Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kampong Chicken

Conversation about me.

A friend's sister who hadn't seen me in a long while had this conversation with my friend about me...

Friend's sister: What happened to her???
Friend: She had kids.
Friend's sister: WHAT HAPPENED TO HER???
Friend (uncertain of what other response she wanted): Er, she had kids.
Friend's sister: Then why is she so skinny??? Is she ok? Is she doing this to herself on purpose?
Friend: Even if she drinks oil, she'll look like that.
Friend's sister: But she looks skinny and tough....
Friend:... skinny and tough? You make her sound like meat that cannot be eaten because it's too tough.
Friend's sister: EXACTLY.

My reaction: I'm a free-range chicken that's not been injected with hormones and allowed to run free?

Apparently, it's because I'm skinny-ish and have very prominent veins on my arms. I don't know why they've become so prominent that an blind anaesthesist could insert an IV blind into my arm, but they are.

I haven't stopped chuckling though.

I am kampong chicken, hear me crow!

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:30

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Parenting tips from a Nanny State

When I have time during the weekend, I try to read the paper. It is always a mistake because I will inadvertently get pissed off with something someone said. This past weekend was no different. It annoyed me that organ trade has been in the press' attention so much over the past week and it has overshadowed something that is more deep-seated and long drawn- the baby issue. Of course, the baby issue is of more concern to me than the organ trade one, not so much because I don't have organs and don't care about organ trade but because the case, for me is clear on that count. But the baby issue hasn't fizzled out totally. There were still some letters to the press and that's what annoyed the heck out of me.

All these people who keep thinking that throwing money at the problem of baby dearth really are not getting it right. There are also people who think that by providing more support for parents, we are encouraging deadbeats and freeloaders. Then there are those who think that we can open child care centres run by senior citizens because that will help solve the problem and will actually kill two birds with one stone because we will then get rid of another problem, the unemployed seniors. All this really pisses me off. And the more Packrat and I talked about it, the more we agreed in sotto amazement and irony that a nanny state like Singapore had no idea how to help us raise children.

The way Singapore solves problems to do with its people- Throw money at it. Hand outs. Every time there is a problem, money is given to appease the mobs looking for pitchforks. Either that or chastise and admonish them for behaving like brats but not really giving them an opportunity to discover why. At the same time, scold them when they get too used to such handouts and lecture them on taking things for granted.

If a parent employed that method of child rearing- The child would become quite spoilt. The child would find no reason to draw close to the parent. After all, the parent offers nothing else but financial support and harsh words. Worse, if the parent raises the child using fear to foster total obedience, at best there will be obligation to the parent but more likely than not, it will be a relationship filled with resentment and bitterness.

All this plays to a very familiar tune. Our nation demands loyalty and love for it. But how has it fostered it? Parents who automatically expect it without putting any effort into child rearing are often sorely and angrily disappointed. Similarly, with no concern for our emotional well-being and needs, always concentrating on the tangible and measurable outcomes, how does society expect us to be filial to it? Where solutions often involve some sort of monetary fix, in the same way, by ploughing the child with gifts or an endless allowance, the child will take whatever is handed to him but will not know what to do in return because time was not spent trying to cultivate or nurture a relationship. When parents lament that their children are strangers to them, that they are being influenced in ways that are unfathomable, that they don't understand their children and the children only see them as a bank of spare change, whose fault is it?

If the government thinks that fixing the baby problem can be done without addressing the deeper issues of work family balance, the role of the mother, the expectation in society of the mother as a nurturer as well as an equal provider for the family, there will be much raising of eyebrows and little attention paid. It will breed resentment and more destructive than that, disappointment. It will cause a distancing of familial relationships. It will cause also aspirit of uncooperativeness. Obviously. "if my parents don't get me, why should I confide in them/ love/look after them?"

