July 28, 2008

Tutus or toy guns?


No...I am not going to talk about having a boy or girl for a next child, rather, my question is rather controversial for most parents; will you let your 3 or 4 year old boy
a) dress up in a tutu and ballet shoes in school OR
b) play with a toy gun during pretend play

I believe almost all Singaporean parents will select option b. Most parents will probably freak out if they found out that their boy dressed up in a tutu complete with ballet shoes during pretend play and will prefer that the child play with toy guns instead. Never mind if toy guns will encourage violent behaviour in your child, as long as he is not given 'sissy' stuff to do. And God forbid! Dress up in a tutu and ballet shoes, is this some sort of a precursor to the alternative lifestyle?

This question came up during my Early Childhood Education class this evening. My lecturer who loves to ask questions to challenge us posed this to the class; Will you allow a boy in your class to dress up in a tutu and ballet shoes during pretend play if he choses to? The majority, all 22 of us answered 'Yes', only 2 other classmates said 'No'.

This may start to drive you into a panic and wonder what sort of teachers that you have for your nursery or kindergarten child today. Let me justify the 'Yes' to that question.

Note the context that the child is given that liberty; the child is at PLAY. Play is voluntary, often fun and meaningful for the child, it allows the child to make choices and decisions, is purposeful, involves pretending and engaging in meaningful behaviour and helps children understand and handle their feelings.

So the boy should be allowed to dress up in a tutu and wear ballet shoes, however, the teacher or parent needs to ensure that there is clear follow up after that activity. Highlight to the child that it is ok to pretend and imagine what a ballerina does. But also let him know that in real life only girl ballerinas wear a tutu, as this can also be an opportunity to let him know more about real life gender differences. Evoke further interest of the child to find out more. Ask him questions like; there are male ballet dancers performing with the ballerinas in a ballet, what do they wear? Are there also instances where men wear skirts? Like in the case of Scottish and Malay men - the kilt and sarong.

You do not nurture feminine traits in your son just by allowing him to dress up in a tutu when he is at play. Refer to my previous post in my Kids and Parenting blog for a full run down on possible causes that will encourage homosexuality during childhood -
I am not a gay-basher, just that I don't agree with their choice of lifestyle. Just like how I don't agree with married people getting into affairs.

As for the toy gun, sometimes I don't know what are parents thinking when they buy toy guns or swords for their young son. Did you ever notice that kindergartens never have toys guns in their collection of toys for the children? They have toys that imitate real life, not reel life and violence. If parents think that they are encouraging a child to build manliness and macho-ness by giving them toys of that sort, they are very wrong. Fathers should just spend quality time with your sons if you want them to learn how to be a man.

Our children are exposed to enough violence from the media, we really do not need to be part of this negative influence that will direct their play behaviours and preferences.

July 27, 2008

More bundles of joy?

Is one enough? Been thinking about having a little sister (hopefully) for Kyle. Not really planning to have another child immediately, as it will be too much of a challenge for me now to manage taking care of Kyle, my studies, working part time in church and spending time with hubby. Cannot imagine myself doing all of that while having a baby bump at the same time. Especially when I did not have an easy pregnancy previously, just dread the thought about being pregnant again.

I noticed that it is really common for mothers to have their kids between 1 and a half or 2 years apart. Heard from some mothers that there are many advantages; the kids can be playmates, you can put them in the same pre-schools, primary and secondary school together, etc.

L has also mentioned before that kids with siblings do have less tendency to be self centred as they learn to survive with another person who is also vying for the parent's attention. It seems that it get easier for the parents as well. As their energies and attention are shared among two children, they get less hang ups and parenting seem to get easier with experience.

When I think about this 5 year old child that I saw in church a few months ago, I think twice about not having a sibling for Kyle. This girl was sitting on the floor, together with her parents, about a quarter of a metre away from us and browsing through her book. Out of curiousity, Kyle glanced at her book a couple of times and was met with so much hostility from that little girl. She glared at him each time she caught him looking at her, and gave him threatening looks. She even raised her palm at some point, ready to hit Kyle if he inched any closer. And Kyle was only barely a year old then.

