Be a brother, not a parent

 

WAYYYYYNNNNNNNE!!!!

Dear Ian,

Be a brother to your brother and leave the parenting to us.

As you are now growing up, and being the elder brother, you will invariably boss your little 弟弟 around. It’s quite natural, since he is the younger, naughtier , more irritating one. You being the older one has a larger responsibility of taking care of him, helping him and chaperoning him. That is fine, until you start to do our job.

Don’t parent him.

Leave that to us, we are the parents to both of you, we are your judge, jury and executioner. Not you, not your 弟弟. He may get on your nerve many times, but don’t take matters into your own hands and scold him the way we do.

You are his peer, his brother, leave the scolding to us.

Wayne looks up to you

Truth to be told, your little brother looks up to you, he doesn’t says it out, but we all look up to out elder siblings. So you need to be a brother to him, so that you can continue to bond with him. Be the elder brother he can learn and emulate from.

While we as your parents are guilty of passing some bad parenting tips to you, that you are doing to your brother, right now I’m telling you, consciously, stop. Enjoy your brotherhood with him. Bond with him, sometimes even cover for his mistakes. I know saying that will cause some resentment, but that’s what elder siblings do.

Your mum, the elder sister.

Your mum covered for her younger brother as well. They were both playing on their mother’s bed and the little brother, jumping on the bed, broke it. They were terrified of course, and tried to pushed the broken bed frame back, and make it looked as if it wasn’t. It was a crack and any more weight on it will fracture it again.

So your mum, orchestrated with her little brother to make it look as if she broke it. When her mother was in, the sister purposely sat on the broken part, and sure enough, it crack, and your mum made a dramatic effect, pretending to be shocked that the bed broke under her weight. Her mum, was shocked but thought nothing about it, since the bed was already quite old. and it is a matter of time. She never knew the bed was broken by her son, and her eldest daughter covered for the younger boy.

These are the things siblings does for each other.

Back against each other

I’ve told the both of you many times, after both your parents are long dead and gone, it will be the both you, back against each other, facing the big bad world. That is really all there is, we are not a big family, right now you have your parents to back you both up, you mum, she has her parents. Me? I’m pretty much on my own, my only source of backup is your mum, my wife. Yes, I have my parents, and my elder brother, but they are an whole bunch of sordid stories on their own.

So whatever the problems, you boys must be able to talk to each other, help each other, lookout for each other, cover for each other. That must be unconditionally done. Always find a way to talk it out, no matter the differences. Sure next time, perhaps the both of you will be married, start your own family, have wives to confide to, like how I confide to your mum, as my wife. But when it comes to brotherhood, that is another whole different level of your life.

Bearing witness.

Ian, you are a good 3.5 years older, and you have seen your baby brother grow up, held him, and in the hospital’s nursery, remarked that your 弟弟 is the smallest baby! You have held him, protect him, cajoled him. Continue to do that, and he will have to rely on you for these memories, you need to provide that reference for him. You have also experience more things in life, last year, we went to Perth and Star Cruises was because you have been on these trips, but your 弟弟 hadn’t. He wanted to do those things you have done in the photographs, when he wasn’t around yet. He will always be your little 弟弟.

You both will have to bear witness to a lot of other things, unique to both of you. we as your parents, can never be a sibling to the both of you. You both goes to school together, and faced the tough school environment together. We are not there, we cannot protect you both, so there is only the both of you, and we trust that you both can look out for each other.

So learn to live with each other, warts and all, this is what brothers is about, it is not about who is the boss.

Are Son-in-Laws, the new Daughters?

Are Son-in-Laws, the new Daughters?

Dear Boys,

This is going to be quite a sensitive subject.

Consistent with our Chinese roots, culture and customs, in a matrimony, the woman/ bride/ wife, will be married ‘into’ the man/ groom/ husband’s family. She will take on the man’s surname, and well, become part of the man’s family. So she is, in effect, a ‘loss’ to her parents. Which is why traditionally, Chinese parents prefer baby boys, so as to carry on the family ‘lineage’ and bloodlines. Socially speaking, the wife should be closer to the husband’s side of the family, now that she is married into the family.

