We write notes to one another, well, not so much these days, but I think in the early days of our family lives, it is a good way to tell and encourage each other that we have love, care and concern for every one in our family.
It of course started with me writing and putting these little notes in your mum’s purse, dress, crockeries and other places where she will use, go to or touch. the whole idea was to give her some kind of a pleasant surprises that her husband loves her and is constantly think of her.
While of course, it was a romantic gestures, more importantly, I want to put these nice loving thoughts so that we constant remind each other to be nice to one another, even in a quarrel or unhappy episode, we still need to think of each other in a nice way.
Of course your mum reciprocated in kind, and we learned to put little notes in your bags and wallets, in no time Ian you’re also writing stuffs for your brother and vice versa.
Try to keep this up as there are times where words can’t be spoken enough, or we did a lousy action and hurt our loved ones, but serendipitously come across one of these notes, will help soothes any ruffle feathers.
This is very evident as I watch the both of you get the hang of in-line skating or rollerblading. Your mum took the both of you to a very quick course and over the holidays, your grand-parents bought a pair for you both.
I’d wish we had more time to skate, we only managed to squeeze in some blade time here and there. and from the last one, I can see a different approach you boys use to learn something.
Wayne: Fall, break, smash, fail until you get it. Fall, get up. Fall, get up. Fall, get up.
Ian: Try to get the technique right, fall and fail less, it matters when you fall less, never mind, you clock less in mileage.
We went to the playground downstairs; the one we call ‘Aunty Genevieve Playground’, no she don’t own the playground, it’s just that her apartment, faces the playground.
So there was a small running track, 260m in all, and it was just nice for the both of you to skate, or get the hang of skating.
By and large, the both of you already got it, it is just getting more road time, mileage, more practice.
Wayne, you clocked more road time, and he felled a lot more as well, sometimes, in an overly dramatic manner.
Ian, you on the other hand, felled less, focused on getting it right, and in the process, you skated slower, lesser distance covered.
Fortune favours the bold
There are always some smart quotes about everything and boys, don’t get caught up by it. Like what I told you, Ian, there is nothing wrong either way, it is just the way you boys learn, different.
Compliment or Clash
You both decide, if such differing style will tear the both of you or stitch you closer, there is no right or wrong answer to that, if you focus on the small stuff. The bigger stuff is your brotherhood, there will be clashes if you allow your own personality and how you do things to get the between the both of you. Don’t let that happen.
Cover for each other, know who is the more meticulous one, and who is the daredevil. Some situations favours the bold, others, could be a time for prudence, always consult each other, and have a healthy respect for the way you brothers do things. Talk through things, and always remember that being brother supersedes everything.
I don’t know what the fuss is all about. On hindsight, I think we were ‘lucky’ in a way, because when we enrolled your 大哥 into Horizon Primary School, the school was new and there were slots. We choose Horizon Primary School, not because it is well know, in fact it is a new school, it is unknown. There are ‘better known’ schools in the neighbourhood and they are all over subscribed, people are fighting tooth and nail just to get in. We chose Horizon, simply because it is nearer, in fact, nearest.
It was no frills affair for us, since the school is under subscribed, we do not have to ballot for anything. When it is time for the little brother to go to Primary One, he just have to follow the elder brother. Wayne, please thank your brother for getting you into a school without having to ballot. That’s the beauty of having siblings, okay? So stop, getting on your elder brother’s nerve!
Anyway, I’ve been telling you boys from day one; in any school work, test, whatever, you boys write? Your own name. You don’t write my name. Well our Indian friends do often have names like “ABC s/o CDF” the s/o typically means ‘Son of’ even that the Indian child still puts his name, not his parent’s name. The point is whatever results you get, they bear your effort, or the lack of it. I have nothing of it. You do well, it is your glory.
…as a stressed up parent will transfer the stress to the child.
It is not the biggest milestone of your life
I’ve read in so many social media posts that going to primary one is the biggest milestone of so and so’s life. This is typically a comment made by the parent, children as far as I can see, couldn’t care less. Both you boys didn’t cry during your early days in Primary One, and adjusted to the changes like fish to water. How did we do it? We didn’t stress ourselves firstly, as a stressed up parent will transfer the stress to the child. We showed you the school, told you how exciting it will be, becoming a ‘big boy’. There was nothing to fear as we are always there for you, our confidence perhaps rubbed off some on the both of you.
