“You Are Not My Friend!”

She will say, fold her arms and pout her lips. Other similar phrases she may hurl at me are “I don’t like Mommy!”, “You don’t love me!” and, my favorite, “You are not my favorite person!” The reason? Sometimes, because I do not agree to giving her what she wants, often, because I need to discipline her over a particular offense.

I like this anecdote about parents my generation (those born in the ’80s and ’90s): we are the last generation who listened to their parents and the first generation who has to listen to their children. While it is so relatable it’s hilarious, I do wonder what happened in between. My parents never bothered themselves with whether or not their kids would put them on the top list for their best friends and I am glad they didn’t. Because they were, after all, my parents. They knew that and were secure in that knowledge.

“It’s easy for me to make you like Mommy,” I always say, “I just let you do as you wish and I’ll instantly be your favorite person, your BFF.” And she will look at me with a “then why don’t you do just that?” look. To which both she and I already know the answer.

“I am your mother. My biggest care is not whether you would like me, my biggest concern is whether you know and are doing what’s right.” Of course it’s never pleasant to play the bad cop, of course all moms would love to please their children. But as her mother, I need to do what a mother should do and that is not something that a friend can do for her. “If I let you do as you wish just because I want you to like me now, that is not love,” I add, at the same time horrified by the thought of such parenting with its inevitable consequence, “then you will grow up hating me.”

There will come the day when children will mature (God help us) into the responsible and sensible adults they need to be. There will come the day these children will be capable of a loving and meaningful friendship with their parents. Until then, we need to be their parents. Precisely because of that prospect, we must be the parents who know their role and carry out their duty faithfully. The duty to love and also to discipline, to nurture yet never neglect to train.

I am not your friend, daughter. I am your mother. In due time, I pray you will see that I love you. And when you know what it means to be a true human, one with wisdom and virtues, I pray for your friendship.

Unsupervised Childhood

“I stay home with my kids, but sometimes I still feel guilty for not spending enough time with them,” confessed one of my good friends.

I could fully relate with her. When I first quit my job to stay home with my baby, I too had thought that it was my new job to be always with my child, to fully engage her and to always be in tune with her needs. And of course, I wanted to excel in my new career, as all moms do.

It took me a while to realize that my baby had outgrown her newborn phase and as she grew, my constant presence and supervision were no longer as required. In fact, it would not do her good if I kept hovering over her and deprived her of age-appropriate autonomy.

Big Nona climbs the tree.

I remember my own parents were always busy at the shop, as all the adults that I knew in my childhood were. Instead of expecting our parents to keep us entertained, we would find the neighborhood kids to play with. It was an everyday thing for us to run around the alley or to play at one another’s house.

“Auntie, is so and so at home?” The parents usually didn’t bother with what the neighborhood kids did. We’d play upstairs, or outside, unsupervised. I guess, it was just the way things were in the olden days. The particularly good old days with fond memories for me.

I was definitely not the kid with the best behavior in town. Besides getting into fights, I did many funny things I am sure my parents wouldn’t be proud of. I remember leading a few neighborhood kids to knock hard at a neighbor’s door before running away to hide. We would giggle among ourselves as we observed the auntie coming out cursing and swearing. Yeah, I don’t think I will ever let my own kids do the same (who’s the sane parent that would?).

The Nonas putting on lipstick without Mommy knowing.

On other occasions I was messing with my uncle’s pet animals. My cousins and I used to stay at our late grandma’s place after school until my dad fetched us home in the evening, so we had plenty of free time in between. My uncle kept some caged birds in my late grandma’s house. These cages were hanging down from the ceiling. Once, we (okay, I was the one suggesting it) poked at the bottom of those cages because we wanted the birds to flap their wings instead of just perching still in there. They did and it was fun, until I poked too hard and one of the cages dropped on me. Not only the cage but the whole bird’s droppings too! Thank God they were dry! The floor was an entire mess but I was glad the bird didn’t escape or that would have been the death of me. We managed to put everything back up and had the mess cleaned up without getting caught.

