Wayne’s little insecurity

Wayne’s little insecurity
Wayne trying to cycle
Wayne trying to cycle

Dear Wayne,

Watching you develop as our youngest family member can be very endearing and frustrating at the same time. You have a very light frame, very much like you dad. Small and punch size, you naturally have to fight harder for your fair share of existence.

Of late, I noticed that you have a certain disdain for bicycling. We went for a night supper a couple of weeks back, and we all agreed that, mum and dad will jog, you and your big brother will cycle. You refused to, using all sorts of excuse. Saying that you will be slow and you’ll be left behind. We constantly assured you that we will not, to no avail, you refused to budge from your stand.

I know how you feel, son, you have your smallish kiddy bike, with training wheels on, you don’t look very cool when your big brother’s bike is bigger and he is already riding on 2 wheels. You look inferior compared to him. Riding bike has somehow become your weakness, and you didn’t want the world to know.

Your weakness is not a weakness to us.

You see, son, there is no weakness to show in this family. We are one, your brother loves you and so does your dad and mum. We will not leave you behind no matter what. Your weakness is not a weakness to us.

Wayne on his bike
Wayne on his bike

This will something that you have to deal with when you grow older, handling your insecurity, your weakness. Always bear in mind, you have a family, we are family. We will help you, and even if you are struggling and stubbornly decline help, we will still help you. We will help you even if you don’t ask for our help, because that is what family is all about. You don’t have to fight your insecurities alone.

We tried to teach you to ride on 2 wheels some time back but it was tough, you made it tougher for us to teach you as you constantly self sabotage yourself, by purposely falling, pretending that it is harder than it really is. We didn’t push it, but I think the hardship has been etched already, you associate bicycle as your weakness.

You are a kid that cannot be rushed. you will do it, and you will do it well, when you want to. So I am not pushing you to learn to ride a bicycle on 2 wheels. You take your time, there are people who goes through life not knowing how to ride a bike, which is fine, so I’m not going to rush you.

your bicycles
You and your brother’s bicycles

More importantly, please don’t make your challenges your weakness. I hope by the time you are old enough to read this, you can find enough in you to face your obstacles and overcome them. We are humans, and we are born to overcome challenges. You possesses enough will and tenacity, we have seen it in you, but you’ve choose to use these values as inertia instead of a source of motivation. We need to correct this in time to come.

First published: June 26, 2015

A Pair of Foam Dinosaurs

A Pair of Foam Dinosaurs
Foam Dinosaurs
T-Rex belonged to Ian, and the Diplodocus belonged to Wayne

Dear Boys,

As kids you will be able to make the most in-animated items as fun as any toys. Having siblings helped I guess. When you bounce of the most ridiculous ideas off each other, anything can come alive.

We got you these pair of foam dinosaurs from the Science Centre (www.science.edu.sg), when we went for the Titans of the Past Exhibition. I mean, as your dad, and as an adult, it is simply a foam cut outline of a Dinosaur. Not to the both of you.

Wayne with his Diplodocus

Throughout the journey back from Jurong home, we’d expect Wayne to fall asleep on the train, since you 2 looked beat from the whole day of fun. But no, you boys were playing and playing with your foam Dinos all the way back! There was so much things a T-Rex can tell a Diplodocus! Well, Seeing how friendly T-Rex was to  the Diplodocus was interesting, because in the Dinosaur time, one would be predator and the other, prey.

Working on the colours

This fun and play continued noisily when we boarded the bus home. You 2 took a single seat and was busily playing, there was another boy perhaps a little younger than Ian, looked on at the both of you, pensively. I observed him for a while and shared with your mum, either he was looking with a sense of envy that you boys had foam Dinos, or he was looking at the kind of fun 2 two have. From my observation, he, who appeared to be the only kid (He was with his parents, with no evidence of him having another sibling, but I could be wrong) in the family and it looked like he would like to have the same kind of fun. Having a brother, or sibling to play with certainly helps!

Finding ‘fossils’ in the sand

Anything, and everything comes alive when your 2 boys put your imagination together, otherwise, a foam dinosaur, will remain a foam dinosaur.

First Publish January 12, 2014

How to Cheat at Soccer

How to Cheat at Soccer

Dear Boys,

This was an interesting story since your dad is not a ‘ball’ guy, and has little or no interest whatsoever in anything ballsy. This happened back in 2006 when I was with the bank.

For cohesion, banks usually will have ‘Recreational Clubs’ to organize activities for the staffs to have fun and bond over non-work related activities. So there was this ‘7-a-side’ soccer tournament and my friends in the department wanted to join. The rule was to form a team of 10, 7 playing, 3 reserves. The guys got a team of 9, and chided me to join as the tenth guy, I was thinking, well, I’m gonna chip in a name to make up the numbers, and probably sit out the whole thing; just a warm body on the bench. No sweat right? I honestly do not plan to see any action, soccer’s not my thing.

The other part was, I mistakenly thought this was Futsal, which is played in a very small area, and with that in mind, I don’t think I’d be expecting a lot of running, even if I played. No sweat.

I Actually Played Soccer!

