Tagged with " West meets East"

Is there really a Santa Claus?

Santa Claus

Santa Claus

Georgia recently asked me this and I had to hesitate for a minute to contemplate. It was not that I did not want to disappoint her by telling her that Santa Claus did not exist, it was what I should tell her after I told her the TRUTH that Santa Claus is just a dressed up man.

Before you report me to Social Services for depriving my daughter a wondrous magical childhood, let me explain….

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Aug 6, 2008 - Parenting, Random    No Comments

Why some Mothers don't mother…I wonder

There are many times when I feel very fortunate to now live in a culture so diverse and so ‘alien’ to the one in which I was raised, and yet, it is just as often that I feel this maddening frustration of what I feel is an internal culture clash – particularly with regards to child-raising.

Yesterday as we joined the Wiggle and Giggle session at the Caldicot Leisure Centre, I was relieved to see that the kids were almost all about the same age as Georgia, and mostly girls too at that. Jay, was rather the odd one out, being the only boy of walking age there – the other two were crawling babies.

Nevertheless, a healthy dose of running about and bouncing and riding cars within a confined space is always welcome. It did not take long however before a lesson arose…this time it was a lesson on Empowerment and saying No!

Georgia with two shakers one in each hand – clearly enjoying her noise makers, and up runs another little girl, approximately the same age (2.5 – 3 years).

“Give me that!” the girl says. Georgia does a pretty good stare-down but it doesn’t stop that nasty brat from simply snatching the toy away from her. I watch this from some distance away, but in such situations, rightly or wrongly, I am rather reluctantly to intervene. My personal feeling is that, she will have to learn to stand up for herself, and rather than fight her battles for her, I would like to teach her and furnish her with the tools to stand up for herself.

Jun who also witnesses the whole event starts saying, in Mandarin “Take it back, take it back.” Thankfully, Georgia did not understand that bit of Mandarin – although I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

Soon she comes running up to me with a pout, “That little girl snatched from me!”
“I know…” I say, “She’s nasty, but you must learn to say No! Don’t snatch!” 

 She does a couple of practise commands and seems quite confident but all the empowerment seems to fizzle away when the same brat comes up again and tries to relieve her of the one other toy. She’s persistent this kid, it takes me several tries before she finally gets the message that she will not be allowed to snatch from Georgia.

BUT while I am displeased with that toddlers behaviour, I am disgusted by the fact that her mother and her friend are sat hidden out of view in the bouncy castle – oblivious to the entire proceedings. Hence my question – why don’t Mothers mother?

Feb 28, 2008 - Parenting, Philosophy    No Comments

Fighting her own corner…

We went for Georgia’s two year assessment this morning and it all went really well….except for the bit (now burned in my mind)  that the Health Visitor commented that Georgia would probably benefit from some group interaction to ‘learn to fight her own corner’.

Why would my sweet two year old child need to learn to fight her own corner?!

She’s a perfectly confident little Miss, and is quite happy to assert herself when she needs to but beyond that, she doesn’t like pushing and shoving around and is happy to wait until everyone has had their turn.

So how can learning to fight her own corner then be associated with ‘learning to be confident’? This is what the HV decided to turn it in to when I protested that as ‘Asians’ (Orientals in British terms) we do NOT fight. Perhaps it didn’t come across right, I certainly don’t mean we are ‘walk-overs’ but I have found that typically we tend to ‘let  things lie’ to avoid confrontation unless really necessary.

Still this doesn’t mean that Georgia is lacking in confidence…granted she is placid and quiet but she doesn’t sit by and get bullied. She quite happily fights back for her own toys if they are snatched from her.

Still I can’t see how going to play group is going to, in the words of the HV, encourage her to put up her hand in class to say “I know the answer”.

After all, from what I gather, the typical attitude in UK schools is based on….it’s NOT cool to be clever!
Now THAT’S significantly more worrying!

Jul 17, 2007 - Parenting, Philosophy, Random    No Comments

Growing up…

I know it sounds so cliche but I was thinking the other day about how quickly children grow up (don’t we all?), and then it occurred to me that to a great extent, it is how much and what we expect of them.

And then I had yet another ‘West meets East’ parenting revelation….

