Heard about these parenting taboos?

Dear Boys,

The world we live in is full of myths, taboos and other old wives’ tales on how things should be or should not be done. For me, I asked a group of friends over Facebook, and they came up with some really original ones.

Erena

  • “Don’t consume mutton if preggers . Like the baby might get epilepsy or fits in future.”
  • “They kept saying to drink Soya milk and bird nest so that the baby will become really fair .”
  • ” Like if u take chicken feet , your feet will become really strong . Does it work that way ?”

Agnes

  • “Also k not consume too much bird nest, or else the baby would prone to asthma or coughing.”

Flo

  • “Avoid colas too during lactation…it will affect the infant. Real story not mine tho!”

Jason

  • “Leaving bits of rice in your rice bowl after a meal will cause your future spouse to have lots of acne and pockmarks.”
  • “bad luck to open an umbrella indoors.”
  • “Shaving a baby’s head and eyebrows will ensure that the hair will grow back thick and luscious.”

Yvonne

  • “One old myth: During pregnancy, don’t sweep the bed floor right underneath the bed… Baby will have lots of hair… Seriously I worry about those who believed this… Hygiene and cleanliness are more important…”

Gracia

  • “Never look at ugly people or monkeys and dogs during pregnancy. Heard from old folks”

Dawn

  • “Always comment n say how you like your baby’s facial features to be during pregnancy period n the truth will happen.”

Matthew

  • “Never paint or Knock your wall during pregnancy? Don’t try ya..”
  • “Never use scissor on the bed during pregnancy “
  • “Never fix wiring , ( I did ), then seriously Elias had his umbilical cord haywired. “

Samantha
“Don’t tickle the baby’s feet or he/she will be afraid to walk”
“Don’t say “wah baby you are getting heavy”. Will induce jealousy from the evil spirits”

Melody

  • “When baby suck his/her toe, u r he/she is going to have a bro/sis soon.. lol”

Olivia

  • “Don’t use anything sharp to cut on the bed when pregnant….. If not, the child will have cleft lips”
  • “Never wash hair and have the fan blowing on oneself within the first month after one has given birth, or you will have wind in your body (Tao Hong…lol)”

Kwee Huat Wee

  • “Do not let the young eat fish roe, otherwise they would grow up poor in their calculation.”

So there you have it, I’m sure the list is not exhaustive and in your time, you might have heard of new new ones, or some of these might stay to your time! Do add your own to this list and everyone can have a good time learning from it!
( Thanks to all contributors from #1303, you know who you are!)

Posted Dec 20, 2015

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Our Neighbour- The Kwoks

Mr and Mrs Kwok

Dear Boys,

People often say that ‘Friends are the family we choose.’ There’s nothing much said about the neigbours living next door to us.

While we have many good neighbours, which is another topic that’s too long to write about, I just want to tell you both about the ‘Kwoks’ well, that’s what we call them.

Hit off at first sight

I remembered when we first got our house keys, we were of course excited about it, and from what I can recalled, The Kwoks was here first, they moved in slightly earlier than us, and has pretty much settled down.

It was quite an occasion, and we did made some noise, and left our front door open, which is typical, then The Kwoks, kind of peeped in, when they got home and we welcomed them in, that’s where we hit off.

They were genuinely very nice and we could click, just like that. It was really a rare thing that both of our families got off so well. They brought a kind of comfort and warmth into our new home that very day and both your mum and I liked them, for their down to earth, unpretentious personality. They weren’t proud or trying to act like they were superior in anyway.

Both Mrs

As both were stay at home mum, your mum and Mrs Kwok hit off. Although Mrs Kwok was a good many years older, she could communicate with your mum, and there is no generation gap whatsoever. Over the decades, both families has shared many things, and none of us kept a score. It was pure goodwill where we lend each other stuffs, cooked and shared food, and even shared purchases in this age of online shopping.

We got so close that your mum even taught Esther, their eldest daughter tuition during her primary school days and right now as I typed she has completed her ‘O’ levels, how time flies!

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Mr Kwok and Esther during Wayne’s 5th birthday

Looking out for each other

It was kind of unspoken, we were neighbours and we shared things. We even share the shoe rack outside our house. The shoe rack’s ours but we straddled it between our door and theirs so they also put their shoes on our rack. It wasn’t overbearing on both side thankfully. They didn’t hoard the rack, and they knew not to put too many shoes on it.

