Am I not doing it right?

I can’t sleep because this feels like a brain-mite, slowly eating me up.

I have never been the parent who blames another child for how my daughter reacts or responds. It has always been “It’s my daughter. She could have been more … or perhaps done things differently’ But recently, I find myself leaning towards noticing my daughter mirror the negative behaviour traits of her friends. I tried so hard to ignore but it seems to be getting worse by the weeks.

For the past 3 weeks, my husband and I have been noticing my daughter imitate the tantrums, screams and whines of her friend. My daughter is 4 years old. Her friend is 5. He has the tendency to frequently scream, whines and gets his way within 5 minutes, throw toys and even slam the door while his parents are trying to reason with him. Thus far, I have seen my daughter mimic the screams and whines. Exact same posture, tone and even length of scream to test how long we, as parents would tolerate it. She has noticed her friend’s parents throw in the white flag within minutes. Perhaps she thought it would be the same for her. BUT.SHE.THOUGHT.WRONG.

My husband and I never gave in. But we noticed that she has been having random tantrums, tries to scream to prove her point, keeps using ‘But I want…”. She seems to have no respect for her teachers in the enrichment classes. She goes for Art and Swimming lessons, outside of her usual school days. She seems to only care about putting on a perfect image for her school teachers. She does not seem to care about discipline with her enrichment teachers.

Just today, we gave her a prep talk before her swimming lesson. ‘Put your swim board on the deck, listen to coach and safety first’. To which, she said ‘Ok Mama.’ And when she reached the pool, she started jumping on her swim board (she has never done that before), refused to enter the pool safely and was reprimanded by coach.

I felt embarrassed. I didn’t say anything. That was coach’s turf and she was good with disciplining the kids. So I let her deal with my daughter. But I felt very troubled. I keep asking ‘What’s happening to my 4 year old?’ I am trying to reflect and connect the dots. But there seems to be a missing link. I am totally at a lost. I do not know what caused this sudden shift in her behaviour. Is it me? Am I not doing it right? Is she trying to prove something?

A friend recommended a few books to read, on parenting calmly and dealing with the tantrums of a 4 year old. I sincerely hope that book helps. I really need a different perspective. We have tried to scold, punish, take away rewards and TV times. We even tried reasoning and and trying to meet in the middle. We are trying so hard, or at least I feel we are trying. I keep thinking, ‘We did not behave as such when we were young, what is happening to the kids these days??’

Everyone has different parenting styles and we should not judge. I need to know what works for us as a family. There is so much trial and error. ‘Lets try this. Lets try that’ It is either a hit or a miss. It used to be a hit, now we can’t seem to get it right.

I do not want to feel like a lousy parent. I want to know I have tried. I just need to know if I am doing it right.

Locked-up emotions

I used to complain or just simply rant away that my husband and I never had any quality time together. Life was such. The only time we had to talk was in the car, on the way to work. We had 45 minutes to talk. And then another 45 minutes when he picked me up from work. We hardly ate together as his dinner timings did not coincide with mine. I used to be pissed that he was too focused on his intermittent fasting. We ate separately.

We could hardly talk in the house because my daughter would want to be part of the conversation. She would want to be the only one talking. So our conversations at home gradually stopped. We argued over different modes and methods of disciplining our daughter. Most of which involved me being the bad person. Perhaps the evil one, while daddy was the calm and collected one. We eventually stopped arguing and marched into our separate roles – Good daddy and Bad mommy.

And then came COVID-19 and a lockdown.

Perhaps it was a sign from higher powers to stop me from whinning and complaining.

We were home bound for 2 months. Now that we easing away from being captive at home, I have to reflect if I have appreciated and spent my time wisely with my family.

