Kuti fever

Kuti fever

A few nights ago, I took out a bag of kuti-kuti to show my boys. For those who are familiar with kuti-kuti, it is a traditional game played in Singapore where players who each have a collection of kuti-kuti, choose one to pit their flicking skills against other players. Turns will be taken to give a single flick to the kuti-kuti. The winner is the player whose kuti-kuti touches an opponent's kuti-kuti. There, the winner wins over the opponent's trinket and adds it on to his collection.

J1 understood the instructions of the game and hence caught on it fast. Playing on the floor wasn't too much of a kick and, the next day, we transited to playing it at the study table. J2 attempted to be part of the game too, and playfully snatched a few of our kuti-kuti away to form his own collection.

Whilst such traditional games may not be such huge magnets in drawing children to it, as compared to electronic devices, I seek to keep my children as gadget free as possible. I know that the inevitable will come when they are finally exposed to the world of gadgets, so whenever I can, I try to introduce to them a little of my own childhood.

In time to come, I hope to introduce to them the intricacies of playing five stones, and perhaps a fun game called 'Pepsi Cola 1-2-3'.

Here is a link to the various traditional games of Singapore which you might be interested to read on. Inexpensive and full of nostalgia, I urge you to try them out with your children as well. They can be excellent fillers, as well as ice breakers when it comes to a gathering of friends.

Have fun!

Tonight’s read

Tonight’s read

I chanced upon a familiar title today whilst at the library. When I flipped the pages, I seem to have recall reading this text during either my secondary school or JC days in Chinese literature class.

Borrowed the book for myself, seeing that the words of the book were the exact print that I had read donkey years ago. It held such fond memories!

The book caught the eye of J1 who insisted that I read it to him. I hesitated, because the content was rather emotional, and I knew I would, at some point, break down.

The story writes about a man who had not seen his father for the past 2 over years, where they both sought to seek out a living and an education respectively in two parts of China. The writer grew up in a poor family and he and his Father got even poorer when his father's business had failed. Nevertheless, his Father writes to his Son and showed him concern throughout those years.

The writer recollects one rare occasion where he met up with his father to see to the wake and funeral of his paternal Grandmother. He writes about how his father showed care for him in little ways, seemingly intangible and sometimes foolish to the eye. That despite being aged and frequently away from his son, the tender love for his son had never wavered once.

One such gesture was that of how the Father was sending his Son up the train, back to Beijing, and decided to cross to the other side of the train station just to get his Son some oranges to take with him on the journey. To get to the other side of the train station, one would have to get down from the platform onto the tracks, cross the tracks, climb up the platform, and get to the opposite end of the station. And to repeat the process to returning… Being elderly and of a clumsy size, it was even more challenging for his Father to get those oranges, but he did anyway. His Son, from the train platform, looked at how his Father (“看着父亲的背影” – this was how the title came about) lumbered on to get the oranges, with much effort, and was gushed with tears at the love of his Father.

Fast forward 2 years later, he received his final letter from his Father, who comforted him that he was in good health, though his shoulders have been hurting a great deal. As such, his Father shared that it would be his last letter to his Son and that he would be coming to the end of his life's journey soon.

As I ended the book, J1 told me that he liked the book but was visibly saddened. I thought he caught me, when my voice broke a few times… and he also tried to dry away tears from his eyes every now and then.

I'm glad to have found this book at the children's section of the library though it was probably wrongly placed. It taught me of the importance of not to take anyone for granted, especially our loved ones, and to understand the frailty of life.

If you would like to view the full text, do look up https://youtu.be/gXpkTBUMolU.

Helping out in chores as part of the family culture

Helping out in chores as part of the family culture

This week, I have been reflecting on 'age appropriate chores' and finding opportunities for the boys to take up small roles that are personally meaningful to them. Chores need not be viewed as dreaded tasks but rather tasks that help make the Home a better place to live in, and to contribute to the benefit of everyone living together.

It'll be too late when they start to take everything Mummy does for granted.

It'll be too late when they are overwhelmed with school work to consider wanting to help out at home.

It'll be too late when their enthusiasm to be involved in 'adult tasks' weans.

It'll be too late when other more engaging and attention grabbing forms of entertainment take over their minds.

It'll be too late when they psycho themselves to think that chores are unnecessary and not worth their time and effort.

Yesterday, J1 helped cut my veggies for dinner with a butter knife. Today, both Js helped hang the clothes to dry. Every now and then, they bring out the broom and start sweeping the floor. It's somewhat heartening. Never will I chase them away because they want to help out. In fact, if we are not in a rush for time, it's best to create space for them to explore doing chores, getting their little hands to work, and seeing the fruit of their labour.

When I asked them about whether they would like to help me out once again, both chirped in to say they would like to hang the clothes together again. I thanked them and told them that we could do it again two days later when the laundry is due to wash. And they were ecstatic over it! 😊

In time to come, I look forward to chores being part of the family culture and especially because everyone wants to help out to make a better Home. Now, we have an excellent part time helper who comes once a week, and we are thankful. But we cannot be fooled to believe that she will be around forever, or that we will never need to lay a hand on chores ever. In fact, doing so would not be taking a personal ownership of our Home. So, while she is still around to help us weekly, there is a need to dedicate time to maintaining the house and keeping it running well.

If it is a task that needs to be done strictly by an adult, like ironing the clothes, I try to iron them whilst they are awake, to see me iron… so that they know that ironing actually takes a family member to do so, and it doesn't happen magically.

