Wednesday, February 03, 2016

cny dance

The nice thing about being a long-time member of the school’s PSG (Parents Support Group) Club – six years now and I’ll probably be helping out for another five – is that I get to try all sorts of weird things which I would never normally have a chance to try.

Not just marshalling kids or following on excursions. But also organizing display booths during special events, emceeing (for the school's Talent showcase), being a part of discussion panels (What Parents can Expect in Primary 1) and getting interviewed.

This year, I hold a pink fan and dance onstage.

It’s for the school’s CNY show. I have never done the whole dress-up performance thing, but someone backed out and they needed one more dancer.

Two practices later, we’re on. Ours is a modified Youtube rip-off, and we only have three steps to remember because mums have bad memories.

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Dance

As I mince onto the stage, fluttering my fan, I catch sight of Day and I flutter my eyelashes at him. His friends all straighten up as they point excitedly – “David, that’s your mother!” He doesn’t know where to hide his face and rolls his eyes.

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Toward the end of the concert, as the classes leave the hall, Day walks past me deliberately looking straight ahead and ignoring me (!!) as I smile at his receptive friends. 

Later he tells me: All my friends know you, all of them! They tell me they see my mum here and there and they even know you are a writer! (because I gave a career talk once) Can you stop coming to school?

Jo passes me next. She comes up to me, says hi and waves goodbye very sweetly.

Boys!

* All pictures from a parent photographer

Monday, February 01, 2016

shopping

Day: Why do I have to buy new clothes for Chinese New Year? Can we not go shopping? I hate shopping, I really hate it. (it's the same story every year)

Ah. But his father loves shopping.

And so KK drags us all to Vivocity to pick out CNY apparel for Day.

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* KK makes the selections and passes them to Day who is waiting in the Changing Room

For KK, this penchant for wearing new things at CNY has become more pronounced over the years. He buys not one, not two but three new shirts for himself, two new pairs of pants and new shoes. All that, without throwing out a single item from his wardrobe which by now full to bursting; so all the shirts can actually stay in the wardrobe even if they’re hanger-less, because they’re so tight against each other they just stay up.

(While I am reading “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up” and meticulously throwing out any one of my 10 dresses which don’t bring me “joy”, as Marie Kondo commands)

He wants to buy the girls and I new things. I demur. The girls already have stuff, but they end up with new dresses too.

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* Why so solemn?

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* Girls freezing in the mall, Lu wearing my throw

Saturday, January 30, 2016

jo’s message

Jo was sick. Day was sick.

I sent Lu to school alone. She was crying, which is usual when she has to go solo.

She had to stay back in school and I brought lunch to her. Jo decided to write her sister a little message.

(I just realize I fed two sick children sausage and toasted baguette)

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

big p6 year

The one big question everyone asked me at the start of the year was: Your son is taking his PSLE this year? Stressful, hor.

It’s almost the end of January.

Day is very, very busy. From school alone, he’s got soccer on Mondays (luckily temporary because its competition season) and Wednesdays, remedial on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Nothing on weekends.

He comes home with a boatload of homework. Once home, he moves from one task to the next while wolfing down snacks in between, with hardly any time for conversation.

The amount of work he brings home often keeps him up past his 10pm bedtime. The sleep debt mounts. I do miss the rosy cheeks, bright eyes and serene temperament he had during the holidays when he slept 9 hours or more a day.

He also has one session of Chinese tuition a week which comes with homework.

He has nothing extra from me. The only thing I make him do is sleep, eat well, brush his teeth and get off the computer/mobile.

The good thing is, he doesn’t drown. He’s resilient that way, and he's progressively become more and more responsible in the past year, so he doesn't owe any teacher homework for too long. 

He does the best he can, neatly and mindfully, and cheerily chin-chai’s the rest away. In that sense, I think the best way to view the PSLE is as a resilience-building exercise. He is stretching without any help from me, knowing that he is in charge of his own destiny and also with the assurance that his parents (mum at least) aren’t hung up on an aggregate. 

(I think he is, however, being pressured at school by teachers and peers. I also realise that his schedule is actually rather laissez-faire compared to any other P6 kid. I also think it might get more stressful as the PSLE nears.)

It’s also strange that Jo in Primary 4 seems a lot more stressed than Day in Primary 6.

Character, I suppose. Chin chai isn’t quite her. Most times, she sleeps much later than Day but she seems to get by quite well. Someone told me women have much better stamina than men and it shows early.

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* I'm stressed? You're stressed?
(Photo reminds me of this one)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

loving assurances…

… come from Lu.

The stream of “I love you” cards has completely stopped from Day and Jo. But these still emanate from the seven-year-old in a slowing trickle.

She presents them to me out of the blue, after having spent time secreted away in a corner working on them usually because she has nothing to do. (no homework, no nothing, no TV, no mobile, siblings too busy to play with, thus she has time to think of me)

And they’re usually apologetic in content.

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* I just noticed this... "regards"?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

body scrutiny

The kids have been assessing and forming opinions about their own bodies and of course, there are parts they don't like.

Day hates his stick-out ears and Long Life Lobes and, and has asked me: Ma can I cut these (ear lobes) off?

Jo hates her butt and has shouted in exasperation: Ma, when David and Lulu stand together they look the same (moves hands in parallel up and down) but when I stand next to them I look like this! (moves hands in a very dramatic hour glass with a huge big bottom)

Lu hates her hairy legs and has used a pair of scissors to cut off the hairs.

I tell them what I really think of course, which is that I heartily disagree.

That they are perfect and functional. That Day according to Chinese beliefs will live a long and prosperous life, that Jo has a butt that lesser women pay to put implants in, and Lu's legs won't feel so cold in air-conditioning.