  1. My husband is now home with me. Have I appreciated the time given to me to fully and sincerely spend it with him? We can now talk for a whole day. We are no longer bound by 45 minute blocks. We can catch up and chat over breakfast, lunch and dinner. We can actually eat together! Time was abundant. Perhaps we did run out of things to say as the days went by. He read Reddit. And I was sucked into Netflix, watching my Korean drama and occasional Chinese fantasy- celestial drama. I hope I made an effort to talk to him, chat with him.
  2. . We were stuck at home with a soon-to-be 4 year old. There was only so much personal space or quiet time we could get – toilet break. And that too with some banging on the toilet door ‘Mommah quick… why are you taking so long?’ There was only so much ‘good daddy’ could tolerate. Soon good daddy became tough daddy and eventually scary daddy. I guess he was going to explode someday. And I became ‘stay-behind-the-scenes mummy’. The disciplining was offloaded from my hands. I noticed by husband shouting more and his patience was wearing thin as the weeks flew by. It is tough. But I am somewhat glad I am no longer ‘bad mommy’ – in most occasions at least.

Before being captive at home, my daughter would be in childcare for about 10-11 hours everyday. I would drop her off at 7am and pick her up at 5.30pm. For a child in school for such long hours, I am pretty sure she must be missing her parents.

During the lockdown, there were moments when I was so exhausted having to deal with her daily bursts of tantrums and mood swings, that I’d find myself angry and just snapping at anyone or anything. Her constant need for attention was overwhelming. Her constant attempts at trying to negotiate and hoping to get things her way (never happens 80% of the time). Her requests for TV was annoying me. Her lack of ‘please and thank-you’ made me as if I failed to teach her manners. Her lack of listening ears made me wonder if she had ears to begin with. The list will go on.

But I decided to take a step back the past week. Though I have been guilty on numerous occasions saying ‘I wish she was in school’. It might have hurt her feelings. I am sorry but it was too noisy for me. Tomorrow my daughter returns to school. Her childcare is finally taking the children in by staggered weeks.

I should have spent more time (I think I tried here and there), to watch her grow. She has grown taller. Instead of telling her to do house-keeping and cleaning up her table, I should have watched how she developed. I noticed her colouring improved. Her painting improved. She was dancing more. She was singing in rhymes. She could write a few alphabets without the dotted lines.

I should have noticed her love for plays and musicals. Especially when she made me play ‘Elmo-the musical’ on repeat. I should have noticed her love for books during breakfast lunch and dinner. We bought more books for her. Instead of scolding her to eat independently, I should have been more patient and read her stories while she ate. I was more engrossed on routines or afraid that she might forget routines. I shouldn’t have been so stiff.

Just as us adults were feeling suffocated and emotional during this period, I should have been more considerate to a toddler who was greatly missing her friends and teachers. After all her life did revolve around them.

Tomorrow, the house will be quiet. Her toys will be untouched. When I return home earlier from work, I will be slapped with silence. There will be no Pingu, no Sesame Street or Pinkfong running in the background. Absolute silence. I might find myself very sad and perhaps lonely.

Very lonely.

Uncertainty of COVID-19

The world is facing a time of tremendous pain, suffocation, frustration, fear and loss. At this moment, we know the world stats. Everyday the numbers are alarming and rising. Families are losing loved ones to the virus. We are now transiting from shifting blames to coping with internal struggles and controlling the spread. The world is watching closely. Discrimination is on the rise as people are too quick to point the finger at thy neighbours.

In the blink of an eye, towns and states are getting wiped out. It is causing so much fear. There is trembling uncertainty of what this virus can do or capable of mutating into. What was reported in January is no longer valid. What is this I hear? From being transmitted only by contact to the virus being airborne.

Whispers are heard. ‘Stay home and stay safe’

From where I come from, the number of local transmissions are increasing by the day, jumping by the hundreds. Though this number is nothing compared to larger stats in Europe and the US, it is still alarming for us since we are a small densely populated country. No amount of social distancing seems to yield positive results. Everyone has to leave home wearing a mask. We can only leave home to buy essential items and the list of essential items are never ending. It seems that everything is essential. Why? Such cracks in the system. No wonder the streets are still filled with people. Something does not add up. Some people just do not get it.

Our lives have shifted to a whole new phase.