We didn’t make a hyperbole out of it. It was an easy affair, we knew that school life need adjusting to, so we didn’t want to make it such an exaggeration, to further stress you boys. Primary one is to be spent adjusting, going to do things yourself and learning to be independent, and also adapt to a new social ecosystem as well. The school will usually the Primary One babies cruise, and this takes the entire year. Primary Two is where things picks up pace. Then again, it is still not a problem, yet.
This year, the 大哥 is taking the PSLE, which seems to be so dreaded, children and parents kill themselves over it. I know there are stress we cannot avoid, the school has already started piling work since last year. But we still let you, Ian, take it all in, the best you can.
There are time you got so bogged down with studies you barely have time to take a breather, that is normal. We let you be you, without us coming over to pester you on things. So far, you’ve been motivated on your own. Sure there are some slack, and you took it well, and responded when we urge you to keep pace. We can still see the Ian in you, come home, still find time to play with your 弟弟, and do all the silly things. That is great, life has to go on, PSLE or no PSLE.
The both of you have no tuition, except for Chinese. Which is even a weak subject for your parents; but your mum is learning quickly, she is picking up the curriculum, the best she can, so that Wayne can be helped with in this subject. the rest of EMS (English, Maths, Science), no tuition. You boys go to your mum, when you need help, she’s great.
I think it helps that knowledge is just the next room or the kitchen, since going to tuition takes up a lot of time, and money. You need to get dressed, travel to the tuition centre, sit there, wait for teachers, while your classmates play. While we are willing to pay, tuition centres does not guarantee 100% absorption, they always promise results, but none of them promise learning. It depends also on the teacher’s chemistry with students, there are questions perhaps Ian would like to ask but couldn’t and hence didn’t ask, and miss an opportunity for learning. The pace of the tuition might not suit individual students as well, the teacher will not slow down for slower students. Having your mum at home, teaching the both of you, she can speed up and slow down. She can go deep into a specific subject so that the both of you can fully understand the topic. She knows the both of you and so she can adjust her method accordingly.
Having your mum as the teacher also helps to build the bond, I’d rather you bond with your mum than to bond with the tuition teacher. It has always been the case for our family, we are always internally resourceful.
Open to face the challenges
Personally, I wouldn’t consider the PSLE a major challenge or milestone as well. As always we want you boys to put in your best, the results, really don’t matter much. As long as the both of you tried, and fail, we can live with it, but what aches us is when we know that the both of you, being clever, could have done better, and didn’t.
So PSLE is just that, a “Primary School Leaving Examination”. The examination you take when you leave your primary school, it is not SAS selection, it is not the Navy SEALs BUD/S course. It is just a paper exam and where you go in your secondary school, is dependent on the marks. That said PSLE, good or bad results does not prohibits learning, you will learn something not getting the results you wanted, you will also learn something if you do well. Whatever happens you boys will still go to a secondary school perhaps not of your choice, and continue your learning path. The Government encourages life long learning, it didn’t sanction focus on examinations, so we as your parents, hopefully gotten this right for the both of you.
At the end of the day, I still want the both of you to have fun in school I know that Ian, in Primary Six, there is a whole new level of evolution in social norms and how students treat each other. While every one is feeling their way around building their identity, don’t let that distracts you, the ultimate goal is still to have fun, learn and tackle your PSLE as it comes, do your best, don’t let it stress you.
Your mum and I has always know you to be an independent child. More often than not, you’ll be the one up to no good, and your elder brother is the one who has to give in to you. You are the one with the mischief. But we love you so, so much!
Happily rolling along
I wanted to learn some advance Aikido rolling techniques, so I brought out these colorful mats we bought some time back, and lay it out, just for this purpose. Not long after that, you boys invaded the mat and started rolling around, I have to end up teaching you boys a thing or 2 about rolling.
You need to get out of your way, and help other people.
We went into YouTube and explore some Aikido rolling techniques and some partner practice. This particular one is something like a circle roll, personally for me it is like a ‘bowl roll’. Imagine you tilt the bowl to its side and the bowl will roll on its curve. It is a basic Aikido roll. Except that this time I have you both seated back to back, in a coordinated fashion, Ian will roll to his left, and Wayne, you will roll to your left, if done nicely, both of you will roll and recover on the opposite side, taking over the pace your partner was earlier occupying. Which is what the YouTube video shows exactly.
