Thursday, March 28, 2013

On the Sundays that I'm working, the Resident Bureaucrat will look after the Babycrat. He doesn't know what to do with the Babycrat, who has an insatiable need to be entertained, so he will take the Babycrat to indulge in one of Singaporeans' favourite pastimes - viewing condo showflats. (Got no money to buy also never mind.)

The Babycrat has viewed so many showflats, he has become an old hand of sorts. He know that he must take off his shoes at the entrance, and is able to recognise a condo in development just by the advertising signs on the construction hoarding. He also coined his own term for condo showflats, calling them "condo shop", because that's where you go to buy a condo, right? 

One of his favourite phrases is "Papa buy condo!" because for some reason, he thinks he has been born into a 豪门 and that his Papa will buy a condo unit with any old amount of loose change. The usual reply will be: "Papa has no money. Do you have any?"

To which he will reply: No. 

Just last week, he requested his Papa to buy him a condo again to which, the Resident Bureaucrat again asked: "Do you have money?"


"Then how are you going to pay for it?"

"I have card!" the Babycrat chirped

Not exactly the right kind of values I was hoping he would pick up. (And I certainly hope he didn't learn that from us, because in that case, we have some serious introspection to do.)

For everything else, there's Visa.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Babycrat doesn't fall sick often, but when he does, instead of taking him to the doctor, I try to will him to get well on his own (plus swill him with over-the-counter medication). This is because taking him to his pediatrician is one of those things that often fill me with a mix of inner rage, despair and a general loss of will to live. 

This is largely due to the perpetually high number of patients at his  pediatrician, which does not take appointments or allow preregistration by phone. That means I have to be present physically to register him, and then wait for our turn, which will come round in oh, maybe 24 hours. (Ok I exaggerate. It doesn't take that long. It takes about 15 hours only).

The clinic is not near enough to my house for me to register, and then go home, so staying put and waiting is my only option. 

I would have brought him elsewhere, but I hear the wait is as bad at most pediatric clinics. I did once take him to a pd whose waiting room was empty. And then I found out why - I was charged $126 for a diagnosis of a mild viral infection - one that was already on its way out when we consulted him. I have only two kidneys and a pair of corneas to sell. I can't be paying such rates every time the Babycrat comes down with something or other.

But the last time he fell sick, his flu couldn't be ignored away and, instead, mounted a new line of attack and caused green snot to run out of his nose incessantly.

With a heavy heart, I decided that it was time to see the doctor. 

To beat the queue, I strategised and decided my best line of action would be go to the clinic a little before opening hours, and loiter at its doors so that I can rush in and register the moment it opens. 

But when I reached the clinic a good half hour before it opened, I  found approximately half of Singapore's proposed 6.9 million population already thronging  outside the clinic. No one was queuing up in any fashion and it appeared that whoever was standing closest to the door when it opened got first dibs at registration. 

I tried to squeeze as close to the front door as I could civilly manage, and then guarded my spot zealously, taking a mental note of the people who were already there and making sure that people who arrived after me did not squeeze in front of me and cut my queue.

This was stressful. As my eyes busily scanned the horizon for would-be queue cutters, my heart pounded furiously, and my palms turned clammy. And at the same time, I had to keep an eye on the Babycrat, who was running all over the place because he was apparently not sick enough to stay still. 

And when I saw the receptionist come to the door from the inside and start to unlock it, I hyperventilated a little. 

As she slowly turned the key, I furtively eyed people on my right and on my left. My leg muscles tensed up, getting ready to dash. And then it was all systems go. The moment the doors opened, I did a controlled fast walk towards the registration counter while trying to look like I was not rushing because I didn't want to look kiasu. 

I heaved a sigh of relief only when I finally registered the Babycrat. But even then, I could not sit back and relax. For my son immediately made a beeline for the merry-go-round the doctor placed on his premises and started jumping on it, making the other children already on it bounce up and down like rubber balls. 

Personally, I feel being shaken up a bit does no harm to kids. But not every parent shares my philosophy of tough love, especially parents whose kids are being shaken up by mine. Fearing that I would get scolded by a parent any moment, I saw the need to put on an act and reprimand the Babycrat. 

So I dragged him off the merry-go-round and told him loudly: "Don't bully other children!". So the Babycrat ran onto a mini-slide, the other piece of playground equipment in the clinic, climbing up the slide the wrong way, not only blocking the way of the other kids who are trying to use it the proper way, but sometimes bashing his way through them.