So, it's a strange revelation that the uber parent in this context has no idea how to get across to his kids. It was also a strange revelation, to me personally, that I could so clearly extrapolate parallels between the shortcomings of individual families and Singapore being one big family under the government. Families in Singapore all too often convenient to foist the upbringing of their children to other people- school/ maid/ grandparents/ tuition/ enrichment centre. They just pay the bills. Their excuse is that they're out working and providing for the family. That the child should be grateful that this is done because it is the reason why the child has a PSP, a DS, a mobile phone, a laptop and an ipod to boot. Sadly enough, we've learnt that it is the right way to do things because it is the example set for us. Our values come from the 'evil' West, we are encouraged to go to the 'evil' West or our former colonial masters to be finely educated. We have great niceties in life, safety, good transport system, bonuses that we can count on and economy with a surplus rather than a deficit. We have it good. But like the child who is constantly reminded that he is a child and he ought to listen to the parent, however absent the parent is, we are expected to do the same thing. Of obeisiance, of coercion and of the end results. Singaporeans worry that their children will dump them in a retirement home and why is this so? And will Singaporeans dump the government once the government has handed out all the gifts that it can? If families are a microcosm of society, we all know how that one is going to play out.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:15

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

I'm out to get me

This post has been updated because I'm still out to get me.

This week's been a weird week for me. It's almost as if the forces are having it out and using me as their battlefield. In 4 days, I've managed to unintentionally hurt myself three times and once more through no effort on my . Not drastic enough to seek any treatment but painful enough to send me blinking away tears.

Attempt 1

Thursday night- After having dinner with my ex-colleague, I come home to a locked front door. Swearing at the fact that I looked at my house keys in the afternoon and decided that it wasn't necessary to bring them, I ring Packrat. I knew he was home. I could see the light on in our bedroom. But ten redials later, I resign myself to the fact that unless I throw my pack of scripts high up and accurately enough at the window, he's not going to let me in. Thankfully we live in a house and there are windows that I could possibly climb into with minimal problem. It helps that I spent my adolescent years climbing in and out my bedroom window. Unfortunately, when I round the corner of the house, I slam full force into a wooden bench that is just the right height to make full contact with my knee cap. Because I was trying to get into the house quick, I had rounded the corner quick so physics would have it that the amount of force I was propelling forward and the amount of force the bench was stopping was an immense one. Enough for me to double over, see white searing pain, have my head and knee throb at the same time and wonder if I had just smashed my knee cap into smithereens.

Needless to say, by the time I made it up to the bedroom after having climbed in through the kitchen window with a throbbing knee that would bear no weight, I was in a foul mood. Apparently, when I flung the door wide open, I had the most evil of glints in my eyes and my nostrils were near flaring. Even though I hadn't intended to pick a fight, the pain was driving me to yell and find someone to thump. And poor Packrat wondered what hit him.

My knee is still bruised. I don't think anything's shattered but I can't kneel or crawl on it. Something I didn't do much of pre-kids but do a whole lot of now.

Attempt 2

This just happened. I'm not sure whether it's more or less dramatic than Attempt 1 but the pain is just about the same. I was going to sit on the floor. Lowering my bum onto the floor, either I'd misjudged how much space I had or I'd forgotten that there was a chair behind me, I lower myself, once again at top speed, right down onto the corner of the chair. This time, it wasn't the knee but the tail bone, right smack on the corner. My bum eventually finds the floor and I sit there breathless from the effort of not yelping or showing any sort of expression on my face since Jordan was in front of me and I didn't want to scare her. Now I feel I need a doughnut to sit down. I think the area's bruised and some muscle has been traumatised as well. This time, I don't blame Packrat or yell at anyone but the tears did well up again.

Attempt 3

The least dramatic but the one with the most long drawn pain. A headache that I wake up with and go to bed with. I haven't taken anything for it because I have deadlines to meet and cannot afford to sleep more than I am. I look forward to some drug induced sleep. Sleep that is not broken by the thought of whether to get up and get work done even though the luminous glow of the clock tells me it's only 3 in the morning. I usually don't heed that crazy voice in me. But this morning I did and I'm paying for it now.

