Just do your best, David!

On our living room, we have this piece framed up, to remind us that hard work matters. There’s a verse in the Bible that goes “… suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5: 3-4)

Hard work doesn’t always translate into success and achievement, but hard work has value in and of its own, and that’s one of the values we try to intentionally inculcate in the boys. And when school is the topic, there’s definitely lots of room for talking about what hard work looks like and why it matters.

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Daryl’s Paw-some Party!

The littlest turned F I V E earlier this month, and we celebrated his birthday on a Saturday morning with family and friends. Big big thanks to my grandma for letting us set 16 kids loose in her garden, and to my aunts, their helpers and my parents for settling most of the food. This was truly a family-event, put together with much love, and the birthday pup had an awesome – or should we say PAW-some – morning to remember!

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To my newly-minted F I V E year old

Dear Daryl,

Today, you celebrate reaching the ripe old age of F I V E. Where on earth did all the time go?! Mummy wishes there was a stop button I could press, to freeze and hold on to precious moments – too many of them to count – but there just isn’t one. All I can do is to be thankful for every single moment that we have spent laughing, crying, fighting and hugging each other.

Last night, I crept into your room to watch you sleep. I find myself doing that more and more these days, when the problems and struggles of little-boys-growing-up are no longer issues to be glossed over in a single heart-to-heart talk. So many little and big things weigh on my heart, for you and your kor kor, and it is only in the quiet of night that I can look at your sweet sleeping profile, sit by your bed and pray for you. Praying, too, that your daddy and I will have the wisdom and insight to know how to parent you and your brother, two completely different personalities, whom He has brought into our lives to cherish and cheer on.

Your teacher told me today that you are a “lovely” boy. You exasperate them endlessly with your running around and short attention span, then you charm them with your sweet hugs and smiles. You can be a tad too rough at play (thanks to the kind of antics you and your kor kor get up to at home I suppose), yet you cry when your friends are fighting or hurt each other. You are equal parts feisty and affectionate, a beautiful bundle of contradictions.

How can someone so lovable and cuddly be so… strong? But you are. You are so, so strong. Some days I feel like I am fighting battle after battle, and too many times I lose my cool and scream at you. This normally doesn’t happen in public, which is why so many friends say that I am such a patient mum. Uh, no, I am not. You know it well. 😉

All those parenting articles on raising a strong-willed child – they offer much needed perspective and practical help, and yet they are SO hard to practice. I’m still learning, as are you. To choose my battles wisely, to look for common ground instead of taking a stand, to listen before I react, to hug and hold instead of pushing you away, to give you choices instead of making them for you, to understand your needs before I demand that you meet mine. And yet, to be firm when it is necessary, to set clear boundaries and rules, and to teach you to respect authority.

I often look at this quote that hangs on your bedroom wall. It’s just something I printed off the web when I was expecting your brother, and it’s been hanging on your wall ever since. It challenges me, it inspires me, it reminds me that I am not just parenting a little boy, but a man-in-the-making. That’s you.

He has mud on his nose
And stars in his eyes
A good man
In a little boy’s body

Happy fifth birthday, my little Spuddie/Pup. Looking forward to more exciting missions and adventures with you in the year to come!

love, Mummy

 

Storynation: Where the story comes alive!

Everyone has a tale to tell – this is the heart behind Storynation, and a personal conviction of mine as well. From my boys’ fantastical tale of imaginary dino-friends and superheroes, to a lifetime of experiences shared with me by my grandmother. Stories are truly an integral part of all our lives, and yet too often, we don’t take the time to listen, to tell, and to discover.

I believe that story-telling doesn’t necessarily come naturally to everyone though. For me, I must say that I do enjoy story-telling – whether it be listening to others or sharing my own experiences, but I also recognise that it can be a struggle for many fellow parents who are not sure how to engage their children, especially restless, active ones like my Daryl, with a book. If that’s you, you’re certainly not alone.

From babyhood, my older boy, David, has loved reading books the way I do, i.e. sitting on the bed or sprawled on the sofa with a book on his lap, and being read to (then) or reading to himself (now). However, from babyhood, Daryl has pretty much been the polar opposite in this respect.

When he was younger, it frustrated me a lot. I couldn’t help comparing at times, and worrying that he would have a hard time learning anything at all, if he couldn’t even sit still to listen to one short book. But over the years, I’ve come to realise that this little boy simply has his own learning styles and preferences.

He can sit still with a book at home – for a long time, at that – but only when left on his own to flip the pages and look at the pictures and words. Once someone (me or the hubs) reads to him, it’s like he’s got ants in his pants – he can barely stay in his seat for more than a minute! And yet. Somehow when he’s in school, the teachers tell me he is one of the best listeners during story-time. Hmmm…

And yet, even when my Daryl is not sitting still, I’ve discovered that he is actually listening very intently to a story or song. Lesson learnt: my expectations of what a child engaged in a story looks like is not necessarily the only way children show they are interested.

Someone like Daryl, and many other young children I know, loves hearing and creating stories, but not sitting down with a book. Perhaps it’s the sitting still that takes the joy away from the story-telling experience sometimes. I was reminded of this at the Storynation x Kaboodle session we attended during the holidays. Seeing my boy completely enjoying the world of stories and make-believe while NOT sitting still sure made my day.

If you’re wondering, Storynation is the brainchild of three dads who want to foster a love for stories and story-telling in the next generation. It is primarily a community platform for parents to learn the art of storytelling, be part of a co-creation environment, and to practice their craft in a professionally facilitated environment. You decide the pace and level engagement that fits your schedule and needs. Storynation‘s goal is to help you connect with the most important audience of all – your children. 

