Tuesday, October 29, 2013

11 Things I Wish Every Parent Knew

Taken from here.

1. Growth and development are not a race. 

These days we’re in such a rush to grow up. In our mechanized, post-industrialized world of speed and efficiency, we've forgotten that life is a process of ripening. To get good fruit, you need to nourish strong roots. Pay attention to the ground that supports your child’s life: Go for a walk with your child, eat with your child, play together, tell him a story about your experience as a child. 

2. Creating family traditions encourages strong roots and a healthy life. 

This takes time and practice. Personal traditions are sacred because they promote exchanges that strengthen bonds of love and intimacy and build the kind of confidence that will carry your child through this world. 

3. We grow in cycles. 

There is a rhythm and pulse to each child’s life – sometimes fast and intense, sometimes slow and quiet. Just as each spring brings a renewed sense of appreciation for life, each stage of a child’s life is a time of new discovery and wonder. After all, learning is not just a process of accruing information. It's the process of transforming our ideas, and sometimes this requires forgetting in order to see with fresh eyes. Some children will take a step backward before making a giant leap forward. 

Growing in cycles means that we don’t get just one chance to learn something. The same lesson will offer itself up to us again and again as we pass through the seasons of our life. There is deep forgiveness in this way of understanding childhood, which I find takes the pressure off parents to “get it right” the first time.
4. Encouragement is not the same as indulgence. 

We are not in the business of raising little kings and queens. Kings don’t do well in our society. Recent studies have shown that indulgence actually weakens your child’s powers to survive, deflating motivation and diminishing feelings of success. 

Encouragement means putting courage in your child, not doing things for him. Create a supportive context that will open up a path without pushing your child down it. Unconditional love is the scaffolding that encourages your child to take chances, to experiment, and to fail without judgment. Sometimes being an encouraging presence in your child’s life means standing a little off in the background, there to offer a compassionate hand when circumstances call for it, but trusting in his innate ingenuity. 

There is spaciousness in encouragement. Indulgence, on the other hand, limits freedom by inflating a child’s sense of entitlement and reducing the patience needed to work through obstacles when he doesn't instantly get his way. Indulgence leads to small-minded thinking.

5. Pushing your buttons is a spiritual practice, and children are our spiritual teachers. 

You don’t need an expensive spiritual retreat to become enlightened. Your little sage-teacher is right in front of you, offering you true wisdom free of charge! 

Children watch our every move when they're little, studying our inconsistencies as they try to figure out this crazy world. And they will call you on it. When a child pushes your buttons, remember: they are your buttons, not hers. Take the time to listen to what your child is trying to teach you. One of the secrets of parenthood is our willingness to transform ourselves out of love for our child. When you're willing to look at your buttons, you open up a deeper self-awareness that is transformative for both you and your child. 
6. A symptom is the body’s way of letting us know something has to change. 

Good medicine asks what is the symptom trying to accomplish? rather than simply suppressing it. Our body has its own intelligence and yet so much of pharmaceutical advertising tries to convince us that there is something wrong with feeling symptoms. Much of my medical training was focused on stopping symptoms as if they were the problem. (This is like telling the body to shut up. It’s rude!) We don't trust the body’s intelligence. We think too much and tend to be afraid of feelings in our body. 

But children have taught me that a symptom like fever is actually not the problem. Whatever is causing the fever may be a problem, but the temperature is simply the body’s way of trying to deal with what’s happening. 

Take, for example, the child with a fever. What other symptoms does the child have? If he is playful, you may not need to suppress the fever. It means the body is trying to make metabolic heat to mobilize the immune system. To help it do this, you can give warm (not cold) fluids so it doesn’t dry out and nourishing foods like soups to fuel the fire.

7. Be prepared. 

The one phrase from the Eagle Scout motto that stuck with me since I was a boy was Be prepared. This is a state of readiness that can be fueled by confidence or fear. 

