Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Case #4: Things fall apart

I was at the kitchen when I heard some frustration screams from the boys' room. I didn't rush straight away. Then I heard Aimar asking his brother, "why are you crying?". And my motherly instinct drove me rightaway to their room. 

Earlier, I left them doing their own stuff. Aimar wanted to play the computer games and Aidan felt like finishing his Lego heli. He has been building the Lego for the past two nights and was determined to complete it soonest possible. The Lego was a birthday gift to Aimar, but my husband told me he heard Aidan was persuading very hard for Aimar to let him build it. 

As I entered his room, I saw the pieces of Lego on the floor, everywhere and he was crying in front of the washbasin while splashing his face with water.

As he is growing up, seeing him crying is a rare view and that was one of the ocassion. And so I asked what went wrong.

"I was on step 28th of the 29 steps and it broke! The heli's blade broke!"

O, poor soul.. it is frustrating!

The stigma we live in
My husband was offshore when this happened. The easy way out for me would just tell him,"don't worry, it China made afterall and the 'original' Lego products. the quality not as good. Afterall, you've done quite well and it nearly finished. If it makes yoy better, we'll get a brand new one for you tomorrow!" 

It's just not fair to let him cry and feel sad when he has put all his efforts in the works. He doesn't deserve sadness.

Is it taboo?
I knew those 'comforting' words won't really help him, then and his future. But then, by comforting him such ways won't help in his growing up.

Dear Parents, 
It is heartbreaking to see your son, who has always been 'tuff' and macho in his ownself breaks down and cry. 
It is demotivating when you have put all your best efforts, and you were so near in reaching success, you just fail! All gone, in microseconds! What makes it worse is when the failure is caused by you yourself and none others.

But isn't that life is all about? You will not always be on top.

So, what did I do?
Though I wish I could just buy the new set for him so that he won't feel sad, I knew my husband won't agree to that solution.

1. Face the music..
When I saw him crying in the toilet, I requested Aimar to leave the room and hug my crying baby. In that comforting position, I asked him what went wrong. Listening to his answer, my respond was 'o that's horrible. I knew you have worked hard on it for the past two days and to ruin it at the second last stage was not anyone would want it to be.'

I didn't lie that reality bites. I let him cry.

2. Even broken heart can be mended..
I told Aidan, we could have a look on what had happened and what was broken. As we looked at the broken Lego, I told him to identify what can be mend. I asked him to thoroughly check if there's any way we repair the broken pieces and if need be, we could use the glues or tapes or any tools that he might think would work.

Their dad is always great in DIY and he got all the tools well-equipped. Now is the best reason for him to meddle with his dad's precious toolbox!

This would also helps in developing his innerself being innovative and resourceful.

3. There's not the one and only way out..
We knew that if plan A didn't go as we planned, there's another 25 letters to explore. I told him that. He didn't get it at first, but was positive when he was made understood.

Kids need to be told. Resilient! It's one of the required lifeskills.
4. Calming the tiger..
I took the opportunity to praise him on his determination that he managed to go through all the Lego building process from sorting, understanding the manual and followinf every single step. It was unlucky that it fails at the 2nd last step of the overall process, but I convinced him it would be easier the second time and after that. 

Practice do make it perfect. And he would surely learned from his previous mistakes.

5. 'So, what I fail again?'..
We believe that what is meant to be, meant to be and vice versa.

It's not the end of the world.
There's always lesson to learn (to be extra careful next time)
There's always a blessing (mama will sure persuade aboh to buy a brand new Lego for his birthday)
and we can conclude it is Made in China😁
A happy ending?
It was weekend's night and so I let him stay late to work things out. I wasn't expecting him to mend it right away and I told him I'd be around if he need to use any sharp objects.

An hour after that, he came to me with a smile. He rarely smiles nowadays, and that smiles on his lips was soothing.

Yeay, he did it!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Case#3: Ownership & Responsibility

Aimar did it again! It's still early in the morning, we were having breakfast and getting ready to go to school when he told me in a monotonous no-guilt tone "i lost the taekwondo uniform.someone took it while we were changing our uniform!"