More often than not, It is a vice versa situation.

Let’s face it, I’m a guy, I’m a son to my parents. Is my wife, your mother, close to my parents? Wait, am I close to my parents?

Straight answer: No.

Am I closer to my wife, your mother’s parents and relatives? Yes.

It appears that I am not the only one, your mum had conversation with her peers (fellow mummies/ wives) they too came up with the same observations. The husbands seem to be closer to the wives’ side of the family than the other way around. So it give a very sweeping observation that although the woman takes on the man’s surname in a marriage, but socially, the man becomes closer to the woman’s side of the family.

In that very sweeping observation, every case of this happening is unique. Let’s start with me. My parents are divorced, since then, things between me and my elder brother (yes, you boys have a very little mentioned uncle from the paternal side) has been very distant at best, violently hostile more often, it is very much the same with my mum. As for my dad? He has since remarried, and he seems to be only interested in my money, and my brother’s money. Not the happy bunch of paternal side I’d like to expose the both of you to. Sorry boys.

Your mum’s side? Well, I’m very close to them, for meritocratic reasons, for the fair of a fair argument. They have been your primary caretakers, other than your parents. They take you boys on holidays. You boys have stay-overs at their place. You boys have tonnes, I mean tonnes of photographs with them. But with your paternal grandparents? Zilch.

What happened?

Frankly, personally, it is a case of attraction. Your mum’s parents, The Grands did more, love you boys more, supported my marriage more, helped us more; and of course, created less problems for your dad. We are all attracted to good, kind and nice people and deeds.

Your dad’s side of the family is simply too emotionally taxing and complicated for me to introduce to you boys. Sans your dad’s Aunt (you grand-aunt), she is the only saving grace as a decent relative from your dad’s mum’s side (its getting complicated) She loves and dotes on the both of you like crazy, so much so she is more like a paternal grandmother to you boys, than the actual paternal grandmother, who you boys have only met, less than 5 occasions in your lifetime!

It is a choice I made towards the best interest of my marriage and having the best memories for the both of you boys. I cannot keep hanging around people, and relatives who have little or no interest in my children’s well being, it is not the healthiest thing to do.

That is my case, in specific, I can’t say the same for the rest of the fathers, husbands and guys out there. But both of you, being boys, I’m facing the odds.

As men, we all will become our own Alpha in the family, like how I am, in mine. What can I do when you boys become your own Alpha? You will want your own independence, will you both come back to this home, to your dad, to your old Alpha? You boys will get married, have a wife, and perhaps, get closer to the wife’s side of the family too. I cannot stop that from happening, but here is part of my plan. This blog.

to be the bestest dad ever…

The other part of my plan, the biggest part; is to be the bestest dad ever, show your boys, what it is to be a dad, a father, and a husband, and when you boys settle down, be the best dad-in-law to your spouse. I will be that pillar you build your family on, a constant source of wisdom, culture, experience that you boys can keep coming back to. That means, I have to stay relevant in you life, stay relevant to life, and in doing so, continue to bring value into this family, so that you can continue to see value in coming back.

Our Road Trip to Coney Island

Dear Boys,

Coney Island is Singapore’s latest island open to public. How ironic it sounds as Singapore by itself is an island too!

Coney Island first visit
Coney Island first visit 11 Oct 2015

I made a visit myself on the second day of opening and found it a haven island, left rustic the way it is. The beach was the thing that took my breath away. Of course the beach is not white sandy beach, Maldives equivalent, but it was good enough for me, there is the sea, sand and shore. There is very minimal human presence such as a BBQ pit, signage (Singaporeans loves signage!) or lighting. It was kept this way by the NParks . Kudos to them for doing a great job!

So I had to bring you both there, and since the exams is over, and you boys are raring for a road trip, we borrowed our neighbor’s (its great to have great neighbors!) adult bikes and off we go!

