Friday, April 01, 2016

in my absence

How did the kids fare in the longest period of time I left them?

I think they missed me. But not much. (although Jo said she cried thinking about me one night)

In ascending order of missing-me intensity, I think it would be Day (he hardly blinked and told me to go off to enjoy myself, but he did say he wanted to go not because of me but because he wanted to see Nepal), followed perhaps equally by Jo and Lu, who said they hated Nepal before I left.

I didn’t worry too much about who would bring them to school and whether they’d be fed right. One must have faith, right. And so things fell into place.

KK held the fort. My intention was to have them all live at Mum’s for 10 days, because there’s a helper there to cook and clean. KK didn’t want to go.

So he ended up bringing them to school every morning, feeding them breakfast, and bringing them back every night to feed them dinner. In between, Mum sometimes helped to chauffeur them from school and they’d spend most afternoons at her place. When there were extra classes, somehow, they all worked it out.

Honestly, the kids thoroughly enjoyed their mum-free time. I don’t think they are the first kids to enjoy lax daddy Government; they ate dinner out every night at nice places, launched into a banana split at Haagen Daaz (so over-priced I’d never go), savoured packet food for breakfast (like sausage buns versus my oats), never practised piano, didn’t have to care about ting xie etc.

Who did the housework? The kids did. Specifically, Day, who kept the mountain of laundry small. That, I have to applaud.

When I returned and started sniping - Bathe! Sleep! Eat! Homework! Practise! - Jo rolled her eyes and sighed.

Did I miss them?

Er, not really, no. I didn’t think I would, and I didn’t. There was too much enjoying going on.

* Lu's sheep and Jo's piggy which I brought along just in case I missed them

And even if I did miss them, Whatsapp always came to the rescue, even in the mountains when all it cost was US$1 at most.

There is, however, one major regrettable repercussion from my Nepal trip.

See, the day I left, KK bought Jo a mobile phone. Because he was in charge, he felt he needed to be able to communicate with her.

I was furious in Kathmandu when she messaged me. Furious!

I had to calm my breath, as I knew I’d have my work cut out for me upon my return.

All the signs had pointed to Jo being a major phone addict. Once on my phone, she would clasp it for a long time, not playing games but communicating. She would Whatsapp whoever she can– KK, her grandma, her uncles – and just wait for a response. She would scroll through all my messages and read what my friends were saying. She would try out all of the phone’s functions and spend time changing the wallpaper until she found one to her satisfaction. She had pleaded for a phone, claiming all her friends had one, and I had flatly refused.

I told her – You will only get a phone when you need one, which is when you really need to communicate with us, your parents, which is probably when you start going out on your own or when you have to stay back late in school.  When? I think about 13 years old?

She’s 10 and she’s effortlessly got her Oppo. And something, once given, is very difficult; nay, almost impossible to take back.

I suppose the good part was that she really kept me posted. KK and Day are not great communicators and largely ignored me online. I wanted to know what they were doing, what they were eating, where they were, Jo gave me all that and more. When I was bored, I’d message the family chat and Jo would reliably, unfailingly, respond.

Her messages were satisfyingly long and verbose, with photos and heaps of emojis thrown in. (she must have spent a long time typing on the phone though...) She started her first private chat with me with: "Hello mama. I have made a private chat for me and you."

Her phone even has an automatic beautifying app (which completely pissed me off) but which she used to send posey pictures of herself and Lu which were kind of cute.

Phone pix
* Beautified! Urgh!

She also took photos of her Maths problem sums for me to solve, while I was up on the mountain.

Anyway. I can say for a fact that the Greatest Impact of my Nepal Trip on my kids was that my 10-year-old daughter’s dream was realized when she was given her first phone.


Dawn said...

By the way, did you know Social Media has age restrictions and Whatsapp age limit is actually 16 years old. I attended a talk recently and they mentioned it. Just for your knowledge..though like you said, its too late. Once given, impossible to take it back. I told my children from young that I would never give them a handphone. They would have to save up enough money and buy their own. So I said the age probably when they get one would be JC time. :) Hopefully, it stays that way!

ZF said...

Hi dawn,
It is not possible to restrict use of phone. My son had a phone since p4 for communication and only access to whatsapp when he enters sec school last year as school discussion, class chat (with and without teachers), school's notices/info are largely communicated using WhatsApp. His peers who do not have easy access to it is causing extra work for team leaders and class chairperson. Do inculcate responsible usage since young and not withhold it or risk having to go head to head with them when they come of age. Primary school I feel is a good age to start as it is the time where parents still have huge control over the kids.

My second son in mid primary has a whatapp account on his phone that uses only home WiFi. After a week or two of usage and my ground rules/warnings, he toned down and now doesn't even check his whatapp. He said better to use that time to do his favourite activity-reading.


(On a side note, my elder boy commented to me that he is the only one in his class with no Fb, instagram, social media or kept updated on trends and stuff. Felt a bit left out, up in the mountains, like mountain tortoise. He keeps updated on current affairs by reading online news via HP and I update him gossipy stuff via our personal WhatsApp chat.

Sher said...

Ah this stuck out for me: Primary school I feel is a good age to start as it is the time where parents still have huge control over the kids.

Never thought of it that way.

But I think its v valid.