Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Final March Thoughts

As March wears to an end and the second trimester brings more wakeful afternoons and early mornings, I'm beginning to feel the passage of time more and more.

And along with that, a realization that our days as a threesome (Daddy, me, and little tyke) here in this countryside town are numbered.

Am learning to enjoy the present, including the beginning flutters of the 4th Koh inside. We are blessed indeed, this little family of ours!

Here are snapshots of some cherished moments:

drawing with daddy
Drawing with Daddy before bedtime

my space helmet!proud as a peacock
There's no stopping a child's imagination - all I did was suggest that the salad bowl could be a space helmet for a certain special little astronaut... I wonder who?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Happy Child or a Disciplined Child?

Now that Dylan is more verbal, we find ourselves enjoying him more and more, watching him express himself in so many precocious ways, and seeing the growing confidence in him when he praises himself with words like "Good job!" and "Well done!".

So cute.

Now that he's got the words, he's also a happier child in general - not as easily frustrated and tantrum-prone, and more responsive to our cues.

Phrases like "Naughty Corner", "Don't you start" and "You are making me angry" now have the power evoke a much desired obedience... well 70% of the time anyway!

On the flip side, the more language and understanding he has, the less excuse I have as a parent to just "let him get away with it".

I think parents have a hard job raising obedient kids, mainly because deep inside we want them to be first and foremost happy and secure.

Disciplining means hard decisions about withholding affection and allowing them to feel the brokenness of our wrath when their behavior warrants it.

It breaks my heart sometimes when the Daddy disciplines D - to see that shadow of betrayal flashing across his wrinkled-up face, and teary eyes that question "Don't you love me anymore?"

It must be hard for a little one to understand why certain actions can make us so cross at him, or why we would want to withhold letting him have a bottle of milk at 3 in the morning, or stop him from snatching a toy, or refuse to let him leave the dinner table.

Probably the most confronting time of our week is when we bring D to church on Sundays. All we want is for him to quietly enjoy the service with us, and to help him I bring a big treasure bag with coloring books, crayons, flashcards, toy cars, sticker books, even snacks.

But week after week, unlike many of the other children his age who sit quietly with mom and dad in the pews in front of us the entire service, our little rascal would not last more than half-hour before breaking into a squirm and a scream to go into the creche.

We've even argued about this - he's too young, it's only natural for boys his age, I argue.
E - ok in that case let me bring him to the playground every Sunday since he's obviously not ready for church.
Me - but we have to start somewhere.
E -it's not considerate to other congregation members.

It goes on.

It's a hard balance to strike - between loving discipline and permissive neglect. I want D to grow up secure in the knowledge that he's very much loved and accepted, but have the moral courage to deal with his own failings and submit them to God.

So far, I seem to bear a more permissive than strict parental style.

This week's Crosswalk Parenting article brought this message home, when the writer deals with an even more heartbreaking topic of how parents can face their emotionally, spiritually, socially, intellectually and psychologically stunted adult children.

She lists some personality traits which are very confronting, and made me think about the parenting years that could have led a child to that point. Worth a read if you are a parent of any aged child: "But He's a Good Kid" by Allison Botke.

The writer thinks that one problem is that as parents we tend to see our kids in the best possible light, to see the potential in them rather than the failings.

Hmm...Isn't it the same for ourselves?

Perhaps just as we ought to apply sober judgement on ourselves (Romans 12:3 comes to mind...) and not think too highly of ourselves (which is something I tend to do =P), we also shouldn't sugar-coat the painful reality about what our children can become.

I'll say it again: parenting is such hard work!


Then and Now - a note to my future adult children

Dear Kids,

Mommy needs to confess something.

You may hate to hear this... but I sometimes miss our carefree (read:kid-free) days. On your own, you tend to cut yourself some slack, and you know... just let things slide.

Now, as a mommy, not only do I need to be watchful of my actions and reactions, I need to watch out for you too. Quite a responsibility, I say!

Ah... back in those days. You know, in my 20s, regretfully this mommy even allowed herself to be a little callous and irresponsible in her relationships with colleagues, friends, family and potential suitors.

And then your Dad came along. And during a period of her life when she was pretty much emotionally confused and conflicted, he open-heartedly offered his hand and made a simple, startling request that was the last thing she expected at that time.

He said, "Can I pray for you?"

It floored me.

So though I won't be able to protect you from the turmoils of young adulthood, here I am offering you the same.