Lorong Halus Way

We took the Lorong Halus way as it is the one closer to our house, we just have to cross the bridge linking Punggol to Lorong Halus wetland. From there is was a vehicular road and I took the lead, Ian following, Wayne the third and your mother covering the back. I can hear the constant yell from your mother to tell the both of you to ‘KEEP LEFT!!!’

East Gate, entering through Lorong Halus.

We used the East entrance to enter and cycled the inner trail, the one closer to the beach, so that I can show you boys how the beach looked like.

There were threats and news of Sand-flies, and people falling victim to these insects, thankfully, we didn’t encoThe Beach at Coney Islandunter any of those! We continue to take the trail and Ian you, having your mountain bike, surely finds no trouble handling the terrain, your little brother Wayne, with his little BMX, took the trail with gusto, falling innumerable times, getting up, and falling down and getting up again.

We cycled a little further to the heading towards the west side of the island and we could see clearly another larger island, Pulau Ubin. We can clearly see the jetty used by Outward Bound Singapore and was wondering to ourselves if the distance was actually swim-able. Which all of us agreed, it is!

Outward bound Jetty @ Pulau Ubin, as seen from the beach

We carried on with our cycling, and both Ian and I have to slow down and stop occasionally so that your gritty little brother could catch up. We found the sign for Coney Island and your mother asked a Malay couple cycling behind us to help us with the pictures, and we in turn helped them snapped theirs. It’s always nice to be nice to other people.

A family shot at a now-ought-to-be-famous photo spot.
A family shot at a now-ought-to-be-famous photo spot.

We left the Island via the West entrance and was feeling hungry, we didn’t settle for the usual palate at Punggol Settlement, and we decided to brave on and cycle further up, towards SengKang, and finally ended up at Seletar Mall to have our meal. thankfully, although the dark clouds loomed, rain didn’t happened as we cycled back, the same way we came, and by the end of everything we realized that we have clocked over 20km of cycling in total! The amazing things is, having being bitten by the cycling bug, you boys pounced on the idea of a night cycling, which your mum and I think, you both will be too tired to continue, so we told you both to sleep, when we reached home, which was about 6pm? and if you both can wake up by 10pm, we can go. And of course, without having to mention it, you both slept like a log! through the night!

The total distance we took to cycle.
By the time we reached Seletar Mall, we have covered 14km

Other helpful links

http://www.ladyironchef.com/2015/10/coney-island-park-singapore/

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/coney-island-park-opens-to-the-public

http://www.littledayout.com/article/ten-things-you-need-to-know-before-visiting-coney-island.html

First published: Nov 16, 2015 11:42 PM

Everything is protected

Dear boys,

I saw this signage when I was hiking at Bukit Timah hills yesterday. “Everything is protected.”

It was an epiphany for me because, when you think about it, isn’t that obvious?

But before we get to that, let’s talk about the word in question here. ‘Protect’, what does it mean? Well, loosely speaking it sort of means, a kind of ‘shield’ against something untoward. To keep away from hurt, harm, injury and other nasty stuffs.

Well, in reality, can you? Will you NEVER get hurt, injured, maimed, scratched, scolded, insulted, beaten up, scalded and other nasty things? Can you protect yourself from all that?

If you cannot, then what is the meaning of ‘Everything is Protected.’ then? If there is no point since ‘Nothing can be protected, fully.’ Reality sucks huh.

Think deeper, Why isn’t it obvious that everything is protected?

Nature and evolution has a way to handle the adversity that comes our way. Sure, we can never fully accommodate every possible calamity that  is thrown at us. There is a lot of life ending methods out there, we can die from disease, from ballistic trauma, lighting strike, choke on Churros, die from insult. or die for no reason. On the other side of the coin, how many inspiring stories are out there, where life continues despite of being shot at, spat at, maimed, injured. insulted?

There is a level of protection built into everything. Even a cell has its own protective design! Against a reasonable amount of threat, in which the protection is designed to work against, the protection will work. But if you overwhelm the protection, failure is assured,

That is on a mechanistic, and rather scientific prediction.

