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.

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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.

Busy

October 31, 2017

I’ve been more busy than ever this year, with way too many ‘projects’ that I have for myself. For one, the whole PTA project is taking up way more of my time than I had thought and it’s also a lot less enjoyable as well. Dealing with people reminds me of the differences in others that bothers me – a tendency to favor convenience over accuracy and correctness. It kinda scares me that people who seem fairly comfortable with numbers (I’m assuming since they volunteered for the task) making such fundamental errors. I’m definitely not continuing this experiment next year. Well, at least I tried.

I’m still trying to figure out if I want to go back to work and what I would do if I were. So I’m brushing up some technical skills in the meantime, just to see how much I like it. Half the time, I feel like I’m learning something that won’t ever get used and I get discouraged., but it all has to start somewhere.

I’m trying to practice my social skills by putting myself out there to be with other parents. Sometimes I worry that I’m acting too…… desperate but I’m trying my best and if it doesn’t work, then that’s a learning experience in itself. Really, the worst that can happen are some wasted hours and a bruised self esteem. I think now that I have found my wonderful soulmate, I feel strong enough to venture out and just try. I’ve been learning more about myself and also to be kinder to myself when I’m clumsy or make mistakes. I think I’m in a good place though I still get so anxious that I can’t fall asleep some nights (that or it was the double cups of Chinese tea I drank right before I slept…..)

I’m still reading a wide assortment of parenting, psychology and motivation books so I could be a better life coach and mother.

I guess when there’s so much you are excited and want to do, that’s what makes you feel alive.

 

Fighting with Self Doubt

October 21, 2017

It’s funny how in the process of learning about how best to help my little guy, I learn more about myself because we are so similar in temperament. That motivated me to change myself because I want to help him be the best him he could be and venture out bravely to try new things. It feels hypocritical to not believe in what I preach and hence I started my adventures this year.

For one, I’m definitely socially awkward, in part because I’ve found it such a pain to deal with people in unscripted settings that I’ve avoided most of it. Just like cooking, I’m not aspiring to reach the pinnacle of sociability but I hope that I’ll grow confident of my skills if I keep on practicing them.

I find that I’m often battling between my desire to avoid conflict and my principles of doing what is right. Does that make me inflexible? I guess along the way, I’ll botch many of my encounters, just like how some meals get ruined as I try out new things,  and with good intentions in my heart, I’ll just have to forge forward and be satisfied with it. I’ll certainly not get better if I cloister myself. I’ll pat myself on the back for making the effort to socialize with people where the old me would excuse myself in assorted ways to avoid that awkward feeling of uncertainty.  There are days when I get sick of having to deal with others and wish I didn’t choose to do challenge and I should be kind to myself if I need a break.

 

It’s Ok to be Me

October 10, 2017

Sometimes, I go through the wildest feelings of happiness and contentment and then at times, a general pessimism and hopelessness that everything will not go right and that I really want to give up right now. Sometimes I think that perhaps everyone feels that way and hide their negativity so that others only see the sunny side of things. On the hand, I’ve often found that people generally think quite differently from me. I vacillate between that feeling that maybe everyone is kinda similar but also quite alien.  Perhaps the answer lies in between – that there are more like me than I know it but probably not very common.

I think sometimes I just need to feel like I’m me, I’m different and it’s ok. I used to think it was ironic that people want to be unique but at the same time, want to be just like everyone else. Now I know it’s because what we really want is to be truly ourselves and be accepted despite the differences.

So I’m working on finding people who will accept me for who I am. I’ll probably fail many times and feel hurt and scared in the process, but I think I’ll be ok. I think I’m finally brave enough to keep forging forward.

 

 

Highly Sensitive

September 22, 2017

Growing up with little C is truly a journey to understand myself. While there are many who thrive on travelling to exciting places and doing new things, I revel in exploring the inner workings of my mind. I (over)analyze myself and wonder why. As little C grows up, I’m finding that he is temperamentally very much in the mold of  me. As I try to help him, I realize that those advice I would have loved to hear when I was younger and also that it’s not too late to heed them.

He is a really sensitive little guy – tags in clothing annoy him to no end, startles easily, doesn’t perform well when someone is watching, some movies that are not meant to be scary scare him, perfectionist (or is it a fear of failure…. not quite the same but some types of behavior though… ), worries about dying , etc   (http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-child-test/)  Many things make sense now on hindsight, like how he cried the first time we stood around and sang happy birthday to him, him fussing in crowded/ dark/ funny smelling restaurants, being extra cautious on the playground. SO the funny thing is as I read about dealing with sensitive kids, I finally realize I was one too. I even had a friend tell me that I’m really sensitive but brushed it off then because I probably thought that everyone was just like me.