Her parents did not pay much attention to her hostile behaviour and so hardly made any effort to correct her. I saw her this morning at church again, this time, she was fully engrossed with her Nintendo DS and she clearly ignored her father when asked to take communion.

I suppose bringing up this example is a little extreme. This girl is probably a result of over-indulging parents that do not know to discipline her.

It's crucial that I will have my second child for the right reasons. Parenting has not been the easiest journey so far and Kyle is only so young! Cannot imagine the kind of challenges that Keith and I will experience once Kyle enters primary school, adolescence, etc. Although it has been alot of fun so far and we feel so blessed to have Kyle in our lives.

So the 2nd bundle of joy can wait, although I am not getting any younger, maybe 2010 or 2011? Kyle will be 4 by then, and he will have so much other things in his life, like school and friends, and will probably take pride to assume big kor-kor responsibilities.

I want to enjoy more time with Kyle for now.

Lunch with Mom and Dad this afternoon at Seah Steet Deli

Look! No shoes on the fatty little feet!

July 24, 2008

Toilet habits

A certain someone once told me this when Kyle was a month old, 'You must potty train him when he is able to sit up by himself. My son was trained at about 8 months old and he was able to tell me when he wanted to go.' Few thoughts that crossed my mind when I first heard those words; Your son's physical impulses must be extremely advanced or you are just a very well trained mother...

Thank goodness that she does not have influence over how I bring up my child. As I cannot imagine how much unnecessary stress that I will be putting Kyle and myself through, if I ever attempt to start potty training him at 6 months. I will have turned into a toilet-obsessed and well trained mother to ensure that Kyle sits on the potty every two hours.

This topic of toilet training toddlers was brought up during a recent child development class on Tuesday.
Lecturer : 'When do you think a child can be toilet trained?'
Me : 'I heard of mothers who start training their child at 6 months.'
Lecturer : 'Oh that's too early...'
Classmate : 'My mom started training my daughter at 1 month,'
Lecturer (horrified expression): 'Oh my, so early? So was she really trained?'
Classmate : 'I think so, she stopped wearing diapers from 8 months.'
Lecturer : 'Actually a child is not ready till 2 plus. If you believe in Freud's theory, you may be potentially moulding a child with personality extremes.'

That's an interesting comment from someone who has 20+ experience in child development, has 2 children of her own and hold a masters in early childhood education.

Mothers who seemed to have trained their child at infancy, merely have caught the child's reflective release of urine or bowel movement at the convenient time. Toilet training is best introduced to the child after that few months following the second birthday when the child can identify the signals of a full bladder and can hold their muscles impulse.

So I rather be one to listen to knowledgeable advice rather than 'old wives wisdom' or experience. As for the part on Freud's theory, if parents insists on training their child before the/she is ready or make too few demands when the child show signs of readiness. The child may experience conflicts about anal control thatmay appear in the form of personality traits of extreme orderliness and cleanliness or messiness or disorder.

Either way, I really do not wish to be the catalyst for this sort of personality development in Kyle, moreover, I don't think I am knowledgeable enough to question Freud's theory (Freud = the 'father' of human psychology theories). So I will hold off toilet training till after 2 and Kyle's potty can be another item added to his collection of filling and dumping containers for now.

July 23, 2008

Spots and Hot Dog

Day 4 of the virus infection and Kyle broke out in a rash. Many tiny little spots appeared on his abdomen, chest, back, arms, legs and face. According to the GP, these rashes are a result of a viral infection and actually are a good sign that Kyle's antibodies are defeating the virus. The rashes will exacerbate before finally clearing up by this Friday or Sat.

Looking rather spotty and feeling rather moody

Apart from the rash, he is still rather active and alert. He cheered up soon after he had some time in front of the computer watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse clips from http://www.disneychannel-asia.com/DisneyChannel/playhouse/friends/mmch/e

Bopping to the Hot dog song

Mickey Mouse really seems to have timeless appeal for children. I recalled watching 'old school' Mickey mouse cartoons when I was little, but of course, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse today is so different from those old cartoons that I used to watch.

