Life lessons: Soya Bean Milk and Milk

Dear Ian,

I bought 2 cartons of Soya Bean milk back one day and you handled the groceries for me, and I realised later in the day, that there only 1 of the 2 carton is in the fridge. To my suprise, you put the unopened carton with the milk carton at the shelf, which is not in the fridge, obviously.

There’s an opportunity for a life lesson.

You came over and explained to me that all cartons are to be place on the kitchen shelf, together with the milk.

Then I showed you the difference.

The soya bean milk is pasteurised, which means it was not treated with UHT (Ultra High Temperature) like the Milk carton on the right. Pasteurised products need refrigeration constantly and has to be treated differently from the UHT Milk, which can be kept in room temperature, and only needs refrigeration after opening.

It’s not your fault you didn’t know, but had you paid closer attention, you would have noticed the soya bean carton was kept at the refrigerated area at the supermarket, and the UHT milk isn’t.

Anyway, the life lesson is that you really cannot judge a book by its cover, or in this case, judge the carton all the same. The cartons might look the same, but the produce inside is different and has to be treated differently. You need to read and understand the content and of course know where it came from and give it a different treatment.

This is of course the same for people, never assume that when people came from the same place, country, religion, race and/or education, they are the same. Always read the ‘labels’, understand where they are from, and treat them the way they need to be treated. Of course, if people are so easy to read like they have instructions printed and labelled, the the world will be a much better place.

 

 

 

 

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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

The Best Big Brother

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Ian and Wayne

Dear Wayne,

You have an awesome big brother. Really, no bragging.

He loves you unconditionally and in such a pure and naive manner, he can never hurt you on purpose. He has seen you grown in your mummy’s stomach and he was so ecstatic when you first came out.

Born to be your Big Brother.

Honestly, I don’t know how he does it, he took on the 大哥 role like fish to water. He knows when to protect you and look after you. We didn’t have to teach him much. He has always been there to look out for you.

Your Brother the Hustler

We will never forget back in 2009 when we went to the Central Fire Station for a kind of outing. There was a little girl coming over to your pram to check you out, your big brother wouldn’t let her touch you, and he puts himself between you and the little girl.

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Girl: cute baby!
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Ian: He’s my little brother!

Backing each other up

As the both of you grows up, there will be conflicting priorities and there will be conflicts, despite of our best efforts to make peace out of the both of you. You both need your space to grow and you will have your own priorities. Sometimes those priorities will clash, but whenever you can, please try to come to each other’s aid as much as possible.

Bath time

A couple of evenings back, you brother asked you to accompany him for his bath, well, he is kind of a scatty cat and he likes your companionship while be bath. You were on a game or something and refused to keep him company.

He came out and did a tit-for-tat when you ask him to help him with something.

I have to intervene to find out what was going on.

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Ian and Wayne 2011

The bottom line

You both are brothers, and as far as my memory serves me, your big brother has never asked of you to do unreasonable things. And he will always comes to your aid, without reservations. You have to do likewise for you.

Right now, you still have your dad and mum to come in and intervene in such instances of conflict, by the time we are dead, I don’t want the both of you to go at your throats, because of a tit-for-tat. Being brothers is more than quid pro quo, you must drop whatever you are doing and go to each other’s aid. Because like what I’ve said before, there is no one else out there, it’s just the both of you against the world.

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I Do

I Do

Dear Boys,

This is not about a wedding vow.

It is about something just as important and just as life changing, perhaps even more.

It is about suicide.

Let me be honest here.

Your dad has thought about it.

And is sometimes thinking about it still.

What is suicide?

I’ll not be clinical here, as you boys can read about it in the many, many journals out there. I’m also not trained or studied (in a serious academic way) in psychology or psychiatry. I know suicide in my own personal, macabre, deep dark way.

It’s not a sad thing, nor happy thing.

It is mostly an existential thing. Like what is the purpose of struggle? The purpose of life? Those big profound ‘cheem, cheem’ (deep, deep) stuff. These thoughts keeps me up, and they still do.

Sometimes it can be very mundane things like annoying colleagues, the day to day struggles, and why we do it. It can be as easy as lazy to live. Yes, it can be a chore to get up, get dressed, get up the next day and groundhog day, over and over and over and over and over again, and again, and again…monotony kills.

Just writing about it puts me in that train of thought…

Anyway…

Why I hadn’t kill myself yet.

Contrary to many out there who thinks that suicide is a form of escaping reality, it is in fact a very courageous thing to do, under some circumstances of suicide. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and will power to set up a rope to hang yourself, or to cut yourself to bleed dry, or hurl yourself off a building. It is not an easy thing to do. In fact it is one of the hardest thoughts any living being can entertain.

It is a powerful thought to have in your mind about killing yourself, and it is not necessarily a good or bad thing. It is a thing.

So use that thing, that powerful thing purposefully. Of course if your purpose is kill yourself, then perhaps its your thing then.

