Browsing "Life"

Teaching the Law of Cause and Effect … work hard, or …

“That’s what happens when you don’t work hard!,” a silent but firm message, often in no unforgiving tones is regularly sent to young Chinese children.
In most cases, the parent quite openly and unashamedly points out to the garbage collector or the person sweeping the street or even the maid.

Whether or not the message is true is of little of often no consequence, the core of the lesson is to instil the ethic of work, and perhaps more importantly, the idea that dreams come true when you work for it.

Having lived in the UK for quite a while now, I had gotten used to the complete political-correctness of never talking down your fellow human. I had unknowingly accepted the Western notion that when someone is in a fairly low-level job, it may be because, a) he enjoys doing it (and that’s what matters) or b) he’s in a rough patch. Come to think of it, there’s even a song about “The Dump Truck”

Never in all my years here had this been a subject of conversation with any of my peers, who incidentally come from a wide range of professions, from Professors to cooks in a Chinese take-away.

So naturally when Georgia starts negotiating to ‘practise her cello tomorrow’ and ‘do five sums’ instead of ten, I turn to my mum and bemoan the fact that, she’s becoming lazy.

“Wait till you come back here (to Malaysia) for a holiday, then you can point out the cleaners in my building,” she mentions reassuringly.

And so the time comes, we pack our bags, lock up our house and fly half-way across the world, to see what lessons we can impart to our nearly 6-year-old.

In the whirlwind of meeting up with relatives and friends, we take occasional refuge relaxing in the swimming pool when we happen to chance upon a couple of cleaners, walking round with mops and brooms.

“Great! Time for a lesson,” I think to myself.

“Hey G, you see those cleaners over there? Do you know why they have to clean other people’s houses?”

“Dunno…” she nonchalantly shrugs of the questions and goes back to her game of shooting her water gun at various toys she’d arranged around the pool.

“Well you know how we always tell you, you have to work hard at school?”

“Uh-huh,” she becomes a little bit more interested now and turns to look straight at me, wide-eyed.

And the lesson hits, “Well, if you don’t work hard and do your best, well then you won’t be able to find a good job and buy all the things you like….and you’ll have to end up cleaning,” I try to say this with as much seriousness and conviction as possible, trying to sell the idea that being a cleaner is just not good enough.

And just as serious and with as much conviction comes her reply “But Mummy! I like cleaning!”

And there it is! Does it matter that our society defines the worth and value of an individual by their occupation or that, it is in Asian terms ‘losing face’ when one’s child does not succeed?

Wrapped up in G’s immediate responses, was my lesson “Love what you do”.

Notes from A Year in Retrospect – 2011

1. Parenting – Year 5. Time flies when you’re having fun!

2. Primary School – Year 1. “Can I be ‘Tuck’ today?”

3. A Funeral, and then..

4. A Wedding (Just one of each and in that order)

5. Baby teeth transitions – lost two teeth and an experience with Shark Teeth (thankfully no intervention necessary! phew)

6. Berlin at Christmas time –Christmas markets , Gluhwein, curry wurst, schnitzel, sauerkraut and a whole lot of history, plus bits of the Berlin wall.

7. Xelium – Year 2 – what a ride it’s been!

If you haven’t already listed them, what have the highlights of the past year been?
If you already have a reflections post, do add your link in the comments and I’ll go have a read.

Conversations with Georgia: Thieves might take my toys

It was bedtime and Georgia was snuggled up in bed with her ‘blankeley’ and tucked in with her duvet. Suddenly her face grows serious..

G: Mum, will thieves come in?
Me: No they won’t (very adamantly self-assured!)
G: Are you sure?
Me: Yes, definitely, as besides, we have nothing that thieves want. Our TV is so old (for the record, it is 10 years old!), we don’t have anything fancy, so there is nothing a thief would want from our house.
G: How come?
Me: Well, theives steal things so that they can sell it on and make money. If there is nothing that is valuable to be taken – they won’t be able to sell it for money.
G: What about my toys???

Note: The downside to constantly reminding her that her toys cost lots of money!

Aug 28, 2011 - Conversations, Life, Parenting, Random    2 Comments

Conversations with Georgia: Police Dogs

Travelling in the car along the motorway, Georgia remains unusually silent for quite a while, and then she asks

G: Mum, do you know what police dogs do?
Me: Hhmmm….what do they do?
G: They look for bad people, thieves and all that, by smelling them.
Me: Oh, do bad people smell different?
G: I DON’T KNOW – but dogs can smell them!

So there you are – bad people, you’d better behave – Police dogs can smell you.

Jun 17, 2011 - Family, Life, Random    2 Comments

Hair bobbles, hair bobbles everywhere, no more.

I really should have posted this amazingly simple bit of organisation that 5-year old Georgia was thoroughly taken with, on Sunday when it took place.

If your girl is anything like mine, you would undoubtedly be overflowing with hair bobbles, hair pins, hair ribbons….everything remotely hair related! We found an excellent, relatively cheap way of organising it all using craft toolkit boxes. We got ours, Craft box, that is, at The Works for £1.99, but we have also seen them in The Range.

Hair organisation

Apart from moving to a bigger house, have you any other great tips for organising kids stuff?

Jun 9, 2011 - Life, Random    3 Comments

In the Papers with a Monster Mask!

During half term last week, we did our obligatory library run, popping in, after our wander around the local market.

There we stumbled upon a ‘Monsters’ session where the very calm, very patient Library Manager who proceeded to read 4 monster-based story books, including the required Gruffalo.

After that, the children (all 4 of them!) moved to a craft table to make some monster themed craft (a monster mask, and some monsters to colour in).