I was not always that lucky though. Besides birds, my uncle had pet fishes too. They were kept in two separated aquariums, one at the second floor and the other at the third floor. The smart me assumed that nobody would ever know if I swapped those fishes, they all looked the same to me anyway. So I went ahead and netted out some fishes from one aquarium, went up the stairs and put them into the other, and vice versa. When my uncle came back that evening, I watched as he went up and heard my name yelled out shortly afterwards. How could he have known? Not so smart of me, apparently.

Those were probably some of the less than desirable deeds resulting from my boredom. Other times we would be scouring the ditches for interesting finds, or jumping over wide ‘longkangs’ to see who could or could not make it – my brother once failed and fell; spending pocket money on doughnuts and young coconut water while watching some snake-handler putting up a show was also one of our favorite pastimes.

Doing kungfu while singing Wong Fei Hung’s song.

Despite the many hours of unsupervised childhood, I didn’t grow up as a delinquent, I don’t abuse animals, and at least am a decent citizen who pays her tax; the same can be said of the rest of our peers. My own parents, especially my dad, had very strict and high standard for their children’s behavior, as most Chinese typically were. So I think it kind of balanced out the whole thing. I couldn’t imagine, if he had been supervising me 24/7, we would probably have driven each other mad.

Now that we are in the modern age of parenting, leaving children unsupervised even for a short time is seen as a risky and dangerous idea. In fact, in some countries it’s considered as case of abuse where the parents may be sent to jail and the child(ren) to foster care under the charge of parental neglect. We are told that it’s in our full responsibility, or that we are totally in charge of what our children will become in their adulthood. And that’s just a hairline away from assuming that parents can fully control how their children will grow up to be. This in turn, has become an immensely heavy burden on the parents’ shoulders. We even have the term “helicopter parenting” coined. Can this play a part in making our modern parenting so stressful for both parents and children?

Time has indeed changed, but perhaps it would make parenthood more enjoyable for me and childhood more memorable for my children if I could more often just look away and say nothing and let the kids be kids as they do what children do, as if unsupervised.

Little Nonas eating dirt. Just kidding! :p

The Mirror That Parenting Is

siblings

“Be kind to your sister, you don’t have to yell at her!”
“What she did was wrong!”
“I know, but you can tell her nicely, can’t you?”
And I was reminded of the countless times I yelled at her wrong doings. I could have told her nicely, couldn’t I?

“I am busy! Go away!”
“Jie jie! Be kind to her, help her draw the cats please.”
“But I am busy drawing my bride, Mommy. I have no time for her right now!”
And I was reminded of the countless times I shoo-ed her away with her paper and pencil from the kitchen because I was busy cooking.

“Be patient with mei mei, she is still a baby.”
And I was reminded of the countless times I lost my patience, she is barely four.

They say the modern parenting has become a narcissistic undertaking.
At its core, parenting is forever a humbling mirror.

Emotion Is a Gift from God

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The Tantrum Specialist

Our second daughter, Mila, is one emotional child ever since her newborn-hood. Her will is unbent, her tantrum intense. She cannot contain her excitement, and she expresses her sadness in manner that (I think) is beyond baby.

In this video was one of her emotional moments. It was taken when the eldest and I went to catch the Christmas Wonderland at Gardens By The Bay, leaving her with Hubby at home. We left while she was napping. I was told later that she was visibly upset but was rather quiet the entire evening. She finally broke down in tears after a lonely dinner.

Being blessed with an emotional child provides parents with its own challenge to struggle through. While dealing with their emotion, we may very often be overwhelmed ourselves, but we must remember to look at it as a blessing.

With it, humans are enabled to live their lives meaningfully. They are made able to love and be loved, to know grief and therefore learn to cherish, to fear and revere what is beyond them.

Ultimately, emotion equips man for a rich relationship with the Creator, with which they may feel the wonder of His love and be fulfilled by His joy, presently and even more so in the eternity. What a powerful gift! A gift when rightly used, blesses mankind in ways that are beyond the capacity of any other creatures, but when corrupted, turns them into the worst of beasts. And herein lies both encouragement and solemn warning for parents. Nip it not in the bud, as it is not meant for suppression, trim it dutifully while basking it in the Light of Heaven’s Sun, and see it bloom into the beauty it is meant to be.