These days I practice what I call “preparatory medicine” rather than preventive medicine, so that getting sick is not seen as a failure. Being healthy does not mean never getting sick. Life is a journey of ups and downs and the growing child lives in a constant state of flux. A resilient immune system is one that learns how to get sick and get better. Living too clean a life robs us of the information necessary to be fully prepared to recover. 

Rather than living in fear of illness, there are natural ways we can support our children to recovery from illness quickly and efficiently: good nutrition, hydration, probiotics, rest and exercise. But the most important? Rather than focusing on how often your child gets sick, celebrate how often she gets better.
8. Healing takes time. 

The most alternative medicine I practice these days is taking time. As a society, we're addicted to quick fixes because we have no time to be sick anymore. As a doctor, I was trained as a kind of glorified fireman, looking to put out emergencies quickly and efficiently. 

In emergencies, strong medicine is often necessary to save lives but most health problems in childhood are not emergencies. In those instances it takes more than strong medicine to get better; it takes time. I realize that taking another day off from work because a child has been sent home from school with a runny nose can add real stress to our already stressful lives. But children have taught me that healing is a kind of developmental process that has its own stages too. 

When we don’t take time to recover, we rob our children of the necessary stages they need to learn from if they are to develop long-lasting health. When we take time to recover, illness becomes a journey of discovery, not just a destination; we begin to see our health and illness as two sides of the same coin. 

9. The secret of life is letting go. 

Life is a process of constantly giving way. Things pushed past their prime transform into something else. Just as spring gives way to summer, so is each stage of development a process of letting go. Crawling gives way to walking. Babbling gives way to speaking. Childhood gives way to adolescence. By breathing in, you breathe out. By eating, you poop. 

Each season, each stage, each little rhythm of our life is a matter of letting go. This allows us to get rid of what we don't need to make room in our lives for new information. Learning to let go is not always easy and each child has his own adaptive style and timing. Nature favors diversity. Remember to honor your child’s unique nature. This is what my book Fire Child Water Child is all about. 

Perhaps the most important way children teach me how to let go is in the way they play. Playing means letting go of our inhibitions; it frees us up and allows us not to take ourselves too seriously. 

10. Trust yourself: You're the expert on your child. 

One of the most important things I teach new parents is how to trust themselves. Nowhere is this more daunting than when a new baby comes into our life. We’re expected to know everything and yet we feel like we know nothing. But children have taught me that this knowing-nothing can be a real opportunity to open our powers of intuition. 

Mindful parenting begins by listening with an open heart to your child’s life without fear or panic. Studies have shown that a mother’s intuition is more powerful than any lab test in picking up problems. Unfortunately today we are flooded with so much scary information that it interferes with our ability to listen to our own intuition. (Just think of the arrogance of a doctor who acts like he knows your child better than you do!) 

Take a tip from your baby. Look into your baby’s eyes. Imagine what it feels like to be conscious of the world before you have language, before all those labels that scare us and divide things into good and bad, right and wrong. Babies have no enemies. This is seeing from the source. It is what Zen Buddhists call “beginner’s mind.” Watch closely how your baby breathes with his belly. This is Qigong breathing. Stop thinking for a moment and try breathing this way. You may just find the answers you need waiting for you there.

11. Take the long view. (Because it’s easy to get caught in the immediacy of a problem, especially at 2am.)

Having watched thousands of children grow into adulthood, what sometimes seems like a big deal at four-months old or 14-years old may be no more than a small bump in the road. Children have taught me how to take the long view of life. When we step back and see the big picture of our lives, we discover wisdom and compassion.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Naughty Nancy Children's Book

Darren can't get enough of this book! I'd read to him few times in a row because he keeps saying 'Again!' 

He's so fascinated! And I must say this book is fun.

So I put my thumb and index finger to 'puppet' the hands of Naughty Nancy.

Crossing her arms because she is angry and won't shake hands with you.

She smashes and bashes and pushes her friends and their toys. You really gotta use finger force to make those movements... hahahaa.