I carried him off the slide and told him loudly: "Stop it! Play properly!"

So the Babycrat jumped onto the merry-go-round again. I offered him a bag of toys that I brought to keep him occupied, but he rejected them. Why play with your own toys when you can terrorise other children?
In desperation, I broke my own rule of not using the iPhone to entertain the Babycrat. (Although I do break this rule on a fairly regular basis. What? I made the rules, I can break them!) YouTube always does the trick. He finally settled down quietly for the remaining wait while I slumped in one corner, my life almost fully drained out of me.

After finally getting home from the doctor's comes the second part of my struggle. Getting the Babycrat to take the medicine he has been prescribed. He does not like taking medicine, and he makes his opinion strongly known.

The Resident Bureaucrat and I are not able to get him to take his medicine in a calm, peaceable manner. Bribery doesn't work. Persuasion doesn't work. Reasoning doesn't work. Distracting him doesn't work.

So one person has to hold him down while the other tries to spoon the medicine into his mouth. Balancing a spoon filled to the brim with medicine while trying to aim it accurately into the mouth of a wriggling preschooler with the squirminess of two puppies does test your psycho-motor coordination a fair bit.

If, and when the medicine does make it to his mouth, he immediately spews it back right out, like a mini merlion.

Often, everyone involved has to change their clothes and maybe also wipe up the floor.

Besides not being able to gauge how much of the dosage he has actually received, we also have the problem of his liquid antibiotics running out before he can finish the course because of the extra we have to feed him to make up for what he spat out.

Squirting the medicine with a syringe into his mouth could work, except once, we shot the medicine too far back in his throat, which caused him to retch and throw up, which in turn gave us bad flashbacks for a while, so we have not dared to try that ever since.

(He has a cousin who takes Chinese medicine and without a fuss even. Dear God, why didn't I get a child like that?)

It has been suggested that we hide the medicine in his food. I have no idea how anyone pulls this off. I don't know what superpowers he possesses, but he can detect a nanogram of vegetable fibre hidden in his rice, rejecting that mouthful of food immediately. And besides, how does one hide a teaspoon of lurid-coloured medicated syrup? Do I serve him pink or orange rice/milk/porridge to him and pray that he is looking elsewhere when I try to feed it to him?

And then one day, the heavens took pity on us and showed us the way.  We accidentally discovered that letting him suck on a sweet before forcing the medicine into his mouth does the trick. This is because he is not willing to risk accidentally spitting out his sweet as well.

So, round one to us. Hooray.

But despite finding the trick to getting him to swallow his meds, I rather he did not get sick at all because the kill-me-now-I-have-to-take-him-to-a-doctor problem remains unsolved. So I pray for good health, and that someone will point me to a good and reasonably-priced pediatrician without a wait. 

Thursday, March 07, 2013

While writing the post about my bag (see below), I found this unpublished post I wrote some time back about the Babycrat. I'm not sure when it was written, but it could have been sometime late 2011 or early 2012. But anyway, this totally proves my point that the Babycrat is A Very Difficult Child indeed.

The Babycrat woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I tried to get him changed to take him over to my mother's place. While he allowed me to remove his clothes, he simply refused to let me put any fresh clothes back on him. When I attempted to slip a T-shirt over his head, he yowled and shrieked and stiffened his arms so that they couldn't slip through the arm holes, then when I finally forced one arm in and was battling the other arm, he would slip the first arm out again. I nearly went mad.

For a moment, looking at his naked body, I was in half a mind to just wrap him up in a bath towel and bundle him off just like that. But good sense won in the end and I made another attempt to get him dressed.

I brought him to the wardrobe and took out his clothes piece by piece, showing them to him. It was like I was this fashion merchandiser for the youngest customer. Dissatisfied with my choices however, he eventually reached into the drawer himself and pulled out a pair of pyjama pants, which I was not about to argue with him over. I helped him put on his pants, then showed him another top, which he finally reluctantly nodded his head to.

The whole get up looked ridiculous. But I didn't care. I was late for work. If he wanted to look ugly, it's his choice. I believe in democratic parenting.

