentially, it makes me think too, about those who are raising children with less income. An allowance for the kid would mean the child’s school fees and basic needs would be met.

The proponent of this idea knows this as well, a monthly “allowance” is an attractive idea, and could perhaps be a vote winner (if he is even pro any party).

What, however, are the trade offs?

  • Is my child mine if the State raises her with this allowance?
  • Is my child “bonded” because of this allowance?
  • What if, a family with financial issues takes that allowance and do other things with it?
  • What if someone has the child solely to exploit this allowance? I am reminded of families in third world countries that have more children becuase they need the extra pair of hands in fields and farms)
  • Who foots the bill? Taxpayers? The childless gets penalised, when actually not all childless people chose to be without offsprings? (think of those who have tried and failed to conceive, are we doubly penalising them?)

It is a complex thing that, if implemented, would have to have many safeguards in place. Or leave a trail of mess that may not be easily reversed.

Will this policy, if implemented, be like the Baby Bonus, and end up as a never-ending cycle of giving more and more and eventually, the State again come to find a generation of Singaporeans immune/desensitised to having the allowance, yet not being able to take it away without political pressure?

Back to me. Little Foot’s Mummy.

Why do I find this is a tempting yet uncomfortable concept?

Because IMHO, I feel (and I emphasis that this is my personal opinion) that having children is a decision made by the couple. It is between Me and Papa Long. The State should not interfere in any way (or are we veering towards becoming a Socialist state?).

Had Baby Bonuses tempted us? No. Did we appreciate it when it was given to us? Sure… extra moolah for us which went to schoolfees. Who would reject it? If you took that Bonus away, would I still have my child? Yes.

The thing is, whether you have a one-off baby bonus or a monthly handout, would couples feel more inclined to start a family? Or, in my current stage, think of have two or more (yes we are a one-child family) kids because, there is this allowance on the horizon? I doubt so. In fact, if I were to toy with that thinking, my inner guilt would confuse me. Am I having another child because I want the baby for who he/she is to me and my husband, or because it just becomes more “worth it” (Wu Hua in Hokkien)?

Why I don’t want another child (now) boils down to something else more deep and complex, and sometimes hard to explain. I’m happy with one child and I want to give all my love and attention to her. That is a personal choice, and no amount of persuasion (at this point) will work with me. Until I am mentally, emotionally and physically ready, we will not be swayed. 

And I am uncomfortable about the concept of having the State give my child pocket money, maybe for some selfish reason. I want my child to be as free as possible. Will my child be “bonded” to this country because I accepted the pocket money without asking her if she wanted it? And as a result led to her feeling the extra burden of moral obligation to bear the weight of looking after the taxpayers who have fed and clothed her? The “you owe it to us” mentality, would it be entrenched by the larger society? And if Little Foot’s generation do not reciprocate, will they be seen as a generation of “spoilt and ungrateful Singaporeans” who take for granted all these allowances and see it as an entitlement? By no fault of their own surely.

I’d say for now, maybe thanks, but no thanks. Let me raise my child, my way. 

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When you notice the difference, maybe you aren’t being around enough

This morning, knowing I was not going to be able to send Little Foot to school with Papa Long, I was extra diligent helping her get changed and ready for school.  Usually, Aunty does it while I get myself ready. 

And when I grabbed a rubber band to tie her hair into the coconut tree hairdo, I was suddenly aware that “hey! Little Foot’s hair has grown quite long!”

And then I note to myself, I haven’t done this for her for too long. Which is why I noticed the difference. 

It’s like how I carry her daily to the car, to the school….every chance I get.  I don’t really realise that she’s grown heavier.  My mother would however exclaim that she’s a big girl already! Whenever she gets to see her and carries her, which is very seldom. 

I don’t marvel at how steady she is at water painting, because I see her do it almost daily and I see how she had improved her grip and control bit by bit over time. 

I see her everyday and don’t realise she has lost a lot of her baby fats, until I see a photo of her half a year ago… 

And the list goes on. 

So parents, what difference did you notice in your child today? Maybe like me, you have delegated the mundane tasks like tying hair and brushing teeth to your helper. 