He lost the water tumbler that he insisted in bringing it to school because his brother did. He lost the casio watch belongs to his dad within twelve hours in his possession. He lost the books, he lost the bags, he lost the wallet.. he lost everything! And as it still early, he threw me the news he lost the uniform, just after we had a loooong chat about taking responsibility and taking good care of his stuff, he failed us, again!

I'm losing my patience.

The stigma we live in
It's typical thoughts, especially for Malay parents, would just ignore this behaviour and 'let it go'. It would only be a RM2 notebook, or just the wallet from the pasar malam, or just an old watch (but for Aimar's case it's quite a sentimental watch to his dad). 

We even try to comfort the kids whenever the lost their stuff "no worries, we'll get a new pair next week."

Is it taboo?

Small matters that counts! It's not the monetary value that we've put into anything, but the sense of taking ownership and being responsible to what we owned. 

Dear Parents, 

With that cute small voice, with that guilty look and water in their eyes, we (especially mothers) tend to stop the children's feeling sad and guilty rather than what penalizing their own mistakes. 

The world our children are living in nowadays are surely not the same like we had or like our parents' had and our foreparents' had. It has never been easy before, and as time passes by, one's living style tend to improve for better and we would always want to cater or provide anything, if we could, to our children just because we couldn't have it during our times and we could afford it now for them. 

Kids do not understand values of things. They would ask things they wish they had. And if they are good and lucky, mama will buy the stuff for them. 

That need to change, at least to my children. 

So, what did I do?

I still couldn't find the right formula to instill the sense of responsibility in Aimar. We are still monitoring this attitude of his and we recognized it's his lacking and something that we need to work on it. 

1. Make it difficult for them

We can't deny the phrase 'easy come, easy go'. make it difficult for them to get things they wanted. We would ask thousand and one questions before we would buy things the children wanted. Sometimes, they would prefer to forget it when mama started to ask for a list of "why i want this and that and how can i get this and that". 

2. Teach them to appreciate

We would share real-life stories on how difficult life could be to some children of their age. We constantly told them to be thankful and appreciate on the blessed 'luxury' living they are enjoying. They must know the fact that people could hardly have a decent food while they are spoiled for choices. 

3. Explain the importance of taking ownership & be responsible

Using the points of we bought stuff because what was in their list (1), we must enforce them to own up things that they wanted. They should take care of the belongings because they asked for it and if they lost it, they should definitely prepare themselves to pay the price. My husband and I would always keep reminding them that those toys they've wanted or any other things  were things they borrowed from us, and they only way they could have it for good were to take good care of it.

4. Business means business

When they fail, they should take responsibility on admitting that they lost the stuff. Children are very good with excuses, and most of the times were ridiculous excuses. They would start the blame games. They would make things up. They would just say they forgot. And the list goes on. We just have to deal with it. Punish them. And if it's require to get the goods they've lost it, made them 'pay'. Make it even harder than the first time to got it. 

5. Trust

Yes, we may be strict and difficult. But, we still need to trust our children that they will learn to take ownership. Unlike Aidan, Aimar has been depending lots of things on his elder brother. Aidan will pay the fees, Aidan will bring the expensive toys and he'll just share. To learn to be responsible, he needs to take up ownership. I started to give him some cash to buy stuff and he has to be responsible on the goods and change. He has improved after a while.

A happy ending?

We are still figuring out of there's any more creative method ( a pet, perhaps?) to deal with this taking ownership issue with Aimar. In his case, it's more of appreciating things rather than taking up responsibility. Still keeping my finger crossed and hope he'll get better now that I'm putting this in list to be improved, Insyaallah.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Case #2: Punish or Not to Punish

Its weekday, nearing to bedtime and Aidan is still struggling with his homework. When asked, he told me it was an extra math’s homework that the teacher gave to the whole class due to one of their classmate did not finished his work the day before. To salt to the wound, the teacher even warned her students, should they failed to complete the given work and the ‘extra’ work, there will be more to come.