With lockdowns in so many countries, people are forced to stay home. The lack of basic human-to-human interactions may soon be damaging to the mental and emotional well-being of an individual. This lack of physical close interactions will remain in the human psyche for a long time. Soon, we may become averse to a mere touch. Soon we will find ourselves expanding our personal space radius to allow technology to invade into our daily lives. In just four months, the world has shut itself in its cocoon. The screen is now our mode of communication. There is fear that the human touch will soon be forgotten.

Times are tough.

Let’s just take each day as it comes, for tomorrow seems to be an uncertainty to many. Be thankful for the many things we have. Be thankful for the front-line workers and health care staff. Be thankful to the teachers who have to toggle family and home based learning so your children still get the well deserved education. Be thankful and pray for the safety of friends and loved ones. Everyday, say a silent prayer for the lives lost to COVID-19.

This storm shall pass…

Frozen II: Thank you Olaf!

And yes ladies and gentlemen… We finally managed to watch a full movie!!! Yes! Yes! Yes! My daughter FINALLY sat through a full 1 hour and 43 minutes!!! It is truly a huge, majestic and fantabulous milestone for my daughter!!

I had a two failed movie experiences with my daughter. The reason was partly because I did not do my homework and perhaps had a high expectation for a three year old. I mean, I read reviews and I guess I had this pre-conceived mindset that my daughter should be able to sit through an animated film. But.I.Was.Wrong!

First Failure

Lion King (2019)

I totally regret not doing my homework. I was so excited that Lion King was opening in the cinemas, I had assumed that it would be similar to the animated version. I did not realise that it was CGI animation. Every character looked so real. And I did not watch the trailer and neither did I read the reviews and recommended viewing age. My daughter started crying and wailing 25 minutes into the movie and we left the theater. The reason: She was so sad when simba left his mom and got lost. I failed.

Second failure

Toy Story 4

I mean seriously… Wouldn’t you expect toy story to be toddler friendly? Yeah and that’s what I thought too. But I guess my daughter had other expectations. She started crying and wailing 45 minutes into the movie (a progress don’t you think?). She was heartbroken and really upset that Bo Peep lost her arm (but still could not accept that it could be taped back). So we left the theater again. Once again, failure.

First success and praying for many more

So I took some time to read the reviews for frozen 2. Different parents have different views and a considerable number did not recommend to children below the age of 6. And I was really torn because my daughter loves frozen. And I mean school bag, water bottle, wallet, socks, dresses etc… kinda crazy. And she really wanted to watch it. It did not help that the malls were decked with more frozen posters and life-size cutouts as compared to festive Christmas decorations. Totally commercialised.

So I took a risk. A huge risk. Daddy and I talked about it and decided that if there was a scene that was too overwhelming, we’d do a timeout and explain to her at the back of the theater. So I bought us aisle seats (finally).

And I must honestly confess that frozen 2 was technically heavier in story line and carried more deeper messages and had darker and mild violent scenes that were not friendly/appropriate for a toddler. We had to do a 5 minute timeout at the back of the theater when the earth giants came. But somehow, the writers managed to incorporate Olaf at the appropriate time and scene to lift the tension on the impending dark messages/scene and focus on Olaf’s funny and extremely hilarious antics.

Dear Olaf

Thank you for being a very special part of the movie and for lifting the tension whenever needed. My daughter was able to laugh throughout the movie (of course with prompting from us parents). The older children were laughing too and that was a cue for my daughter to join in the laughter. You appeared at every opportune timing and you were just amazing. It was truly artful how you manged to turn around a dark scene into something totally hilarious. Thank you Olaf for making this movie experience a success. Love you!

We love you Olaf! Saranghae

Alice In Wonderland

Why Alice why? Why would you follow that white rabbit and fall down the rabbit hole… Why Alice why?

I remember watching this movie (not the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version). I vaguely remember sitting and crying from the start. I remember asking so many questions. I was afraid.

Simple.Plain.Fear.

I was afraid to explore. I was afraid to fall. I believe my fears were warranted since I was really young. Perhaps I was also afraid of what I would find when I opened one of the doors. Why did they have to lock the door?