The Bag Page

Many years ago, my twin and I made a pact to take a photo of the contents of our bag in the style of The Bag Page from Urban. But we never got around to it until yesterday, when my twin issued a stern command for me to get to it. So here it is. The contents of my very messy bag, containing:

-  A Readers' Digest which I have been carrying around in my bag just in case I get stuck waiting for a train and have nothing to read.
- A travel guide in a padded envelope because I still haven't found the solution to prevent book corners from getting shredded from banging against the many things in my bag
- A pile of crumpled receipts. My bag is a portable trash can.
- A pack of tissue paper sponsored by hair revival salon Beijing 101.
- A wet serviette taken home from a restaurant
- A thumbdrive for donno what reason
- House keys attached to a lanyard for easy retrieval
- A namecard from donno where
- Toy cars that I forgot to remove from my bag after an outing with the Babycrat
-A plastic key of some sort from one of his toy sets
- My staff pass
- Two small canisters of Vitamin C. Why two? I donno
- My handy shopping bag, for impromptu trips to NTUC
- A lightweight umbrella which I now constantly carry because I am increasingly becoming auntie-fied
- A small milk bottle which I use to carry milk (cow's) to the office to make teh-si with
- A sweater, because while Singapore's climate is tropical, the temperature in places such as Cold Storage and empty SBS buses is arctic

Friday, February 17, 2012

A few months ago, out of the blue, my now two-year-old son suddenly decided he didn’t like his father so much anymore.

It all started during a family holiday to Hong Kong, during which we had to tote the boy around in a backpack-style carrier the entire time because His Royal Highness had refused to walk. (Sadly, Hong Kong city was rather pram-unfriendly.)

Or rather, I had to carry the boy on my back because every time my husband tried to do it, the boy put up so much resistance, it was as if my husband was the incarnation of a Dark Lord of the Sith.

And since that time, it was as if someone had flicked a switch in his head and made him think: “Mama, good. Papa, bad.”

He started to display a strong preference for me over his father. Only mama can hold his hand. Only mama can give him a shower and change his clothes.

And only mama can push his pram – when he’s in it, he even periodically turns his head around to make sure it’s really me doing the work and not his father. Should he find his father has even one finger on the pram, chaos ensues.

Things became rather tricky one day when he insisted that I drive the car instead of my husband. Explaining to him that “mama is a very bad driver and if she drives, we will all crash and die” did not stop him from unleashing a roaring protest upon us. (Young people do so like to live dangerously.)

My husband used to do his share of child-care duties and he was pretty good at it too (save for the one incident involving a diaper and a stapler).

So now that His Royal Highness has banished his father from serving him, my work has effectively doubled.

Things get truly problematic when I am unable to tend to my son because I am not around or am deathly ill, like the one night where I was battling a fever of 39.3 deg C, shivering under three blankets and thinking I might not live to see daylight.

The little dictator, meanwhile, was throwing a hissy fit because he didn’t want his father to change his diaper or brush his teeth – “How dare mama lie there dying while my needs need attending to?! Lazy woman!"

I would have gladly lowered my standards and let him go to sleep without brushing his teeth, but a diaper overflowing in the middle of the night would have been the last straw that would do me in.

So summoning the last bit of my strength, I did what I had to do – all the while still huddled under my three blankets.Or take the time when I was at work on a Sunday and my son was alone with my husband at home.

Some time in the afternoon, the boy had a meltdown because he wanted mama. Desperate to restore peace, my husband placed a distress call to me hoping that I could talk to the boy and calm him down.

When I picked up the phone, all I heard was a continuous howling, one that would not only wake the dead, but would also make the resurrected dead wish they were dead again. Meanwhile, my husband was sending me via SMS instructions on what he wanted me to do: “Tell him to stop crying and put on his clothes.”

“Tell him to take a nap and when he wakes up, he will see you.”

I did all that and it didn’t work; the boy couldn’t hear me over his own screaming. Eventually, my husband told me later on, he bundled the naked boy in a towel and took him to the void deck for a change of scene, where the boy was finally persuaded to put on a shirt. They then returned home where he sobbed himself to sleep. (My son, not my husband).

Traumatic incidents such as these aside, being snubbed by our first-born son (and only child) is making my husband feel like he has been omitted from the invitation list for the party of the year. So he is working very hard to worm his way back in by, for example, trying to give the boy a shower even though he knows he is likely to get a slap in the face metaphorically (and literally. We are still working on getting him to not hit people.)