The programme even ensures relevance for today's context; it incorporates Playhouse Disney's curriculum of cognitive and creative learning opportunities, as well as technology concepts through this computer-robot like Mickey head-shaped thing known as Toodles. Toodles provides about 3 to 4 collection of objects where Mickey and Friends can choose from. These objects can be utilise to solve the day's problems. By calling, "Oh Toodles!" Mickey summons it to pop up from where it is hiding and fly up to the screen so that the home viewer can pick which tool Mickey needs for the current situation.

Even Kyle knows how to say 'Toooooles...' when Toodles appears on the screen. Such is the power of media over young children, parents really need to review what their children watch on TV. Not every programme is suitable, even some of the programmes which are on channels like Kids Central and Playhouse Disney; for e.g., Hannah Montana, High School Musical etc, which address adult themes like boy-girl relationships.

I always make a point to sit with Kyle when he is watching these programmes and will label and explain things to him. Well selected programmes can be used to help your child acquire language skills.

July 19, 2008

Kyle is 16 months!

Kyle just turned 16 months on the 17th of July. This little boy is growing and progressing very well as an active and inquisitive toddler. He is at this stage where he is starting to ask for more autonomy, however still very uncertain about his new found independence. I always try to encourage his independence by letting him feed himself when he is having a meal with Keith and I, as well as allow him opportunties to make choices. I try to minimise baby-ing him unless he starts to 'manja' and wants some affection and comfort.

His passive vocabulary (the words that he understand but cannot speak) is rather wide as he seems to understand most things that I say, and can answer with a nod or a shake of his head for a 'yes' or 'no'. Also, he does most of the things that I tell him to. He can get rather lazy at times to speak and still grunts and whines, but I always try to prompt him to speak by asking, 'Tell mummy what you want...' 'What is that?'...or 'Say this, ____'.

Being a not so traditional mum that does not quite believe in certain gender specific toys, I recently got him a cooking set from ELC. Keith says that this will make him a sensitive guy, as he used to have a cooking set as well :P

Probably this is the most so-call feminine toy that Kyle gets to play with, afterall, guys should learn to cook for themselves and not just concentrate on the eating bit. I am also looking for a cleaning set as I believe the males in the family also need to lend a helping hand with the chores around the house.

Not too sure when will he start to show some interest in vehicles, trains or planes. But I suppose this cooking set, the water table and some children's books that I recently got from Amazon.com should keep him busy for a while.

Kyle unfortunately came down with his 2nd fever this afternoon. His antibodies are most likely fighting a flu bug that he caught from yiyi :( Anyhow, he just took another dose of baby paracetamol and is fast asleep, I am sure he will be back to his chirpy self in the morning.

Kyle is a very healthy boy except for a rare case of flu once a long while. I must say this is all due to the communion that we take every Sunday. Thank God that we are able to take the communion to remind us of what our Saviour did for us at calvary. All our sickness and diseases are put to death on the cross with Jesus...our bodies are made whole because of Christ! No more fever or flu in Jesus' name, Amen!

July 18, 2008

Whose baby can read?

Felt a certain sense of achievement when I managed to finish my assignment ahead of time. Not too bad for someone whose last experience at writing essays was at least 9 years ago. Definitely have to keep this momentum up since there will be 3 other assignments which will be due one week after another in August :(

Well this is all worth it, since I will be able to put all these knowledge to good use for Kyle's progress in the various areas of cognitive, emotional, social and physical development. Most mothers without the background or this knowledge that I have now, will probably be cramming their 16 month old child with flashcards. Excellent if you child has a fantastic memory and a good attention span, but forget it, if you have an active and physical kid who is more motivated by trucks, balls and activity based learning.

For someone who is studying to be a childhood educator, I am sure quite relaxed when it comes to ensuring that my kid learns colours, numbers and alphabets. I suppose many mothers are now driven to panic city after coming across the article in Straits Times recently; about a 2 year old boy who can read words off menus. Sorry to have to be sarcastic, I hope his mom have helped him developed a passion for learning and not just a passion of acquiring approval and praise for his excellent memory.