Then Nancy says sorry... awwwwww.

So cute right? By the way, her friends also have their own book. Lenny the Long Leg Monster, Ernie the Eye Monster and Nosey Norman.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cough Puke Cough Puke

The boys spent a few days coughing badly. And some few nights too. Accompanied by puking. Mama says puking out the phlegm is good and they will stop coughing after that.

What bull.

My bedtime routine involved strategically placing a puke bucket between the boys' beds. But Murphy's Law insists they puke NEXT to the bucket, all over the floor. Oh my beautiful laminated flooring.

And let me tell you this. The hardest thing to wash is not scum. It is the complex mixture of milk, phlegm and stomach juice. It's gooey, oily, sticky, and it.just.won't.wash.off.

So here I am with eyes half opened.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Gold Breakfast Show

On 20th August, my favourite Class 95 Morning Express was no longer my favourite. The Flying Dutchman swapped seats with Joe Augustin. So I was very tired switching in between stations to settle down.

Joe's voice is deep and special, I find it alluring... BUT I couldn't stand the way he speaks. Tak lancar la. Not smooth. He blabber blabber blabbers and I still don't get his point. It's frustrating. He's like this remote control car played by a 3 year old... go here, there, here there, bump into things, stop, go stop go. Eeeesh.

And so I went over to Gold 90.5FM in the mornings during my drive. I absolutely LOVE Vernetta and the FD. MATCH MADE IN HEAVENS OF RADIO BROADCASTING. It just felt so easy listening to them. Like good speakers, you know. The only issue I had in the beginning was the songs. Gold 90.5FM is for old people. I almost fell asleep when they played certain unfamiliar songs... you know how oldies can be right... -__-

But after a few weeks, I started to pay attention to the lyrics of some songs. Boy, it was an awakening. OLDIES ROCK!!! It's like an undiscovered gem by young oblivious mindless young people like myself. Some of the lyrics are very very very honest, very straightforward, very true and sounds like they are singing by reading from a letter.

This particular songs had me gaping. SO DIRECT!

A Woman Needs Love by Ray Parker Jr.
A woman needs love (just like you do, hoo)
Don't kid yourself into thinkin' that she don't
She can fool around (just like you do, hoo)
Unless you give her all the (lovin' she wants)

Don't make the mistake 
Of thinkin' old fashioned (ooh, ooh)
Times have changed from yesterday
No longer will 
Those old double standards (ooh, ooh)
Be accepted by the women of today

So when you think you're foolin' her
She just might be foolin' you
Remember, if you can do it
She can too

Because a woman needs a love 
(Just like you do, hoo)
Hey, don't kid yourself into 
(Thinking that she don't)
She can fool around 
(Just like you do, hoo)
Unless you give her all the (lovin' she wants)

When her eyes are beggin' for affection (ooh, ooh)
Don't put her off, don't make her wait
Don't try to give her 
That worn out excuse (ooh, ooh)
About being tired and workin' late

I tell you one day you'll come home
Early from work (home from work)
Open up the door
And get your feelings hurt

Because she needs it, yeah 
(Just like you do, hoo)
A woman's got to have it 
Whoa, yeah (just like you)
And if you're smart, mmm 
(Just like you do, hoo) 
You better stop foolin' around, hey, hey
'Cos she will too
(Just like you do, hoo)
(Thinkin' that she don't, hoo-oooh)
(Just like you do, hoo)
Now an example to you
Is by the time poor Jack 
Returned up the hill
Somebody else had been lovin' Jill

A woman needs love 
(Just like you do, hoo) hey
Don't kid yourself into thinkin' that she don't
She can fool around, yeah 
(Just like you do, hoo)
She will be foolin' around
Soooo, you better take out some insurance
And be sure she won't
Give her that love, mmmm, yeah
(Just like you do, hoo)
That sweet, sweet love
She wants it
(Just like you)
'Cos she can fool around 
(Just like you do, hoo) 
She will fool around
With you or without you 
Just like you do

A woman needs love (just like you do, hoo)
Hey, don’t kid yourself into thinkin' 
That she don't
She can fool around (just like you, hoo)
A woman needs it just like you

And if you're free , go check out the lyrics for Pina Colada. Such a story!

