I have been, rather quietly, fuming in my little corner over recent developments on this sunny island and thought I was doing a pretty good job holding my peace in a semi-public space. Until the reactions to the Orlando shooting came in, and by golly, to stay silent is to be complicit.
I’ve always endeavoured to ensure that being a mother does not take over my identity. I’ve spoken of this before: I need time to be with the lil boss, but I also need time to be myself, be a daughter, be a friend.
But good Lord Almighty, it’s so difficult to keep to that philosophy when the kid grows up so quickly and every moment so fleeting that every memory seems to slip out of grasp if I’m not present in the moment.
Let’s get real: the lil boss doesn’t need me to be there as much as I want to be there to capture what I can.
A month ago, the lil boss was still insisting on my cradling him during his showers so that water would not get in his eyes when I wash his hair (rule that applied only to me ) . Now he will not have it: I have to let water rain down on him, because it’s fun to blow bubbles like a goldfish.
A week ago, he’d whine about having to go to school and then cling on to me at the gate, demanding to be carried in. This morning, he was jumping and skipping to school, excited to show his favourite teacher (crush, coughs, crush) and classmate his new Elsa crocs. He also promptly walked into class with nary a backwards glance. Barely over two, and already in a hurry to disassociate with uncool, hovering parents.
We celebrate the firsts, but we barely have time to register the lasts.
Today the lil boss still climbs into my bed at night to sleep on me (yep, Minion the cushion). He still pretends to cry and whine (yes, all an act), just so he can sneak in a “Mi mi must carry”. He still wants cuddles in the middle of the night- let no one talk to me about sleep training- and he still wants me to sing lullabies. He still wants me to play and read with him, to share a drink and split a bag of biscuits. God knows when he will stop wanting any of these.
Sleep can wait. I’m getting all the cuddles I can.
I’m slowly leaning towards the nature camp in the nature-nurture debate. Nurture mitigates or accentuates but kids seem to come with an innate, base set of attributes. Two parents can do exactly the same thing and get completely different results. Same thing with raising siblings.
In D&D terms, you create a character with a set of inclinations and abilities. You can brush up on your dice-rolling skills, you can even cheat and weigh dies in your favour, which can do a lot to shape outcomes but your character is still stuck with the base set of attributes and their actions still take some guidance from there. No one else is getting this analogy, yah?
Any case, digression. This is why I take parenting books and articles with a spoonful of salt. Or for that matter, well meaning (and not so well meaning) advice from relatives, friends and the occasional nosy stranger.
I’ve had so many people warn me against carrying the kid as much as I did when he was growing up, because I’m apparently encouraging him to be clingy and needy . Well, the lil boss turns out to be fiercely independent: he knows what he wants and he learns quickly how to get it. He insists on doing things himself and gets frustrated when he can’t. He also runs off by himself in a mall without care, resulting in one heart stopping episode recently. So junk that theory.
We’ve also surrounded the kid with a variety of toys: building sets, puzzles, a giggling Minion (that he’s terrified of). He has cars, vehicles, entire Thomas sets from indulgent family members. But no, he is simply not interested. Not even in those that make appropriate choo-choo sounds. Instead he takes beautifully to open ended play and sensory bins (sand, water beads, rice, slime, light). He also loves his art materials and currently his little drone. I did not set up intentionally to adopt a Waldorf approach to play – I learnt about that only in the process of finding new things to engage the lil boss, and now he makes me look like an overachieving parent.
We exposed the lil boss to the performing arts, but we never did have to teach him to stay quiet and to whisper if he had to when a performance is on- he just naturally respected the performing space. We didn’t set out to make him interested in chores; he is just inclined towards pretending to be an adult and policing his space. Probably the only thing we did deliberately was to keep the lil boss interested in books, and even then, I don’t think we can take credit for how well he takes to them.
(If he sounds wonderful, know that he’s also naturally inclined to hate the sun, avoid anything remotely mathematical, dislike drinking milk, and stubbornly choose to give up what he wants and likes than meet your terms.)
God probably had a lot more to do with how he’s turning out than we do. We just to learn to avoid screwing things up and throwing the dice wrongly, really- and that’s some comfort at least.
I’ve been at a professional plateau for a while. That’s a fairly nice way of saying I’ve stagnated and lost the steam to grow since I came back to my job three years ago. What started as a demotivating struggle to find direction and carve out a role in a mature team became a realistic look at how much effort I wanted to put in to truly value add and what cost it would come for all the other roles I play in my life.
Not being brilliant enough to do everything simultaneously, I held true to my promise in NYC and chose to shift my world out of office. I have learnt early enough that defining myself against my career and tying my self worth to how I perform in the workplace brings about a misplaced sense of achievement and little spiritual reward.
For most part, I have been satisfied with that choice. I have spent many dinners at home since, and I am watching the lil boss grow up every day. I no longer feel the need to check my phone and the news after hours and over weekends, and I now have time to do things like research into STEM education, creating playscenes, bake and probably more besides when I am not knocked out.
