Archive for September, 2015

Worry About Bullies

September 22, 2015

Calvin has been having a great time in school, making new friends with kindergartners even from other classes. He is more than academically ready for kindergarten here though we are far from adequately prepared for schooling in Singapore. They have two 20 minute recesses everyday, which they share with other kindergarten classes, and 40 minute PE lessons 3 times a week so he’s getting a decent amount of outdoor/ physical time everyday.  I am still trying my best to go outside with him for at least 30 minutes everyday just to play and so I could encourage him to practice new skills. (I was very encouraged that I’ve managed to coax him to go down the tunnel slide once more and taught him how to to get down from the rock wall. He is now confidently doing both without needing my support or verbal instructions)

His classroom assistant was telling me what a delight he is to have in class because he is such a funny boy and all the volunteers love to talk to him. He’s been doing so well in school that I was taken aback when I heard that his bus-mate had told him he “must bring his (toy) fan or he won’t be friends with him”. Well I somehow thought relational aggression was something girls do to each other, maybe because my sister and I have both been on the receiving end of it before. On hindsight, it’s just a kid thing to do. I’m guessing Calvin’s friend probably was just trying out this new “skill” to get what he wants.

When A said it to Calvin, it made his tummy feel bad and his heart was racing. He was worried because he had asked before and I was reluctant to let him bring the fan along in case the blades get squashed in his backpack.

I told Calvin that it wasn’t something a good friend would do and that good friends won’t stop being your friend because you won’t do what he wants. What if a friend asked you to do something wrong, like break a law so you can stay friends? At least Calvin knew logically that he should say “No, I won’t”. I also let him know that I don’t object to him bringing his toy along as long as he takes good care of it and his friend asks nicely for it. In fact, if his “friend” decides to snub him, I’ll make sure he brings along some cool toys that he only shares with true friends. *insert mama bear growls*

The good thing is that these boys are not in his class so he was quite a few good friends that he hangs out with everyday – Caden (whose mum is a teacher in school) and Thomas (whose parents are from Taiwan). I’m sure I’m just worrying excessively but it’s my little baby after all. It’s hard to watch them grow up and face difficulties even if logically I know I have to let him learn from it and that he will emerge more resilient than before.

The Timid Driver

September 15, 2015

So I’ve been driving for 8 months now. I’m still nervous when I drive to unknown places or when I have to go on a new highway with lots of traffic, has the usual 60 mph speed limit (as opposed to the 40mph one that passes my usual stores).

Calvin has a field trip to the apple orchard next week. I’m not exactly comfortable driving up that bumpy mountain road or cutting across the highway to get to the exit etc. So I thought I wouldn’t go. I remembered that in the elementary school where I was volunteering before, they went to the museum that was an hour’s drive away. At this rate, I probably won’t be able to go with him on field trips even if I wanted to. Well, the question is, do I really want to be there supervising a bunch of kindergartners? I’m not so sure, but I guess I felt a little bad to disappoint my little man.

Helicopter Parenting

September 10, 2015

I have a confession to make – we are helicopter parents.

Helicopter parenting refers to “being involved in a child’s life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and overperfecting, in a way that is in excess of responsible parenting” (Source: Dr Anne Dunnwold)

We use to hover over him when he was a toddler, not letting him go down the stairs without holding our hands while worrying that he will trip and hurt himself. When he was three, his gross motor skills were behind and I wondered if, apart from his prematurity, our constant hovering was making him anxious about trying out new skills. We sent him to gym class and was glad to say that they really made him try out all kinds of activities that he would not have tried with us around.

It was also at the gym that we read about helicopter parenting in a magazine while waiting for his class to be over. So I did my best to hold myself down when he’s climbing on the playground, or when he has a little fall, or when he is learning to put on his clothes.

I’d like to say I’m a recovering hoverer but to be honest, I still am. With great willpower, I’ve learned to remove myself from situations where I will hover and nag. He puts on his shoes and socks while I sit at the computer distracting myself with email. I’m trying to not visit him during his school lunch too often though I would really like to peek at how he’s doing on school lunch days. I do not fuss over him when he comes home with scratches on his lips or stories about how someone pushed him and he bumped his head.

The mama bear urge to charge into school to accost anyone who hurts him is strong, but I’m reminding myself to let him and his teachers handle it. I’ll just be here to provide a loving hug and to dispense advice if he needs any.

Pushing Kids Academically

September 9, 2015

I’ve been curating books for him from the library though I’ve never stopped him from requesting any books. We read our fair share of “trashy” books like Lego Ninjago, Lego Star wars, graphic novels etc. In fact, I am proud to say that the first long book to entice him to read was “Superman vs Bizarro”. He did read a Sandra Bonyton “Red Hat, Blue Hat” first and has been looking at picture books by himself, but the Superman book was the first one with multiple lines of small text in each page that he read. He went on to read “I am Optimus Prime” to us too! His dad is the king of reading popular sci-fi and choose your own adventure books and having good English nonetheless

I do weed out any potentially scary books, or books that has spooky/scary drawings or books that has pictures of monsters/ mummies/ sphinxes, no matter how cute they look.

Programming for Kids

September 6, 2015

Calvin wanted to see Papa’s workplace again. Rather than trying to tell him how boring it is, I thought we might as well show him and let him decide for himself. It was the weekend so we won’t be disturbing anyone. We dropped in to see the computers that do not look very different from the desktop at home and also a glimpse of papa’s code.We then proceeded to usurp the car to have fun at the park and also dropped by the library for a couple of new books. Have I mentioned how I looooove the library here? The book limit is 75 and they will place holds on books for you from other libraries free of charge. The Singapore library charges an exorbitant SGD1.65 per book and has a 8 book limit which is measly especially for kids picture books. We are close to maxing out our 75 book limit here.

