Monday, June 22, 2009

Daddy comes home

Little D has been a happy chappy since Daddy came home a week ago.

Now, I see for myself how important his Daddy is to him, though he expressedly doesn't show it much when the father is around.

He sleeps more soundly at night now, and though he still wakes up at 5am calling "mommy, mommy" the night terrors are gone, thank God!

And even though the father claims to be squirmish about father-son intimacy ("Boys don't kiss their daddies!" so he says), his big broad smile betrays the pleasure he gets when little tyke kisses him in the face at bedtime.

Waiting for Daddy at the airport arrival hall

All about Fathers

Gong gong watches on as little D plays

Funny how as the years go by more and more fathers appear in my life.

As a wee child, because I hardly ever got to see my grandparents, my father was the only father I really knew.

Growing up, an increasing sense that there is an awesome-ness to life that makes it bigger than our inevitable deaths finally brought me to my knees, and I accepted Jesus as my personal lord and savior.

So then, I had 2 fathers. My earthly "爸爸”and my Creator who through Jesus' death on the cross I can call my Abba Father.

In one, I saw the shadow of the other - a provider, a disciplinarian, a mentor who spurs me to achieve the best I could achieve, who by example shows me that a balanced life includes work and play. Both can make my head hang in utter shame and with their praise make my spirit soar to the heavens! But only in the case of my 爸爸, does play mean lots of tennis and waking up at 6am to hit the golf course for 9 holes!

And then, when I turned 22, suddenly my eldest brother became a father to a beautiful little girl, and I had a niece for the first time. It felt really odd watching this brother of mine turn from gawky teenager who tries sometimes to "parent" me into a working, married adult, and then he's now a Daddy himself!

Two years later, second elder brother got married and quickly became a Daddy too.

So then I officially had 4 fathers in my family.

Eventually, Mr Right came along, and I gained another dad - my father-in-law. So different from my own daddy in so many ways, but so similar in others. Both self-sacrificing in their generosity in helping us both set up home, and weather-beaten having lived through war and tough nation-building years we only read about in textbooks.

And then I became a mommy, and Mr Right suddenly found himself saddled with the responsibility of being a Dad to a screaming baby.

In the last two years, I shared his journey of making all the mistakes beginner parents make - not knowing how to read our baby's cues, disciplining a toddler the wrong way round, experiencing the explosive anger that only a Dad who cares about how a child should behave can express, and only afterwards realize how scary that can be for a little child.

And seeing the love grow between Daddy and son, the tender caresses at bedtime, the playful jostling and tickling, the joyful whoop our little one lets out when Daddy throws him in the air.

This weekend, we celebrated all of that, and I got to spend time with all my 6 Daddies. It's kind of come full circle for me, but I think little D is more blessed because he gets 3 daddies who adore him so - Daddy, Grandpa and Gong Gong.

At Charlie's in Katong, enjoying a Peranakan dinner:

The Chen tribe:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Love, Forgiveness, and Happiness

It's been an interesting 2 weeks, coming back home and heading back to the office. Suddenly, the life that we left behind seems like a distant memory fading fast away.

For me, at least.

For little D, little phrases he utters betray what's inside his heart:

"Daddy... in Australia" followed quickly by "Dylan... Australia!"

"Go Airport!"

"Fun... Gymbaroo Today?"

Thankfully, he's also adapting well under the gramps' care, and I'm told that he's very well-behaved at home when I'm at work. What gives the game away though is when this mommy comes home and tries to settle him down at bedtime.

The episodic night terrors that render our wee 'un in a screaming and kicking fit at 2am has been regularly repeating itself - and he won't be pacified until at length, after wearing himself out, I lie down next to him in his bed. By which time, we're both exhausted.

His pillow's soaked in tears, and over the weekend in nose-blood. And on one night, so was mine. Tears of utter frustration.