To the God who has bestowed this child with the gift of strong emotion, we will turn our gaze and plea.

Grant us, O Lord, everything we need
to raise this child to be the master of her emotion.
And if it pleases Thee,
a fierce lover of Thy name.

It’s Okay Not to Share.. Or, Is It?

photo by our friend, Michael Kang

Photo by our friend, Michael Kang.

A fellow mom shared an interesting read some time ago on toys sharing topic.

As Baby is growing more and more conscious of her own self-existence and will (and boy, a strong one we figure out!), toys snatching and cat fights that resulted from it are getting more inevitable. And when we as parents are half-desperately constantly harping the “share.. must share..” mantras, the article is undoubtedly intriguing. In a nutshell, it talks about how it is actually okay NOT to share.

Yes, that has been quite a popular paradigm lately (we are seeing books with titles like ‘It’s OK not to share’ filling the shelves more nowadays heheh), honestly I think the idea about being OK to enjoy some(toy) while expecting others to respect that is not wrong in itself.

As Christian, however, I will appeal that we are aiming for a further goal, the heart, that is. While it is okay to enjoy something without wanting to be disrupted by others, it would have been out of self-centredness when the enjoyment is isolated from any thought for others. Bringing the kids to see the far superior enjoyment of being selfless and being blessing to others is hard and unglamorous work, by God’s grace hopefully we may!

Meanwhile, on the practical notes, I am actually considering such sharing policy (and seeking inputs from fellow parents too, so please drop some in the comments section if you have parental insights to share 😉 ):

(1) If some kid in the playground is having a good time with a particular toy and my kid wants the same toy, I should ask her to wait for some time (to allow the friend to enjoy playing with that toy first) before asking if it is okay for her to have the toy (in my case she can’t yet talk so I do the asking instead haha, hope no bully-effect implied :p ), if the friend refuses then I should offer my kid alternatives (read: distractions strategy)

(2) If it is the other way around, I should encourage the friend to ask as well. If my kid refuses, reason being she has just started playing with the toy, I hope to encourage the friend to allow her some time to play with the toy AND to remind my kid that while she is enjoying the toy, a friend is waiting. Apparently if she is selfishly taking too long, then I should intervene. If this leads to tantrums show off then a discipline should be in place.

(3) Along side, I should seek to teach her what God says about kindness and unselfishness OFF the spot (e.g. including story-telling with a toy-sharing scenario and all) and patiently wait for the glorious day when she would voluntarily hand over a favorite toy to an asking friend hahah..

So again, yes, it is alright to enjoy something while expecting others to respect that, but to have that enjoyment at the expense of another’s good should NOT be okay. And this, is what I think we need to carefully guard against. It is always good to mind both extremes in order to walk with balance 🙂 .

Another one to watch out for is (well, this one is quite personally for us), as parents, Hubby and I can be too focused on ‘getting along’ with the norm and expectation of the society that as good parents, we need to ensure that our child is giving away whatever she has in her hands the moment another child wants it, without a deeper thought on whether such parenting demand is doing both our child and her friend more good than harm. The last thing I want is for my child to translate it as ‘mommy loves other kids (or worse, her own image) more than me’, and condoning a potential bad-habit in other children.

How do you help your child dealing with sharing issues?

There Can Be No Nobler Training than That

“You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken. . . . Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?

We cannot. . . . Anything received into the mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts. . . .

Then will our youth dwell in a land of health, amid fair sights and sounds, and receive the good in everything; and beauty, the effluence of fair works, shall flow into the eye and ear, like a health-giving breeze from a purer region, and insensibly draw the soul from the earliest years into likeness and sympathy with the beauty of reason.

There can be no nobler training than that.”