Poor Aidan! Since he started schooling, I never have problem with his homework. I do not have to remind him and it will all be completed in due time.

And being typical adult, I don’t intend to blame the teacher right away before understanding the whole situation. Traditionally, my parent would just ask me to complete the work for my own good. But what values are we instilling to these poor kids by doing these?

The stigma we live in:

Perhaps the intention is to ensure the students are responsible enough with their homework. Maybe this is one of the way to discipline students. 

 Is it taboo?

For whatever reason, I am against this, 101%! If there were teachers and parents who might think this works, re-think. 

Dear Parents (and teachers),
Yes, at some points, there's a need in telling the children who's the boss. By penalizing them, will set the boundaries, and hopefully, will teach them some lesson. 

On the other hand, we should always be rational in punishing. We wanted the children to have high standard of discipline as it helps in characters building. But then again, we also want them to know better that authorities don't mean you could just impose anything anywhere anytime. We are setting limits to the kids, we must be aware of what limits we are talking about. 

Imposing a penalty to the whole class just because some students did not complete their homework were surely a misuse of the authority a teacher has. A different approach should be consider to 

So, what did I do?
The only thing I could help in this situation is to explain to Aidan. I guess the way we, parents, explain such things to our children must be 'politically' correct too. We couldn't simply bash the teacher as this might make the children to lose respect to their teacher. Still, we couldn't shut things out, just because. 

The best are these:
  1. Tell them, the intention of the teacher is not to punish, but to give a stern warning to their friends who did not complete their work not to repeat  the same mistakes in the future. Everybody should know it is everyone's responsibility as a student to complete any given homework. 
  2. As a good friend, our children could also remind their friends (nicely) not to repeat the same mistakes as the saying goes, once bitten, twice shy. And it's also good to keep reminding themselves not to be the 'culprit' who forget to complete the homework and get everyone in trouble. 
  3. Tell them the truth what we think is right and what is not. In this case, I did specifically told Aidan I don't agree with the punishment given. The teacher shouldn't punish those students who diligently completing their work like Aidan. I told Aidan would do it differently, but as this happened just once, I guess we both will just 'monitor' the situation and should it repeats, I'll make a formal comment to the school. 
  4. On the other hand, be positive on things that had happened. By having extra work, Aidan could practice more on the subject matters and understand what he learned better. After all, the extra work not only to him, but to the teachers too.. I told him, he has to do only one extra work, while the teacher got to mark the whole class extra works. So it is more to teacher than to him. 
  5. To show my support, I stayed with him throughout the time until he completed the extra work. 
*             A happy ending?
Aidan still wasn't happy that he got punished for other's mistake. But this situation gave me an opportunity 'sometimes, in life, you'll get screwed up like this. Even you were good in your work, your team-mate might just spoiled it and you just have to take all the blame'. As long as he can stand by himself, he'll do fine.

Case #1 : The Role Model

Aivey, my three-year old chatty box, was enjoying her cup of apple juice when her grandma dunk a melting ice-cream in her cup which seems to be 'nearly' empty. She has not been to any school yet, and so, her social network are only us (the family), her few cousins and the screens. When she saw what her grandma did, her prompt reaction was saying out loud, “not funny, nenek!!” Her words were nicely put, the intonations were right; her body language showed she was serious and she did meant well. We were stunned.

Growing up in a ‘cultured’ Malay background, when a child (especially as toddler like Aivey) was responding in such a way, some of us may find it rude. But I guess we shouldn't jumped into conclusion that soon. 

Is it taboo?
I am guilty as charged for the words that came out from Aivey’s cute little mouth.  Whenever she did something that was not meant to be done, I would throw the 'not funny, Aivey' remarks to her followed with my fake 'hahaha' laugh.

Dear Parents,
Just like us, kids do not how civilization works. All they know is from what were told, said and done. And that’s where our role as a parent came in. Be a good role model. Our children are the reflection of us. As much as we are trying our best to discipline them, direct them the right way, say the right things and even being straightforward and clear with the don’ts and do’s, they remembered it better of what they see and they imitate well, with intention or sub-consciously.