But that was not what you boys have in mind, or specifically what you, Wayne have in mind. You couldn’t roll properly when your brother is around. You could do quite well when you’re doing it alone, but when you brother came into the picture, you have a problem working with him. Having another person in the movement seems to bother you, distracts you, and you end up rolling into and clashing with your brother.
Me, Myself and I
So it was a great opportunity to bring to your attention, your egocentric self, where you wanted the whole thing to work, but you could not work with other people to make it work. More often than not, in life, you need to work with other people, and you always have a problem working with your elder brother. He has to give in to you many, many times. Which is fine, as that is what elder brother usually do. Sometime, things will not work even if people give in to you, Wayne. You have to learn to think for other people and work with them. You cannot solve problems simply by having people give in to you every, single time. And this was a great opportunity for you to experience that
You focused for a while and in your own words, you ‘shut the noise’ out and the whole partner rolling technique worked a little. Well, you boys are doing this for the first time, so that is no fault of the both that it didn’t worked out the way as we all wanted.
But is was a good lesson point, Wayne. You need to get out of your way, and help other people.
You even wanted Ian to stay at his spot while you do your roll. That would have been impossible as your partner needs to roll away, vacating that space, which you now needs to roll in and occupy. Well, we tried as your prescribed and of course, you rolled right onto your brother’s lap!
So learn that it is not always about you. Learn to work with other people, which is right now your challenge. We know you’re a smart boy, you have ideas, but you have a problem working with other people. You can work hard, you are independent, you are tenacious, but sometimes in order for you to achieve larger goals, you need interdependence, giving up your own goals so that other people can help you get what you want in life. Because sometimes, what you want in life cannot be reached by you alone, and you need other to help you get what you want.
You know your dad is into martial arts, specifically, Aikido. And for any martial arts dad, I naturally would like to impart some of that to you boys. No, I try to resist that. I want to resist putting my opinions on you boys, and instead I would like you guys to develop your own interest. If it happens to be martial arts, then okay, that’s great, if it is not, then that’s okay too.
Yes, I bought a junior kiddo gi for Ian many years back, so much so that you have outgrown it and handed it down to your little brother. It was more of a ‘costume’ thingy than it was a proper martial arts regime.
Life sometimes is a matter of Jekyll and Hyde.
I did try to teach you fundamentals of karate kata, but you didn’t catch on. And now with your little brother coming of age, I think it is time for me try and start something like this again. more on the fighting part, less of the martial arts part.
Martial arts is one thing, but fighting is another thing altogether. I would like to teach you boys how to fight. And I’ve been slowly putting that thought in motion.
At 11 years old, Ian, I think you are robust and mature suffice to reason and keep a focus. You will need to know, with a bit more depth on basic striking, kicking and more importantly, taking punches and kicks and learn to get injured, and fight back.
At your age, learning how to fight properly, is like teaching you how to use a rifle properly, so that you are not tempted to use it out of bravado, but out of an educated, skilled mind. If you need to use your skills to fight, to get out of a fight, in a better condition than your assailant(s), then I have achieved my aim. The Martial Arts part can come later.
Of course, there are simple rules of engagements (ROE), you boys, do not go out there to start a fight, but if you got yourself into one, you get out of it, all means necessary. Sometimes in fighting, you have no time for ethics, you just have to protect yourself and your loved ones, if you have to pummel the belligerent to dust, then do it. If it comes down to you or your attacker(s), I’d rather your attacker(s) grounded and pounded, than you. We can wax lyrical about right and wrong later. But of course, do not start the fight.
And now that your little brother is in the same school as you, he will come to you for help if he gets bullied, and you might need to stand up for him. So you might get into a fight because of him, and I want you to win the fight.
The world is a nice place, I want my boys to be confident in their abilities to see the good in the world, but it is also my duty as your dad to make sure you boys are reality-ready. If things takes a turn for the nasty, you boys can get out of nasty with your own nasty dosage of nasty. We must always be ready to be nice, and the only way to be genuine in our niceties, and pleasantries, is to be fully trained and capable in our ability to be nasty and unpleasant. Life sometimes is a matter of Jekyll and Hyde.
Here is another ghost story that your dad’s friend told him some time ago. It appears to be a true story as it is personally told to me by my friend, Sam.
He was serving his in-camp training, and when he got a nights off, he went out for a drink with his friend, who had a motorcycle. On their way back to camp after their drink, while riding down this road, back to camp; Sam as the pillion rider, told his friend over his shoulder to look out for the lady in front.
