When It Is More Than A Coincidence…

My big baby brought home the first homework of her life – 3 pages of Chinese, English and Math homework – Kindergarten 1 standard (Primary 1 for my time).

She was very excited about it. Although I told her to play, then nap, then do her homework, she decided to do her homework before her nap.

She studiously put her file under her armpit and with an unrelated artwork in her hand, headed for the bedroom. She looked ultra cute.

Both my delight and her excitement were quite short-lived.

After practicing writing a Chinese character about 3 times, she decided that the homework was way too difficult for her.

When I told her there were 3 pages and she could choose which to do next, she happily selected the Math one which she said was easy. True enough, she finished it under a minute all by herself.

Next, she chose to do the English one – which is basically practicing writing her name. Like the Chinese character, after 3 repeats, she decided that it was way too hard.

She looked like she was really struggling so I told her to complete the one she was at now and go take her nap. All of a sudden, she could write her name fluidly and quickly… like suddenly no more crookedness – all smooth strokes… and like … REALLY REALLY QUICKLY. From there, I guess she just finds it boring rather than tough.

Throughout the whole homework exercise, I was harping at her on the value of completing what one has started and not always stop halfway.

I also gave the example of how she used to not be able to recognise her name, then she could; from not knowing how to spell her name, now she knew. Her next step was to be able to write her name. And I told her that she would be able to do it – just like reading then spelling her name, she had to learn things bit by bit.

But I thought it was her first homework and I didn’t want her to remember homework as a terrible thing. So we kept everything and prepared for her nap.

Then she asked to watch a Youtube video. So I obliged.

Lo and behold… the video taught kids to “finish what you started” and then they sang the song of “I’m climbing my mountain step by step… One step at a time…”. She was attentive throughout the 5-minute segment on finishing what you started and overcoming your mountains.

Fyi, I did not deliberately search for it. It was a video that we watched partially few nights ago. It contains a series of biblical songs and I had no idea what song would be next.

It was overly coincidental that I doubt it was coincidental. I suppose she really needed that lesson and I thank God for it.

Found the video clip (just the song alone) for your viewing pleasure…

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Sportsmanship

I am no sportsman… almost not quite.

Today, I had a taste of sportsmanship again. It was a really teeny tiny experience but it brought back a love for sports (and competition).

Today, my little girl in Nursery had Sports Day in school and there was a parent-child segment. We were at separate ends of the tele-match track. She was to run to me with a ball without dropping it and I was to piggy back her back to the starting point without dropping the ball for the next pair. It was over in a few seconds but it was great fun!!! Neither she nor I cared about who was watching or even who was winning. We just cared about doing our best and having fun.

I came home and tried to recall how it was like playing competitive games/sports during my younger days. Did I try to impress my crush? Did I care about “earning new suitors” because of it? Did I even care if my family was present and watching? Did I even care if my friends, classmates, coursemates, schoolmates, strangers were watching and liked or disliked my performance? I traced through my primary, secondary and and tertiary education days and realised that all the experiences were the same… I was just having fun by doing my best. Of course, I / the team always wanted to win. But I realised that even when we didn’t, it didn’t matter. We were just happy.

When I read news about our Yip Pin Xiu or Schooling, or any medalist for that matter, saying that they compete not for gold, fame or money, I’m usually skeptical. I could not wrap my head around why someone would train so hard to compete and really not care about winning… until my reflection time today. It IS possible. It is possible that there are people doing it just because they love to do their best to be first but at the end it didn’t really matter.

I was selected for the athletic / track & field team when I was in Primary School. Quite often, I ran the fastest, jumped the highest and leaped furthest. But because I was such a “blur queen” back then, I eventually stopped turning up for training. I always found competitions fun but never took them seriously. If I had, my life could have become quite different, I think.

Then I became over-zealous in secondary school. I played every game that I had time for with whoever was willing to play with me. Tennis, Basketball, badminton, squash, netball, volleyball, bowling. I was all over the shop that I didn’t even get a PASS grade for sports… and also earned myself shoulder, wrist and knee injuries from getting the skills mixed up.

It was also a time when we played with people we hardly knew. We played with people who simply appeared at our court. We played with fellow school mates from other classes or levels. Our common interest? The sport.

