Archive for July, 2015

Things You Never Knew Had to Be Taught

July 28, 2015

Sometimes I’m amazed that skills we take for granted needs to be explicitly taught to kids. At least mine needs specific guidance on social skills. Like the other day, he woke me up at 5am because he had a small wet spot on his bed. Somehow I couldn’t fall back asleep and woke up  at around 6:30am. Calvin was still asleep. He finally woke up at 7am to find me outside at the computer and was upset, as usual because he had planned to wake up before I do and do this and that. I started to tell him (once again) that he can control his own action and reactions but not those of other people. I tried to give an example this time since he wasn’t convinced the past few times. I said “Imagine if I said, I’m planning for it to be a sunny day today. I can’t control the weather, so I will probably be disappointed quite often”.  Then a lightbulb moment appeared and I continued, “But….I might say I plan to play if it is sunny; if it rains, I’ll play inside”. He was instantly pleased and went off to make plans of his own for the day.

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Summer Days Drifting Away…

July 28, 2015

The summer days are passing quickly. There is just so much I would like to do. On the bright side, my life is never boring.It only suddenly occur to me that I need to actively think about my priorities. I’m sure I’ve subconsciously done that already but not enough that I can say I’ve made a choice to ignore activity A for activity B. I can understand how overwhelming that must be for a little guy like how Calvin who doesn’t even have a good concept of time, much less the idea of prioritizing. He is always lamenting when it is time for bed when there are still so many exciting activities he wants to pursue.

So I’ve pared down my priorities to basically:

1. Calvin: Spend time bonding and teaching him values, social skills and Chines. Allow plenty of outdoor time, preferably at least 1 hr per day. When school starts, help him get adjusted to formal schooling.

2. J: Support him in job search and thesis where possible.

I’ve toned down on my deal hunting to penny-pinch since we usually spend little enough that the time expenditure isn’t worth it, but I may give up on it all together. We may end up eating more commercially prepared food. Or I’ll need some simpler recipes that are not as time consuming. Whatever compromises that will be made, it makes it much less frustrating for me when I know specifically what I’m trading off for. I know for sure that getting less sleep is not on the cards since I get all cranky and snappy and not at all happy with myself for being that way.

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That said, we’ve been spending a lot of time outside playing with the girl downstairs. We haven’t seen Calvin’s best buddy for a while since they left for California but last week, we’ve played with our neighbour lots especially the days when I helped to pick her up from school. Their latest favorite: monster tag. Much more fun for the grownups than the original monster game at least.

Once a week, we also go to the library and get our stash of books renewed. I am so in love with the library here! To be able to put holds for all our favorite books and have a 75 book limit is absolutely heavenly! It really lets us try out a lot of books we would not normally have borrowed. I would really miss it if we go back to Singapore and be limited to 8 books per person and an expensive fee for each hold you place.

Every day, we also learn Chinese words and practice writing. I’ve come up with lots of new games to make the learning more exciting and he has been picking up lots of new Chinese words and is comfortable enough to speak some Chinese even in front of strangers. We are now up to at least 125 characters recognized. I wonder how many more we can do before school starts.

He attends weekly karate lessons and clay lessons. We’ve stopped going for the nature class since we’ve already explored the past few parks. He really enjoys the clay class since the teacher is really patient and good with the children.

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Times of Aggravation

July 11, 2015

Though most of the time, I feel that he is a little sweet angel, there are also times when the aggravating or worrying things happen all at once and I wonder if I have not been teaching him properly. I guess all kids have things that worry their parents. I just need to vent a little before I go crazy.

Treasuring his possessions (Not)

He has been getting a lot of Lego sets this year from us because I have gotten some really good deals and I couldn’t resist buying him something he enjoys. From January, he has received Emmet’s Mech (from the January Target Sale), Chima Chi Bird (good deal from Walmart.com), a small Knights ambush set (paid with mostly free bucks from Kmart) and the Ultra Agents set (a good deal from Kmart due to free bucks and ended up with a profit after selling one of the minifigs). While it is great looking at his overjoyed face when he receives a present, I think the influx of Lego has diluted the value of each one. He doesn’t give a hoot when the pieces break, his display shelf looks more like a junkyard to store parts so he doesn’t have to clean up. And having more seems to bring out his materialism, he has been telling me that “I want to buy this…. and that” after playing with them in school i.e. Lincoln logs (with lots of chimney pieces pls), Mr Potato, action figures, the minifig that I sold off and this did not give to him etc… And then on the last day of summer camp at kindergarten, he came home and was acting all suspicious about something in his backpack. He brought it into his room and didn’t want to me to see the contents. In the end, it turned out that he took one of the Lego pieces back from his school classroom because it was in a color he didn’t have – it was black and the one he had was grey. I was taken aback as this was the first time he wanted something so much that he took it with him even though he knew it wasn’t right. We had a big talk about why we shouldn’t do that etc and agreed that we needed to bring it back. I’m surprised though because when we went to the library’s block party, he seem to understand that we don’t bring those home.

So we’ve decided not to give him anything until his birthday and Christmas (though we don’t really care about Christmas….) even though I’ve stocked up a big bunch of Lego that were too good to pass up. Maybe I’ll resell them for profits instead)

Following Instructions (Not)

That same day, he picked some flowers home from his summer camp and said he wanted to give it to me and papa. Later he admitted that the teachers told him he shouldn’t pick it “because there may be bugs”. He thought to himself that his flowers look very small and doesn’t look like it’ll have bugs so he sneaked it into his backpack. As he described it to me, he sounded so proud and excited that he managed to get away with it. I find it frustrating when I instruct him not to do something and he does it anyway because he thinks he knows better. It makes it hard for me to trust that he will follow rules that are set for good reason. Like when I told him not to touch the blender while I went to get his cup, he immediately fiddled with it.