His friend tilted his head back, and gave him a weird look, but said nothing, and continue the journey until they were safely back in camp.
It was only then his friend asked him ‘What lady?!’
Sam said there was a lady crossing the road ahead just now, and he told his friend to slow down and be careful.
His friend saidthat there was no one on the road.
Sam came to the realisation…
And fell sick with fever for the next 2 weeks.
He told me he was quite shock as he could clearly see the lady crossing the road; and he was having a few light drinks with his friend, he justified, nothing too much to impair his sense. He claim that he can hold his alcohol. (This I believed him as he is a known drinker, he stocks his fridge at home with beer.) He also said that he meant well, and came with a good intent, so that his friend notice the ‘pedestrian’ and not knock her down.
Anyway, this is a REAL story, told to me by your dad’s friend, the thing about it which I do not understand, is many times when you listen to a ghost story, many of these human ‘victims’ of such sightings will typically succumb to a long bout of ailment, as with the case of Sam, he was ill for about 2 weeks. which makes me wonder if there is any truths to such myth, and of course there’s no way for us to find out!
(Speaking of myths, do look out for my next post, boys, where I will list a few parenting myths and taboos my friends shared with me, some of which are quite original!)
For all of our holidays, we never could, wake up early. Perth was no exception, even though we need to be at Mandurah by 11.30am to catch the boat out to see the dolphins we fly almost 4,000 km from Singapore to see.
You see, we woke up late. And then we were delayed when we realised the kind of beautiful landscape that is outside of our hotel room. you see, our hotel is called The Vines Resort & Country Club. It is a couple of nice things put together, One; the hotel, accommodation, Two; a vineyard theme, which means there are some grapes kind of hanging on some vineyard thing. Actually not a big deal to us, but it does adds to the ambiance. Three; the golf course, afterall, it is a country club!
I don’t think the concept is anything new, as we have such offerings in Singapore, The Orchid Country Club, is one. but the Vines is special, as there are some residents staying at the golf course green… KANGAROOS!!!!!
Lots of them!
So close we can almost touch them! (Of course we didn’t, these are wild Kangas and we don’t know how they would react. They instinctively kept their distance and we did our part to respect the gap.)
They were just minding their own business, lying there, without a care in the world, and we Singaporeans, going crazy over every single one of them like they were this week’s ToTo winning ticket. But hey, how often do we get to go so up close and personal with these Kangas?
Hit the road Jack!
After our gaga over the Kangas, we hit the road, mindful that we need to be at a certain place by a certain time. Again we relied on the GPS to take us from The Vines to Mandurah, some 100 kilometers away, a good one hour’s drive. Today is yet going to be another first, your dad driving the longest at any given time! I know to some this is no big deal, but for your dad, it is any and every reason to celebrate!
So off we go!
We are on high spirits, for many reasons, we felt really, really happy to be able to come to Australia together, drive in such a wonderful weather. Being in the small i20 is great as we can all bond over the road trip and us parents listen to you kiddos’ usual banter and occasional quarrels. And you kiddos listen to us parents talk about adults stuffs.
We don’t drive nor have a car in Singapore, so driving in Australia gives us a rare intimacy, putting a family in a car can give. It is nice knowing that we don’t own the car and will return it once our trip is over.
There are many things in Australia we can see that is not in Singapore. And one of them is…
These are HUGE trucks that has not only just pull one wagon, but up to 3 wagons! These are powerful trucks that ply the entire Australia, delivering vital supplies and goods. They are a part of the Australian traffic and every time we see one on the road, I’d scream out ROADTRAIN! You boys picked it up and soon the whole car is screaming ROADTRAIN! This did not please your mum.
And your mum, snapping tonnes of photographs, simply didn’t snap any decent roadtrain photographs. Well, that gives us a reason to head back to Perth in the near future to snap these pictures!
The Animal Farm
We see animals of all sorts, horses, cows, sheep, dogs, chickens and of course, Kangas…they are everywhere! That said, I know the probability of a road kill is real, so everyone is belted up for the just-in-case.
There is also a lot of greenery and wide and wild open plains. It is a very refreshing change from the usual brick and mortar landscape we have in Singapore.
The Open Plains
Well, the road condition in Perth is really good and we get good signal from the GPS all the way to Mandurah, Traffic was light and we really enjoyed the road. It was quite stress-free, the drivers there are generally more courteous, and possess better road ethics. Sure there are some speeders and some clowns who don’t signal when they lane change, but generally, I drive like I’m driving, and not in a defensive manner, half the time expecting something bad to happen or some crazy nut cutting into my lane. It was a pleasant drive I would not have enjoyed if I am in Singapore.