– Plato’s Republic (as quoted in The Book of Virtues, A Treasury of Great Moral Stories)

Kana’s First Birthday – A Homey Celebration

Kana is one! My little darling is growing up too fast and I am going to miss her babyhood really much :’)

Here’s a late post of Baby’s birthday party last March.

imoneWe consider the ‘one year old’ a very special milestone, both for us as parents and for Baby herself. As we ponder on how fragile a baby she was when we brought her back from the hospital, how things could have gone wrong during her growing months, how things had been turned upside-down in our noob-parents-life and how these all are not to be taken for granted.. How faithful has God been!
How blessed we are!

That’s why we celebrate! 🙂

Thanks to my parents in law who came over to help and celebrate with us. We have the well-missed Indonesian home-cooked food filling the table to the tummies.

food

A special birthday cake, with Baby’s favorite little tortoise toy wishing her longevity on her first birthday (and it just so happens that for the Chinese, tortoise symbolizes longevity).

Thanks to our cell group’s friend who just started her very own home bakery, mommy Cindy for the wonderful birthday cake and the cake pops.

[Last minute] DIY decorations, again thanks to mommy Cindy for lending us many of the decorations props! The strawberries happy birthday banner was actually recycled from her daughter’s birthday party. What a great way to recycle, don’t you agree? 😉 (Well I dreamed about creating flower pompom and all other fancy decorations for the party but reality does bite, I just don’t have the time to!)

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The balloons with the letters K A N A was truly our super last minute work. Initially I did plan to find huge letters for Baby’s name to go with the birthday banner but I couldn’t find any. Gave up and decided to just settle with having the strawberries banner alone.

10 p.m and standing in the living room staring blankly at the banner, I thought an idea came striking my head. In the props box, we have some left over felt clothes (used to make the happy birthday strawberries). Why not make use of them!

So there we go.

We drew and cut out the letters, pasted them onto the balloons, and tied them to the banner with transparent string. Never was I so glad that my daughter’s name is only 4 letter spelled! ;D

We had a bit of problem with the balloons since they couldn’t stop swinging and the letters just kept facing the other side. I remembered me and Hubby were quite annoyed from turning the balloons over for the umpteenth time before realizing that there was an invention called ‘double-sided tape’ which was just an arm away! (Okay, it was almost midnight and things are better when you are sharp, yes? 😛 ) So we put bits of tape between the balloons and voila! we had the letters bright and clear and kept in place. No more worries about your child being called funny names from the balloons twist game.

To complete the whole thing, we added balloons with the “I’m 1” letters onto the birthday girl’s highchair on the very morning as well.

foto6Baby was born on the Easter day last year, so I thought eggs could not be any more suitable. For the Chinese, red eggs are also one of the compulsory food items for birthday since it symbolizes birth and good fortune. (Noodles are among the must-have food items as well, obviously for its long shape which symbolizes longevity heheh.)

We colored the eggs red and hang them as part of the decoration. The eggs were in the end given to the little-guests as part of the birthday favor.

Now, as to why I did not have the time to do my flower pompom, birthday banner, find the huge letters for the birthday girl’s name, and avoid doing things last minute-ly was because of this (and of course, mainly because of this too 🙂 ).

A photo-montage created for Baby’s first birthday. I think.. I am not the supermom who baked wonderful cake for her kid’s birthday, or who magically turned the party room into a wonderland with her creative handy crafts. I know not how to bake cakes, am not too great with crafts either heheh, but I do have my MAC sitting on the desk and some skills that I gained back in my university years. Those, can surely be put to good use. I think.. as a mom with degree in multimedia design, I owe my daughter at least a creative birthday present. 🙂

We had the montage played on the TV screen throughout the party and guess what, it proved to be a great babysitter! We were prepared to have the house roamed by the little people who, we supposed, would not prefer to sit still. But they did sit still in front of the screen (repeatedly asking us to play the video again once it stopped – the problem with no loop feature TV) and so the parents could have their lunch in peace! 😀

Finally, we were thankful for the people around us with whom we could share our joy (and sorrows too, we are sure) and our parenting journey ahead. In fact, it was one of our friends, Yopie, who actually captured most of the event since we were too busy hosting!

Blessed one year.

Thanking God for His blessings.

Trusting Him for the years to come.

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