Thursday, May 29, 2008


Two nights ago, I had another rough night. The little tyrant raised hellfire and brimstone at 2am and couldn't be pacified until 3.30am, a full hour and a half, two bottles of milo-milk and 10 Raffi songs later.

Last night, he slept like an angel. But poor mommy is now sleeping on tenterhooks, and finds herself drifting in and out of nervous wakefulness between those witching hours.


Anyway, the point of this entry is that I've been feeling rather contrite.

A couple of posts ago, I've been resentful of the current living arrangement.

The truth is, we have many reasons to be thankful for the support we're getting. Even though living with the inlaws can never be preferable to having your own space, given our circumstances the grandparents have given more of their time, resources, and energy than anyone can reasonably expect.

Plus the fact that I don't have to lift a single finger in helping with the housework.

Somehow, criticizing the same folks who do my laundry, iron my work clothes and even fold my intimates into a neat pile on my bed every single evening doesn't look good.

So this entry is all about how we are all adjusting, and learning to co-exist in harmony.

The reason for the little tyrant being as tyrranical as he is, is that he had had only 5 days with mommy back in his daily existence before having to lose her every morning from dawn till dusk again.

The folks are also transitioning and learning to deal with having a daughter-in-law in tow, and no son who might be able to front any emerging tensions between parties.

They've been gracious enough with a mommy overwrought with managing her feelings of joy mixed with guilt and no small dose of jealousy and no husband to vent to in person. I wish I could say the same of me - that I'm gracious too. But I obviously haven't been.

Ah, it's complicated.

The point is, during my momentary wakefulness some time between 3 and 4a.m. last night I remembered the vows we made last year, on February 11, during Dylan's infant dedication, that we would raise him in a Christian household. To know God, to be joyful always and living in the power of His grace.

And I realized that it was an easy enough dedication to make in speech. What a struggle against my own profane nature it is to live it out, to walk the walk, and even to some extent talk the talk.

So right before drifting back to deep REM sleep (correction from smug med student: "REM is the lightest of our sleep cycles, you are referring to 'deep Short Wave' sleep." ) some time after 4 a.m. I said sorry.

To Dylan, for failing to bring him up the way we promised we would thus far. And to God, for not remembering His goodness and mercies, and how they are renewed every morning.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fathers - read to your kids

Parents are the first teachers little persons get in their road to being educated, literate individuals.

In this month's LDonline, a publication for teachers and parents interested in what latest research has to say about helping children with learning disabilities, is this title:

The Father's role in their child's literacy development: k-3

Fathers and all fathers-to-be: your voice is a powerful thing to use. Children respond to their father's voice differently than to their mommy's. A father's voice inspires fear and awe, but it also has tremendous potential to bring untold comfort, assurance, and encouragement too.

In this article, fathers who read to their children and are more involved are said to make a positive impact on their later achievements in school.

What further incentive do we - being the kiasu Singaporean parents that we are - need to start yapping away with our little ones, eh?

Another useful resource for parents on helping their kiddies' literacy achievement:
Reading Rockets.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Home Again.

This week, I'm asking myself the question: what makes "home" home to me?

Back in Cambridge, MA, when roommate S. and I return to our little 2-bedder apartment after a long day gallivanting along Newbury Street shopping for shoes and bags, and especially when we return from a cold and windy day, we inadvertantly will say to each other, "Home sweet home!".

Certainly, after our arduous 10-hour bus ride from Niagara Falls, nothing was sweeter than stepping through the door into our unit and stretching our travel-weary legs out in front of the TV for another re-run of Sex and the City.

So home to me in the past 4 months was a tiny 40-year-old 2-bedder refuge from cold weather and rest for tired feet.

Since last Thursday, my idea of what a "home" is has changed.

Home is walking through the double sliding doors of the airport arrival hall and right into the arms of a 17-month-old who is all smiles at the sight of you. And though wordless, he speaks volumes with arms that cling on tight and a head pressed so hard into your shoulder that when he looks up at you there is a ruddy patch on his cheek.

"I missed you, mommy."

Home is the feeling you get waking up in the middle of the night to prepare a bottle of milk to a crying toddler, and having satiated his hunger and changed his diapers, plant wet sloppy kisses on his cheek and watch him fall right back to sleep again.

Yet, here is what home is not.

Home is not having to wrestle with the frustrations of living under the same roof as the inlaws, whose house rules you have to abide by. Including having little say when they take over the care-giving in the morning as you leave for work. The boy is behind closed doors, their closed doors, and though you want to say good-bye you don't get a chance to because they think it will just make the boy cry more.

"Go, just go, we'll look after." in a hushed, conspiratorial tone.

Home is not having one grandparent barge into the room with a bottle of milk within the first 10 seconds of the boy crying, and having to say firmly, "Don't worry, I AM taking care of him."

So, at this time, 5 days after returning to Singapore, here is what home is to me.

It's looking forward to 12 months of spending time as a family again, in our own space in a different country, in a home that the husband lovingly put together, where the little one has all of mommy's time, without the mommy having somebody watch over her shoulders telling her what not to do.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Weekend

Spent the last two days mostly on a bus to and from Niagara Falls.

Total travel time: 22 hours.

Interim visit at: Thousand Islands, from Alexandria Bay.

Was the sight worth it? TOTALLY!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Final Class of 2008@Harvard

It hit me when I least expected it.

Really, considering how I've slugged through the last 4 months thinking to myself to "C'mon gal, bear with it, bear with it, it'll be over soon and I can return home to make up for all the lost time...", nothing prepared me to actually feel sad today.

This afternoon the 20+ of us brought our poster presentations along to the reading difficulty class to deliver a summary of our final paper's research topic. I got mine printed out last minute at Staples, despite being told by the lady over the counter that I'd be waiting till at least 3pm for my print run.

The class started at 2.40. At 2.30, she hands me a stack of the slides, plus 10 copies of handouts to boot. Phew.

Toward the end, as the long hand of the clock on the wall ticked past 12, and the short hand pointed unflinchingly at 5pm, it was time to say goodbye. Not content to let the clock have the last word, I gathered to class round for a final group picture.

And surprised myself to feel the warm tide of tears rise up from inside my nose to just brim around my eyes as I did so.

So here we are, class of 2008, Harvard Graduate School of Ed:

For someone like me, who's not sticking around for the real deal - filing down the line in Harvard Regalia, gown, hood, mortar board and all.... on June 5, to collect the certificate, shuffle over to listen to JK Rowling, and then say my teary goodbyes - this is going to be as much of a closure as I think I can get.

I will miss the friends I made here - my L&L and JCRL ladies, my teachers, these crazy few months - gosh can't believe I'm able to say that too!