So what does it mean to be highly sensitive? According to Dr Elaine Aron,  a highly sensitive person has “a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.” The good news is that even though I didn’t have a label for my preferences and behaviour, I have been aware of what I needed. It is quite interesting when I made the connection with how I like my vacations relaxing with plenty of time to go back to the quiet of a hotel room and recover from the onslaught of new sensations before venturing out again.

But it also means that I have a tendency to get into my cozy place and never wanting to change or get out of my comfort zone and endure the awkwardness of making new friends. I’ve been gently prodding the little guy into trying things he is afraid of for the longest time. (At times, not so gentle, but I’ve learnt better since…) It was in that spirit of teaching by showing that I chose to do something I normally wouldn’t – join the PTA committee and I am really glad I did. At first, I thought it would be a good setting for getting to know other parents. I had to remind myself that being an introvert doesn’t make me bad at small talk, it is the fact I don’t practicing adult social skills that makes me more anxious when I do need them.  So I’ve started my self assigned task of looking for new friends because I’ll never meet any if I just sit at home and read.

Things that Shouldn’t Bother Me But Do

September 19, 2017

We are pretty close with the family of little C’s best friend, W. They have regular weekly playdates; I’ve helped them out in various occasions when they had trouble arranging for childcare – giving rides, babysat, picked up their son; our kids are in the same karate dojo;…  I had a tough time telling W’s mum that we were switching schools. She asked which school and I told her the truth.

So the thing is, right before school started, W’s dad started acting aloof towards us. When we saw him at karate, we would say hi as usual but he was withdrawn and didn’t want to be engaged.  The first time, I thought maybe he was stressed out or tired. By the second time, I was starting to suspect there was something deeper going on. And today, we were at the dojo again. They came late so we didn’t have a chance to say hi. When the class ended, they left in a jiffy without even saying ‘hello’ . Then I remembered how after W’s mum arranged with me to keep W for a day because they both had to work, the dad abruptly cancelled it the evening before when we met at the dojo.  I thought it was a little weird at that time, but I think it is his way of disassociating with us.  I’m not sure what we did that could have offended him except have our child be moved to a school that the anti-intellectual perceive as being for the entitled/ elite while I think of it as a place where he can be with peers who are similar to him, which hopefully means he’ll less likely to be bullied.

At any rate, even though I feel rather hurt by the snubbing, I’ll continue to do what I feel is right. If a parent wants to set an rude, ungracious example before their child, that’s not my problem to solve.

 

Social Anxiety

September 16, 2017

I suffer from some social anxiety. When I was still in school and naturally surrounded by people, it wasn’t obvious. The class environment makes it easy to make friends because you see them everyday and you have a lot of common experiences. It was in college when I first felt a little isolated and realized I lack the social skills to make friends outside a school context. I was the only person I know in my major and while I made a couple of acquaintances, I realized that it wasn’t easy to start up a random conversation with people. In hindsight, tutorials would have been a good chance to initiate contact but I kinda kept to myself.

I never quite realize that you need a different set of skills to interact with strangers and make small talk. I don’t think I’ve quite shaken off the trauma of having good friends (two in my lifetime) turn on me and decide I was pariah. I harbor the fear that people secretly detest me and I’m too dense to notice it. That makes it hard for me to open up. Deep down, I understand that I can never make everyone happy and it’s true that I was blithely ignorant before and may have hurt some feelings. In the end though, I think it is up to the person who has a problem to speak up about it if they are interested in maintaining the relationship.

So as I talk down my social anxiety about meeting people, I’ve been convincing myself that all those negative things I think they might be saying about me doesn’t exist. In some cases, that is true. Sometimes when me and J argue, he tends to keep quiet and I start to imagine the things he must be thinking.  When we both calm down and talk about it, I would find out that they weren’t true and that I should stop tormenting myself with the imaginary narration playing out in my head. Or maybe that’s more true with guys who have a less complicated inner life.

End of the day is, I told myself that nothing will get better if I don’t try it out. So that’s why I’ve been branching out to try out the PTA, to approach other parents or groups that I think I can make connections. Even if I don’t find good friends in the process, at least I am shedding some of the anxiety just by practicing the skill.

2nd Grade

August 31, 2017

School is starting next week.  I’m starting to feel a little jittery since there are uncertainties to deal with and I’m not good with uncertainties.  Part of it is because I made myself join the PTA but I think it’s probably a good thing for me because I need that push to go socialize with people and actually try to make friends. I have a habit of retreating to my comfy den and staying there otherwise.

This year, I’m hoping I can be relax a little on the math front since his school will be teaching at a level more in line with his Singapore peers. Hopefully, we can work more on Chinese and maybe enroll him in a sport after school. He really needs the physical activity!