And what about the Baby can Read program? It has got its merits, but I have driven the CDs into the deep recesses of my drawers. This is another program that encourages rote learning, i.e., learning from memory.

Mothers can throw away their flashcards if they plan to teach their kid who is below the age of 2. Read my article in http://parachutetime.blogspot.com/ You can chose to refute Piaget's theory of cognitive development, and stick to your tested method of flashcards (since your child seems to be learning from it). Not for me, I have no plans to question this well known cognitive development theorist, until I am certain that I can develop some credible tried and tested theory that will prove otherwise.

In the meantime, Kyle is allowed to relax to learn things at his own leisure pace until he turns 2.

July 17, 2008

Busy, bewildered and bothered

Been so busy these past 1 week that I could not find the time to update this blog. So how's my life so far? I am far busier than when I worked full time; juggling my time between spending time with Kyle, doing my assignments, reading all relevant resources needed for my assignment, grocery shopping, attending classes in the evenings thrice a week, delegating work to domestic help and squeezing some time somehow to spend time with the hubby. What's more, I haven't even started working for church yet! Prior to this, I once had the idealistic thought that I could spend some 'tai tai' time going for manicures/pedicures, grooming and spa treatments. It is sure not that easy finding that spare time to do those idealistic activities.

It really takes quite a bit of discipline to ensure that I am able to get most of the above things done in a week. Obviously I will have more time to do those idealistic activities if I make the choice to dump Kyle at my mom's place, and get Belle to take care of him most of the time. However I feel this will be rather irresponsible and I do not want to end up having a child depending on domestic help for comfort and security (which I still find Kyle exhibiting at times).

Keith thinks that by moving Kyle to our room to sleep with us will solve this problem, however I am certain that Kyle will eventually grow out of this. Anyhow, early childhood education sure comes in useful at this moment, as experts have written that the child will start to detach from their primary caregiver (in this case it is Belle) from 2 onwards, once they start to exhibit traits of autonomy and independence.

So what has Kyle been up to this past one week? He got his second haircut from Junior League at United Square. It was another distressing and stressful experience for him and all present, the little boy was crying from the start till the end of the haircut experience. Nonetheless, I plan to bring him for his haircut once in 6 weeks or so till he gets accustomed to it.

Toddler was obviously not very thrilled after the haircut. However, this is the end of 'bowl haircuts' and the beginning of proper 'little boy' haircuts

The excursion ended with me spurgling about 100+ on a barbeque/stove/oven food play set from ELC for Kyle, as a result of feeling rather guilt-stricken for putting him through this stressful experience.

July 6, 2008


Hui Lin's little girl Natalie finally arrived on the 3rd Jul at 630pm! Went to Gleneagles to visit mum and baby and seeing little Natalie sure bring back fond memories on the first day I set my eyes on my little boy Kyle.

Here's a picture of precious little Natalie, I am certain that she will bring lots of joy to her mum...

Motherhood will surely change your perpective on life, it definitely has for me. The first year is not the easiest managing the constant feeds and crying baby. But once you see their first toothless grin or giggle, any amount of sleeplessless for you is worth its sacrifice.

It was not too long ago that little Kyle was placed in my arms in the hospital. This little baby has become an endearing toddler with a sensitive little soul, full of hugs to give to people around him. Also with oodles of energy, he is always enthusiastic for a ball toss or kick, wielding his mini tennis racket or golf club hitting the ball around the house.

Every moment that you can spend with your little one matters. The first 6 years will just fly by before you even realise it. However these 6 years will be the most important for your little one. It is these few years that you can help him realise his potential, teach him how to be a moral and responsible person, learn how much God as well as his parents love him and help him acquire a love for learning.

One thing for sure, Kyle will need to learn that our life is nothing without God in our lives. It is not what we do, but what Christ did for us on the cross. Only then we can be confident that He has great plans for our lives and be confident of a good future ahead. We need not worry about tomorrow, as God has went ahead to make sure everything will be well in our future!