Mess With Their Minds While You Still Can

This morning Kai charged into our bedroom all excited and proceeded to tell us in detail what his toy dinosaurs had been up to. He is now convinced the week’s incidents were not isolated. The toys who come alive in the middle of the night when no one’s looking, are organised and capable of complex operations.

Naomi and I are really digging Dinovember. It’s as therapeutic and fun for us as it is for Kai. At least we think he’s having fun. Reminds me of the time when I was his age and my Mom told me I was born on the same day as when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. I had selective hearing and told every one I was born on the moon. I lived that fabulous history until I was in primary school, when a stern teacher brought me back to earth with the truth.

T-Rex loves Kai’s bed
These are literate dinosaurs

Dinovember

This Dinovember is the best thing!

If you’ve got young kids, do it. We’re feeling it now – that kids don’t stay young for long. Kai had a growth spurt recently and grew 7cm in just under a month. Just comparing videos we shot this week with those a couple of months back pains us.

We’re loving the time we get to spend with Kai while he’s still tearing about the house, making a mess, causing a ruckus like a kid should.

Choom Choom!

It’s been a very rough month so far, and I’m not in a position to elaborate further as to why. Just know that unreasonable people are involved, light will be shed soon, and the same said unreasonable people will have their comeuppance.

Meanwhile, there are ways to raise one’s spirit. Unfortunately, Naomi has warned me against partaking of any more spirits, or beer or light cocktails.

There’s always laughter and silliness at home, so I’m very very grateful to get to spend time with my family. Even better is the fact that Naomi’s started a Tumblr documenting little snippets of what Kai gets up to.

The title, “Choom Choom!”, is Kai’s version of how one of those Star Wars spacecraft guns sound. I also think the blog is Naomi’s way of telling me to get off my butt and blog more, because she’s outblogging me by some ways now!

As they say on the stage at D&Ds, without further ado, here’s Choom Choom. (Please click the like button if you like any of the posts!)

When you’re crabby

A Word On The My First Skool Incident

I’m always struck by how much we delegate our personal lives to other people. The other day coming home on the Bintan Resorts Ferry, a family sat in the rows ahead of us. There were the parents, the two children and two foreign domestic workers.

The younger of the two children was probably under two and cute as a button, playing and drooling while he was fed a snack. The older child was around six and a real brat – making faces at and speaking to the helpers in a completely disrespectful manner.

I think she had asked to have a ferry hotdog and the helper had said something to the effect that she’d be too full for dinner, and she’d sulked and asked her father who assented and went to get the hotdog for her instead.

Last month I wrote lyrics to a silly song that included the line, “Need tuition to make the grade; child is stupid blame the maid” and it couldn’t be truer. We seem to have completely abdicated our responsibility for our children’s upbringing to other people.

I’ve sometimes been guilty of forgetting to check on Kai (ok he’s only 4) and his reading homework, and last week even forgot he had a pre-school presentation (a mini-concert lasting 20 minutes, but if you miss it you have to face lasting consequences) and was only reminded early on the morning of his presentation when he told me to be early.

We leave Kai to our helper’s care for several hours a day some weeks when I’m really busy, or when Naomi’s not well. Then we find we have to correct Kai’s grammar and speech because our helper’s Burmese tinted English sometime nosso good.

That’s when we realise we have to take charge if we want our kids to grow up the way we want them to. Every person we engage to care for Kai has to be able to work with us to ensure he gets the right kind of care and guidance. We have been taking some time to talk to Kai’s teachers and ask about his progress in school regarding his social skills (our priority), and it’s been reaping a ton of benefits.

There’s been some chat about whether NTUC First Campus has addressed the issues attendant to the part-time caregiver’s sacking from their preschool, but I have to say again that parents, especially in Singapore, need to be more active in their kids’ upbringing, and help the childcare/preschool sector improve.

There is no excuse for the type of behaviour exhibited by the part-time staff at that particular pre-school, but I would like to highlight that NTUC First Campus, like many of the other NTUC affiliates, are co-operatives, which means that their aim is to get out there to do good.

First Campus itself works with governmental agencies and NGOs to reach out to less privileged families – there are childcare places reserved for low-income families. There was a case several years ago of a 16 month old boy who was lagging developmentally because of malnourishment and a home environment you’d recognise as not ideal – his only parent, his mother, was serving a prison sentence, and his sole caregiver had been his grandmother, who had to leave the house to work daily.

First Campus made two exceptional decisions – the child was accepted into a My First Skool Centre even though he was two months under the minimum age; the child was accepted without a fee. The staff at that Centre also reached out to the child’s grandmother with tips on how to contribute to the boy’s development.

The boy at issue is now almost ten and doing well in primary school.

There are no leaked YouTube videos to show, by making the decisions they did for this boy, how shockingly good the caregivers at that centre have been. And this is quite unfortunate.

Screening Pre-School Staff

There isn’t much worse than having your preschooler be mistreated and injured at the hands of the people you trust to look after your child while you’re at work – whether it’s your foreign domestic helper, nanny, or pre-school staff.

I thought about whether it was right to post on FB the CCTV footage given by the preschool, and I think I would have done the same thing. I’d have been very angry and would have wanted to warn other parents of the same. I wouldn’t have waited for the police or the press to do that for me.