A prayer that you will be a little forgiving of mommy and daddy when we need to punish you. And that as you grow up, you'll learn that there is much virtue in being happy. And knowing that in spite of everything, you have my love. But also that when things don't go your way, and when we (mom and dad) get in the way - that the underlying reason for that is love.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Highlights

If all seems quiet on this front lately, it is partly because we've bought our tickets to fly back in June, and have been busy counting down the 3 months to hitting the bak chor mee, wanton mee, kway chap stalls... and of course, reuniting with friends and family after a year.

Happily, I've also managed to secure a place for Dylan in BFEC's pre-nursery class commencing in July. For 3 hours daily, our frisky toddler will be with fellow pre-pre-schoolers, and gaining hopefully some structure and discipline, and oh Mandarin too. Plus, it will help relieve grandma and grandpa of toddler duty a few hours a day.

It's funny that just as we are preparing for life back in Singapore, things have settled into a nice, busy-ish routine over here.

Playgroup on Mondays, Gymbaroo on Tuesdays, swimming lessons every Friday - and being preggo I've often slipped into a kind of 'Auto-Pilot' mode, going through the motions without much thought. Truth be told I've been more pre-occupied with the worries of issues to settle once we're back - like finding a gynae, re-orientating D to a life without mommy nearby 24/7 etc.

It took watching Adam Sandler in the movie "CLICK" on telly the other night to make me conscious of this fact, and still I've had to muster tremendous discipline to sit my butt down and blog about this.

In the movie, a magic Universal Remote control falls into the hands of Adam Sandler's character, and he finds himself fast-forwarding through life to get ahead in work, only to realize at the end of it he's missed the most important bits - the times with his family.

Friends, are you fast-forwarding through life on auto-pilot mode, and missing the moments that take your breath away, or that cause you to look back to God and fall on your knees?

I'm realizing that just as much as I look forward to life back in the "Real World" - as a working mom, preparing to deliver number 2, getting D school ready - there is just as much, if not more, reason to treasure the here and now.

(No offense intended to my full-time mommy friends... taking care of the littlies is just as REAL and takes hard work! Just that in my case this year away from work still sometimes feels too good to be true...)

So here, in this post, is a celebration of all the mundane things this little one has been up to, things that I am going to miss so painfully when I return to work.

For example, sitting in his stroller on Sunday afternoon after church at the local foodcourt, and waiting to for lunch to be served:
Lunch ready yet?

And taking a pre-bedtime traipse around the house on his trike:
On my trike

This morning turned out to be pretty warm. Heeding the potty training advice of some playgroup mommies, I let Dylan loose in our backyard with nary a pant on, so he gets used to being diaper-less.

I've had to be a bit more selective about which pictures to post, to protect our dear one's modesty - but gosh some are just so hilarious and cute!

Here he is inspecting our garden hose:
Inspecting the garden hose

Do you think he has the makings of a future tennis champ? Here he's broken all of Wimbledon's dressing protocol, of course. =)

The pantless tennis player

Inspecting the ball

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Grieving for a Popped Balloon

Over a month ago, on a whim, the father bought a $1 orange balloon from Toys R' Us in Chadstone, and it turned out to be a rather lasting investment.

The orange balloon had been sitting prettily inflated in our living room, remaining unflappable in the face of many weeks of D sitting on it, plonking his tummy down on it, kicking it, squeezing it, and on one occasion even biting it.

Till at last on Thursday, our boy, supporting himself with his hands on the sofa, decided to jump on the balloon as he would a trampoline, when it decided that enough was enough and promptly popped.

All hell hath no fury like a boy with a popped balloon!

Picking up the shriveled up orange carcass from the floor, I headed to the rubbish bin saying to him, "sorry boy it's time to say bye-bye to balloon."

Unable to cope with the sudden loss of a dearly beloved object, our boy's tears started streaming down his face, and replied "No more balloon. No more balloon.... MORE BALLOON!!!".

He ran after me, standing in front of the bin, lifted the lid and reached his hands in to retrieve it, screaming and crying "MORE BALLOON, MORE BALLOON!". When I said sternly "No!" and slammed the lid back down he looked tearily at me and threw himself down on the floor.

I didn't know if I should laugh or cry. I explained to him that it's ok to feel sad, but mommy can't help you bring it back. You just have to accept it.

Sigh, perhaps this is his first lesson in grieving for the temporal things in this life that once lost are irretrievable, eh?