Often, too, my husband will sneakily change our son’s diaper while making me stand behind the boy and pretending that I’m the one doing it. Other times, he will brush the boy’s teeth while making me hold the toothbrush together with him.

This charade really defeats the purpose of my husband doing the work – I would very much like to be lying in bed with my feet up and preferably an eye shade over my eyes.

There is a good side to our son playing favourites, however, say parenting experts – this kind of behaviour is actually a sign of emotional and cognitive growth.

Through playing favourites, the child is exercising his powers of choice and asserting his independence while exploring the intricacies of relationships and intimacy. It also shows that the child is learning to verbalise his feelings and desires.

In fact, counter-intuitively, when a toddler snubs a parent, it shows that he actually feels close to that parent because he is secure enough to know that he will always be welcomed back into embracing arms.

The advice given to the rejected parent is: It’s not personal. This too will pass. And some day, in a reversal of fortunes, the snubbed parent may even become the favoured one.

So, I wait with bated breath for that to happen. I won’t even get jealous, I promise. And, happily, it does look like the winds of fortune are about to shift.

Lately, my son has begun to demand that I put on one shoe for him and his father, the other. And he wants only his father to apply diaper cream for him (although I’m still stuck with the diapering). I take it that he’s granting a small concession towards allowing my husband back into his world, so there is hope yet.

And then, should the day come when the boy wants my husband to do everything for him instead, you’ll know where to find me. In bed with my legs up and an eye pillow on my face.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Pukesome Mummy vents in The Sunday Times:

"I have a 20-month-old son whom I love dearly, but sometimes, I think I will love him even more if I can feed him his meals intravaneously.

You see, he has a hate-hate relationship with food in that he will refuse to eat most things offered to him, making mealtimes hell for me (and his caregivers, when I’m at work).
The only things he will eat are mee suah, rice, codfish, Chinese-style soups, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, fresh milk, papaya and grapes.

And even then, these things are not always accepted by His Royal Highness. He may eat carrot one day and then eye it with suspicion the next. And while he eats grapes, he spits out raisins.
Arguably, there is something from every food group here, so theoretically, he is not nutritionally deprived. But it would really be nice if he had a less selective diet.

Some days, he will deign to accept the food proffered, only to push the entire load out of his mouth with his tongue while making a face as if to say: “Woman! Why are you feeding me dog turd? Are you out of your mind?”

And these are his better days.

On bad days, he acts like the spoon bearing food actually holds a heap of smouldering coal. Attempting to avoid said coal by squirming violently, he will, at the same time, try to knock it off the spoon. Managing to overturn his bowl of food scores him extra points.

Anything that I manage to force into him would be spewed out projectile-style as in the movie Exorcist, which causes me a lot of grief. He does not care whether pasta sauce can be washed out from his clothes, or that oatmeal on the floor looks like puke and is just as bad to clean up. I care very much however – because I am the one trailing after him with a dishrag.

Usually, a mealtime like this would end up in tears – mine mostly.

It’s not as if I feed him all sorts of horrible mashed up baby food. In my attempt to widen his gastronomic repertoire, I have served up kid-friendly food such as French toast, macaroni and cheese, oatmeal with raisins and honey, eggs hardboiled, soft-boiled, steamed, scrambled and fried, pasta and even mini fishburgers. Stuff that I would eat myself.

Pffft, says my son.

He also declines to eat things favoured by toddlers such as banana, cheese and yoghurt. He even rejects sugar-coated cereal. This surely is not a good sign. What self-respecting toddler rejects sugary cereal?

I also constantly attempt to feed him adult food off my plate. Does he take it? No.

There is no method to his madness.

On some days, he gets by with very little food. Mystifyingly, his severely limited calorific intake does not seem to have dampened his energy one bit. A typical day sees him whirling around the house as fast as his matchstick thin legs can take him, destroying things with superhuman speed and strength. (Case in point: He dragged a big Corningware pot off the kitchen counter and broke it.)

I don't know where he gets his strength from, but it is possible that he gets an extra boost from solar power.

Surely, this food hating toddler is not mine. My husband and I both have healthy appetites and a love for good food. It has been suggested more than once that I may like to consider doing a DNA test. Just in case. Just saying.

