Rooting for my Birth Country

May 10, 2018

My birth country is a cesspit of corruption, nepotism and blatant racial discrimination. For years, I thought I didn’t feel much for it after so many years being away but I was probably just disappointed and apathetic because I thought nothing would ever change. Today, looking at the election results come in, I feel all excited and I’m rooting for the big change to happen!


Learning to Motivate

May 8, 2018

I’ve been delving into the psychology of motivation. I’ve read many research that says intrinsic motivation is the key to really getting people motivated and that extrinsic motivation (like rewards, star charts, etc), though it works in the short run, actually demotivates in the long run especially when the rewards run out.

One of the takeaways was to make the process of learning an enjoyable one. This is especially true for tasks where the person is not internally motivated. For example, C seems to think math to be tiresome and he doesn’t enjoy it. Part of the reason is because I’m constantly pushing him to become better and I’m always telling him what he does wrong. He’s pretty sensitive to it and upset to be wrong (I think there’s some perfectionism at play here where he tries hard to avoid that feeling of incompetence).  But I think I’m getting on the right track. I managed to praise him for his effort yesterday and we talked about how when he said ‘I give up’, what I should understand is that ‘This is my best shot (even though I know it’s not good enough)’. And I really wanted to let him know that trying his best is good, that even if it wasn’t correct, it is still productive work. So I’m thinking more puzzles, we are also using Life of Fred which seems to pique his interest, maybe because of the story aspect of it. Or maybe a mathy board game that I keep seeing in some of the blogs I follow.

Self Worth

March 23, 2018

It’s hard to remember that self worth should be tied to personal growth and not by an external title or traditional success. As a stay at home parent, I definitely struggle with a sense of low self worth because it is a job that is not well appreciated or respected. After all, the barrier to becoming a parent is low and no education or training is necessary.

But then gain the perception of others is mainly vanity. I remind myself that educating my child is what I choose to do and I like that I can spend time with him. And I’ve been growing more as a person in the past few years than in the ones when I accumulated resume material. I’ve also regained the deep thoughtfulness that fulfills me and I have a lot more time to read. By all accounts, I am a lucky girl. If my dissatisfaction arise from a lack of Instagram or Facebook worthy things to share, then what I need to do is probably adjust my expectations. Not that I’d ever share anything “worthy” anyway, I am at the end of the day private person and a social media dinosaur that feels strange sharing stuff like that. On the other hand, I’m also not shocked or affected by that whole brouhaha about Facebook mining your personal data because I’ve always been wary about sharing personal information. And websites that try to force me install more apps that asks for access to my contact number/ photos etc usually gets the shaft from me.

Gamification of Life

March 12, 2018

I heard on a podcast about this woman who suffered from a concussion, which led to serious depression and she started thinking about her struggles as a game objective to overcome and she recruited allies (family/ friends) and get power ups (e.g hugging the dog which helps boost her mood). She said that while it didn’t lessen the pain, she stopped suffering and was able to keep moving on.

So while I was lying there, unable to sleep because of a blocked nose which forced me to mouth breath, which turned my tongue to leather, I suddenly had this vision of little C as the character of these games where the objective is to master Chinese/ math or whatever it is we are trying to tackle. And along the way are these monsters (or youkai) that keep trying to stop him from getting there. I was seriously having fun coming up with names like the Muddling Mud, Dr distraction, Miscommunication Monkey, Boring Beetle. The good thing about externalizing the problems is that we remove the feelings of inadequecy from the child and work on seeing these as obstacles that are not part of who he is but something to overcome. We’ll have to think of some power ups that help him against these enemies and in this scenario, I am an ally who provides power boosts or a guide who looks out for better paths to take. I even came up with a debuff for mum called the angry ant bite, that causes her to go on a rampage on her allies.

I am hoping it will alleviate the frustration and stress for both of us and make working together more fun.

Or maybe this will one of those ideas that only sound good in the middle of the night when you are all drugged up with medicine and the brain hadn’t had much sleep.

I also had another idea to improve his Chinese oral by letting dictate a short ‘presentation’, which I will write out and he can read it or memorize to present to his dad (that’s our only willing audience right now, I’m afraid. Oh wait I’m totally forgetting grandparents….) Not sure why my brain is going on overdrive when what I really need to do is sleep…

Random Quotes from Calvin

February 20, 2018

I found a piece of paper where I wrote some stuff that Calvin said when he was 4 or 5 years old.

“I don’t like to shake my head. What if other people think I am silly.”

“I like it when people wave at me. I feel famous”

“I feel down. Like a loser” When he lost a card game (钓鱼). I commended him for being a good sport.


Another one recently,

” When I go to college, I’ll be so happy, I might bump all night” He supposedly bumps around on his bed when he’s excited about something the next day.

Inspiration for Chinese

February 13, 2018

After reading a lot of what others have done to get their kids learning Chinese, I’m pretty sure Calvin will never reach a native proficiency without a lot of painful sacrifices of time and effort on both our part. That’s fine because it was never really my intention. I’ve always been focused on keeping up his interest in the language and giving him the basics so that he can pick it up further if interested. It was also partial insurance in case we have to go back to Singapore and he really needs a second language.