At this stage, however, none of these positive statements stick. 

Neither do all my "You are so lucky... at least..." statements ie. You all don't know how lucky you are, at least you have ears that can listen, at least you have a butt you can sit on, at least you have legs that can move and run.

It attracts eye-rolling.

Jo, discerning as usual, bites back: You tell me some women like big butts, well what will you tell me if I have a flat butt, huh? You will tell me that a flat butt is nice, right? Whatever I complain about you will say it’s nice right?

To which I say, well a butt's a butt as long as you can use it to shit, which drives her completely nuts.

Friday, January 22, 2016

tadpole

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Why this?

The girls think this is the height of hilarity. Lu’s hair, looking like a tadpole.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

family talk

As we are hanging around the library on a weekend just before lunch, a lady comes up to us waving a bunch of leaflets in her hand, like she’s trying to sell something. “Would you like to attend our family talk today at 3pm? I know it’s very last-minute, but do join us if you can.”

I look at the leaflet. It said, “Join us for a unique and meaningful bonding experience and connect with your family members!”

We had the entire afternoon free at our disposal and KK was not around. Why the hell not?

Day wanted out. These days, he has a deep suspicion of free events with titles like “Family Talk” which have to be touted. So I brought him home and left him there.

Well, he missed a glorious three hours.

Once again, we (the girls and I) have benefited from a fabulous, great value-for-money (free in this case) CC event which we serendipidously stumbled into.

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* First to arrive, as usual

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There was a talk – an interesting one – about our personality profiles. Jo is a Beaver, Lu and I are Golden Retrievers.

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* Jo grouped with her fellow Beavers

There was a family activity where the girls and I got to decorate a Family Memory Board with scrapbooking materials which were given to us, and Polaroid photos taken of us on the spot.

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There was a fantastic Amazing Race which was the undoubted highlight for us. I was blindfolded and tied to the girls (my right ankle to Jo’s left ankle, my left wrist to Lu’s right wrist). The girls, Lu on my left and Jo on my right, had to lead me around an obstacle course with stations. They had to verbally guide me to draw a house, make an 2D apple tree out of dough and climb through a series of criss-crossing ropes. We had serious fun.

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* My work, as directed by the girls

There was food.

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* Spring rolls, satay, chicken wings, kueh pie tee!

And unbelievably, there were presents at the end of it. The girls were given crayons and a Lego Spiderman.

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Throughout, a team of volunteers kept spirits high as they squeezed rubber chickens which squeak, and sang songs (Barney’s I Love You Song seemed to be the theme song).

I am so grateful. We are so grateful.

Monday, January 18, 2016

eraser dust

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Lu is fixated on making eraser dust.

This, I have discovered, is created by repeatedly using an eraser to rub across coloured patches in textbooks and such.

She lovingly collects all the dust in a little plastic cup. Once, when Day accidentally gave her a shove and the dust went flying, she cried like her dog died.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

conversation with an 8-year-old

“I have violin class after this.”

The 8-year-old girl (maybe 7 because it’s just January) who had inexplicably chosen to sit next to me instead of all her other classmates on the excursion bus suddenly piped up.

She and the rest of her friends had just finished 90 minutes at the pool as part of the school’s swimming programme and the bus was taking us – pupils, teachers and parent volunteers - back to school.

Small, fair and slightly pudgy with still-chubby fingers clutching a red waterproof bag, she had a fringe and ponytail and black-framed specs, but what I noticed was her name tag. She had a lofty three-syllable name which would fit right into a Shakespearan play.

I was entranced. Seldom do you get chatted up by cute little girls who, as a general rule, avoid talking to adults.

“So you have violin class?” I asked.

“Yes I do,” she carefully articulated while looking up at me straight in the eye. Her head was somewhere around my shoulder level.

“Do you like it?”

“Not really. I prefer piano.”

“Oh, you do piano too?”

“Yes. I like piano. I take part in competitions.”

“Oh! Who’s your teacher?”

“Erm. It’s XXX. He’s very famous.” (I start. He IS very famous with a  menu of decorated students and I happen to hear from a student that he charges $150 per lesson)

“Well what are you playing now?”

“I do scales and sight-reading. I’m now playing the Spinning Song.”

“Ah! The one which goes (I hum it).”

“Yes!” (she starts. She must have wondered how I knew it. It so happens it was my first recital piece) “I also take part in competitions. I try to practise every day, but sometimes I don’t.”

“Oh I see. Good luck for your competition. Aren’t you tired, to have violin class right after swimming?”

“Sometimes. Let me see… my only free day is Wednesday and Sunday when I go to church. I have art on Mondays, swimming and violin on Tuesdays, Wednesday I’m free, piano on Thursdays, English on Friday, ballet on Saturday, and church on Sunday. Oh wait, I do tennis on Sunday too!”

“Wow! You’re very busy.”

“I do ballet just for fun. My parents just want me to do it for fun, not for exams or anything.”

“Then what do you do on Wednesdays?”

“I watch TV sometimes. My favourite is Takeshi’s Castle. (she pronounces Ca as Care, like an American would) Or I read books. I’ve heard about Roald Dahl, but I haven’t tried it yet.”

“Do you have Chinese classes then?”

“What do you mean?”

“Like Chinese tuition?”

“No. My parents are from China.”

“Oh! 们是从中国的那一部分?” (pardon my Chinese)

上海.”

“你喜欢回去吗?”

“喜欢!我住在我表哥的家。”

(we continue to talk all the way back to school)

Colour me impressed. Busy lifestyle notwithstanding, she’s remarkably composed, articulate, bilingual, smart and very likeable.