What is more salient here is the powerful thing you have. I learned about this when I heard one Mediacorp Actress/Host, I think it was Irene Ang who said that you need a tremendous amount of will power to kill yourself ( I think she was speaking from experience) and why not use that willpower to kill yourself, to do good and live? And that made sense to me

The other reason why I hadn’t kill myself

Your mother, she will not let me die. If I’d kill myself, she’d revive me and kill me herself. Joking lah. On a serious note, she is the meaning of my life. Sorry boys, you both comes in second. Really, without her, I’d have no meaning.

But with suicide tendency, it is an ironic twist. It took me a while to look outside of my own selfishness to see her. In the past, I’d still think of killing myself, despite of what she has done for me, and after all the love and affection we have shown each other.

But as it grows, and me talking to her about my suicide tendencies, she somehow has opened a part of my feelings that allow me to depend on her, and see my importance to her. I wouldn’t want to leave her alone in this world and change her title from ‘wife’ to ‘widow’.

In short, I see her life and well being as more important to mine, in a very intimate, and interconnected way. Sometimes, you might think that killing yourself is a way of setting your loved ones free from the burden of being with you, the other side of the argument is just as true. When I die, the world will be robbed of an unique individual, well not that I am that great an individual, but the bigger truth is, I am robbing my wife, her companionship, her someone to hold her hands, and make meaning in her life.

We all contribute to the world in our own small way and killing ourselves rob the world of a life, no matter how small, or insignificant it can be. Think of it this way, Wayne, if you kill yourself, your friend, Angel (pun unintended) will never have a chance of bumping into you on the streets. Neither will you ever find out how stupid or smart you can be.

Death robs

I attended 2 funerals this year. Both my friends died of ailments and a genetic disease. Its not the death that matters, it is the fact that, when I walk the streets, I can never bump into Grace or Peter anymore, because they are dead. There will never be another Peter, someone who looks liker Peter, but not Peter.  While death robs, suicide is almost like grand theft arson of life. You deliberately choose to eject yourself of life, and robs  everyone around you a friend, brother, son, sister, mother, father, cousin, student, child, singer, driver, chef and so on.

I Do

Recently the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester committed suicide. The band wrote a song One More Light for one their friend who died of cancer. Somehow, my association of the song was more related to Chester Bennington’s suicide than anything else. I think it is the context of the song that matters. Sometimes, we take signs of suicide too lightly and wrote them off as some wild thoughts, our loved ones shrugged our thoughts of self-death as non-sense, out of fear or the lacking in understanding and openness to talk about suicide.

Well, boys, I do. I do want to talk to you both if you wants someone to talk to about killing yourself. About suicide, about gays and lesbians. I’m your dad, and somehow have I am gifted this unique exposure towards suicide.

Getting over it

There is, unfortunately, no getting over it. It is part and parcel of life, and just like flu, you will ‘get it’ again and again. The thoughts of suicide continues to linger around me, and if I slipped into the darker character of Randy Lim, yes, death is always there. But unlike flu, there is no visible symptoms. Suicidal thoughts, depressions and other mental conditions cannot be seen outwardly. Which is why Chester’s death is so haunting for me. He was okay and laughing and having family time 36 hours before he killed himself. He was happy, or so it appears to be.

So it will come and it will go, and let it go (of course!) when it leaves and if it stays longer than you are comfortable, your mum and dad are here for you to talk to.

Telling it like it is.

There is no sugar coating, no code word or whatsoever. Boys, if you have a feeling of wanting to kill yourself, just come to us and say: ‘Mum/ Papa, I feel like killing myself.’ We will not judge you, nor will be shrug you off like it was nothing. If you have suicide thoughts, we are here, we will drop everything and talk. Thanks to your mum’s chat, he voice and presences grew larger than the suicidal thought and when I think about suicide, I think of her, and everything is okay.

Suicide is the ultimate leveler

Suicide, if properly done, leads to death. There is no turning back from death. No saves, no close call, nothing, once you’re dead, you stay dead. And death has no age limit, gender or political orientation, you kill yourself you die. Period. And you can die at any age, time and space.

I don’t care if you are nine, or ninety, if you want to kill yourself, you can talk to me, boys.

thoughts taken off an eight year old’s school journal

 

 

Closing windows

Closing windows

‘It’s hard being the elder brother’, you cried.

I had to punish the both of you since both of you cannot close all the house Windows before we leave, for Sentosa, for fun. Yes, I did tell Wayne to do it, yes, he skived, he went to the toilet to poop. You didn’t want to do it because it was ‘his job’. You both ended up quarreling. I gave the both of you a 45min delay, that means we will leave the house later, that means we will have ‘less fun’.