I was afraid of the cake that said “eat me”. Why would anyone write that? Was that to tempt me? or was it to test my restraint? It looked really good though. I would have eaten it in a heartbeat too!

I was scared and lonely. Alice could very well be an adventurer. But at the age of 6, I was still very much sheltered and was not the least bit willing to be in that strange wonderland filled with strange people.

Is it the current world personified? We are surrounded by people of varied personalities and opinions. Each giving their own recommendations and suggestions. Tested by the very society we live in.

When I was 6, I never thought about a world so different. To me, my world revolved around my toys, my sister and my newborn baby brother, and of course my parents. I did not want to be alone.

All alone in a strange world, thrown with options and having to make decisions. Being guided by a strange Cheshire cat and a smoking caterpillar (why was he smoking?). Did he ever turn into a butterfly?

Such metaphorical images for a young child to understand. It was a movie. It looked very real. It was such a roller coaster ride for me, only to wake up and realise it was all a dream! Are for you real?!

I was 6 when I first saw the movie. It was my first time…and my last. I have not read the book, neither will I ever sit through another Alice in Wonderland movie again.

Is this what people refer to as ‘childhood phobias’ translated into adulthood?

While there are many who prefer to take the risk and find out what is behind that door, lets just say, I’d prefer not to *wink*. Perhaps life would be better if you take some risks. Or perhaps not. Now that’s a thought for another day.

Goodbye Alice in Wonderland. You’ve truly changed my perception of ‘wonderland’.

Dangerous Minds

Becoming Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds… If only it was as easy as it seems

I now write as a teacher, an educator in the year 2019. I’ve been in the teaching service for about 13 years and there has been so much change that some are hard to fathom and some are hard to keep up with. Some are carried out with great love while other directives are carried out with great resistance. But our main characters will always be the students (at least for a good number of us).

I feel this great paradigm shift in who we expect as students and who we eventually get in our classrooms. We walk into our classes with a mindset that these group of students should fit into the mold that we have virtually created for them. We expect them to or at least try. Imagine trying to fit a full grown elephant into a tiny 1 x 1 x 1 cube. I know its impossible… But that’s what we were trying to do.

In the initial years (early 2008 to 2013), the students did their best to squeeze themselves into the mold. We made them. Now in the past 5 years, systems have changed. Students start to speak up. They are more transparent with their wants and needs. They no longer choose to fit into a given mold. They have finally started to understand that they too have a voice and are not afraid to speak. Freedom of speech at its highest.

These days we have a higher percentage of students undergoing depression, looking for alternative outlets to relieve their pent up frustration. With the inclusion of social media that has inter-twined with their lives, the internet, online gaming and far more other online sources have been their preferred outlets. They no longer feel the need to speak to anyone.

Daily, we meet students, who have the mind of Einstein but choose online gaming as opposed to school. Is online gaming bad? Oh well, if they are playing such violent games and returning to school with only 2 hours of sleep and are constantly angry, then I presume yes.

Our youths these days have a beautiful mind. Beauty set with amazing abilities and a bright future carved for them. But it breaks our heart, that no matter how much we try, some youths keep rejecting our help and simply did not want to be saved. But I feel every child should be saved. Yes?

I am no marine. I am no saint. I am no psychic either. I can’t seem to break the rules to change their lives. What do I do when some youths these days “choose to die” Death in this case is not about going 6-feet under. Death to them is the disconnection with people and society and immerse themselves in their personal bubble.

What do we do… When they choose to “die” and be disconnected from society?

Dear Youths… Why fit in when you were born to stand out… believe that you can achieve greatness. Let us help you…

Horrors of Nursery Rhymes

Imagine reading a few nursery rhymes to your child, only to come across something that makes your jaw drop. It’s a good thing my three year old can’t make out words on a paper. I feel like I am lying to her while I have to scramble to rephrase the rhymes.

1.Ring-a-Ring O’Roses

Ring-a-ring O’roses.
A pocket full of posies, Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down.