But this is life we are talking about, and life has its own quirks and some surprising ability to scale the insurmountable. So what it means ‘Everything is protected’ it means that everything has a protective design built into it. We as humans, on the other hand must ‘Protect Everything.’ Protecting everything means that we use, and not abuse things. thing will surely fail when abused. To protect is to use sensibly.

Even when injured or hurt, the protective mechanism is still in place and active. We are constantly protected and will continuously receive protection and we must make sure that we know that and use our protection. One way of protecting ourselves, is to protect others, and through mutual protection, we strengthen our ability to resist adversity.

So while everything is protected, we must make sure we protect everything.

 First published: Oct 14, 2013 9:17 PM

Rolling is hard!

Rolling is hard!

collage_fotor-3Dear Wayne,

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.

collage_fotor

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

collage_fotor-1So 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.

Ian Stay!

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.

Ceremonial Parents

Parenting is not cool.

Dear Boys,

I noticed a new classification of parents.

Consistent with our ability to pay and outsource almost everything we do in life, many parents have found ways to outsource their roles as parents. Perhaps we humans, living in this era of busyness, are stretched a little too thin, wearing too many hats at one go, we have to forsake and get others to handle the ‘non-core’ functions in our lives.

Parenting is a very time consuming, life consuming role, with little material gratifications. Sometimes, parenting can clash with people’s self image, lifestyle. People want to look cool, being parents it is very hard to look good with a wailing child in your harness, it is very hard to look suave when you have to change diapers, in the hot sun, in the middle of a park. You cannot look Angelina Jolie-chic when you have to pin your kid down just to get them to take a sip of water. Parenting is not cool.

So a lot of parents, with cash to spare, little time to care, have their dirty jobs done by others. In Singapore, the main parenting workhorse is the ubiquitous domestic maid, typically hailing from countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar and other neighboring countries.

But that is not what I’m talking about.

To really qualify as a Ceremonial Parent, you have to make yourself scarce in your child’s life, turn up only at glam events, like your kid’s birthday bash, significant events, like when your kiddos need to attend other kiddos’ birthday bash. Well, ceremonial events.

Ceremonial Parents can pay for day to day duties to be handled by anyone else other than the parents themselves; domestic maids, the maternal Grands, the paternal Grands, childcare centers, the neighbor downstairs, the family pet dog, whoever and whatever has the time to do these mundane, unimportant stuffs.  The caretakers will pat the kiddos to sleep, feed them, medicate them when they are sick, cajole them when they are scared, clean them up when they are dirty. Well, the mundane stuffs.

While ceremonial, glamorous duties only occur like, every now and then, and the mundane duties taking up bulk of a kiddo’s life, already outsourced, doing so actually free up a lot of time for the Ceremonial Parents. Which is very effective time management!

What can Ceremonial Parents do with all these free time?

  • Look as if they are busy;
  • Focus on their job;
  • Make more money;
  • Socialise with their friends, drink party, be merry;
  • Live an image of a childless couple, and go home late after a party, wake up late after a party;
  • They are free to travel, for weeks on end, as a couple to exotic places, and experience ‘life’!

Ceremonial Parents are never tied down, never bothered by their kiddos sleep regime, diet regime, diaper regime, medical regime. When the Ceremonial Parents will return home from their crusades, they will come back bearing presents and bath their kiddos with gifts from faraway land, adorn them with apparatus bought home from their trip.

So why the gripe? Looks like a good life, win/win for all!

As a parent, there is no ‘non-core’ function, everything and every little time I can spare to spend with you makes me a father, upgrades my skills, trains me to be a better one, for you both. You boys taught me so much, everyday, to be a better human being than the one moments ago. While I lament not able to spend more time with you both, and it makes me wonder how Ceremonial Parents can spend so little time with their kiddos, and still qualifies them to be their kiddos’ parents.

And boys, just so you know, it is those ‘mundane’ times I spent with the both of you, that makes me qualifies to be your father, and no one else. Through the doldrums, I learned your character, idiosyncrasies, things you like, don’t like, have an opinion over or not. Through diaper changes, I see your butt grow. Feeding you, I know your diet. And call the both of you my sons.