Are we doing enough for our Little One? Are we around enough? Or more pertinently, are we there in mind and body, or just there but not there? (Sitting around checking WhatsApp while the Little One is being fed by your helper? Guilty as charged some days…) 

Its a good reminder to myself. They are only babies and toddlers for awhile…. don’t wait till they are too old and suddenly too heavy before you realise that you’ve missed out a chunk of their childhood.

I gave her my word…

​This evening, I fulfilled a promise we made in the morning. Because it is important to her, and it is important to keep promises to the little ones. Otherwise they won’t buy your empty promises anymore.  

Morning, Little Foot  wanted to buy bread from the vending machine (the latest thing in the neighbourhood). Papa was running late, so he didn’t stop to let her dawdle with the machine. She cried when we bypassed the machine to the car. 

So in the car we told her, “we don’t have any coins, the coins are with Mr Rabbit (My coin bank), and Mr Rabbit  is at home. Tonight you ask Mr Rabbit to give you coins, and you can buy bread. Ok?”

Little Foot stopped crying and said solemnly “Ask Mr Rabbit for coins for Little Foot..buy bread. Dong dong coins take bread from machine.”

And she repeated it several times en route to school. 

(I continue to marvel at how well she is now at expressing verbally)

*****

Evening when I got home, she was already changed out of her uniform and playing around …  I told her we can ask Mr Rabbit for coins now. And I brought the coin bank out. 

After her pasta dinner, we were off with a purse full of coins on the Smartrike to the bread vending machine.

Looking at her delighted face when she finally got to pick up the bread after putting in the coins, and proudly eating it in the playgrounds, I’m reminded that what I say may not mean much to an adult, but it means the world to her. 

And I am glad I remembered to fulfill what I said we would do. I would otherwise have missed out on the chance to make her day, had it slipped my mind.

Well, looks like Mr Rabbit may be emptied very soon! =X so he is back hiding in the umbrella cupboard!

It’s ok when it doesn’t work out

Recently,we threw in the towel on Shichida Method classes.

I’m not going to say whether this is a good programme or not, because frankly, I think half a year wasn’t quite long enough for us to judge.

We just decided it wasn’t quite so suitable for Little Foot and we called it quits in Dec. Much to the relief of Papa Long, who usually attends the classes with her.

Why? We think it wasn’t the best programme for her, despite some of the rave reviews. She was simply not interested and hardly participated willingly unless there were songs involved. We think she needs more time and space to enjoy life, and well, frankly, the real reason? We too were getting burntout from waking up on a Saturday to run to class with her.

Some time ago, my colleagues gave me the “you kiasu mama!” look when I told them Little Foot has classes 7 days a week. So I explained, myself. She’s in childcare during weekdays, and we have a 1-hour Shichida lesson on Saturday mornings (signed up when she was 3 months old, but only enrolled when she was about 19 months after several admin hiccups on their end). And she has her favourite Kindermusik lessons on Sundays, which we actually stopped for awhile, but brought her back when we saw how her face would light up whenever she heard the music from those classes. She still enjoys them as much as she enjoys going to the playgrounds.

Eventually, Mummy and Papa burnt-out before the little lady did.

She had boundless energy, but she didn’t enjoy the way learning was conducted in the Shichida programme. We also didn’t like that while one parent went in and tried to learn the methods to replicate at home (which we hardly had time to, since she’s in school for a full day), the other (usually Mummy) was loitering at Toa Payoh Hub eating roti prata or kaya toast or ran around trying to do some errands to kill time in that hour.

On hindsight, as first time parents, we (mainly Mummy actually) was rather a tad too ambitious.

I wanted to give my daughter the gift of a photographic memory, a gift of being able to grasp things easily. Which should make learning a breeze. And I thought I got it right. Wrong.

The end came when I almost hyperventilated watching the flashcards when I sat in for one of the later classes (because there was a change of teacher). In my mind, I was asking myself, “what in the world am I doing to my 20+mth old baby?!”

There’s a full road ahead for learning. Why make a toddler sit in a class and get bombarded by flashcards and velcro-ed activities? If it created anxiety for me, what does it do for a toddler? No wonder she was always exhausted after that hour and would crash out, with a frown on her face in her sleep.

And so finally, I admitted, it was time to leave the stress to another time, I’ve had enough. Let’s go get some fresh air, go learn to live like a human being, look at the clouds and watch the planes fly by. Breath the air, and marvel at the stars. Visit a farm, feed some animals and plant some plants. 