Lately though, I have received several reminders about the dangers of settling and stagnation early in life, and I am beginning to question whether I am just satisficing. My job pays me well enough, I am doing what I need to do to pull my weight but little more, but God, I know I am capable of more. However chafing it is, I can’t even bring myself to stretch because the rewards are few while the harvest elsewhere is so much more satisfying.
Realistically my paycheck gives me the freedom to do everything else, but I am wondering if self-fulfillment needs to be the price.
I have some choice words for a young man, Russell Tan, whose letter to the ST today enraged me with his presumptuousness. However, I pride myself for being a mature adult and shall refrain from a full tirade against a 19 year old, who in a decade will rue the fact that this letter is available on the internet for his future employers to locate.
We have barely started school, and minion is in a quagmire and needs to do a straw poll.
We started at White House International, a school near Minion Two’s parents’, which I had settled on because it seemed to have a well-rounded programme that was not just preoccupied with academics – even for two year olds, yes. The facilities were new and the few teachers we met had great rapport with lil boss during the open house, and the fees were reasonable. I had been rather pleased with the choice…
… till we met the teacher in charge of lil boss’ class and every instinct tells me to keep my kid away.
I was not comfortable with Ms D pretty much from the get-go. In the short time I was there (and while there was this parent around!), I saw her lose her temper several times with the young children in the class, often shouting at them in irritation: “I said, do this!” and then grabbing them by the shoulder or arm to do exactly what she instructed. She had also forcibly pushed a couple of children down into a sitting position, and scolded a little girl for throwing up after a crying fit when her mother dropped her off with no move to calm the child first.
Is this common among preschool teachers? It’s a genuine question – dealing with two to three year-olds is tough, and I can understand having to physically move the children and having minimal patience. I have to live with a tyrant after all. Nonetheless, I did not expect the rough manhandling – Lord knows I am already not the gentlest person with my kid – but what is considered acceptable behaviour? Admittedly I was most taken aback by the grabbing and dragging even though the children really did seem none the worse for wear.
What trigger my alarm bells is how the children react to her. They do not look to her for comfort, they do not clamour for her attention and they make little effort to go near her when she entreats them to respond to her during class activities. In contrast, another teacher, L, walks by, and every child just runs to the class door to shout “L——!” When they need help, they would approach L instead of Ms D. They even approach me!
There’s a teeney part of me that is trying to resist being a lawnmower parent and just steel myself to let lil boss stick this out and try the environment, especially as he is beginning to adapt to school. I do not believe in giving my child everything on a platter and removing him from every problematic teacher, because he will have to learn how to deal with different and difficult people – BUT this is his first exposure to school, and every touchy-feely fibre in this INFJ is shouting ‘Get him out of there!”
Am I overreacting?
The lil boss starts preschool tomorrow. It’s really a glorified term for “regular play dates”, but yes, my 18 month-old is starting preschool and what the heck was I thinking when I signed him up for one?!
My Facebook feed has turned into a sea of rainbows. I suspect that is a result of self-selection: I am less likely to befriend anyone who holds a dramatically different view on LGBT rights from me after all.
Whatever it is, this sea of rainbows made me tear today.
I have written before that I had always been partial to the LGBT cause due to fandom, but really became a strong proponent of LGBT rights and anti-LGBT bullying after I lost two friends, one of them particularly close to me, in college to suicide. This one friend, Yuan, slit his throat after his father, in a pique, said that he, being gay as he is, would not be masculine enough to “go out with a bang”. In our last conversation, I had effectively told him to wait it out till he has the wings to leave his home. I really should have told him “Come stay with my folks”, but that will remain my lifelong regret.
What would Yuan think today? When so many well established corporations are coming out with statements supporting SCOTUS’ decisions? When profile picture after picture are changed to reflect those cheerful rainbow flags, that only seem to mock the decades and centuries of agony that the community had faced and still faces? When even the Catholic priests under the wonderful leadership of Pope Francis are coming out to ask their flock to stop focusing on homosexuality and remember that the core of Jesus’ teachings is “Above all else, love one another as He loves us”?
Would he have found comfort in the growing support for equality and take heart that progress can be made? Would he have plotted to relocate to the States when he could be free and regarded as an equal?
What would Yuan think of the Pink Dot movement? He was a daring, fiesty individual with fire in his soul – it would not be too difficult to imagine that he would have helped plan and execute the Pink Dot every year. Would he have raised his fist at the lack of movement on
377a repeal, or would he rejoice at the fast expanding Dot and the triumph over the “conservative lobby”?
He did not live to see this day. For him, progress had come too late.
For many others in my country, it will continue to come too late – because it has been allowed to become the war of the vocal minorities: the out and loud minority that is anti-establishment and does not utilise the levers of power well, and the “conservative lobby” that knows how exactly to use those same levers and holds a weak leadership hostage to their demands.
I have been bitter, because there is still a vocal minority that perverts my faith to justify their hatred and discriminiation against the LGBT community. I have been bitter because a good friend of mine is no longer here to fight this fight. Today, my bitterness grows exponentially because SCOTUS’ decision only just shows up how far behind the human development curve my society is.