The tournament was held at St Wilfred Soccer field, which was actually a full size soccer pitch, with a nice artificial turf. The other teams from the bank came much better prepared, they even have their own jerseys, which we found out why, at the end of the tournament.

Despite of just being a bench warmer, I ended up having to play, because some of my friends needed to catch their wind and asked for a time out. So I played, and played terribly, since it was my first time, playing ‘competitively’, my opponents was certainly much, much better. While I tried the best I could, I was completely out-dribbled and out classed by my opponents. On top of that, running around chasing the ball in a full size soccer pitch really takes the wind out of you, and I almost died out there, the fitness necessary to play soccer was really no joke, and the professionals have to do it for a full 90 minute.

Aikido to the Rescue (or not!)

Not knowing how to be a soccer player. I turn to the other physical activity I knew and was very good at: Aikido. The only good as an Aikidoka, was I can take contact sports and give as good as I get, but this is not martial arts, it’s soccer,. My brain was processing, ‘ball’ or ‘guy’. ball’ or ‘guy’ and my instinct was to attack the guy, not the ball, so I charged and dived the only way I knew (the artificial turf was such a luxury to dive in!), and of course my opponent, easily run circles around your dad, the clumsy soccer noob. Obviously I also don’t have the technical skills to dribble nor pass the ball to my team-mates properly, and likely end up more of a liability than part of a team.

It was all for the sake of fun and we all did enjoyed ourselves. We didn’t do shabby either, and managed to score some goals and climbed the small leader board.

4th place and the Commotion

Eventually we ended up 4th place, and was not bad, not last at the very least. While everyone gathered at the rest point, to have the medals presented, we heard a commotion. Apparently the runner up team complained to the judges.

The Champions cheated.

The winning team had more than 10 players, and the reason why they wore jerseys, was so that they can switch out their players and people can’t really tell the difference between the players, wearing the same jersey. We played against them, and we didn’t notice any change in their players. Maybe my friends did, but I sure as hell didn’t. Well, the other teams found out and protested the fraud.

They got disqualified, weren’t too happy about it, and even kick up a temper. They say a lot of their friends wanted to join and the 10 person limit meant that some of them would not be able to play, which was why they swop jersey so that their friends can have a change to play, which would also meant fielding fresh players as well. What an excuse!

Being in the 4th place, we got pushed up and became the 2nd runner-ups, thanks to the turn of events in our favor!

The 7 Wonders.

Dakota Crescent in Pictures

Dakota Crescent in Pictures

Dear Boys,

This is a throwback to our visit to Dakota Crescent before it was torn down. Our visit was inspired by a 2016 MediaCorp TV Series Hero (大英雄), it was quite an enjoyable show, and we want to capture some sights before it is gone forever.

The Main Lawn of Dakota Crescent

Recently there was another article by Channel News Asia that reported the fate of the old residents of Dakota Crescent and how they are doing in their new flat and many of them missed the good old (pun intended) days where time literally stood still in their neighbourhood.

You can read more about the article in this link:

In 2016, Dakota Crescent residents were moved to new flats. Some paid an intangible price.

Blk 12

We climbed to the second floor of Blk12 and marveled at the greenery protruding out from the corridor, the uncle was really a passionate green finger, and from the photo, you can see the myriad of greens protruding from the railings

Blk 12
The other side of Blk 12
The iconic ‘TIAN KEE & CO.’ of Blk 12

The Schindler Lift

Man that is real old school, we took it up to the level 6, and while it was very rickety, it did it’s job, creaking and squeaking from more than 5 decades of use and abuse. It’s arthritic old but it still worked!

I felt that it was really a rare privilege to take that lift, knowing that we will never get a chance to do so any more, and back then, having 5 people in the lift is already a technological marvel.

Waiting for the lift
in the Schindler Lift

The View from the Top

From some of the top floors, we caught some views, as well as peeped into some of the unit’s interior.

The view was actually not very spectacular since the flats are not high rise, but the feeling of standing of these long gone monuments gives us good memories to tell stories about.

We were quite surprised that despite of the place being vacated and vacant, it was pleasantly clean and neat. There is still a sense of order, as well as nostalgia when the occupants left their old abode. You can feel a quiet dignity in the air, knowing that these buildings stood the test of time, built homes, laughter, sweat and tears, families, friends, memories and played a very integral part of Singapore’s nation building.

Street Directory 2007

Thankfully I managed to save a Mighty Mind 2007 Street Directory which I can pull out a map of the entire Dakota Crescent neighborhood, as you boys can see, back in 2007, Mountbatten MRT was still U/C (uncompleted)

You can compare this to Google Map 2019 and you can see that in 2007, Dakota Crescent stretched beyond Blk 32, as of today, the plot of land after Blk 32 has been turned into condominium, called Dakota Residences.

Blk 32
The playground behind Blk 16

Google Maps View

Google Map view dated 2019

Amazingly you can still get a very good view of the entire Dakota Crescent on Google Maps, dating back 2019, you can see a top view of the unique shape of the flats and where Blk 12, Blk 16 and the rest of the blocks are sited. Of course by then, Mountbatten MRT is already up and running.

