The lil boss plays: Sensory table on the cheap!

This last fortnight has been an exercise of temporary reprioritisation – I felt the need to pitch in more at work, and had to leave a sick lil boss with my parents for a few nights as I mulled over reports and get a better handle on my responsibilities in office. The lil boss dealt with not having a minion around very admirably, but I am not entirely convinced that my effort at work makes enough difference to the team to warrant that time spent away from home. (Economic rationale: when the marginal utility accrued to the team from my last ounce of effort at work is lower than the marginal utility accrued to the lil boss, I ought to shift resources accordingly.)

I wish more non-preachy books were written for working mothers. If only to commiserate on how bloody difficult it is to strike a balance between being fair to teammates and wanting to spend time with the kids.

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The lil boss in school. Or not.

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 reads: Quiet corner

I had been reading about the need to create quiet time for little children so that they would be used to having the time and space to recharge, create and reflect. Together with that, I particularly enjoyed Curtis and Carter’s Designs for Living and Learning, which discussed (among other things) how to design living space that will allow a child to feel empowered in seeking out a space to be alone by themselves whenever they feel a need to. (Sidenote: This book is an excellent read on making living space relatable to kids, but also made me depress about how our preschools are not designed for it. More on that another time.)

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The lil boss plays: Coloured rice!

I just did something that my ancestors could have been lynched for last night, and I still feel a great deal of guilt for: I made coloured rice. I don’t mean I cooked fancy coloured briyani; I coloured rice as a substitute for sand for the lil boss, and that by my ancestors’ books is sacrilege.

As I think of all the famines in the history of China, and how ‘rice’ aid was a key government policy instrument…

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One small step for SCOTUS…

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.

At war with my mobile phone

A few weeks ago, I said my new promise to myself was no mobile devices while the Lil Boss is awake. That post was inspired by an early wake-up call when Lil Boss picked up my phone and proceeded to play around with it, quizically trying to understand why I liked that little box thing so much. Now if the kid knows that mummy likes her phone, mummy is spending too much time with it.

(I also reckon that if I am denying him the use of mobile devices, it is only fair that I have to manage without them too. This sense of democracy will not last long. )

Doing as I preach aside, the change is also timely because I do not like the insidious ways mobile usage has changed my behaviour over time. With a smartphone in hand, I live less in the present moment because it is so easy to snap a photo for record keeping. I am less introspective because each picture, designed to be shared almost instantaneously with the nearest and dearest, and not for reflection.

I draw less, paint even less, and neglect my journals because the distraction of the Internet beckons constantly. I find micro-blogging easier that this churn of words now, when verbosity would have been my problem before, because mobile was not meant for extended typing.

I have stopped connecting, because I am not the only one hooked to my device. Dinner with my family is exasperating now because either my father or my brother will be more preoccupied with his phone than he is in actually conversing with family. I don’t think I have spoken more than ten sentences in a conversation with my brother in the last few months.

I am more impatient without a device in hand – forget my phone while waiting in queue? Torturous. – and I crave instant gratification. See that poster for a show? Scan in the QR code, get to Paypal and purchase a ticket, while waiting for the bus to turn up. I see less of the world that is not reflected on my tiny screen amd I am inundated with random pieces of information that only clutters up the mindspace.

Now imagine, if I as a digital immigrant who held my first smart phone in my twenties could be this altered, what reality does my son live in now that infants have access to these devices? The future, like apocalyptic fiction, fascinates and horrifies me.

My experiment with mobile cold turket has not always worked out well in the weeks since, but I am more conscious of my usage now, and that’s half the battle.

Now where did I place my phone?