After one particularly bad mealtime in which I morphed into psycho bitch screaming “EAT EAT EAT!” while a my temple pulsed violently, I decided to seek answers on how to get him to eat a wider variety of food.

I surfed the net, posted questions on forums and asked my friends, to which these pieces of advice were offered.

“Your toddler is trying asserting his independence.”
Good to know, but this does not solve my problem.

“Try mixing Bovril into his food. I'm told this works wonders.”
This would have worked if not for the fact that my anorexic son has recently started to reject all food that looks dark or black, such as chocolate, red-fleshed dragonfruit and milo.

"Don't turn mealtimes into a battlefield. Be patient."
When one buys a piece of fish fillet for $6.50, a bag of panko for $3, a bag of butter rolls for $2.90 and spends time preparing the food, baking it and assembling bite-sized fish burgers, and all the toddler would eat are two nibbles of the butter roll, one needs to practice serious meditation in order not to lose one’s cool.

"A toddler needs to sample a new food up to 10 times before he will accept it."
It would be great if I can actually get him to open his mouth.

"Don't feed him anything until the next mealtime, and then he'll be hungry enough to eat."
I do not think he feels hunger. I think he is a cyborg.

I was also advised to try feeding him a special nutritionally-balanced formula which will fatten him up. I almost guffawed. My son, who won’t even eat anything that looks and tastes like real food, drinking artificially flavoured formula? In my dreams, I think.

So, for now, my search for a solution continues while my son continues to subsist on love and fresh air.

His father and I are taking him to Hong Kong for a short trip soon and I have no idea where I’m going to find homecooked mee suah there.

Will my toddler starve to death in the land of dim sum and roast goose?

That will be another story. Wish me luck."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Me: I was reading online reviews about this hotel and someone wrote: "The bathroom was dirty. There was 'downstairs hair' on the bathtub."

My twin: hahahahahahahaha

Me: Then armpit hair is mezzanine hair.

Me: Hair on your head is penthouse hair.

My twin: Then what is nose hair?

Me: Balcony hair.

My twin: Chest hair is lobby hair.

Me: Hahahahahahahahahahah

My twin: Leg hair is basement hair.

Me: Hahahahahahahahhah

Me: I can't believe I'm having this discussion with you and finding it funny!

My twin: I'm snorting

The next day:
Me: Can you believe, last night, when i thought about our lobby hair conversation, i started laughing again

Me: Why am i so easily amused by stuff as puerile as this??? hahahahhahahah

My twin: Its not puerile! we are comic geniuses!

(We are also deluded.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In a previous post, I said that I discovered the Babycrat is a Chinaman who wants to eat only white rice. That is not true anymore. The Babycrat no longer wants to eat white rice. He no longer wants to eat, for that matter.

Mealtimes with him have become a battle in which he tries his best to avoid having the spoon come in contact with his mouth, while simultaneously attempting to sweep the food off the spoon with his arms swinging wildly. Managing to overturn his bowl of food scores him extra points.

On good days, he will deign to eat a few teaspoons of oatmeal, some bites of banana, several small mouthfuls of rice and maybe a few sips of soup. On bad days, what I manage to spoon into his mouth gets spat out immediately, or, more accurately, blown out of his mouth with a loud pfffft. (Just imagine a woodchipper at work.)

Initially, I thought he was tired of the porridge he had been eating. (Although I think his porridge is delicious; I would eat it myself.) So I tried feeding him different foods such as banana, avocado, tofu, bread, teddy biscuits, pasta, peas, corn, carrot, potato.


It was to be nil by mouth. My son wants to be a 神仙. (And no, he doesn't drink a lot of milk either.)

Then I realised he was not having issues with the food I served him. He was having issues with the fact that I was serving him food. This is because the Babycrat will just as happily chew on a piece of plastic as he will suck on a price tag peeled off a book. (And then when I attempt to dig out the non-food object he's been eating, he will bite down very hard on my finger in protest, leaving two neat and tiny rows of teeth marks.)

And oh, he loves to lick the floor too.

And yet the lack of food intake does not seem to have dulled his energy one bit. Constantly, he whirls around the house, toddling as fast as his legs will take him, pulling objects off the shelves, flinging toys around, opening and slamming drawers, destroying things in general.

My conclusion: My baby is powered by air and solar energy. (It's photosynthesis, says Ms C. I couldn't agree more.)