Using words to clarify/ convey meaning (Not)

Or when I told him to check if the rain is splashing into his room from the window. After the first two times I said it, he went off to close the balcony door. When I said it another time thinking he didn’t hear it, he just stared at me blankly. Then finally, he said ok, ran to his room and started looking through his book. When I finally asked him if he knew what I was talking about, he said he didn’t. I thought it was clear enough but I would have been happy to explain what he needed to do if he would just let me know that he didn’t understand.

Waking up in the middle of the night

Waking up is fine, but waking up and calling for me so he can see my face is not. Tonight, he woke up and started to cry and complained that it is so boring. It is sleep time after all….I’d be more worried if it was exciting. I suddenly remembered him at age 2 when he would sometimes wake up and start crying inconsolably. Getting close to him during those times would earn me a kick or punch. I wish he was a better sleeper. And I wish he would remember to go to the bathroom when he actually wakes up.

Core Strength

July 8, 2015

Ever since Calvin has a baby, he has had low muscle tone. He was the baby who sits W-shaped all the time because his muscles were not strong enough to support himself sitting otherwise. I guess I should have corrected him earlier. He crawled only at 12 months (corrected age 10 months, at the end of normal range), walked unassisted at 18 months (16 month corrected age, also at the end of normal range) but only jumped with two feet (way past the normal range >_<)

I mentioned that his karate sensei said he needed to practice hopping. As I did research, I realized that poor balance is actually related to core muscle strength.  His gymnastic classes were a really great help these last two years. He is now able to walk across a low beam with confidence and we also practiced standing on one foot and doing crab walks/ wheel barrow. We’ve since stopped it on his request so I’m trying to find other fun activities to do so he can continue to work those muscles. Well I might get J to do it too since he slouches and had trouble balancing on one foot for 15 seconds (think he managed it in the end? Can’t remember). It might help strengthen his back too and prevent further injuries.

I’m trying to fine some fun ideas that doesn’t sound too much like exercise. Maybe a spy training camp that incorporates these?

Snake  curl  ups
Children  lie  on  backs  with  knees  bent  and  an  object  or  piece  of  paper  etc  between  knees  to  keep  them
together  with  hands  on  thighs.  As  the  “snake  charmer”  says,  the  “snake”  sits  up  to  being  hands  to  knees
without  letting  object  drop
Superman/woman
Lying  on  bellies  and  lifting(straight)  arms  and  legs  off  the  ground,  think  quality  of  movement  as  opposed  for  length  of  time
Popcorn
Get  children  to  lie  on  their  backs  and  pull  their  legs  towards  their  chests,  tuck  their  heads  in  and  hold
their  legs  with  their  arms,  then  POP  and  put  arms  and  legs  out  straight  for  as  long  as  possible
.  Making  sure  we  take  breaths and  keep  head  off the  ground!3  seconds  to  start  off.
Scooter Boarding
Animal Walks
Wheelbarrow walking
Plank (Plank ball – In plank position, pass ball with one hand or head butt, Plank wars)
Bridge
Tree position
Picking something up with beanbag on head
Hula Hoop

Summer Classes

July 7, 2015

Calvin started his nature explorers and karate lessons today. Not sure if he will enjoy it but I figure it is good to expose him to different things. Calvin came back from school one day very excited about karate. They had been reading a book called Three Ninja Pigs, which is essentially the Three Little Pigs story. Apparently, it had the same effect on some other kids in his school because they too enrolled in karate lessons. Maybe after these lessons, the glamour of it will wear off or maybe he will be more determined to work on it..

ninja kapow

So far he has had 3 lessons and he was learning the kick yesterday and the sensei told him that he needs to work on his balance. We’ll have to try our best to practice it. He has started to hop on one foot and can do at least three consecutive little hops without any support.

My Sweet Sensitive Calvin

July 7, 2015

Calvin is a sensitive little boy. He is very emphatic towards others and will get teary from watching a sad movie scene or hearing a verbal statement that Batman’s parents were killed

Sometimes, I worry that he will get teased next time because he tears up easily. I am just the same except I’m a girl and it’s more socially accepted when I cry. When i get angry, so much emotion overwhelm me that I’ll start to cry and that makes me feel embarrassed. I can see Calvin trying so hard to hold back those feelings of frustration and anger and keep in control.

He also gets worried about many things… like dying and how much trouble a time machine will be if it changes history. I wonder who he inherited that from *innocent whistle*

Before his second karate lesson, he was feeling nervous about it since the sensei can be more strict than he is used to. To be honest, he rarely had any classes where people constantly points out his mistakes. He has a fear of failure that I’m hoping I can ease. He used to get really upset if I correct him and I have been careful ever since to commend his efforts instead of outcome, but sometimes I wonder if there are times when I’m not careful enough.

When we told him about his summer camp at Greer, where he has to go by himself in a schoolbus, he admitted he was scared and worried that he won’t get the right answers. “Silly little bear,” we told him, “if you knew everything, you wouldn’t need to go to a school/ classes” Then we told him about our own first times: being by myself in the Singapore hostel, papa going to the army; how the other children are probably feeling the same thing. He calmed down and ate his dinner and was alright after that. He went to karate lessons and seem to have enjoyed himself better this time. Maybe the shock of not doing flying kicks has worn off and had time to sink in. But he doesn’t have a single aggressive bone in him. When the sensei asked him to throw a punch at her so she can demonstrate how the block works, he would try to punch her arm that was already blocking above her head instead of at her. It’s hard for a sweet little boy like him to even contemplate hurting someone.