In this situation, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to explain to Aivey that she was wrong. Just because our ‘norm’ would find it rude, she was just being true to herself. This serves as a reminder to me. A self-conscious alert on ensuring how I behave is how I want my kids to behave.

So, what did I do?
  •  Children, especially toddlers, are like copy machines: they replicate their machines very well. Scenic in, scenic out; garbage in, garbage in garbage out. Pick your own game. For this case, I’m okay with Aivey’s imitating me. (Taste of my own medicine, though) 
  • Self-evaluate before we want to penalize them on things they ‘wrongly’ do. There were several occasions that I was being sarcastic to Aivey in such sense, therefore, she shouldn’t be punished for doing the same.
  • Explain! Explain! Explain! Aivey may be just three, but how toddler’s brain works always a miracle. She picked up things fast. Of course, the explanation need to be done based on their age level. We can’t expect to lecture about what is acceptable and not acceptable in our culture at her age. Simplest is “you are absolutely right, Aivey. It’s not funny. But, nenek didn’t see that you are still not done with your drinks”
  • Apologize. I told her “nenek is sorry she put the ice cream in your cup. She didn’t know you are not done yet”. Again, it’s our culture to think that adult don’t apologize because we don’t make mistake. That has to be change. If we are wrong, admit it

A happy ending?

Dealing with Aivey is straight forward. Once I explained to her, she let her grandma used the cup. She didn’t throw any tantrum, and everyone is happy.

Our Little Angels

Time flies. 
I could start writing and telling everyone how lucky I was and still am for the blessing bestowed upon me by the Almighty with three little angels. Despite of my eldest being in his tweenager phase, they are and will always be our little angels

Okay, perhaps the words ‘angel’ is too pure and innocent for three growing kids. They are growing up, with their own antiques and characters, but then again, I wished to jot down my own first-hand experience raising and growing up with them, wishing it could somehow give an assurance and serves as guideline for parents who wanted to make sure “okay, I didn't do it wrongly! My kids are completely 'real' and normal."

The day we become a parent will always be the day we won’t forget and will surely be vividly inscribed in our memory box. One thing for sure, that day never comes with a manual of ‘how to be a parent’. We were surely freaked-out, panicked and won’t know what to expect and how the future will be. And trust me, be it your first born, second, third and so forth, the anxiety attacked and the adrenalin rushed would always come and greet us. One thing for sure, we know that on the day we become a parent, the first time, second, third and so forth, is the day we know ‘this is love, pure love’.

I've been a mother for a decade this coming December. Yet, I've always been a ‘working’ mother and wham bam two years ago; we were shocked with the news of me being diagnosed with nasopharynx cancer stage III. We've got it treated, and I am currently on remission. I thought it's gonna be easy during these period. Less that I know how wrong I could be. My blood content is consistently low and I get tired and sick quite often than I've expected. My husband has been suggesting (and insisting) the idea of me staying home full-time decades ago, and I guess, this time, I should be the obedient wife and listen to him :)

It has been nearly four months since me being a ‘full-time’ staying at home mom, looking after my kids. And here’s what I want to share – hoping it could be a beneficial to mothers and mothers-to-be, to expect the unexpected and how could we deal with it, the right acceptable way. I may not be right and my kids are not perfect, but hopefully the sharing could be favorable.

I believe, the most precious jewels you’ll ever have are your kids, embellished them for the best potential they possessed.

And trust me, you’ll never could have guessed ‘they can do that?’…

When they first came into this world, any child’s soul is pure and uncontaminated.  But of course, they grow up.  I’m not going to write about the psychology of a child as I have no formal education about it. I’m not going to list to-do and not-to-do list as I’m no expert myself. I’m not going to peel each details on what’s right and what’s not as I’m a mother and until today, I still don’t know if I’m doing it the approved parenting 101 standards. I genuinely wanted to share my honest views on what’s best nurturing the pure soul, so that they learn to live the life they choose to live in.