Then during my tertiary education days, I decided to focus and chose Basketball. That’s when I collected my foot injury. It was unfortunate that I did not clique warmly with my chinese-speaking team mates. Nonetheless, we played together for 3 years as a pretty good team and had good fun at inter-varsity games.

Somehow, your 1st language does define your culture. Even when using the same language to communicate, we felt rather different from each other. Language & Culture – that’s another topic for another day. So to this day, other than remembering certain features of certain team mates (e.g. super long hair gal, super tall girl, super small girl), I cannot remember anyone’s name or anything else about them.

Being very much an introvert who likes team games, I eventually stopped sports when I entered the workforce. I prefer being alone. Yet, I will only be very enticed to get active provided it’s a team game like basketball. It’s a paradoxical situation, I know. An introvert who prefers team games?

Well… that’s the power of sportsmanship. And I think that’s the meaning of sportsmanship… at least to me.

Sportsmanship is about being unbiased and humble. It is about doing your best not for glory or fame. It knows no human boundaries. It doesn’t matter if you are Asian or Caucasian, small or tall, English or Chinese-speaking, shy or thick-skinned. No one views another as superior or inferior. We are competing for the fun of it and do not have to feel sore about not winning.

Conclusion… if you have true sportsmanship playing with the like-minded, every competition is nothing but only fun.

Baby Shower Gift Ideas

Been invited for another baby shower? Or a one-year old’s birthday party? Buying the same ‘ol newborn clothes set again? No idea what to buy for the one-year old?

Ever realised what it must be like to be on the receiving end?

Received the 20th set of baby clothes which your baby may never wear because he just grows so fast? Received an identical toy… again?

Us Chinese/Asians have an easy way out. That is the… “ang bow”. It is the most practical, most meaningful and most welcome gift – cold… hard… cash. The parents can buy the most appropriate thing at the most appropriate time. They can even save/invest it for the kids’ education in the future. An alternative are shopping vouchers – almost just as practical, useful and welcome as cash.

But if you must buy something (maybe you really just want to go shopping and the invite was just another good reason for you to spend), you may want to consider these:

Clothes

Buy stuff that are a lot larger than the child.  For example, you might want to get clothes for a 6 t0 12-mth old if you are going for a baby shower (1 month old). Babies – they virtually grow bigger overnight. Really. Do not buy for their age. The smaller they are, the larger you should buy for your goods to last as long as possible… or even get a chance to be worn (your set will be competing for attention from all the other similar gifts).

For a 1 yr old, you may want to buy something that could fit him till he is 1.5 yrs old.

Toys

1 month olds do not play with toys, really. They probably start playing after 4-6 months. Again, if you must go shopping… consider creative teething toys. That could last till 2 or so cos that’s how long it takes to have the full set of teeth out. Get something with a cute face or big eyes. Otherwise, few kids would be attracted to it. Get items that are of a single piece. No attached eyeballs and stuff like that. They are at risk of being chewed out and swallowed and in the unfortunate case… it could choke the child. Also get non-toxic materials.

Special note: there is no need to look out for toys that say that they are “teething toys”. Anything can be a teething toy as long as they are safe to chew on.

Between 6 mths to 1 year, they still do not need toys, really. Anything and everything is a toy to them and anything could be uninteresting to them.

Both my kids did not play with the toys they had. They played with CDs, CD boxes, cups, plates, pots, pans, lunch boxes, the bed frame, the book you are reading, the label on the pram, drawers, socks, slippers, shoes… anything they find lying around your home … EXCEPT the toys.

Food

THIS… I’ve never received before. But I thought it was a good idea. Your gift would be different from most others. However, it cannot become a memoir piece years into the future cos it would all be eaten up already. So if you hope to be remembered by the child or the parents, then you don’t have to give food gifts.

But if you come across unusual and interesting foodstuff for infants, I think the parents would welcome it. I know I would. I’m just a dumb ass for shopping anything really… including foodstuff. I only buy tidbits/food I’m familiar with. So if someone gave me something unusual, chances are higher that I’ll buy it again.

Do you have any other interesting gift ideas for 1-mth old or 1-yr olds’ birthday parties? Do share, please.

Thank you! 🙂