Tag Archives: kids’ battle

The Holiday Ransom

A mother of Z’s classmate commented that the children at their preschool were generally well-travelled.  This had created a very strong leverage for the parents. I could not deny this.  I used this to our advantage all the time.

The children loved to discuss about holidays in school.  They would get very psyched up when one of them was travelling or if one of them freshly returned to share their tales of foreign adventures.

We had a trip coming up.

Given that this was a scheduled post, we would have long returned from the trip by the time this was published.

Z was so excited about the trip.  However, Z being Z, always had his trying days.  With the holiday, I was able to hold him ransom.  I had a huge bargaining chip in my favour and I used it as often as I could. Ready advantage rocked…

Whenever he ate extremely slow, whenever he refused to cooperate with us, whenever he refused to get out of bed (and more), I would go, “It would seem like you did not wish to go Korea because you had chosen to do XXX, YYY..”  Then he would step and play by our rules.

Trust me, it was awesome to see a whinny tantrum go from full force to zero in split second.  I saved myself many wrinkles too.

‘Monster Parents’

I went away with my curiousity piqued after reading this commentary.  To a fair extent, I would agree on reinstating corporal punishment but to ensure that the teachers did not abuse the system, there had to be transparency on how corporal punishment had to be used as a last resort.

From there, I picked up this term ‘Monster Parents’.  This was coined by the Japanese media in March 2010.  Well, at that time, I was only a new mom to a 3-month old, I doubted I would have paid much attention then.

I believed most parents were overprotective parents which created a lot of stress for competent educators.  Every child was special in their parents’ eyes.  However, in the eyes of the teachers, every child had to be treated fairly.  Every parent liked to think that there was something so special with their child that they ought to be treated with care, like a VIP.  This would create a gap between reality and expectation.

For parents who went away feeling that their children were the VIP in schools, either the child was truly exceptional or the school was really good with customer experience, ensuring positive customer experience at every touch point.  If it was the latter, I would truly wonder how the teachers could muster the time to do so.  They had to be really good at marketing to do so, and as I mentioned a few entries ago, to understand if something was being marketed, one would had to read between the lines.

Frankly, as a parent of 2 myself, I would urge all parents to stop putting your children on a pedestals, to stop giving in to unreasonable demands and to manage their expectations what being a normal person would be like.  Otherwise, you might end up with very unrealistic princely or princess-like beings on your hands.  Once you had moulded such expectations from their tender years to maturity, how would you expect to pull them back to earth?

Yes, we should encourage them to dream but it should not be at the expense of bringing up little tyrants.  In doing so, we would become monster parents.  If we were to let loose an uncontrolled young individual on the streets without proper values or the lack of EQ to coexist with other beings, I would think we had failed in parenting.

In the years before I became a mom myself, I always shuddered at the thought and sight of ill-behaved kids running amok.  Today, I still carried the same opinion and perhaps what would impress most people, including Z’s teachers, was how we trained Z to be respectful, to be polite and to be well-behaved when the situation called for it.  It was not a fluke or by virtue of Z’s character to be well-behaved.  Parenting was a continuous journey and we had to evolve our talk constantly as he grew older too. For record’s sake, he was not always on perfect behavior too but good enough for us to accept, and for others to commend.

Being a great parent was not about being able to buy all the fishes in the world for your child, but to be able to teach them how to fish and fish it well, regardless of where they might be.

Our little conversationalist

The cycle of speaking went like this for Z:

By 18 months’ old – He was well acquainted with the names of Thomas & Percy.  He was mouthing singular syllabus of their names and sprouting mono words like cars, trains and buses smoothly.  Prior to that, I still remembered how we would prop ourselves up on our bed, which was next to a bay window on level 24, in the previous apartment and named every single car which whizzed down Pan-Island Expressway.

When he entered pre-nursery, or N1 as some schools called it, at 24months and 1 week old, he was the youngest in class by virtue of his birth date falling in December.  He could not articulate well and I had to prepare a Get-to-know-Z sheet for his teachers to indicate what this little caveman could be gesturing for.

By 27 months’ old, which meant almost less than 3 months’ in school, he was yakking.  He was yakking a lot.  Previously, he was communicating with simple words but at 27 months’ old, he was throwing up a lot of sentences and stories.  That was when Mr Chatterbox started.

In any case, owing to his new found verbal independence and in anticipation of baby X, we potty-trained Z at 30months’ old.  Experienced friends had always taught us that potty training could commence when the child knew how to communicate.

From 27 months till the point when Z turned 48 months’ old, it was a painfully loud journey.  He could talk so much that he would take up the entire talking space, interrupt our conversations, repeat himself non stop and ask a zillion questions, not including all the repeated questions because our answers did not go well with him.  He would cry and take deep breaths, and basically disrupt conversations when we asked him to take a back seat.

For that period, I often wondered what we could do.  It was a very long phase.  While I knew we were not supposed to dampen his spirits, it got on our nerves.  It was so bad that we had to be harsh on some occasions.  It was taking a toll on our sanity too.

Sometimes, we joked that Z should have his own radio channel in future.  I would market him as the only radio station with ONE DJ because he did not need a break in talking.

Z used to go, “Don’t say things like that.”

Or “Stop it, I don’t like it.”

Or “No, I don’t want to be a DJ.”

As magically as it started, I reckoned we might have seen the light at the end of the tunnel!