More photos

Time and Tide

At the end of it all, boys, sometimes these places have to give way to development, and while it is unfortunate, the needs of the future will always takes precedence over the needs of the past, and while we need to carefully balance our memories, we must make sure we are not too caught up in the past, we cannot look forward and prepare for the future.

I’m really glad that we managed to capture some memories of Dakota Crescent and these are hopefully some of the highlights of your childhood.

Forgiveness- Asking and Giving

Forgiveness- Asking and Giving

Dear Boys,

As you both know, I don’t have a family past which I can be proud of. My parents, and my elder brother, well…they’re difficult to manage, they have never been in my life, for the good times, and they’re always there in my memories when I think of the bad. That’s a fact.

The Letter-it’s not that bad…

The story of my life is one of waiting, for the dreaded. When it finally came, well… it didn’t feel so bad. So…moot point, nothing in reality is as bad as you imagine it to be. Whatever happens, you can deal with it.

The letter was from the government, sent when my mum went to them to get money from me. My dad did that to me about 7 years ago. I’ll go into the details later in future, but the gist of it was both my parents think of me as a kind of ‘gold mine’ where they can milk money out from. This leaves me in a bad mental state, and oh let’s not talk about my elder brother.

Wishin’ and Hopin’

Celebrating my elder brother’s birthday, circa 2000

So I carry them as my ‘family history’ as a burden on my shoulders, always gnarly and bitter about not having a more supportive and loving parents. Well I guess I am always kind of wishing for something better, the wishin’ and hopin’ was actually not doing anything good for me. There’s really nothing nice I can say or mention about them, they are not my source of pride and joy.

Whoever or whatever they are or were, they are literally poisoning my personality and reality without even being there. The best part was I was allowing them to do so, lurking in the fringe of my mind and psyche.

Turning the bad to good

The relationship is so aloof with them that they’ve never found a good reason to contact me, and this caused me to develop a doubt over the good things that has happened in my life. That cynical person in me (usually my mum), who is always suspicious over a positive turn of events. ‘Cannot be! There must be a catch!’ ‘How can it be so good! You just watch it, it’ll always turns bad!’ And things always do.

While I was thinking about the bad stuff they’ve caused me, bad personalities they’ve endowed me with, twisted stories my mum (especially my mum) and dad has told me; a silent voice in me grew louder of late, whispering softly to me that they also did left me with something good. I just need to find out what that is, while my dad was a failed businessman, who was probably a bankrupt, he was after all an entrepreneur. My mum was at times a good judge of character, she has a wonderful smile in better days. Even if all they left me was something bad, I didn’t turn out bad, I learned from the bad things they left me with. The trap was I was learning so much, I was slowly turning bad. I was learning to avoid the poison, by eating them to get rid of them, not very smart right?

Forgiveness

From what it seems, they’ve very much unwittingly done me wrong and left me a little twisted. If we were to move on, forgiveness is a mental closure for everyone to heal and become a better person. Sometimes our perpetrators might be self vindicated, to think they are right and you are wrong. and you are the one who have hurt them, therefore they hold the ‘key’ to your forgiveness, and they’ll punish you and hold you psychologically hostage, by not forgiving you for the hurt you did to them.

Relationship is always a 2-way street and for my case, I don’t think I can get them to forgive me, and I don’t think they will ask for my forgiveness, after all, I cause them the hurt, didn’t I?

I forgive them

My mum

I forgive them anyway, never mind that they’ll never know I did, ignorant to the reality that they have left a son, a younger brother alone, lonely and a little bitter almond seed in my heart.

I forgive them anyway, as I have to accept the judgement they’ve passed to me. I’ll never be the good son, or little brother in their lives. I’ve punished myself enough to try and live up to that fantasy, and the reality is, I am a good husband, decent dad, and okay guy.

I forgive them as I need to forgive myself, for being unfilial, for ditching them, and for being the bad guy in their narrative. I don’t live in their narrative, I live in my reality. I have to forgive myself for playing this sad sorry tune in my head for the longest time.

Always give and quit asking for it

An old polaroid photo of my dad and my elder brother. My only photo of my dad.

Don’t beg

If you are waiting for people to give you their forgiveness, you’ll always be begging. While in a healthy and balanced relationship, you can ask the person whom you’ve hurt; for forgiveness, and it’ll heal faster for both the victim and the instigator, when you give forgiveness, ask for forgiveness and gets it. Nonetheless, if you ask and you’re not given, it’s okay, forgive them for not forgiving you and move on, some things are never meant to be solved and some sour relationships are meant to be sour, no matter how hard we try to better it.

Don’t do what your dad did for the past 20 odd years, waiting in vain for my history to better. History is history, no matter how hard we try to rewrite it. What has happened is not something we can understand, I can never fully understand why my elder brother is the a**hole, he still is, why my mum tells lies to everyone about everyone. People are people, they’ll change to their whims and conveniences, a lot of us live like this and will be like this for as long as we live, you boys can be better, and start being better by learning to forgive yourself, and forgive those who have hurt you.

And boys, if I’ve hurt you, please forgive me, I forgive you for any and all the hurt you’ve caused me.