I dare to call the shots for you because of all the times I’ve spent with you both, 24/7/365. Nobody can boss you both around the way I boss you both around, because I call you both my brood.

I cannot be there only for your good times, and absent for the bad.

Ceremonial Parenting don’t work for me, because it does not build trusts between me and you; it does not bond a biological relationship. Calling me ‘papa’ and me calling you both ‘sons’, are only words. There is a lot of work, time, and effort spent in action to make that bond, bond. I cannot be there only for your good times, and absent for the bad. Doing this while the both of you are young, under the impression that you both are too young to know anything, is telling myself a big parenting lie. What matters, is that my job as a father starts the moment you both are born, and does not end even when I’m long dead.

Ceremonial Parenting also sets a precedence, once you teach your kiddos that is how parenting works, they will learn to do that when they have kids. They will throw their kids back to the parents, now the grand parents, repeating the whole vicious process. It is detrimental, especially the kids, as they are left to be shuttled around, like cattle from one touch points to another. They will never have a chance to enjoy and experience the postive effects of being love, touch, embraced by their parent.  This is not how childhood is supposed to be.

There is no magic in parenting, being a father; it is hard work, action, and a lot of being present for the both of you, through good times and the bad.

I hope when you boys have your own brood, you both do not turn into Ceremonial Parents yourself, because children of Ceremonial Parents are worse than orphans, having parents and not having them there.

First published Dec 10, 2015 12:00 AM

How your parents bond

How your parents bond
image2
we are currently at level 203

Dear boys,

There are many ways couples can bond, and make their relationship interesting. Some do yoga together, some have similar interests, others have their own ways to weave interesting activities into the fabric of their relationship.

For your mum and dad, we are no strangers to online games (at our age and time, who is?) Personally, I do not like playing with them other than to kill time. But of late we have found an interesting ways to use these games to bond.

Play Farm Heroes Saga together.

Strictly speaking, these games are ‘single’ player games. One player, goes through the stages and these are often tied to a Facebook account. you get certain networkability, when you buzz you Facebook friends for ‘lives’ and other stuffs.

Your mum and I played the game the same way, but we played it together. We will tackle the puzzle together and find all those matching fruits and vegetables and tackling them stage by stage usually after our dinner or before bed.

We have our own terms, when we see ‘four-in-a-row’-we called it a ‘fourble’ or a ‘fiveble’ for obvious reasons. We get upset when the rabbit came up and eat the carrots. We get upset when the chicken flew and eat up some of the vegetables. sometimes the water will splash onto some of our vegetables and we get upset. We also get upset when some of the vegetables turn rotten.

Rabbit
Bad rabbit!!!

farm hero carrot

But when we clear a stage together, we celebrate and give each other hi-fives. We do ‘compete’ to see who gets to the ‘fourbles’ or ‘fivebles’ first and brag to each other when your mum, or me did the last move that helps to complete the game and move us to the next stage. I’ll usually tell her ‘You’re welcome!’ much to a scoff on her face.

Overall, she is a much better player than me, having experience in playing Candy Crush Saga. I just play along so that we can do something as a couple together, in a easy, no stress manner. We win, we celebrate and go to the next stage. We lose? we blame each other for making stupid moves, and also blame the game for getting too ‘personal’ with us. Hey, we just want to win and get on to the next stage!

 

image3
It’s your mum’s fault!

 

First published on: Dec 14, 2015

Life is communication

Life is communication

One flawed parenting script was to say “I never want my kids to go through the same hardship I did.”

Dear Boys,

I was wondering why are Hollywood actors paid so much? I mean, there is no such thing a Batman, and yet, Christian Bale are making tonnes of money playing a fictitious character. Why is George Lucas earning like crazy having created Star Wars from nothing. It is insane to earn that kind of money doing something that is essentially non-existent!

So are actors liars? They basically fake it to make it. So much props and effects to make something imaginative look real. Everything that is take as fake, people flocked to watch it. This can extends to business people, politicians, religious leaders, cult leaders, motivational speakers.