When we go for our respective family holidays, we will lookout for each other and help to clear any flyers stuck to our doors. Sometimes, they’d tell us when they will be away and even if they didn’t, we would know they are gone for a short trip and just clear their flyers.

When you boys were younger and your mum needed to rush off to get somethings done, and leave the both of you at home, Mrs Kwok would gladly babysit the both of you until your mum is back, and sometimes, we would tell her that you both are at home and she’d keep her door open in case you boys needed to shout out to her for help.

And of course, we do, trust her with our house keys, when we need to.

Shared values

It helps we bind at first sight and it is pure goodwill on both sides. Like everything in life, there are good and bad stuffs, even with neighbors, we are thankful there is more good stuff to share with them than the bad. We are both constantly and unconditionally helping each other, and looking out for each other, which is more than we can look for in a neighbour as awesome as The Kwoks

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Never Bring Your Work Home

MjAxMy1mY2ZkZDg5ZWY4NDY4MDdkDear boys,

You will hear a lot of work-life advise in your life. Some say this and some will say that. It all depends on what works for you and what kind of a person you grow up to be.

You can either learn to take stress well, and be a tough guy, and be a Type A personality, that’s fine.

If you both gets married and have kids, you must make sure that you have a spouse you can talk to. Whether you choose to talk to your spouse or not, that is entirely a different matter.

Well, actually it is not that entirely different, becoming husband and wife and being in a marriage is building new habits, and the old ones evolve.

What I’m trying to say here is, at this stage of my marriage to your mum, I’ve learned to open up a lot more and tell her a lot of things. It didn’t used to be like that; in the past, I hate being on the phone, as part of my job requires me to be on the phone 6-8 hours a day. Enough of phone conversations!

These couple of years has evolved and I’ve taken to calling your mum ever-so-often, and you boys would have heard me calling home during lunch time and have a quick chat with your mum.

So what do we talk about?

Mostly work stuff, for me and also some work stuff for her and maybe somethings about you boys.

There will be people out there telling you not to bring work home, and when you leave the office, leave the work in the office. It means that you need to sort of compartmentalize some parts of your life and when you go home, you take off your ‘office manager’ hat and put on a ‘husband’ or ‘dad’ hat. Well I wish life is as simple as that!

Psychologically, it is quite impossible to draw a clear line as where your work ends and your family begins. sometimes, you get so heated up with a home argument, you are still carrying that anger into the office, and vice versa. And sometimes, our work and colleagues become our bona fide ‘relatives’, and we start to treat them as such.

What I’m saying is you need some skills to de-personalise your work and profession to be able to not bring work back.

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That’s not my practice. I have full transparency with your mum, and she does the same with me.  

It helps in our relationship as she knows what I am doing in my work. Its not so much about trust, but having someone to share your stories and also your woes. We are married and there are times where we have to fight the battles alone. For me, I sometimes fight those battles, with the full blessings from your mum.

Bringing work home also helps the “You don’t understand me!” department. While this will still sometimes occur, it is mitigated because there is a lot of banter. It’s not really a conversational technique, as it is something unique within a marriage and it differs from couple to couple. It is such casual banter that allows us to weave context into our relationships and when we misunderstood each other, we can pull out past banters ‘records’ and cross reference to help us work between the confusion and ambiguity.

That’s said, I don’t usually bring my family to work, despite of the fact that my wife and you boys are a very big part of my life. It is again a judgement call dependent on the kind of people I am working with. There are colleagues who are family oriented, because they are parents, husbands, wives who can relate to me. If such a connection can be explored, then I’ll sometimes share a bit more. But more often than not, I’d like to keep my personal, family life away from work. After all work is work, you can always find another work, but you cannot find another family.

No Permanent Friends, No Permanent Enemies

Dear boys,

Humans are the strangest creatures, making friends one moment, and enemies the next.

Your Grandma’s experience

Last week, while we are at your Grands’ house, for our usual Saturday get-together, your grandma revealed an unhappy episode she had when she was in Secondary 2. She mentioned that the senior Sec 3 girls would pass their past year materials to their junior Sec 2 girls to copy, so that the juniors can have some advantage into their tests. Your grandma also ‘enjoyed’ such a privilege, until one day her friends turned on her. Her group of friend started avoiding her like she was a plague.