By 50 months’ old, Z still talked a lot but he held thinking conversations with us.

By 51.5 months’ old, Z handled himself like a budding and interesting conversationalist.  It was delightful to chat with him and definitely funny to see his dramatic reactions such as slapping the forehead in ‘aiyo’ circumstances or giving us -_- looks when I talked about crappy stuffs.

Like recently, he learned that vitamins and fish oil were supplements which he had to take to make himself stronger.  When he was eating corn at Pepper Lunch, he asked, “Does corn make me stronger like supplements?”

“No, corn makes you corny.”

Yes, that was one of those rolled-eye moments from Z.

Let it go – Part 2

This had little to do with the song.

As we all knew, kids did not take well to changes in plans.  I used to get Z throwing up tantrums should we have deviation to plans.  He could not understand why changes could occur.  We tried alternating between giving him an explanation or surprising him on the day itself.

Giving an explanation – he would not have it any other way.  It was usually a fruitless attempt.

Surprising him on the day – sometimes, he was so surprised that he was not mentally prepared and would ask a million questions.  We also lost the chance to build up interest.  However, it was still better than nothing.

Recently, we made plans but changed it very last minute.  Z surprised us by understanding and not kicking up a fuss.

I commented, “Woah, the song created miracles.  Z had learnt to let it go.”

Z turned to me and rolled his eyes, “Stop it, don’t say that.”

The meanie mom

It would seem that some people think that I say very mean stuffs to Z. When Z refused to cooperate and eat properly, instead of cajoling him to eat more, I would tell him:

1. That is fine. You don’t have to finish and starve to death.
2. We will not give you more food later on. This is your only chance to eat.
3. Please don’t eat because we would love to eat your share.

I applied the same concept to every other defiant act of his.

We loved him so much that we really did not want him to grow up with the sense of entitlement. There was only so much that we could explain, so I thought making him feel a little pinch would help him to understand the constraints and appreciate what he was given.

I would continue to explain the rationale to the best of my abilities. However, should he insist on being stubborn, he could not blame me for sounding mean.

Eating habits

When compared to Z, X might have preferred stronger seasoning, more demanding and more adventurous. X would not hesitate to spit out porridge and go for what was on our table. Z would have been more accommodating.

However, X was still easier to cope with because he ate faster and did not vomit on demand (VOD). Z used to VOD so much that we were always held ransom by that. Until my brilliant friend suggested that he could clean his own vomit, only then did Z stop his VOD acts at 20 months’ old.

We did not enjoy feeding X because this age was the trickiest to cope with. Last Sunday, he surprised me at lunch by chomping down his rice, herbal soup, chicken and steamed cod fish very readily.

He ate very fast and there was minimal mess. He was too preoccupied with using the tissue paper to wipe his tray, his bottle cap and shredding the tissue paper to bits.

The tissue bits were a mess but anything was better than spat-out food and vomit. Whatever it took, we would take it!

Keeping toys

Two weeks ago, I had a showdown with Z on the housekeeping of his toys.  Well, times like this had definitely made me a very unpopular parent.

Z had a play area where he would unload truckloads of his little cars.  He had received a huge garage-alike toy which resembled a multi-storey carpark in my opinions.  It seemed to me that he was creating a traffic jam situation because all the little cars were packed side to side, front to back and crammed all over.  I believed there were at least 100 of those little cars there.

Every Sunday, my part-time cleaning auntie would come in to clean the house.  The household rule dictated that all areas (including our own) must be uncluttered to facilitate the cleaning.  It was also an avenue for me to ensure that mess did not build up over time.

At 9am on Sunday morning, I instructed Z to pack the little cars away.

At almost 10am, I reminded Mr H to help.  There was a certain packing principle as to where the little cars go to.  They were categorized into ‘cars without eyes’ and ‘cars with eyes’.  The latter referred to Lightning Mcqueen & gang.

By 11am, the auntie had reached the play area and informed me that the toys were still on the mat.  I was surprised.  I had assumed that the simple packing would have been done by then. I was busy getting ready other stuffs because we were supposed to head out for a friend’s child’s birthday party at 1130am.

I called Z and told him to keep.  There were 20+ loose cars, a really heavy backpack (stuffed with all the little cars) and other miscellaneous stuff on the floor.  He picked up one item with one hand and walked slowly back to his room.  I barked that he should use both hands and bring more things back to his room each time.  He still took his own sweet time.  He seemed to feign ignorance.  Well, that was one thing about me – having worked with so many people in my line of work, I could distinguish if it was genuine ignorance.  I berated him and he still took his own sweet time.

In the end, I took out the brand new garbage and started throwing all his little cars away.

That was when he woke up from his stupor, cried frantically and begged me not to throw.  I dumped the entire haul at the door step.  I managed to ask Mr H if he had helped Z and yes, he did.  He had helped to move the heavy backpack of toys to his room because Z told him that it was too heavy.  However, it seemed that Z was the one who had moved the backpack out again.  It sure looked like Z was up to something.

We figured out that he was too lazy to keep the toys which he admitted later on.

I told Z, “Well, just throw all the toys away and there is no need to keep.”

Of course, he sobbed over it and begged to bring back his toys.  I ‘relented’ and allowed him to keep all the toys away.  He did not complain that the backpack was heavy, nor did he take a long time to keep.

Kids, please know that your parents could call your bluff and we were utterly fine to throw (& quietly donate) all the toys away.