No hard feelings to other Shichida parents. It works for you, it didn’t for us. And I think as adults, we should just admit it and cut losses when we realise something doesn’t quite seem to be a good fit.

For now, we will let the world be the weekend tutor, and just retain the fun music sessions for her.

Ice cream anyone?

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

Waiting up for Mummy

This evening I went for my long overdue haircut and got home only at 10+pm. 
I thought Little Foot would already be in bed, so I didn’t hurry and even opened the letter box. I walked in, went to wash my hands in the kitchen. And when I walked out of the kitchen, a teary-eyed Little Foot trotted out from the bedroom and greeted me with a silent, imploring face. 
She touched my hair and said “Mummy cut hair”. 

Aunty Lily must have been telling her that Mummy went to cut hair to explain my absence. 

Her tears obviously meant she had enough of waiting for me to get home while she’s sleepy already. 

Oh, my heart pinched a little. 

So we spent time opening the packages from Book Depository  which included 2 children’s books. We read one of them.  

She wanted milk.  We spent a bit of time in bed together, but Little Foot didn’t want to wind down and sleep. 

She wanted to stay up longer with me to play. And so I piggybacked  her to the living room, watched her play and helped her with some of the lining up of Hello kitty toys. 

She counted 1 to 8 flawlessly (first time she did it for me!). 

She was yawning but still wanted to play. I indulged her. 

Finally she held my hands and walked us back to the bedroom, then nursed to sleep. 

Tonight, I’m acutely aware of how much she had grown. 

And I’m wistful. The latch-to-sleep days may well be over soon. 
Tonight I’m also painfully aware that come 2017, my coming home later (and not being able to pick her up from school) will become a regular occurrence.  

It saddened me. 

I can only pray that she will be understanding of the limited time I can give to her and hopefully, we can find a good balance somewhere.  
Work and family – Two words that co-exist awkwardly together for every working parent. Sometimes we want to have our cake and eat it, but with finite time and energy, the best bet is to find a balance…and have good support from family to fill in whenever we are absent. I hope that I will be able to find that balance and not lose this closeness with my Little Foot. Otherwise, everything we strive for will be pointless and meaningless pursuits.  

Thanks for waiting up for me, baby. 

Love you always. 

A year into working mum life

Facebook prompted me that “on this day” last year, I had posted a picture of the 2 bags that I packed ready for my first day back at my work. And Little Foot had seen me off at the lift lobby. 

A year has passed in a whirlwind of being a nursing mummy at night, rushing home, after work, struggling with bouts of illnesses, both her and me, and making milestones – her walking, her running, her first time calling us, calling herself, her first day in school, her 3rd teeth and more, moving from half day to full day in school,me dropping the daytime pumping at work, us changing cars… many days I find myself running, chasing after my thoughts. Too tired to think ahead of the next day or the next week. 

What I missed most about staying at home with Little Foot was being full witness to her growth. It was something I simply took for granted. I miss the constant closeness we had. 

I also miss going out to run errands, meet fellow mummy friends and my sisters at odd timings. I hate crowds and I wished I still had the luxury of going to Daiso and Uniqlo on weekdays afternoons. 

Working comes with its own sets of perks though. The idea of the paycheck coming in each month makes me comfortable, knowing that I can afford the nice things in life for us, without ever having to be thick-skinned and ask Papa to open his wallet (although I do swipe his credit cards when I order wet wipes in bulk). 

Working also means I get time to slow down and catch up on my thoughts, and feel normal. A day in a mad office is mostly less mentally draining that a Sunday giving Little Foot my full undivided attention. I mean, the boss isn’t gonna have a meltdown ‘cos you decided to go to the bathroom right? And I can have adult conversations, from Starbucks promotions to the latest pokemon catch, to discussions about who is more handsome in Descendents of the Sun. 

Work also makes me feel useful, using my brains and knowledge again, even on days I feel that my lack of sleep may have compromised the quality of my work, plus the feeling of “still a bit rusty”, I feel more confident as a person. At least the general sense of “I can do this” is greater at work than at home, since I can’t quite cook a proper meal, let alone try to cook while I have Little Foot blazing up and down in her walker.