I had no idea there was actually a true meaning behind this rhyme, till my husband told me about it. Then it hit me. And I started reading up on the rash-like plague that took many down. And how people walked around with a pocket full of herbs (also called posies) to ward off the smell from the plague. Ashes, being the cremation of those who did not make it through the illness. Why…why am I singing this? Please enlighten me. I literally thought it was a song where kids were singing in a garden full of roses.

2. Goosey, Goosey Gander

Goosey, Goosey Gander
Wither shall I wonder?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber.
There I met an old man Who would not say his prayers, I took him by his left leg and threw him down the stairs.

I was just reading this out loud, this I came to a halt at the last phrase “and threw him down the stairs“… Why are we printing out such violent acts in a children’s nursery rhyme? Are parents required to censor that part on their own while reading? Is it suppose to be funny? Are children suppose to think that throwing / pushing someone down the stairs is a hilarious act? I am appalled.

3. Three Blind Mice

Three Blind Mice.
Three Blind Mice.
See how they run!
See how they run!
They all run after the farmer’s wife, who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Did you ever see such a thing in your life, as three blind mice?

I used to sing this song so many times as a child. There was another version too. I really do not remember the part about the tails being cut off. But these days as I read out this rhyme to my daughter, I have to rephrase the tail part of the song or totally eliminate it. Once I read it out so fast but my daughter caught on to it. She started to get upset when she heard that the tails got cut off. I know my daughter can be a little emotional, but how do I tell a toddler why and justify the act of cutting off an animal’s tail? I know they are pests and rodents. But the most we’ve said is “they are not clean, they carry germs…” *slaps forehead*

4. As I was Going Out

As I was going out one day, My head fell off and rolled away. But when I saw that it was gone, I picked it up and put it on. And when I got into the street, a fellow cried “Look at your feet!” I looked at them and sadly said. “I’ve left both asleep in bed!”

Are you for real? Was this supposed to be metaphorical? Or was this rhyme writer trying out for a horror movie script? Am I losing my sense of humour? Why would I even want to read to my child about her head falling off. Three year old kids ask TOO many questions. Why this… why that.. Mommy why did his head roll off? Why is his feet on the bed?” I have managed on numerous occasions to successfully skip this page. I wish I could tear out the page. The picture in the nursery rhyme book for this rhyme, is an untidy bed with only two feet sticking out. And there’s no body or head. Even I’m scared. It’s like a page from a horror story. *shivers*

5. Sing a song of sixpence

… The maid was in the garden, hanging out the clothes, when down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose.

It was all good from the beginning, though my daughter did ask about blackbirds in a pie. I brushed it off as a joke. But I just froze when I saw the last line. I had to think of something fast. “… when down came a blackbird and kissed her nose“. I do not think my child is ready for acts of revenge, with a blackbird coming down for her nose in revenge. I am trying to see if it could be funny or perhaps a tad bit humourous. But I can’t bring myself to sing that line out. I am sure kissing her nose sounds so much better. *keeps fingers crossed*

6. Rock-a-bye Baby

Rock-a-bye baby
On the tree top
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock;
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall. Down will come baby, cradle and all.

Is someone trying to indirectly hint to parents not to build a cradle on a tree branch? Well, I think it may have worked. I’ve read the origins of this rhyme. When I read it out, my daughter cried for a while because she felt sad that the baby fell. And then she wanted to know if the baby was well. Or if the baby was bleeding. Or if the baby was caught. Told ya… it was the age of unlimited questions. Perhaps, I’ll just repeat and repeat and repeat just the first 4 lines till, the cradle will rock and totally eliminate the parts after the bough breaks. Now, that will save the day.

I guess some rhymes are just stories from different perspectives. Maybe a five year old or six year old will find it hilarious. But I honestly doubt my child will sit and take it with a pinch of salt. I guess these days, parents may need to sieve through age appropriate materials for their children. Be it YouTube videos, Netflix kids shows or even our age old nursery rhymes. Some rhymes are totally unbelievable and make little or no sense but we read it while growing up. Perhaps when my daughter is much older, she too would laugh it off – when she is more emotionally stable and mature.

A full circle

Your holidays are here. It’s time to catch a break from the mundane life that you so badly want to put behind. You plan your days and weeks.