You didn’t see it as fair so you sulked. I told the both of you, use this 45 mins to sort your shit out, change your attitude, and make peace. You didn’t like the idea.
Wayne ended up on the Lofty watching TV. You sulked in the room, sobbing, about how unfair things has been.
You told me you’re always helping and clearing things for Wayne and he is always accusing you of this and that.
I told you, as the elder brother you will be clearing a lot of his shit. That is the job of an elder brother. Clear younger sibling shit.
You’re 13, secondary one, who is below you?
Your little brother, who is nine.
Another kid who is eleven.
Your cousins who are four and two. All these younger kids will all look up to you to clear shit.
More importantly, you get a 45 minute sentence, that is a lot of time to get a lot of shit done, instead you choose to cry and sulk, instead of being positive and constructive, you could have gotten one homework done, you could have helped us closed all the windows, then we can leave house before the 45 minutes is up.
But you took the sentence with spite and angst.
There are people out there wrongfully incarcerated, and they spent their time in jail doing the most positive things, Nelson Mandela is one fine example. They didn’t let ‘jail time’ stop them from doing the most positive things in their lives.
And now you took it to crying and your brother took it to watching TV. Obviously this affected you more than him, and he probably didn’t even know what is happening, or how unhappy he made you.
All he learned from his elder brother is ‘tit for tat’. You could have shown him that despite of what he did, you still clear his shit, and you do it because you both are brothers, and brothers are supposed to look out for each other, he will get that eventually, and he will clear your shit the next time you needed help. That’s what brothers do, cover for each other.
And you are 13, he is 9. You obviously knows more than he does, and can I talk to him the way I talked to you? Will he understand all this things?
No.
Which is why you need to step up, your the older one, you have to do this, and do more. Because you can and you must.
You have to focus on the outcome again
The outcome is to get the house ready, so that we can all go out, if the windows’ not closed, and the rain comes, who is going to clean up the mess, when the rain splashes in?
We have to clean up.
It is our house.
And those windows don’t have a name on it, like Wayne’s window, Ian’s window, papa’s window. Someone has to close these windows, if not everyone will suffer.
So focus on the outcome, lets quickly get things done, irrespective of who does it, so that we can all leave the house and have fun.
And you guys are going to be brothers long after your parents are dead, lean on each other, count on each other, continue to clear each other’s shit. And you as the elder brother, don’t end up like my elder brother.

Mistakes and falling

Mistakes and falling

Dear Boys,

You both have very different ways of learning.

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.

Secrets

Secrets

Dear Ian,

We were having a meal at McDonald’s today, and you started to write something on a piece of paper. Your 弟弟 naturally wanted to know what you wrote and you decided not to share it with him. That, of course created a knee jerk response from your 弟弟 and he also retorted by not wanting to share a hypothetical secret with you.

It was a time for a discussion.

This family works on a transparent basis, we don’t keep secrets from one another. Sometimes we do, that is usually to surprise our loved ones. Between your mum and I, we mostly tell each other what is going on, you see this in our family day to day. There is a lot of things we don’t know in life and we learn by sharing our experiences with each other.

Growing up, personal spaces.

While I am aware that you are growing up and you need your own space and identity, I am still interested in your secrets. you can have every right to keep you secrets, secret. But by you writing them in front of us, and saying it is a secrets, simply don’t work well for our social setting. It is like telling the whole world you have a secret, and this, invites people to pry you open like a can of sardines.

Well, we all have our secrets, people don’t just go around telling people they have them, that is the irony of life.

So you can have your space to keep secrets, but don’t do it in front of a bunch of people, your family and then say that we are not privy to it. It is not a very nice thing to do, as secrets can hurt people, and secrets can hurt you.

Inner circle

Honestly, your little brother is very bad at keeping secrets; from us. We are very bad in keeping secrets from you boys too, this is because we are a very close knitted family and we are very transparent in our feelings. When you tell you 弟弟 a ‘secret, you can be sure that your mum and dad will learn about it, this is because for your 弟弟, we are part of his inner circle and we can be trusted with your secrets. He won’t be so kind and so open with his friends. You can be sure about that. Your 弟弟 loves and respects you, for you to tell him it is a secret, he will keep it with his life, but he will not keep your secret from us, this is because we have a high level of trust in this family. This might change in future, dependent on the ebb and flow of your brotherhood, but as of now, you are his big brother, and for a little brother, keeping secrets for a big brother is a big deal.

Your secrets reflects your confidence

The conversations and probing leads me to discover that you have a certain apprehension towards people’s reaction towards your ‘secret’ once they know about it. that tells me that you are not prepared for the eventual consequences of people coming to know about your secret.  There is a lack of confidences in dealing with the response, once people found out your secret.

I always tells people I am an ‘open’ book, and I behave like one. My friends knows me as a very transparent fellow, and I harbour no secrets. I do, in fact, keep secrets; we all do. I just do it in a manner like I don’t, so that I don’t invite curiosity, I hide my secrets, other people’s secrets in plain sight. That is the best way to hide secrets. that is the way you instill confidence in people to decide that you are trustworthy. The worst kept secrets are some of the best place to keep secrets, since your secrets are no secret.

Secret hurts

And the most important thing is, at your age, you still lack that maturity to decide what is ‘secret’ and what is not. You might be compelled by other stronger opinion leaders to keep secrets on their behalf, and those secrets can be criminal and illegal. You might want to impress upon others that you are trustworthy and helped these people keep their secrets, which will eventually hurts you and land you in trouble.

Right now as your Dad,, it is my job to discern those secrets with you. It can be quite a burden to hold custody to secrets, other people’s secrets. So I have to know them, help you carry them, and also give you resources to help you.

I cannot allow a secret to hurt you, and until I can see a maturity in you learning to keep the ‘right secrets’, please let us in and be there to know you and the secrets you keep.