Working also made me treasure quality time with Little Foot. Without the luxury of 24/7, I find I try to make every moment count more than ever before. Slotting in reading, meaningful play, tickles and cuddles in a 2-hour slot every evening,when I used to have a whole day to do them. 

Of course there’s exhaustion , especially since she started school in July  and I have been running to pick her up from school  during my lunchtime (I meet our helper there), buying takeaway lunches, getting her to bathe and nap, creeping away from her sleeping angelic face, and running back to my office again. 

It’s been a year of changes, and our routines are still changing as Little Foot continue to meet new milestones. It’s been extremely tiring at times, but I kind of sweep it all aside when I  see her biggest smiles  whenever I pick her up after work or if Papa managed to pick her earlier, to watch her walk very fast to the door exclaiming “Mameeeeee!” When I walk through our front door. 

Do I want my sahm life back? I guess there are parts I miss it, but it is a fond memory that will have to stay that way. 

Do I want the life I had before Little Foot arrived and tossed it upside down? I entertain fleeting thoughts of them on bad days (like when she doesn’t allow me to go to the toilet to relief myself, or when I sit down to my half eaten dinner that I started trying to eat 3 hours ago), or when there’s a lot of work to tackle and yet I have to put it aside to play with the animal safari truck,play fishing, watch YouTube videos, and only get back to them after midnight. And then make careless mistakes while I try to fight the tiredness off. 

Returning back to my work with mummy status is comparatively harder than if I had taken up a new job, I feel. I knew my competence level previously… and I give myself a hard time (inside my head) whenever I find myself lacking, because I knew I would have been able to do better if it was the old me. I try not to make excuses for myself at work too… so I find myself apologising more than in my pre-Little Foot life. And I try not to say things like “because we were up dealing with the puking all night…” a mistake is a mistake, I think telling a sob story isn’t gonna make a difference. It’s harder than one can imagine, because I am my own biggest critique.  

A a year on, I am getting better at it, but  still finding my footing. 

A year on, I  still wonders on some days what I have missed out on because I am not with Little Foot. 

Many more years to come, I  will ask myself the same question each November, “is this the right choice?” 

For now it is, but who knows what my answer would be in the subsequent ones?

For now, I’m just glad I get to hug her to sleep each night and know what she is growing well. 

The Wakersaur – A play & imagine kind of book 

I really have to share about this lovely evening I spent with Little Foot, we did many fun things, a rare chance these days ever since she’s started school.

One of the memorable part was reading this book – The Wakersaur.

I pulled this book out from the bottom of a huge stack of baby and toddlers books.

Half expecting her to ignore me, I sat down and read to her anyway.

As I started to read, I got more animated. When I got  to this part “first he’ll tickle the soles of your feet, then the back of your neck…” I tickled Little Foot.

We rolled around giggling!

Then I got to this part when the Wakersaur was expected to rawrrr cos he was angry…no he went “Clock-a-doodle-doo!”

Little Foot loved it! She was chuckling whenever I made the “Clock-a-doodle-doo!”

We finished the book without a hitch. No means feat for a toddler who prefers to order me to play YouTube videos for her nowadays.

Now, at 21 months old, she’s starting to appreciate drama, starting to understand when I describe things and starting to love pretend-play types of activities.

This book fitted the bill completely.

For me, I loved how this book tried to break stereotypes. I guess the Wakersaur is supposed to be some kind of dinosaur, and some young kids are mightily afraid of dinosaurs (okay, The Good Dinosaur not counted). The Wakersaur was the juxtaposition of scary.

I also like how it actually uses the things we as parents would do to wake our kids up.

2 thumbs up for this book. I think it’d be great for parents who struggle with getting their kids out of bed in time for school each morning… maybe a “Clock-a-doodle-doo!” might work after you read this book to them.

Only thing I wish was it came in cardboard version. I am always worried about the books being torn!

Our friend is hungry after reading….we actually went for a stroll and ice cream after the reading session!

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A little bit of how I came to be in possession of this book…

Some months ago, an old classmate of mine sent it to us. He wrote the book.

I told him I’d go buy it in the shops, but he was so kind as to mail me one.

I can’t tell you how proud I am whenever I see my friends publish. After all, we all did write too much back in University!