She couldn’t understand why, given no reason, she was perplexed. Eventually she managed to find out from her best friend, who somewhat sheepishly told her that their Sec 3 senior girls, told the rest of them not to share these materials with Kan Tee (Your grandma) as she didn’t want to go to church with them.

Your grandma was no pushover. To hell with that, she studied on her own. And during the good times, they will all walk to school together, and now, whilst they still walk the same way, it was a frosty walk, no one would talk to your grandma, and she kept to herself as well.

Eventually, the girls failed their test, and your grandma passed it. We jokingly say that Grandma’s Guanyin, is more powerful than the girls’ God.

It is not about the religion, but about the people who likes to group together. It is a common in-group and out-group phenomenon.

Your dad and mum’s experience

We too encountered our own share of relationship woes, with friends and colleagues. Both your parents encountered wonderful and lovely people as colleagues, folks we felt close and have that great friendship with. We talked to these friends and colleagues about everything, and some, even invited to our houses and vice versa.

All can fall apart the next day.

No given reason or revelations.

When we were younger, it hurts us in some ways. We like to think we have a healthy ego and we can socialise quite well, we can make friends take care of them, and them take care of us. That is a great feeling to know that we can build on these friendships to count on years later.

It was not, never meant to be.

It has been quite a few years ago and it happened to me more than twice, the hurt is no longer there, but it was replaced with a immense sense of curiosity. Why? Why did these seemingly good friendly folks turn? Colleagues who lunched and laugh at your silly jokes, you laughing at theirs, suddenly stop asking you out for lunch, buys everyone coffee except for you, no longer small talk, chit chat with you, no longer asks you ‘How’s you day?’ They just stopped caring about you and aiming to effectively wiped away your existence, socially.

I felt quite lousy, insignificant and somewhat indignant back then.

Not so much these days.

It made a difference I have your mum, and you mum have me. With the both of us, we pretty don’t quite give a f**k about what happened at work. Your mum is my pillar, and she came from a more complete family, she has her family to fall back on, no matter what friends and colleagues does to her. I relied more of my social circles to give me my sense of worth, and this kind of ‘sudden relationship winter’ hit me hard. But your mum has always been there for me, and it took me some time to accept her as my solace.

But that’s that. We are all much older now and I have grown not to take these kind of cliffhanger relationships personally anymore.

In the latest spat, I learned that some things was said about me, in my absence, and people started distancing themselves from me, typical signs of a drop coming. I’ve seen it all happen before.

Not to be affected, I continue with my work. People chit chat and joked around me, not involving me in their conversation, when I am clearly, physically in the room. I hear all the banter going on, and people asking each other about their personal lives, weaving care and concern all around. I just have this cold, hard shell, and continue plowing into my work. Keeping myself busy at work, helps you keep away from all these subtle insidious  negative attacks. The aim of making you invisible is to make you feel bad, and them feel good.

I felt nothing, no good no bad, its a job, do it well and go home. I only feel bad if I don’t do a good job.

It will be over soon

Good times like bad times always ends, no matter what. Friends always comes and go, so does your haters. No one stays at a spot forever, well, at least not let yourself be the one. Move on and find something new. After a few years, these haters will no longer know why they hated you, or did those things to you. Heck, some might need you to do something for them in future. If your haters need you to help them, help them. It is not because you need to prove them wrong, you help because you can, period.

So while at times, especially when it is happening, it might seem like it will go on forever, but it doesn’t. Always remember what happens at work stays at work, you boys have a family to come back to. At home we can heal each other from the hurt we got outside in the big bad world. And over time, it will all be buried in the past, even the hurt to appear to have will be gone.

While the world may judge you boys badly, you can always come home where no one judges you destructively. There are no enemy in our family.

 

 

 

 

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Life changing events-end of PSLE

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Dear Wayne

Your big brother’s Primary School Leaving Examination(PSLE) is over, that means that he will be going over to a new environment, a secondary school.

You will no longer have a big brother in your school.

While we can reminiscence over the ‘good ‘ol days’ a few years from now, the immediate impact is you both will be lonelier in school. But that is life, we all have our own paths to walk.