It's my new favourite morning radio now.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Letters to My Boys: Advice to Graduates

To my dear boys, love and kindness, at the end of the day, wins.

George Saunders’s Advice to Graduates 

Here's some of my favourite excerpts:

"What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness."

"Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?
Those who were kindest to you, I bet."

"And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE. If you have kids, that will be a huge moment in your process of self-diminishment. You really won’t care what happens to YOU, as long as they benefit. That’s one reason your parents are so proud and happy today. One of their fondest dreams has come true: you have accomplished something difficult and tangible that has enlarged you as a person and will make your life better, from here on in, forever."

"Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.
Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial."

"That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly."

I know this because the both of you have given me more than I bargained for. I love you Daniel, and Darren, very very much.

A Boy And His Stationery

My Primary Two boy's backpack weighs 10 kg.

This is part of the reason.

WHY ON EARTH DOES HE BRING THAT SHARPENER?! I thought to myself. This boy does not know how to pack light. And what's with the two pencil cases. He says one is for pencils, rulers etc, and the other is for colour pencils. OK, fair enough. But he brings 15 pencils, some are mechanical ones. What the...  He is into pencil cases with the most compartments, and he's also into mechanical pencils. He and his classmates are comparing mechanical pencils, how cute is that. I'm actually very happy that the simple pleasures of childhood still exists.

I got him something cool. I've never seen so many buttons on a pencil case before. And a compass!


So I said, 'You don't have to bring all that crap stuff anymore. Just ONE pencil case, yes?"

Hampalang he wants.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Wife Factor

Some Chinese businessmen believes that one of the factor that influences their career success and luck is their wife.

One word, chubby. The consensus is a woman with a fleshy nose, chubby hands and feet. 

I have none of those. 

During dinner one night, the husband talked a lot about his career path and work as usual. Then he talked about how some wives bring luck to their husbands. I knew who he was talking about. It's a sister of one of his close friend. She is like the Goddess of Chinese Businessmen's Wife. She married a man who rode motorcycle and she manoeuvred his path to a million dollar worth business. 

He said, "She's VERY clever in business" (hmm, sounds different in Cantonese)

I know my husband. He admires very smart people especially in business, those who seem to have the luck or the opportunity to soar high and gain success. Perhaps he envies these people. He is waiting to get there... fast.

I asked him, "Do you mean I don't bring you luck? Coz you are struggling right now". He said it's a matter of fate. Some wives are like that Goddess, some are neutral, no good luck, no bad luck, the husband has to work on his own capabilities. 

WOW. I totally got the hint. Or is it just me? Such a blink-blink moment there and then. I felt so bad, like a child who just got shushed because she's not helping the situation.

I should go into an eating disorder to get chubby eh.

The Stressed Husband

On some days where he had an intense critical non-stopping battle on the site, he'd come home later, finish his dinner and then predictably, stone at the patio with a cigarette. He'd be using his phone most of the time too, then shower, and then go back to the patio with his phone and another cigarette. He is totally in another world. And then lock up the doors and plonk down on the bed. He'd snore almost immediately.

On some nights, he'd be out drinking. I am usually asleep or half-asleep by the time he trudge home, reeking of alcohol. 

No exchange of words, no hugs or kisses. That's how some days are.

I feel sorry for him, I really am. I wonder if I am doing enough to support him. My method is to leave him alone to dwell in his cave (the author of Men from Mars, Women from Venus said so!) and give him his space. I know I can do more. I used to drop him messages of encouragement, do little sweet things, buy stuff for him, but now I feel like I'm withholding all those affections due to resentment.

I'm tired too.