ANyway, banking on his interest in programming, I decided to introduce the human robot programming game to him after we returned a little too late for lunch. I couldn’t resist trying it out right away so I gave him his usual green smoothie and prepared the game. I’ve read about this paper coding game previously. It is similar to the Robot Turtle board game that aims to teach kids the basic concept of inputting a set of instructions to a “robot” – usually a parent.

To play the game, we made our set of instructions with paper by decorating a planet Earth and an alien planet for the start and finish positions. I wrote forward, left and right as instruction slips.  Using the novelty of the game to spice up my chinese revision, we used the chinese word cards as “supplies” that the robot can pick up before reaching its destination. The game starts by setting up the supplies at random places between the two planets。 Calvin would then tell me the set of instructions to give robot i.e. Move forward 3 steps, turn right 1 step, move forward 2 steps etc. When he is done with the code, the robot will follow the instructions and see if it manages to pick up all the supplies and reach the alien planet. Our tile floor was perfect since it means I did not have to draw/ make tape squares for the game.

He had a lot of fun with it. Apart from the initial learning period, he picked it up quickly. We also took turns to be the robot and it even inspired him to make a minecraft paper game after that too. Looks like I’ll be on the prowl for more programming games for him to see if he is ready to move to the next level. Mr Calvin loves robots and has been looking forward to getting old enough (I think classes start as early as 8 years old) to be able to program a Lego Mindstorm robot so this is a good preparation for that 🙂

Calvin Lego 1502_(1)


September 4, 2015

Now that I have more free time to work on upkeep of the house. I’ve been attacking the piles of clutter we’ve accumulated, like maybe about 1 year too late? Ideally, we would have pared down our belongings last year before we moved and saved ourselves a lot of work packing, moving and unpacking. In fact, I’ve recently sold a number of things that we’ve carted over from our last apartment that has never been used ever since. As they move on to new homes, I feel a sense of satisfaction that they are going to be used as they should be. The space that they were claiming seem liberated of the mustiness that clings onto old, disused items.

After reading the Maire Kondo book, I did change my perspective about the things we own. I don’t subscribe to her overhaul of things, but I was able to let go of things that do not ‘spark any joy’ like old shirts that I don’t like any more but refused to throw away because they are not in tatters and can still be worn. So finally I’d rid of some old hand me downs from my sister which I thought I might one day wear (I wore it for about 1 hr because it irritated me in some way over the course of 4 years)

For a person who would keep a piece of string just in case, it’s a big step and I’m glad I’ve taken it.

Bento Crazy

September 3, 2015

Now that I pack lunch for Calvin almost every day, I’ve been trying out new ideas to make cute, easy to eat, delicious and nutritious food for him. Ambitious much?

Well, I just can’t see crackers as legitimate grain substitutes and I prefer if he only has lunch meat/ hot dogs not more than once a week. And I don’t want him to get used to having desserts every meal i.e chocolate milk, gummies, etc. So in the extra time I have when he is in school, I’ve started researching on bento lunches since the Japanese pack such cute lunches that are not just sandwiches.  I’ve also been secretly hankering for hotdog octopus for many years.

So far, I’ve made him hot dog octopus, numerous rice balls, apple bunnies, a pikachu rice ball and today’s theme is Angry Bird. For once I’ve managed to take a picture after the hustle and bustle of the morning rush.  Could look better if I had some craft punches etc but I’m sure Calvin would enjoy it anyway :]

09022015 Lunch

School Update

September 1, 2015

Calvin just started his third week of school. He seems generally happy and well adjusted in school. Though there were some days that make me worry like when he came home saying that it was a bad day and he wished he could jump off a building. It was rather alarming to hear it but we concluded that he probably meant that he felt so embarrassed he wished he would disappear. After waiting a day for him to cool off, I finally managed to coax out of him that it was because he was trying to climb up the side of the playground boat and a teacher told him he shouldn’t because it’s dangerous. He had seen another kindergartener done it before and was duly impressed. He also mentioned that he spent the most of that recess worrying, presumably about whether he would make another mistake.

Well that’s my Calvin – easily mortified by the mere thought of making a mistake. On a separate occasion, I was upset with him because he had once again torn his nails while playing Lego and did not let me know about it. I told him I’m upset because he tried to keep it from me instead of letting me know so I can try to help. I’ve promised him before that I would not be mad if he is upfront with me about his mistakes. After that, he looked rather dejected and said that he feels so dumb and stupid. After I brainwashed counseled him about how mistakes are for learning and how famous inventors make more numerous mistakes than others, he seem mollified.

Back to the things that worry me in school, there is also the case of this kid in class, JS, whom Calvin says always gets in trouble for not following instructions. JS once grabbed him by the neck and recently pushed Calvin down because he wanted a toy that Calvin was playing with. Calvin hit the back of his head on the carpeted floor and the teachers brought him to the school nurse. He seemed to be fine.

This week, he also tried out the school lunch though he seem to have missed out the fruits and vegetables and said he was hungry when he came home. I’m not a big fan of the school lunch even though it is free and would save me a lot of work. One day a week, he gets to have school lunch and gets the chocolate milk treat that he has been coveting.

P.S: Once again, I have forgotten to take a picture of the lunchbox I packed for him =_= Next time I’ll update about my bento adventures 😛