As your dad, walking you both to school, I will miss the banter as well, some of the nonsense stuffs you both had, while walking to school. Now it will be just me and you. Your brother will have to go to school on his own, he will learn to become a big boy soon.

I will certain miss the crisp morning walking that 8 minutes, holding your hands, and sometimes you both will quarrel a quick quarrel, and I have to explain why and mediate. Bonds are made during times like these and while your big brother no longer walks with you to school, the bond building cannot stop.

As for school, I think you will feel it that somehow, there is no more ‘kor kor’ in school, where you can go to if you need help. Your big brother sometimes finds you during recess so that he can munch a meal with you. you both have each other when your friends decides to be otherwise.

While it had been only 2 years for the both of you to bond as school mates- I hope it has been memorable. School is a whole new ecosystem with its own fun and peril, your big brother paves the way going into your primary school first, then you, he helped you fend off the bigger boys trying to push their weight around you. He has been there for you when you needed help, or company. Now you have to be on your own.

While I have often preached that you can’t count on friends much, in the new school term, you have to learn to socialise more.  Take the new year positively and challenge yourself to be independent, while there is no more kor kor in school, you still have friend’s whom have been with you for the past 2 years, it is time to deepen your relationship with them so that you can have an opportunity to build new bonds.

I hope you don’t feel lonely, and look at 2018 with new stride and a spring in your step. While your big brother moves into a new environment, he has left you in an environment where you can grow and make new friends confidently.

Hanging out with Friends

Hanging out with Friends

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Dear Boys,

I have a chance of taking a break recently and used that time to meet up with my friends. In Singapore we are usually so busy with work, we seldom have time to do a decent catch up, the best we can do was a quick meet up over lunch and everyone has to run back to work.

So when there is an opportunity as such, I grabbed the chance and called these friends up for a chit chat.

Some have really tight schedule so I didn’t managed to meet everyone on my list, but some things cannot be forced, I’m still a good believer in fate, and until a better time, I will have to put a rain check on a couple of them.

My friends, are a mixed bunch, but that is what makes life interesting, we need to good dose of diversity in the people we meet, and learn from. Some are from my Aikido practice, some from my banking, and others from my recruitment work, and there are some, I can’t really ‘compartmentalize’ properly.

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Anyway, having a good mix helps me break away from my mindset. The dangerous thing about a mindset, is that you don’t know what you don’t know; catching up with these friends gives me a different perspective, and challenge my current thinking. Many of them have since moved on and joined other industry and gained some other life experience. In such exchange, we learn a little about each other, catch up with our lives, and also renew a friendship, making it stronger.

Eating at different places

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These friends brought me to different place to dine, and I ate some stuff I don’t usually eat. I learned that there is a yummy vegan joint called nomVnom at Central, Clark Quay, all thanks to Edna. She is a cheery, spirited young lady who is making a name for herself in a very challenging industry. While she is the youngest friend I met, I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and we talked a lot about other things, other than Aikido.

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Some of my friends brought me to very nice Japanese food, Yew Wah brought me to eat at Hifumi, selling very affordable Japanese food. I ate ramen at Santouka with Cherie and Karen. These are places I usually won’t go to, if I am out alone, or with you boys. It’s just not our usual go-to places.

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Catching up is good

Nowadays, people think of a catch up as a status over Social Media, It is not just about sending each other a text message or two, which we are all so inclined to do. We can all just pick up our friends’ number from the phone list and call. These people are friends, and they will also cherish a catch up. There are many trials and tribunals in life and they are best tackled when they are shared.

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Please call them

Don’t sit around waiting for friends to call you. Don’t wait to link up with people. Life is scarce and time even more scarce. In our fragile life, we need to call people and tell them we are around and we care for them. Don’t hold back, show people you love them for who they are and let them know they have a friend here.

In the past, I have this persona of waiting for people to call me. It is simply an ego-play, and no one win from such a “high-crass act”. Always reach out to people first, and if you do matter to them, they will make time for you. Then such people are best to catch up with again and again. They will enrich your life, and you, in turn, enrich theirs. In this exchange, everyone becomes a better person, and we become more connected than just a Facebook friend.

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Friends and Family

Friends and Family

Dear Boys,

Your dad, for the most part of his life, has been a ‘friend’ guy. Especially when he has been working since 15 years old, depending on colleagues and friends to learn the ropes of life. You dad’s parents was virtually non-existent and your dad’s elder brother, even less so.