The I realised. It all boils down to one word: COMMUNICATION.

Nothing, absolutely nothing works, without communication. There will be no team work, no collaboration, no celebrations, no creation, no life, no nothing. everything; DEAD.

These talented people are not liars, they didn’t create nothing out of nothing. Everything that happens, brought into the world, are work. Work that people communicated with others, to get them to do the work in a way, one single person cannot do. Communication is the key to life.

It is not only our human dimension, communication on a broader sense, works in ways can cannot be seen. A flower, communicates with the bees, through their vibrant colours. All mediums possible are used for communication, sound, light, magnets, weather, radio waves, cosmic energy.

Interaction happens all the time, like it or not. It is only in our capacity as a human being to facilitate the interactions through meaningful communication.

That boils down to another important point, “SELF-Communication.”

If you boys has been brought up from birth, being told that you have been disadvantaged, bullied, the world is unfair, unkind, unwavering, all the messages you both will get is that, you need to be self centered, cruel, manipulative to survive. If the message is that of grace, gratitude and greatness, then you boys will be empowered, decisive and resourceful. The self communication starts with communication within the family. Sure; as your dad, I am also a human adult with my own limits, fears, flaws and pain. My own self communication is also a work in progress, but of course, I need to make my communication to the both of you a different matter. I try as much as I can, tell you boys stories, inspire you, motivate you, and keep my own demons away from your child’s purity. Sometimes I succeed, more often I fail. My dad’s communication with me wasn’t the most ideal, and most of  the things I’ve learned, I was glad I learned it from the good friends I had with me since young.

One flawed parenting script was to say “I never want my kids to go through the same hardship I did.” In fact, as a parent, your dad, I cannot fully protect you from all the pain and suffering in the world, that’s not a dad’s job. My job is to arm you boys with the right resources to deal with all the cruelties and unfairness the world is going to duke it out with you. You both is most likely going to walk the same path I did, faced with the same kind of shit I went through, I can’t stop that, but I can given you guys a better message in your head, than what my dad gave me. I want you boys to be armed with a superior mode of communication, a better way you talk to yourself, to get yourself out of limbo. You can walk the same difficult path as you parents did, with the limited resources, but you will know the path better, more prepared, we will help you along, but you, and you alone have to walk that path, with your own skill, your own level of self communication. If all your self communication is a constant berating, self depreciating, own-self  blame own-self type of mind script, then your journey will be difficult, no matter how much resources you have.

So there you have it, the fundamental difference between a Hollywood star and a Prison convict is that constant self talk in their head. One is able to skillfully communicate the emotions and roles so much so that the people watching it shed tears, paid millions, adored by all. Or one who is able to manipulate his/her victims for their own self centred gains, to succeed criminal goals, damage society, and hurt those people who loved them so much. More importantly, I hope I am able to arm you boys with good, quality self talk so that you boys grow up to become strong independent men, capable of inspiring people with your ability to communicate your goals and aspirations. That all starts from within.

Fighting to teach you fighting

Dear Boys,

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.

 

Eczema- conquered

Eczema- conquered

Dear Ian,

I’m happy to say that after years of fighting, we finally have an upper hand in controlling your skin conditions.

This skin condition seems to be on quite a pandemic scale, there are so many books written about it, there are so many articles in the internet written about it, so many medical professionals talked about it. Well, all this attention to find cure and solace is understandable; on a minor case, we all have some degree of skin irritation that one can generally classify as ‘eczema’. I have some, your mum has them, sometimes I gets it in the feet, sometimes elbows, and one time I remembered vividly, the cheeks of my butt. But taking it all in, it has never bothered me much, it came, it went off, it comes again, some other time, some other spots.

For your case, it seems to be quite bad, bad enough to have almost your entire body covered with scabs, scars and scratches. More often than not, you are bleeding somewhere, some place, scaly, flaky, dried skins pocketed your body. It affected your psyche as you can’t seem to keep still and there is a tendency to scratch them to your hearts content, at the expense of broken skin, irritation and sometimes, infection.