So anyway, back then, I thought this book was too advanced for Little Foot. It required you to imagine… to guess… to speculate who or what a Wakersaur is. So I shelved it together with our enormous book collection.

Yet at the back of my mind, something kept nagging me to give it a try. Glad I did this evening. Else I would have missed that bonding session when we rolled around the playmat in our living room giggling and squealing in delight. And so I take back my premature judgement that this book was too advanced for her, and again remind myself that with kids, the sky can be the limits sometimes.

Thanks for the gift, Shervin.

Do look out for this book in stores. I heard it’s not easy to hunt down, but trust me, when you do, it’s gonna be quite fun (and a riot!) to read it out loud to your little one.

Why I let my child lie down and roll around screaming on the floor in public

Picture this.

I’m walking in a mall with my Little Foot who’s loudly declaring “Walk! Walk!”.

I hold her hand and she screams and giggles in glee, dragging me headlong into the crowds. Quite cute. She finds a shop with things that attract her interest. She lets go of my hand, giggles and cheekily starts posing around, tentatively walks backwards, checking my reaction. I laugh.

(My inner self: “Die lah… I shouldn’t have laughed…)


And so she thinks its acceptable, and she continues her funny antics. I can feel Papa Long judging me for laughing. Thankfully, she hasn’t quite gotten so bold as to dash away without me, and she’s not quite as mobile as to run on her own, unless she’s running towards me into my arms. But still… I was telling her, is ok to drag your mummy through the crowds, while the rest of the world can’t quite see this 83cm todd.

The nightmare then starts when I said “let’s go!”.

“NO!” She’s still not yet done with the Tsum Tsyum feature wall in Bossini.

(My inner self: uh-oh…..)

And so I found myself carrying the kicking, wriggling loudly protesting toddler out of the shop. She broke free and wanted to go back. Then decided to throw herself flat on the floor in protest….

“No!!!! Ahhhhhhh!”

Yup, Terrible Two alright.

We let her lie down there as she started to kick up a fuss, and said “Come along now”… She ignored us. “Bye Bye!” we walked a slight distance away…to the horror of some passersby. She screamed and cried louder.

After a moment, I walked back, picked her up, and said “Let’s go”… and then try to distract her with something else. A food offer usually works… or comfort latch (ok, some people rolling eyes now I know).

The crying stops.

There is no repeat of this scenario (to date).

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As we inch closer to the Terrific (some say Terrible) Two mark, there are some things that we felt we needed to do for Little Foot.

Helping her understand that there are real dangers out there. I let her into the store to explore, but within boundaries. There are racks and furniture with sharp corners. we point it out to her. There was a socket she tried to put her finger into. We almost freaked out and raised our voices. She also has to understand that Mummy and Daddy are not going to be able to find her everytime and there are bad guys out there. So I try to enforce the hand-holding and no running.

 

Letting her understand what is acceptable behaviour without stifling her curiosity. It is cute to giggle and scream in glee and dash through the crowd when you are a 2-year-old with a coconut hairstyle. Try doing that at 10 years old. Chances are some deranged short-tempered person would come up and scold you, worse, slap you. The world is not so forgiving. Sure, who doesn’t want to explore the mall? All the lights, all the displays, all the new things that triggers her senses… so many things to see, to touch. Exploring is good, but it has to be within a safe and acceptable situation.

 

 

So that day at Suntec, I let her lie down on the floor and make a scene. Everyone who knows me knows it’s very hard for me to walk away from her, but I really tried to harden my heart and do it, while watching her through the side of my eyes, and Papa Long standing nearby. She had to learn that it wasn’t something that was funny. At home if she does that, Papa would pretend to be stepping on her, showing her what it could be, if she did that in public – People will walk past and step the crap outta you. She had to understand that the world will not notice us short folks, and more importantly, kicking up a fuss does not mean she will get her way. Simply put, the world doesn’t owe you a thing.

At 21 months, she’s also trying to grasp her feelings. There will be some crazy evenings when everything is just wrong…. playing with a toy and then she suddenly slams it in frustration (My inner self: Simi daiji?!). She can’t quite tell me why, so those are trying days too, but we still set the limit. If she’s going to get angry and throw herself on the floor, my best offer is to help her lie down there by lowering her slowly so she doesn’t knock her head to bits. And then I leave her there. After awhile, I ask her a question, to signal if she wants to call a truce and then we move on to find something else to do.