We reached Mandurah and for Ian, your mum and me, it was a revisit. We came here almost 10 years ago. Now we are back, looking back at some of the old photos, little has changed in Mandurah, other than a couple more condos up, and more developments and crowd, it is still a pleasant place to be.
The Han’s cafe was there in 2007, and it is still there. Reading Cinema was there and is still there. but I don’t really see a cinema crowd and I wonder how does it stay profitable? Mandurah seems too laid back for any business to stay profitable and given a competitive landscape in Singapore, they would have turned Reading Cinema into something more profitable and Han’s cafe might have been long gone, due to the changes in rental. But is is nice to be in Mandurah, knowing that somethings don’t change. That give a very familiar nostalgic feeling.
We are not really in a rush but we are kind of hungry, so we ate what tourists comes to Mandurah to eat. Cicerellos!
Honestly, eating in Australia is what eats up our money. One meal can be as much as AUD15 bucks, something equivalent in Singapore would have cost S$5. A single meal for the 4 of us can easily set us back at least AUD 50 plus dollars. Nonetheless we are there to enjoy as tourists and we are quite willing to spend.
We had our meals in a jiffy so that we can catch our boat to see the dolphins. For
the cruise, they also have meals included, Fish and Chips (what else?), but we already have our fill and politely declined.
There are 2 decks on the boat and the top deck can take only 11 people, an Indian family of 6 has already take the better part of the top deck, and with the 4 of us, we fill up the space nicely. It was a good decision to take the top deck.
We started the cruise easy, all excited about the potential marine mammals we flew so far over to Australia to meet. We were thankful our captain was very experienced with the waters around Mandurah, much more experienced compare to the 3 girls ( I called them Charlie’s Angels) who commandeered our boat trip back in 2007, our maiden trip to Mandurah.
It didn’t take us long to spot the Dolphins, swimming in the shallow waters hiding amongst the many boats parked along the Mandurah waterway. The Captain (who had more than 20 years of boating experience) skilfully maneuvered the large boat around, kicking up mud from the shallow water bed. It was our first sightings, and we almost certainly thought it was our last.
We head out to the waterways and cruise on in our bid to find more of these elusive dolphins. We went up as far as our 1 hour boat ride can take us, and we went under the Mandurah Estuary Bridge, before turning back, with an ominous feeling that that is all the dolphins we get to see.
We went back the same way we came and the Captain’s keen eye spotted some break in the water, hinting a pair of dolphins. We eagerly looked out and thanks to our vantage point and being just next to the Captain, we were able to get his views spontaneously. for the folks seated downstairs, they can only hear him if he used his microphone, and sometimes, he didn’t as he was basically thinking out loud.
The elusive pair disappeared again and we sailed on, going back to port. Then it all happened….
The family of four swam right next to our boat and everyone on board was ecstatic about the sightings and how close they came next to the boat. For whatever speed we did, the dolphins swam easy, without much effort, making a few jumps as well. It really made our day and we felt that our trip was very much completed.
This was certainly the highlights of our trip and we came to see dolphins, we get to see dolphins.
We went back to Cicerellos again to grab our lunch and this time spend anotherbomb, ordering their famous, but oily fish and chips, milk shake, and waffles. The chilly weather makes us burn up our energy real quickly and we were hungry, wolfing them down. Enjoying every bits of it.
After that we went exploring the vicinity of Mandurah, just walking and we came across this dog just lazing there, I think it’s a Labrador and friendly enough, I patted it and soon, both you boys followed the dad and started patting the dog. Bad move for Wayne.
The dog moved quickly and bit off one of your gloves, with no intention of giving it back to you, it will be its new play toy! The mutt’s owner was nowhere in sight and I had to half coax and half pull/drag the slob, wet mitten out of the dog’s mouth. thankfully, it decided to relent and let go. We all had a good laugh right there, and this certainly adds to the experience at Mandurah.
We ended our fruitful day with another long drive back to The Vines, by now, you boys are dead tired and we were thankful we had the car as the both of you konk off almost immediately when we drove off.
Dinner was fast food, we ordered drive through from Red Rooster, and went through the junk food without much fan fare.
With that quick meal to fill our stomach, we hit the sack quickly, knowing that the next day will be filled with much excitement!