While there’ll be questions to be answered on how the centre screens its staff, including employees who don’t necessarily have contact with the kids, it’s a good reminder to parents to really get to know the people you delegate your child caring to.

How Did You Spend Father’s Day?

This is the second consecutive Father’s Day we’ve been abroad with family, and I think it’s a good way to spend it. We’re gonna make this a tradition.

To all Dads – Happy Father’s Day – it’s a day to be thankful for family, and for the time you get to spend with them. A big shout out to every man who’s traded in a fast car for an MPV, a coupe for a wagon, and spent way more than you’ve dreamed of on a stroller.

Papa & Kai
Papa & Kai

There’s A Book For Dealing With Whiny Kids

We have an arrangement at home with Kai where if he’s been really good he gets to exercise an option of half an hour of (apple) tv time in place of a bedtime storybook and a 5 minute chat about his day, but only if it isn’t already past bedtime (8pm).

Two nights ago, he opted for tv time, watched his rationed half hour of a kid’s programme about words, then started to bargain for another episode and/or/and a storybook and/or/and chat. Cajoling, wheedling, needling and most importantly, whining to get his way, even though he knows the chances of him getting it are slim. Unless of course Mama and Papa are so tired from their day as to give in.

So I carry him to bed and he struggles, still whining, and slides off to his bookshelves, grabs a book and returns to the bed in the dark and slaps the book on my stomach and whines that he wantstorytimenotstraighttobed.

I look at the cover of the book and ask him whether he’s sure he wants me to read that particular book, because it’s called “Monsters Eat Whiny Children“.

The look of quiet frustration, confusion and creeping fear is something I will cherish for awhile. Not often our four year old snooks himself like that.

Happy Mother’s Day

To every son and daughter’s mother, a happy Mother’s Day. You’ve made your children what they are, whether or not you’ve intended to.

To Naomi – on behalf of Kai and myself, thank you for being everything he needs.

To Naomi’s Mom, thank you for being family.

And I remember my mother today, for making us panic every Mother’s Day not knowing what to plan for lunch and what gifts to get, forgetting that you only ever wanted us to be at our best in everything we did. I remember you would back us to the hilt if we did our best, defending us as only a mother would.

Motherhood is all love. It’s a good day to show we appreciate that by sharing the love around.

Please Take Dengue Seriously

Read this first, then come back to this post.

Yes, you can die from dengue. But mostly, people don’t exhibit serious symptoms, and are often not ill enough to be hospitalized.

It’s been the same with this outbreak, and I’ve found that as a result, people are being a bit blase about the current epidemic despite the media blitz by the NEA.

Some people wait till they get a rash before going to the doctor. Here’s news for you: If you have dengue, and a rash appears, your platelets are likely to be crashing and you might need a blood transfusion.

Our experience with Kai at 8 weeks old shows how you can never be too careful. He didn’t have a fever, didn’t cry more than usual, and the only reason we took him to the pediatrician was because our confinement nanny said she hadn’t seen anything like the freckles he was sporting.

I remember being frustrated at the NEA for not being able to inspect the vacant apartments in our block because the owners had been uncontactable. That is apparently being changed, and officers are now able to break into homes to search for and destroy mosquito breeding grounds.

After Kai had dengue, I had immediately contacted the NEA to ask them to inspect our condo and our neighbours – with one particularly suspicious house turning up empty even though they had a disused swimming pool which was looking all green and slimy.

The officers had responded by inspecting our apartment regularly. I was indignant at first, until I was told that many complainants to the NEA were actually inadvertently breeding mosquitoes themselves – my mother included. She had complained about the excessive numbers of mosquitoes in her garden, and the NEA came and found aedes larvae in her flowerpots.

Even something as innocuous as a plastic tarp covering a motorcycle collects enough rainwater to breed mosquitoes – and a person has in fact been fined for doing so.

There have been over 6,000 cases of people contracting dengue this year so far. If it goes on at this rate, don’t be surprised if there are fatalities. The thing is, we can prevent this from happening by pitching in to get rid of mosquito breeding grounds.

So please, just do the five step mozzie wipeout check in your home. If not daily, then weekly.

Just 5 easy steps could save your life.
Just 5 easy steps could save your life.

Explaining Boston To A Four Year Old

Yesterday morning on waking up, I checked my phone for messages, and read about the Boston Marathon bombing. As Naomi and I headed to our kitchen for breakfast with Kai, I decided to turn on the television for updates.

Kai started to ask what we were watching on tv. As has been our policy, we attempted to explain in as age appropriate a manner as possible what had happened, and why it was a very bad thing that happened, caused by a very bad person, nobody knows who yet, and why it was a very sad day.

It didn’t quite sink in – partly because Kai was taken in by the novelty of us turning on the tv at breakfast, and partly because the event was a race, and there was a bomb.

We’re still struggling to wean him off his little boy’s diet of pretend cars crashing, guns shooting (especially in light of the Sandy Hook tragedy) and bombs exploding, and he doesn’t completely grasp why we ban toy gun play at home when he sees other kids playing with toy guns and replicas.

On the way home yesterday evening, he asked if he could have some tv time after dinner – he wanted to watch the one about the race and the bomb. We explained again why it wasn’t a happy thing to watch. Thankfully he was quite exhausted and settled for another episode of Dinosaur Train instead.

(I found this last night: What to tell your kids about the Boston Marathon Bombing).