We, like most parents of course tried whatever we could, moisturizers, steroid creams, essential oils, diet controls, abstaining from milk, we gave you soy, which you hated. You’re a milk person, but we couldn’t give you too much of that. There were hypothesis upon theories of allegations on allergies. Life was not good.

Of course, there are many, many well meaning folks who tried to advise us on how to handle your conditions. I know it was bad, but not bad enough, yet to seek serious medical treatment. So we treated you with the usual topical cream. It did help, but it was like guerrilla warfare with you. You break the skin and scar yourself on the legs, we cream the legs and it healed, then you go and scratch yourself raw somewhere else, on your chest, and neck,  we went there to fight the itch and heal you, you went to scratch your hands, and wrists. It never ends.

Until recently…

Things seems to get a bit better, and better, the scars healed…

I cannot specifically put it down to what we did ‘right’. We tried topical cream like Hydrocortisone, we tried Diprocel, we tried Egocort, we tried Betasone,  we tried Dermasone.

We even tried essential oil, like Lavender, which helped to ease the inflammation, and heal the scarring.

For moisturizers, we tried Cetaphil, Aqueous Cream, Johnsons and Johnsons and many other brands.

For soaps,we tried Pears, Cetaphil, Seba Med, children’s soap, moisturing soap and a lot of other alternatives

Sembawang Hot Spring

In early July, we had an opportunity to visit the Sembawang hot spring, more like to look and explore parts of Singapore we’ve not been before. There’s many. many stories about how the hot spring water helps to cure many various forms of skin conditions, even rheumatism, and other ailments. We didn’t believe much in it, but your grand parents and 4th grand aunt, wanted to give it a shot on your skin.

Why not? After all, it is just hot water (very hot water) from the ground, and we used a wet towel to soak in the water and rub it on you. We didn’t think much of it, and still don’t. Your skin conditions of late has taken a turn for the better. For me, as your skeptic dad, the verdict is still out there, and I wouldn’t bank on the hot spring water being the SINGLE source of cure for your skin conditions.

But it has indeed became much better.

Collage_Fotor hot spring

Sembawang Hot Spring

Then and now

ezcema 1

This was your leg more than a year ago, at the height of your eczema, and I can remember vividly, fighting a losing battle. The scarring was bad, your inability to stop yourself from scratching was making a bad situation worse.

ezcema 2

And this was your leg again, back then, and now.

ezcema 3Your neck, was another source of our headache, a familiar battleground where your scratch to no end.

What I did

Eventually after years of trial and error, I finally settled on 2 of these.

DSC_0244

I cream you every night before you sleep and make sure your skin stays moisture through the night. Somehow this regime works and together with the topical cream, your scabs started falling, and the wounds started to heal. now all we have left are shadows of your woulds, nothing a little sunshine and swim can’t heal.

In a nutshell, I cannot conclusively say that there is one specific thing we did that helped, was it the hot spring water? I honestly don’t know. But all these started happening after that July outing to the hot spring. Perhaps it was, but I’m still not willing to bank my last buck on it.

The creaming regime is something we had done before, again with mixed results, sometimes it works, sometimes, it didn’t.

Growing up stronger

I also want to give credit to your body’s own immune system. Perhaps, Ian, you’ve grown old enough to heal yourself, and the body is now stronger to fight the allergies that is causing these flare up. But again, there are arguments and adults out there who are still suffering from eczema.

What I’ve just said won’t mean a bat crap to many people. Some of these friends I know still suffers from very bad bouts of skin breakages and irritations. So how are you brought up different that you’re able to heal yourself when you’re older now, when there are other older people who cannot yet heal and recover from their own skin conditions?

Keep going strong, and stronger

All I can say is that we have declared victory over your skin conditions, but it is not over, your skin will flare if we falter on moisturizing you, marinating you for top to toe with cream. Making sure that you are clean and continue to fight these outbreaks where ever it happened.

One thing for sure, right now, as your dad and a parent, I’ve never been happier to mark this as one of my milestones, helping you heal your body, so much so that you say you feel like a ‘normal boy again.’