You want to do your hair, visit your hairstylist and perhaps sport a new color. Burgundy highlights perhaps?

Then you want to do a full body massage and facial. Relax and breathe. Head to your favourite quiet spot and meditate. Breathe and relax away the stress that you’ve carried for the semester.

Start writing your book. You’ve always wanted to do that…

Oh wait… that’s all a blur now… everything you’ve planned for fades away like sudden ripples.

You are stuck at home now. 24/7. Because your daughter spotted the most opportune time to catch the influenza.

While she cuddles next to you, you feel like crying and screaming because before you could realise, you’ve been home for 2 weeks and your holidays are almost over. Your daughter is still having a fever and your hair still remains undone and uncolored. Your book still remains untouched.

Life has a way to teasing us. Pray God that my daughter recovers. Soon. Her body is tired and fighting so hard everyday.

Essentials

Searching for alternatives for natural healing

My husband is currently studying to be an aromatherapist. We’ve been around very supportive circle of friends who have been guiding us towards natural healing. We have, when desperate, sought medical intervention but we are trying to start off our natural healing process and boost our body’s natural immunity through alternatives means. We have added a new page ‘essentially yours’ to this blog to introduce the different oils we’ve been using for our family over the past 3 years. Most of our oil choices were experimented and tried with various diffusers and blends and we’ve finally shortlisted a few which have worked for us.

Please kindly note that essential oils must be used with great care. Excessive and incorrect use of any oil can have negative effects on the body which could worsen the symptoms. As such I am obligated to also highlight caution when using oils with infants and toddlers. Too much of anything will eventually amount to nothing.

Please refer to the page ‘essentially yours‘ for more information. All information was updated after rigorous research, sharing and recommendations from experienced parents and aromatherapists.

We will update the page regularly.

Photos courtesy of depositphotos

Unheard

I had these aching thoughts running through my head just minutes ago… why do people feel the need to be noticed? Why do we expect people to acknowledge us? Do we expect society to see us, notice us and hear us? Would we be able to live if we were ignored, unheard and lost?

Are we programmed to expect attention? Do we succumb to societal pressures to impress and guide people to notice us?

A moment ago, I felt as if my voice was lost and my thoughts were unheard. I suddenly felt as if I would be standing in a room full of people and yet I’d just blend in with the wallpaper. I would disappear. But I don’t want to disappear. I want to be subtle yet seen.

I’ve had to live most part of my life with my thoughts locked away in silence because I didn’t think anyone would be ready to hear my voice. I chose to cocoon myself and do I regret it? Yes and no…

The desperate need to seek a listening ear. Desperate need to voice our thoughts. Do we seek the many social media platforms as an outlet for our emotional needs?

I’m writing and confessing my thoughts because I feel the need to voice them. And I know that they can go unheard.

Release the emotions like an overflowing barrel, let not the unexpected cloud your confessions.

Drained…

I feel as if my life force was sucked out of my very being. I’m afraid I can’t elaborate further. Or let me just try…

I woke up this morning tired and extremely exhausted. It happens when your toddler is wide awake at 7am and running at 110%. I had to force myself out of bed, make her breakfast and forcefully nudge my brain to “mother” mode. I was on “zombie” mode the whole night perhaps.

I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I couldn’t talk much. I felt as if I was working too hard to breathe. Thankfully my husband was around to hold the fort. But of course my daughter had to get me involved in her games even though I was one with the sofa, trying hard to become a piece of the furniture.

I think I must have knocked out. Like an invisible punch to the soul and I was out! The next thing I remember is my daughter taping on my nose and saying “mommah shall we go out?”

And of course that meant me dragging my almost lifeless body out of the sofa and getting changed. Who cares what I was going to wear. I am too tired to care.

And so the day went by with lunch and swim class for my daughter and then dinner and now I’m lying in bed, staring at this post wondering how I survived… is it the weather? Does it have to do with bad diet?

The more I try to analyze, the more my brain says “STOP! STOP IT!! IT’S GETTING TOO NOISY IN HERE!!”