That said, I think I may need to pick up the pace of learning for him or he’ll be depriving instead of maintaining some Chinese proficiency. I think I haven’t been deliberate enough in introducing new vocabulary to him so I might work on that as he practices his reading daily. I haven’t been giving him any writing sheets either especially when we have been working on programming in Scratch. I guess I’m lucky that he can even understand enough to watch Doraemon cartoons in Chinese, which helps gives some televance to his learning.

Going on strike

February 7, 2018

Kiddoes in school talking about going on strike if the substitute teachet is around so thay she won’t get paid. They think she’s too harsh over minor transgressions. There was talk about rebelling. Well apparently going on strike means they all do not go to school. I’m not sure this is going to work.

Finding His Path

January 23, 2018

I’m worried about helping Calvin find something he really wants to do with his life. I never quite got down that path. My childhood was basically following this path that the system laid out and I find myself more than a little lost when it was time to choose a major. Sometimes I feel like it was more by elimination than a true choice. School lays out a path that doesn’t encourage exploration and it’s easy to get distracted by the goal of getting high scores. That’s something I hope we can delve into over the summer.

I read some homeschool blog dismissing the education public schools give because of the lack of passion kids have for things that are forced on them. But she goes to say that kids will learn math and reading by themselves anyway and she isn’t worried that her two boys are two or three grade levels below in math and/or reading. I agree with some of it but people really have a tendency to see only in black or white (she said school was basically for parents addicted to government paid childcare). I don’t think it’s clearly good or bad, just that it clearly won’t work for everyone and you shouldn’t shit on other people’s choices to make yourself feel better about your less conventional decision.

Dealing with Frustration

January 18, 2018

So little guy is now a yellow belt in karate and has been trying to tie his belt himself. I’ve taught him a few times before via scaffolding — I tie it almost all the way and he does the last part. Except he doesn’t seem to remember most of it now.

But… he’s still stuck on “I know this and I will do this myself” mode so he’s been struggling with tying it the whole week. He would spend 5 minutes doing it by himself, never thinking about asking for help. It would be time to go and he was all frustrated that it didn’t work out and insist that I help him right now! Today he was moping the whole 10 min car ride about “why won’t my belt tie?” Like someone had played a prank on him and rendered his belt unmanageable. He was kicking the back of the seat in frustration. And then he sulked when I couldn’t to his belt right outside the car because it was raining hard. So I had to tie it right outside the dojo while holding on to the umbrella and while wearing my gloves.

I’m not sure why I don’t indulge him more when he’s already frustrated but somehow I get annoyed when he expects me to drop everything and help. Am I worried about his dependence on me? I think I have to accept that as he grows he’ll vacillate between dependence and independence and I shouldn’t begrudge him when he tries to be independent but realize he wants to be helped. In my head, I seem to think that once he decides to be independent, he should persevere at it but it should be ok if he wants to show me a moment of weakness. I definitely need to work on my own flexibility. Grouchy mama, back down!

End of Another Year

December 6, 2017

I’ve somehow let November pass me by without blogging. I guess I’ve been flitting from one mini project to another and it’s been sapping a lot of my mental energy and I end up zombifying in front of the computer most days when I do have time.

And what started as an ambitious task to feel more involved in the school community is weighing me down considerably. I think I’m happy to be on the margins of the community. Or perhaps more accurately, to dwell in little circles within and be thrust in the middle of it, feeling lost and perhaps even more lonely than before. I’ve always had a problem about loneliness in a crowd. Next year I’m definitely trying something else.

Me and Calvin has been having some disagreements/ arguments/ nagging sessions?!?, mostly due to his inability to pay proper attention. He’ll make the same mistakes over and over, even when I remind him right before the task… Seriously, I think he might have  the inattentive type ADHD – careless in his work, disorganized, distracted when talked to,  doesn’t follow through on instructions/ chores.

I kinda thought I might have the inattentive type too.  I’m certainly careless enough in my work and was constantly misplacing my keys (seems to be getting better) but I don’t have problems making myself complete school work or losing things. So maybe I’m only mildly so.

So I’ve taken to re-reading Playful Parenting again, which I read when he was 3 or 4? I just need the right perspective so I can talk to him in a way that doesn’t involve just angry and frustrated nagging.

Despite that, I think he’s growing up great. He just turned 8 last week and seems to be thriving in school. We met his teacher and there were no big surprises – need to stay on task more and work on his handwriting legibility. Calvin doesn’t think he’s good at math though so I’m glad we work on it at home so he’d not feel totally lost in class. He’s even more careless than me and he doesn’t even finish his work quickly enough to check his work.

I do also get distracted like somehow I started reading reviews for random stuff instead of finishing this post….. I guess I really need to be more understanding of him when he does get distracted and gently bring him back or teach him to reel himself back to the current reality.