Type ’17-month old toddler’ in to Google and you are inundated with a whole host of (very good, mostly Western) websites detailing, the milestones your child should be reaching at this age, how he/she should be walking or climbing, saying some words and then we come to the bit about self-feeding. Most of these websites will tell you, that your child can at this age feed themselves, mostly using their fingers and eating finger-food. They are also learning to grasp the use of a spoon at this age, and some will master it more quickly than others. So, in a nutshell, expect to be able to sit your child down at the dining table during mealtimes, give him/her food on a plate and while you are warned to expect mess, your child should without a doubt be able to eat independently.

Now, Georgia does perfectly fine…she has perfected the art of using her spoon. In fact, this evening she showed us she could use her spoon in both her left and her right hand. And if I keep a hawk’s watch on her and move at lightning speed to catch ‘raining’ food, there’s hardly any mess on the floor at all.

A week ago though, she went through a funny phase of only wanting to use her fingers, and sometimes she got fed-up and just sat with the baby-bird-type of open mouth waiting for food to magically appear.

This was when I had a flash-back to when I was about 5 or 6-years old, in my grandmothers house (Penang, Malaysia) playing with my cousins. We were all cleaned and washed and were being fed dinner out in the garden, which meant, we could pretend to be aeroplanes flying about and come back for food as soon as we were done chewing. By being fed, I mean either my mum or aunt had a plate of  food from which they were feeding us from. And I seem to remember this happening quite often. This… in contrast to my 17-month old, feeding herself at the table consistently at every meal-time.

Do Western parenting philosophies and ideologies expect children to grow up more quickly than Eastern ways?

Jun 29, 2007 - Parenting    2 Comments

Languages, how many at a time?

In the privacy of our own home, we are really very laid back about how we communicate.
We generally speak English, with bits of Hockkien and Malay and very occasionally smaterrings of Mandarin also end up in our conversation. Thus it is hardly surprising that G takes all this in her stride, and understands  us well enough.

It does however cause me some concern in how we communicate with Georgia in front of ‘company’. Do we maintain our pot-luck of different languages and ignore the fact that absolutely no one else, (unless they are from ‘our part of the world’) would understand what we say, or do we say everything in English, although we would not normally do so?

This thought threw me off this morning as I dropped G off at nursery.

She had been going round the house holding on to her favourite blue Minnie Mouse t-shirt, trying to put in on and parading it for me every time I asked about ‘your Minnie Mouse sah’.

Lu ai cheng (hockkien: do you want to wear) your Minnie mouse sah to school? [Affirmative nod]

Hor mummy kua (hockkien: Show mummy), is it pretty-pretty?
[A little jig, and an attempt to model the t-shirt]

Ok. Afterwards you show Bethan at school OK? [Another affirmative nod]

At the door to the nursery, Bethan is waiting and I try telling Georgia,

There! Show Bethan….your Minnie mouse… (very silent) sah.

I was at a loss….’t-shirt’ would have been the appropriate word, but that didn’t come out, because I had not thought about what I would say so that someone else other than her dad would understand the conversation between us.

Jun 22, 2007 - Parenting, Philosophy    7 Comments

Asian values, Western culture

I have dark hair and yellow skin, so does my husband and naturally so does my daughter. As we live in the UK, to the next person, it may mean we are different, although more likely it may mean absolutely nothing apart from the fact that we are of some ‘Oriental’ ancestry.

Looks aside though, I have come to realise that there are so so many fundamental differences in the way I do, say, behave and ultimately respond to the world around, simply because I have had different values ingrained.

It does mean though, I am constantly in conflict within as to how we bring up Georgia and what we teach her.

On one hand I want her to grow up, respecting people (especially the elders), being compassionate, filial, thoughtful and caring, yet in this seemingly Western world of self, ie self importance, self love, self preservation, freedom of expression and independence, I don’t want her to lose out either.

I love the independence of the children here. I am in awe of the little blond three-year old boy who ambled upstairs, alone(!) at Starbucks in Bath, to help his mummy find a table, while she queued to buy them Mochas.

How do we find the ‘middle’ path, live the best of both worlds and not feel like we have sacrificed one for the other?