During the session, I learnt a lot from watching how master storyteller Roger Jenkins related the story to the children. For his first story, he used a felt board and felt characters to tell his tale of the naughty monkeys who stole a shopkeeper’s caps. He didn’t just tell the story as is, but injected it with all sorts of gestures for the children to do, and asked them questions along the way. For example:

“Look at all the different colours of caps the man is selling! Now I wonder, what’s your favourite colour? Who likes the red caps?” he asked the children.

Or “Every time the monkeys saw the man do something, they would copy him. Like if the man did this [he clapped his hands], then the monkeys would do…?” And the children would become the monkeys, copying his actions.

Now I typically try to be extra expressive when I read to the boys. But from Roger Jenkins’ example, I saw that there are other ways be a lot more interactive with Daryl, and think of ways to make the story more “physically” alive for him.

Roger’s second story involved a pop-up book, and again, with the use of a variety of questions and actions, all the children were drawn to its tale. Daryl was beginning to get restless, I could see, but something was helping him stay in his place and listen, instead of running around. What was it?

It turns out that the fun people at Kaboodle have this fantastic range of Bobles furniture, and Daryl loved his donut “chair” so much that he was gently bopping up and down the whole time he was listening.

After the storytelling time, it was time for Part 2 of their session. Rogers brought the kids over to the huge main play area, filled with all manner of shapes of these blue foam blocks! Daryl vaguely remembered them from his first time at Kaboodle two years back, and was thrilled!

First, Rogers coached the kids into how to build some basic structures – for example, a cake. With a combination of thoughtful questions and suggestions, he got the children to create structures of their own. Then, by asking questions again, he helped them to craft a story about their structure. Eg “What is that you’re building?” or “What is this part for?”

Through this activity, the children were given the opportunity to bring their ideas to life, and guided to think about why they were building what they were building in that particular way. I thought that was a fantastic learning experience -for them and us parents too.

All in all, the little boy had a wonderful time at the Storynation x Kaboodle Holiday Programme, and I gained a lot from our time there too. Check out more fun videos on the Storynation FaceBook page, and see if you can spot Daryl there!

Stories and big blue blocks are quite the perfect match, I must say. 😉

If you’re interested to find out more about Storynation and their upcoming programs, do check out their Facebook page and website.

*

We attended the Storynation Program at a slightly discounted rate. No monetary compensation was received, and all photos used and opinions expressed are ours.

Just another mum making it work

How does one begin to write about the big, chaotic, colourful, exhilarating, frustrating, rewarding, heart-breaking whirlwind adventure that is Motherhood?

After almost seven years of mothering two rambunctious chaps, I’ve come to the conclusion that no two mothers’ experiences are ever alike. It’s the little moments and the unexpected encounters and a myriad of factors that shape each woman’s completely unique journey of motherhood – and yet, we each make it work, in our own ways. Here’s a snapshot of my experience.

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The Kidz Academy: The legends are back!

Do your kids know how Bukit Merah got its name, or the legend behind the Singapore Stone, or what Sang Nila Utama, a prince from Palembang, has to do with the founding of our island home? Let them have a taste of Singapore folklore served up in juicy nuggets of urban legend and history at the annual Kidz Academy this June holidays!

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Squiggle Doodle

The littlest has been really getting into drawing and doodling, to my great delight and excitement. Unlike his kor kor, who pretty much fell in love with all things art before the age of two, little D hadn’t shown much interest in drawing or colouring until very recently, having preferred the messy free expression afforded him by his finger paints instead. So this is quite an unexpected but welcome surprise!

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How we chose a primary school for our boys

I’m sorry, that’s not a very creative title, is it? But really, it’s a post that I’ve been sitting on for a long time, and just didn’t feel confident enough to share. Now that we are almost halfway through the year (GASP!), I do feel like we have gained a little experience with primary school life – enough for me to share – and it’s also a good time to talk about this, as many K1 parents are probably losing sleep over this issue as 1 July draws nearer…

Two years ago, I was you.

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A grandparent’s heart

There are moments when it feels like life has come full circle, even though I know (well, I hope!) that I still have a lot more life to live.

Like this afternoon, when we celebrated my dad’s birthday with a very satisfying lunch at Baba Chews Bar and Eatery. The two monkeys were fascinated with the bar counter, but I told them not to climb the stools in case they fell off. So grandpa gamely went with them, supposedly to take a look at the counter too, but actually to make sure they didn’t fall off the stools and break their little heads. And there he stood, supporting one with each hand, and then later carrying them to the ground safely.

And I flashbacked to my own childhood, and the many outings I had with my grandpa, and remembered the feeling of him hoisting me onto his shoulders although all my uncles and aunties and grandma were all “Put her down, you’ll break your back!” How I loved that feeling of being on grandpa’s shoulders, and I knew he was indulging me back then, and it mattered to me.

I’m sure it matters to my boys too, now.

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Yesterday once more

A few weeks ago, I took a stroll around my grandma’s garden.

It’s been a while since I did something like that. These days, we normally sit on the front porch on Thursday evenings, our weekly extended family get-together time, and watch the kids playing on the swing or scooting up and down the driveway. We chat about our week, snap photos, and chase everyone in when dusk falls and the mozzies start their nightly rounds.

Perhaps it’s because David has recently started reading his first ever Enid Blyton book – The Magic Faraway Tree. (We have a good deal going – he reads one page, I read two) Or maybe it’s that article I wrote last week, about the importance of boredom. Either way, I’ve been thinking about the past more these days, and remembering the high jinks we cousins got up to when we were young. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago, other times I remember it like it was just yesterday…

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