And, it's of course the privilege of everyone in the family to do so, isn't it? 😄👏

Allowing opportunities for independence

Allowing opportunities for independence

When it comes to taking care of children, the popular belief is to try to cushion them as much as we adults can, so as to prevent falls, scratches, quarrels and bad experiences. In other words, to prevent failures.

However, the irony is that in preventing failures, many activities cannot be done. Over the years, I've changed my perspective of parenting to be one that is more spontaneous, giving ample opportunity for my children to explore within the boundaries of parental guidance, allowing them to have a taste of 'doing what adults do' and learning through fumbling…

Over the last few weeks, I've let the children try these out. Some activities turned out well and nice, others, well… room for improvement. Whatever the outcome, their learning came alive and gaining experience through such hands on tasks.

Egg shell peeling… J1 is still working hard at it. Though 2 eggs did not turn out well, I thanked him for his eagerness to help peel the shells off.

These cute tiger puzzles were found at the back of Frosties cornflakes and J1 tried to piece them together using white glue, on his own. He was of course proud of his masterpiece!

J1 volunteered to make peanut butter bread for everyone one morning and managed it quite well. Yes there were stains of peanut butter here and there, and he was licking the spread from his fingers every now and then. But he enjoyed the process of preparing breakfast for the family and we all appreciated it.

J2 had his fair share of learning to skate scoot. He fumbled and wobbled a little here and there but can manage a decent distance of 10m on his own now.:)

It has also taught me to let go of being protective over my children. Giving them space to explore their learning on their own, with supervision, prepares them and sets the pace for greater tasks and skills ahead of them.

The birthday present

The birthday present

J1 shared with me last week that a school mate of his requested for a birthday present from him from Toys R Rus. I was taken aback as I thought that gifts were supposed to be given, not requested from. Somemore, Toys R Rus?? From a fellow school mate who hasn’t earned his keeps? 

I told him that if he wanted to buy his friend a gift, it would have to come from his savings to be considered as something given by him. He frowned upon the idea.

Again, yesterday J1 brought up the issue to me that he really wanted to give that friend a gift. Sure, he could. However, I reiterated that he would have to dip into his savings to get a gift. 

After a moment of thought, he exclaimed excitedly that he could make a birthday card for his friend and pass it to her the following day. He also said that he did not want to spend money in getting a gift as he hadn’t much savings. I thought it was a great idea and encouraged him to make the card the following morning before school started.

Today, we came across some colouring sheets online and he chose one sheet to colour for his friend so he could personalise it and give it to her. I chipped in by giving him an envelope to enclose the card in. He was thrilled!!

Here’s the outcome, and I thought he did really well. There was also some really good decisions a five-year-old like him made, in choosing this as an appropriate gift to his friend. 

Rather than insist on him not getting a birthday gift for his friend, I thought that leaving him to make that crucial decision would make him more convinced of his choice. There will be sacrifices to make (having less savings) if he were to buy a gift, but I was keen on letting him make that decision.

He chose to make a card, and in the end, he felt it was an excellent choice. I’m glad to have walked this journey with him and supported him through his choices.

It’s just one of those days… when Mummy multitasks so much that she becomes incoherent! πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†

It’s just one of those days… when Mummy multitasks so much that she becomes incoherent! πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†

On busy mornings when you’re calling out for the children to get ready:

Me: J1, it’s time to get ready for school. I can’t be reminding you anymore because I’ve got ironing to do. So then you can change into your pyjamas

J1: πŸ€”πŸ™„

Me: πŸ˜¬πŸ˜…

(Minutes later)

Me: Boys, play with the ball outside the room. I’m ironing the clothes now and you know, the oven is hot.


Me: Erm yes. I think I was supposed to say ‘the iron’, not ‘the oven’. (Good try, J2!)

Round 3: over lunch

J2: No planes today.

Me: Yes, I think they’ve stopped flying for awhile. The pirates (oops, supposed to be Pilots) are having their lunch too, I think.

Me: 😬😬😬😬😬 What did I just say?!

The home sets the pace for values education

The home sets the pace for values education

So J2 playfully and intentionally poured a cup of warm water onto the floor, and started giggling. 

Ok, my turn to respond. A barrage of possible reactions played in my mind. 

Scold for the misdeed. Give a smack on the hand. Ask him to leave the scene and clean the mess up myself. Tell him what he did that was wrong and warn never to do that. 

Eventually, I went to the kitchen and asked him to clean up the spot that was wet. In order for him to know what i meant by ‘clean up’, I took another cloth and wiped the water up with him. I insisted that every wet spot was wiped dry. Then came the lesson… explained to him why a wet floor could result in falls to anyone in the home, and that his act of mischief was not acceptable.

I’m not too sure how much the short lesson sank into his mind, but hopefully the physical act of him cleaning up the floor would stay in his mind as a reminder of why spilling water on the floor intentionally was a no-no. 

Home is where we set the moral compass of any child, that I believe. More so, when a child is still impressionable and teachable, the parent or caregiver has the upper hand in instilling right values to nurture a disciplined child. As such, perhaps any child is never too young to be gently corrected and brought to realisation of their inappropriate actions. 

As parents, let’s press on and keep at it even when the going gets tough. Don’t forget too, that our children do look towards us as we set an example for them to follow. They are great imitators and when what we preach goes hand in hand with the walk we talk, Home can be the place to set the foundational values of our children.