Seems to work.


Little Foot has always been, as what we say in dialect, a “Mangzang” (loosely translated to irritable) baby.

We’ve taken awhile, but we’ve sort of gotten the hang of handling her tantrums.

Thankfully, most days, she’s a polite and cheery toddler… and she’s got a thing for music and children’s songs, so those are useful in keeping her happy. YouTube is a lifesaver too (cues anti-YouTube policing mamas!)


Our parenting styles are not perfect, and I make mistakes like sending her wrong signals by laughing at something she shouldn’t be doing. As first-time parents, we also apply some trial and error, and often we just let loose and say “ok, let’s cave in to he demands for that chocolate muffin” or  close and eye when she decides to drag a plastic bag on the floor as she walks, so sometimes she gets confused by me too.

At times, I remind myself that she’s a kid, and kids are entitled to having fun, and I am human. Some days, I too am exhausted and feel like saying “OK lah, you wanna roll on the floor, roll lah!”.

We are all humans after all.

P.S: If you see us letting our kid roll around kicking and screaming in public, don’t judge us. We aren’t doing nothing. We are doing what we need to do, to teach a life lesson on the spot. So bear with us!

A Gold Medal of dreams and conviction 

​13 August 2016. The day that will forever be remembered as the day Singapore finally bagged the first Olympics Gold Medal. 

And what a win by Joseph Schooling… this is what everyone here hoped for. That one of our own, with true roots here would score that special first for us. This is something money can’t buy.  

My friend, A pancake princess penned a rather good piece on what the 50.39 secs that captured our attention and imagination meant. I couldn’t have said it better. 

Sporadically throughout the day, I had thought about the significance of Joseph Schooling’s win, and the fact that we as parents sometimes only pay lip service to helping our kid reach for the stars. In reality, our actions pull us in the other direction. When we choose tuition over music and art classes, when we choose to say “I’m too busy” or choose to sleep in rather than go for something that our child badly wants to pursue. Worse, when we decide to sign them up for things that WE want them to be good at because of our unfulfilled dreams. 

I questioned myself, whether we were helping Little Foot blossom into the person that God meant her to be. Maybe it is too early to tell, but surely we must continue to carry that attitude that we will give her time and space to find her footing, while at the same time dare her to dream and have a never say die attitude. 

In teens, I had at one point wanted to chase the sporting dream too, but lacked the talent to complement all the hours in  TKD training (I tried but failed at the Nationals). 

In my teens, I had wanted to continue my love for music, but I shelved that, because I told myself, people from poor families don’t have the luxury of such lofty dreams. 

In his army days, Papa Long was offered a chance to stay on and train as a shooter. He declined the offer,but yet over the years, his eyes would shine and you would see him come alive whenever he talked about going back for reservist, when he told me he got to try new equipment during reservist… and eventually, the sadness when he completed his cycle and reached Military Release status, which meant he couldn’t shoot anymore. (Nowadays, it’s mostly just nerf guns…)

The brakes were jammed by us. Yes, ourselves. Because we didn’t dare to dream, and because no one came and said “it’s not a silly dream. Do chase it!” Because we questioned if our lofty dreams meant that our parents would not finally get to lighten their load. Because we thought, perhaps we were not good enough.  

Surely we are not unique. 

There are dreamers and there are dreamers who make their dreams come true. It take a village to take that dream to the next level. I read with much respect about the faith, love and support that the Schoolings gave to their son. 

And I remind myself, let’s be that kind of parents. Our child will look to us for affirmation, so let’s send the right signals, take on the right attitude. 

I would like to believe that in my life, at least I have tried to inspire my younger siblings to go for their dreams, to let go of their own doubts like I had… to ignore the dissenting views that our parents sometimes could have whenever we so much as sound out if it was ok to take the road less travelled. Today I still try to be that kind of sister, providing an alternative view to the conservative one of my parents (nothing wrong with them really…. that’s just how most baby boomers are). And I want to continue to be that kind of guiding light for my Little Foot.  

To Joseph Schooling, thank you for being that kind of inspiration for many of us, and for generations to come. 50.39 seconds. You gripped our attention and united this little nation. 

The best is yet to be. 

Indeed, you did it like a true ACSian.