Attempt 4

In an attempt to rush and get to class on time, with mountains of work on my desk, I accidentally hit my bottle of water that promptly rolls off and lands on my foot with a clunk. This would not have been so bad except for the fact that my bottle is a one litre bottle and it's a Nalgene- made of hard plastic and some say bulletproof. Needless to say, I wasn't wearing Kevlar tipped boots so my foot's not pleased with me.

I look forward to Tuesday. Tomorrow's the deadline so come hell or high water, all the work should be complete by tonight, despite the busted knee, the bruised butt, busted foot and the throbbing head. Well, that is if the head doesn't explode before I'm done. I am afterall, out to get me.

I should really just lock myself in a padded room so I don't end up killing myself. But the way things are going, I'll probably find an ingenious way of hurting myself there too!

Ownself sabo ownself.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:16

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Bookworm club

The loudest lament in schools these days by English teachers is that kids these days don't read. And they don't. They really don't. They think you should pat them on the back because they've read the latest Harry Potter. And now that Harry Potter's defeated Voldermort, they no longer need to read. I'm guilty as charged too. I don't read as much as I should. I spent my growing up years running around, climbing trees, catching spiders and cycling. It was the ultimate punishment to make me read a book. But then, one day, I did and I didn't stop reading. I read on the bus, I read during meal times, I read in bed and wrecked my eyes. I read. No doubt, I didn't read high brow stuff (I still remember, a) stressing out and then b) rolling my eyes when a classmate in college declared to everyone and anyone listening that her favourite writer was Chekhov), but I still read.

I don't read as much as I used to and when I do manage to find time to, I'm always pleased and inspired to read more. But by that time, I'm back at work and finding time to sleep is a problem, let alone read. I'm sorry to say, Maslow was right about me. Basic survival needs come first.

Now that I have kids, I'm quite intent on getting them to read. But I don't really know how to do it. There are a whole lot of methods out there, many of them involving flash cards and treating the kids like plants in a hot house and I'm not sure how much I agree with Glenn Doman or Shichida or who ever and whatever. So, imagine my horror when obviously, the establishment and the national broadsheet seem to be in great approval of these methods by running a story on a 3 year old that can read menus. The Singaporean mom in me freaked out and worried about not giving my kids the best head start I could afford. The anti-establishment mom in me wanted to give the article and everything written in the article the finger partly because it had stressed out the Singaporean mom in me but partly because it breeds such insanity in Singapore that everyone gets dragged into it and by Primary One, the parents are glared at by the teachers if the kid doesn't know how to spell hippopotamus and chrysanthemum. And I really don't want to be party to making my children that stressed.

When the anti-establishment mom in me and the Singaporean mom in me settled down enough, the catty me then began to wonder, in light of the illiterate students we get in school, perhaps their being made to read put them off reading for the rest of their life or that getting them to read by 18 months wasn't indicative of how much they were going to read later on in life. Whatever it was, there was some incongruity. The rational me of course, reminded the rest of me that these were different samples of the population and to figure out whether all this Glenn Doman-Shichida-hothouse-flashcard stuff really works, we'd have to wait a couple of years from now.

At the same time, I'm also thinking about all those teachers I had who frowned at the fact that we read Jeffrey Archer and Tom Clancy and how much of a fit they would throw now because the students that come my way now, don't even know Jeffrey Archer, Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton and company. They are the ones who would list, as the last book they read, a Lit book they read when they were made to do compulsory literature 2-4 years ago. And these are probably the same people who would throw a fit at the new Chicklit awards. I'm not all that big a fan of chick lit but hey, if it gets friends of mine who wouldn't otherwise open a book to read, why not?

I'm just not sure how I'm going to be when my kids want to read the Babysitters' Club and the modern day equivalent of Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High (are they still around?). Right now, I'm stressing about how to introduce Chinese into their linguistic diet. And that's when the extremely monolingual mom in me goes "Oh Crap!" and proceed to moan that she can't even exclaim that in another language.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 14:00

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"