I’ve lost the momentum for writing, hence the period of silence. But I think the past 3 months has also been a time of reflection, recalibration… and mostly giving up and restarting.
As Z is getting older and naughtier, I realized I have been having too low expectations of him and his behaviour. As usual, the sad fate of the firstborn child is to have to live up to unrealistically high expectations. At 10 months – How come haven’t walk?? At 1 year – Why can’t she talk clearly? At 3 – Why is she not reading yet?? (I’m kidding. In case you really think i’m psycho). Then second one comes along and you’re like: Goo goo ga ga… he’s just a baby… And you just spend all day kissing his fat cheeks. He doesn’t know how to pack his toys yet. Oh! He said Papa & Mama at 18 months! Wow!! So amazing! Of course at 18 months, they can get away with ANYTHING just by giving that cheeky face or they just look at you with big googly eyes.
At the back of my mind, I know I’m treating them differently, but I didn’t think my differential behaviour would be perceived as favouritism. I was shocked one day when K (my older one) said, “Why are you always happy with Didi and always so unhappy with me?” I think I must have blustered for 5 seconds before muttering some excuse about you being older so I have higher expectations of you – which is true, but it must have sounded like bull**** to her. Kids have this innate sense of justice and fairness and I’m reminded of that keenly. That even if I say I don’t practise favouritism, my actions may still reek of that. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I say; but what she perceives.
So yes, I am making a conscious effort to be nicer to her, more patient, more understanding. Being more mindful of that, I also know when I’m most likely to get ticked off – in the mornings when I don’t wake up early enough and I’m rushing her to off to school. Yet she loves to dawdle and take her own sweet time. So yep, wake up earlier (grr…), have more time to get ready, less “defiance”, less flaring of tempers, better starts to our days.
For 10 weeks already, I’ve given up on homeschooling. Hah.. It really wasn’t easy planning and executing a curriculum made up on the go so what wasn’t planned, wasn’t done. And what was planned, also wasn’t properly carried out. Plus, Z wasn’t sleeping in the morning anymore and that interrupted our morning learning sessions, which to be honest, wasn’t very much anyway. She ended up doing stuff around the house as I did my chores. Limpehz was quite cool with it. I was the antsy one about her not getting enough academic learning. But he felt it was a good time for her to pick up good habits and independent skills, like packing her bed, learning to wash dishes, wipe tables, clean around the house, so he didn’t feel it was a waste of time. I guess I was willing to go with it, until K’s Principal called me up one day (dun dun dun dun….). I mean having homeschooled her 2 daughters years ago, she was really really supportive of my decision to take her out of school 2 days a week to try that out with her. But she and I noticed that this new schedule wasn’t working out for K too well. K thrives on schedules and predictability. She always liked to know what we were doing next and what the plan was. So Monday she went to school, Tuesday she stayed home, Wed, Thurs to school, Friday home… At her age, having an incomplete grasp of time and days of the week, it must have seemed a senseless blur to her. Plus, because the Principal had to push her even more when she was in school to catch up on her Chinese (diao diao…) and accelerate her in other areas, K ended up missing a lot of the free-play time with her friends, which is one of main draws of school anyway.
So in Term 2, she started going back full-time to school and I would say, she’s a lot happier. She’s at an age where she’s making lots of friends – previously, they were just playing alongside each other – but now, she actually has some friends, and of course, a lot of quarrelling everyday. But I guess that’s part and parcel of learning negotiation and turn-taking. She’s a lot more settled in the new schedule and has learnt to eat in school. Previously, she hated going to school as she didn’t like having lunch in school, because she actually had to eat. Duh… Now, she’s found she can get away with eating some and sharing with another boy who also doesn’t like to eat. They got married in school by the way.. A few times. So they are the save-money-by-not-eating couple. She’s consolidated her learning quite a bit. Last 6 months we had been working on phonics and finally she’s learning to put the sounds together and doing little bits of reading! Yay to that!! Looking forward where we have our family reading time (i.e. peace and quiet. No talking, no noise, just silent reading.. Shhh)
So does this mean I’ve given up teaching? NO!!! You can take me out of teaching, but you can’t take the teacher out of me!!! Chey… I’ve gotten a lot more humble in my expectations, so I’m just shooting for 10 minutes a day in the evening with K, mainly just reading, a bit of counting, maybe some Chinese. I can do 10 minutes….
So with Z, I’m restarting the alphabet, the numbers, the flashcards, the crafts (which obviously, it’s my work, and therefore ugly). He likes it and I’m enjoying the more focused time with him. And he remembers what I teach him!! Amazing!!! Oh wait… it’s the low second child expectations again. Haha… But yes.. it’s all good for a few more days… Until JUNE HOLIDAYS!!! Arrghh… major disruptions to our schedules again. *Cries* –> I’ll try to update a bit more bout this in future for anyone’s reference, if you have nothing to do with your 1 – 2 plus year olds.
To end, Mother’s Day has been good this year. See my Meh Mother’s Day last year. To avoid the sad repetition of a meh mother’s day, I explicitly told LimpehZ I was expecting something for Mother’s Day. He didn’t deliver. But I do appreciate the quiet acts of service – letting me sleep in by bringing the 2 kids out to buy breakfast, helping out around the house… etc. Thank you. I did feel appreciated and loved. 🙂 K was especially sweet too! She hugged and kissed me quite a lot (I think she fulfilled the quota for the year cuz she hasn’t been huggy or kissy ever since) and sang me some I Love You Mummy song. That was really sweet. 🙂 Yep, it’s been good and I do (try to) count my blessings everyday.