The thing about going through major transitions in life, I suppose, is how it is meant to make us all stronger and more resilient. I've been wondering about how this is so in my case in dealing with a child who - though seems well-adjusted on the outside - has to learn that he remains loved and secure in spite of the vicissitudes of many destabilizing events in recent days:

i) Daddy not being around much now, except during the hols (yay he's back tomorrow!)
ii) Mommy's sudden extended absences (from 7.30am to 7pm), after spending every hour of every day by his side for the last 11 months
iii) Being in a hot and humid climate, stuck indoors most of the time
iv) Not having playgroup, swimming and Gymbaroo to keep his days occupied
v) Watching that bump in Mommy's tummy grow, and being repeatedly told that he will soon be joined by another baby.

Will he learn to forgive us for putting him through all this?

And for me, can I forgive him for the grief he's putting me through? Of course the poor dear doesn't know any better, but when he's older will I forget and not bring to his attention how difficult he once was?

I've decided that there is no merit in keeping our grievances, real or imagined, undealt with. And the only way to deal with it is to let it go and to forgive freely. But often, this takes supernatural grace.

Which is timely given that just last Sunday, the sermon from the BFEC pulpit was on this very topic - "Spurring One Another On With Love: Forgiveness".

I loved the 2 analogies the speaker used to talk about the idea of forgiving. He said when we do not forgive it's like taking poison and wishing our enemy will die, but we end up being the one poisoned.

And he said when we do forgive, it's like setting the prisoner free, only to discover that the prisoner is ourselves.


On a separate, but related note, I read this evening about happiness, and what makes a good life good based on completely empirically gathered data.

A longitudinal 72-year-long study of the lives of randomly selected boys attempted to mine the factors behind what caused some men to lead happy, long lives, and others end up dead and in the days leading up to that, miserable.

And the results are not as straightforward as one might imagine. Sure the usual factors tend to predict a more successful life: faith, marriage, regular exercise and avoiding obesity, avoiding smoking and alcohol.

But the twisted lives of many who started out promising and who come from secure social backgrounds show that life isn't so linear. Worth a read if you can spare about 20 minutes:

What Makes Us Happy? - The Atlantic
(June 2009)

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

D's first concert experience

This morning D saw his favorite Bob the Builder and Barney characters come alive in a live concert at the Singapore Expo.

It was his first time, and my first time braving all the possible things that can go terribly wrong when one brings a little toddler to a show - losing him in the throngs of parents and excited children waving their glow-in-the-dark sticks and tambourines, facing a public tantrum meltdown, watching him run down the aisle, climb up the stage to touch the performers, you name it.

Once inside the Expo Hall, I had to reluctantly take D out of his stroller to exchange it for a booster seat - praying under my breath that he will not try to make a break for it once he's unstrapped and faced with the hundred plus square metres of running space.

Thankfully, other than a slight burst of tears following his being accidentally whacked by another toddler's glow torch, the little boy sat on his booster seat, mostly enthralled by the loud music, over-exuberant performers, and oh the bright stage lights!

But let it also be said that having to chase after an escaping toddler during intermission, in such a massive arena while being 27 weeks pregnant, and having to wrestle him back to his seat by using a football hold, isn't a terribly smart thing to do.

Why do I do this to myself?

New tambourine EarlyCheesy snackLittle Big Club Concert banner

Time with cousins big and little

It's hard to imagine that our pint-sized tot is already "gor gor" to two little boy cousins, half a year and 1 year younger than him.

In little D's maternal extended family, he's number 5 out of a brood of 7 (8-to-be!) grandchildren between my brothers and I. With so many playmates among him, that was certainly one thing we missed living in Australia - D having cousins big and small to play with.

So when the eldest, my sweet niece S turned 9-years-old last Thursday, it gave D a good chance to reunite with them for a good time of interacting and playing.


At the dinner table with cousin Sara - see any resemblance?
With cousin Sara

Oh, how my dear niece has blossomed into a pretty thing. And how my son, carried here by gong gong, is resolutely eyeing those candles on that cake!
Eyeing S's chocolate birthday cake

What truly took the cake that evening, though, was seeing him and little J dance to a tune from the Hi-5 video. Total cuteness.