A local press photographer had turned up and took numerous photos for the weekly local paper. It was too late for the article to make the run that half-term week, so Georgia waited very patiently for the Monmouthshire Free Press, that comes out only on Wednesdays.

She was rewarded with this ….
Monmouthshire Free Press

Conversations with Georgia: A forger in the making?

As we had a couple of minutes before getting ready for bed, I offered to read Georgia a story. Any story that she wanted. So she picked up the Monsters Inc. Guide, turned to the front page and this is what we read….

As we get to the bottom of the page, she notices the scrawled signature by Henry J. Waternoose, President & CEO, Monsters, Inc. Curious she asks,

G: What’s that? (pointing to the signature)
Me: That’s called a signature. It’s a special way of writing your name, so only you can do it.

G by now looking dubious, looks at the signature again, then points to it and says,

“But anybody could copy that!”

Conversations with Georgia: Different Colours

Reading Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, the second chapter talks about race and why we really should be talking more about the variations in our skin pigmentation more with our children.

I suppose it hit home, although I do have a lot of comments and opinions to add to that chapter, from personal experience growing up in a fluid multi-cultural society (read: Malaysia). So anyway, I thought I’d ask 5-year old Georgia, why she thought people have different skin colours. The conversation went like this.

Me: G, why do you think people have different skin colours? You know, like some people are really fair and some people are really dark.
G: Well, it’s because they get more sun and some people get less sun.
Me: Oh?
G: Like you know, in Malaysia, people are darker and there’s more sun than people here.
Me: Gosh, that’s a logical explanation….

Boy, we’ve got some explaining to do 😉

May 20, 2011 - Family, Learning, Life, Parenting    No Comments

Life’s Lessons

If you have been following The Untold Story series, these Life Lessons (and so many more!) are a culmination of the journey and how we have found our balance.

There are so many more good things that can be added to the list. These are my top 4. If you can think of others, please do share them.

Life’s Lessons

Lesson 1 – Staying home with children (under age 5) is much harder than going out to work

I do not mean to start a national debate, at all, WOHM and SAHM contribute significantly to all areas of our lives. I will admit that this feeling may well not be universal, but the majority of SAHM’s I know seriously miss the ability to ‘shut the door’ and have some down time. Equally, WOHM’s wish they could spend days with their kids, finger painting and digging in the sand. It’s not a competition!

So yes, I stand by, going out to work is easier than staying home with children, BUT, having said that WOHMs – all that juggling — that is a super-human task. So which ever camp you fall in to, pat yourself on the back, and remember we are all just doing the very best that we can.

[Disclosure: WAHM – definitely have it best of all!]

Lesson 2: No regrets – Decisions you make at that point in time are the ones best for you then (keep moving forward!)

There will be times when we look back and think, I wish I did it differently, but (and it is always a very big BUT!) there is no way of knowing what you know now, and if circumstances where the same in the future, you then have the benefit of hind-sight and will perhaps take a different path.

But Live with it and do your best and most importantly – Keep moving forward (ever watched Meet the Robinsons?)

Lesson 3: Having it all, doing it all, being it all, is a Myth! (UNLESS you define having it all in your own terms)

Us women, we are too hard on ourselves! The suffragettes ensured that we had equal rights, equal access, equal votes etc to the men, and for that I thank them.

What they did not need consider, and perhaps it was because most suffragettes had live-in nannies and house-keepers (cue Mary Poppins), was that women generally are (very loosely said here) responsible for the household and for the children, not because there are inequalities in family life, but because by nature, women are more nurturing, they are able to multi-task (it’s true!), they do after all, carry that baby for nine months.

Now before you jump on me, yes we are very much a 21st centrury family and share all these responsibilities, but, (again it is a big BUT), I was never asked to go out and earn my keep, I did it, because

I felt it was only right that I contribute to the household income

I felt it was a distinct waste of an education and significant qualifications to do otherwise

I had an image to up-keep, and perhaps most importantly, and now i figure most bizarrely,

I needed to feel a sense of control, especially where money was concerned.

Note here, these are all I‘s, demands placed upon myself, by me. No one else. Do you see where I’m going?

And so how have I reconciled it? I will be honest, it has taken a long long time, a lot of support (thank you DH), a lot of open conversations.

I still have crazy demands of myself (a gazillion things, I want and need to do) but because I want to do them (writing this blog and another that’s coming is one of them). This is closely tied in to Lesson 4.

I accept that money earned, whether by me or by DH is ‘our’ money. Yes it’s still a  guilty feeling to spend money on ‘myself’ if I haven’t earned it, but it’s getting better (I suppose it’s like the first time crook, do it once, do it once more and sooner or later, it becomes second nature 😉 I’m not at all suggesting that spending joint money is like stealing!) Oh and haven’t you heard, ‘your money is my money, and my money is my money ;))

I accept that I contribute significantly, whether in the business (that we own jointly) or in the household (where we live jointly) – it is about give and take. Some days I do more here and some days I do more there.

Which brings me to my final lesson.

Lesson 4: Live NOW.

Whether you are a WOHM, SAHM or WAHM, you will know what I mean about this.

The typical scenario of

a) a WOHM is, guilt at work because child is in childcare, guilt at home while with child, because of unfinished work.

b) a SAHM is, guilt when playing with children, because of unfinished housework, guilt doing housework because not spending time with children.

c) a WAHM is, generally a combination of the two above.

So having been at some point or  other one of the three options above, I have come to the realisation that the very best we can do is to live NOW. So when I’m with Georgia, I’m with her (wholly, mentally and physically) or I try my very best (you know what they say about multi-tasking?!)

If I’m working, I’m working, full stop. Admittedly, it helps significantly to trust the child-care or school environment your child is in, completely.

So there – my four Life Lesson’s from my experiences. Do you have any more to add?