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Friends

The nature of how I ended up working my first job full-time at fifteen years of age, instead of studying, is another story for another day. The gist of a boy, past fifteen, working in a retail sales job in Changi Airport. It is an environment, where I believe I was the youngest worker there, barely legal.

We need a pass to get into the restricted area in the Departure and Arrival Hall in Changi Airport’s Terminal 2. While my permanent pass will take about 2 weeks to process, I have to make my way to the Airport Police Station to get my temporary pass changed. I never forgotten the policeman’s name, Rudy. He was the one who told me, I was probably the youngest Perm Pass holder in the airport. What a record. I think what he meant was, any younger, I wouldn’t have been granted the pass.

Anyway, working at fifteen, you are really at the mercy of the societal ecosystem. I am lucky to have bumped into really decent colleagues who eventually became friends. Sebastian was one of them, he introduced me to reading, how to carry myself well, and of course, ethos and friendship. I’ll tell you boys more about him later.

More importantly, I grew up molded by friends, being young and nubile, their opinion shaped me, their maturity lead me, I learn to lean on these friends as a source of opinion, and it works for me, These colleagues, who later became friends, were indeed my extended family. So friends are important to your dad, more than family, since friends justify your dad’s existence.

 

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Family

Your mum, on the other hand, grew up in a more restricted, mainstream environment, where family takes precedence. She often regales how she and her younger brother plays, and how she played with her cousins. Her parents are more cautious about her making friends outside and while she do have friends, family come first.

Friends vs Family

When we met, this apparently became one of our relationship ‘issues’, not really a big one, but it was one that we do have talks over, up until now. This was more pronounced during courtship as we are 2 individuals, coming together as a couple, integrating 2 sides of our lives, which is all our family and friends.

Friends being friends

While we were younger, we hang out together, and we also hang out with each other’s friends. Me, being more socially savvy, has a wider pool of friends; I can mingle with quite a good range of people. Furthermore, being in Aikido, I do get to know new friends, all sorts. I’ve German friends, American, Scot, Thai, Filipinos, you name it, locals and foreigners. Your mum’s first few close interaction with Caucasians in her social circle was with my friends.

It is those closer friends that is a source of discontent and discussion. You see, closer friends of mine, are closer because I knew them long, some longer than I know your mum, back in my National Service days when I was nineteen, I met your mum in my mid 20s. So some of these friends have a longer track record with me, than me with your mum.

The problem starts when I go with them, more than I go with your mum, or more specifically, with your mum in tow.

She’s a great gal (that’s why I marry her!), and she is great because she let her feelings show. Whilst she is not jealous in anyway, my relationship with my friends affected her, since sometimes, friends don’t really treat friends very well. She couldn’t understand back then, why I treat my friends nicer, than sometimes I treated her. She sees my friends from an angle of family, since she has a more of a family orientation, by and large, I’m beginning to look more like ‘family’ to her. Back then I couldn’t understand this, as I was a ‘friend first, family later’ kinda of policy, and she was vice versa. She was trying to determine, if this boy-‘friend’ of her is worthy of a conversion to a family. For my part, I couldn’t understand why she has issues with my friends.

Friends and family comes and go

I didn’t understand the importance of having a family first policy, and since your dad is pretty much a loner, and y parents and my elder brother was virtually non-existent, because of that, my extended family don’t count for much, and friends to a large extent, is of inexhaustible supply (6 billion people on Earth?). So why hinge your happiness and existence on a limited pool of people called relatives and families, when it is more fun having friends?

This was a problem for me, sometimes even until now. But your mum has been steadfast, she knew how a family worked and sometimes fought with the ideas in my head, that family is first, then friends, even though both will come and go, but more often than not family will usually stay, long after all the friends (6 billion of them!) are long dead and gone. she stood by me, and proved that she is family, you boys are family. And that ought to be the first order of the day.

Hindsight is perfect.

Now as couples, we do look back at those days where we hung out with friends, many of them are long gone, started their own families and are often more busy with their own family than to still hang out with friends. There is nothing wrong with with that, it is the nature of life. We will have a mix of friends with families, and more often than not, it is always the family that stays, long after the allure of friendship, that came and went.