It's too loud at home, even though the baby is asleep. I can't think. The Aged Ps are in their room, but I can still feel their presence. Lurking with voices soft and accusing. It's too loud here. My forehead is too tight. MDH sweeps his thumb across my brow, in an attempt to smooth it over. He silently hands me the car keys. It's dark outside. Open the car door. Turn on the radio. Drive. Drive.
Please stop nagging me to go back to work so that you can justify your own life's choices. If you feel that the person that I am now is not a fitting result of your life's work, well, then there is just no pleasing you.
Please stop nagging me into going back to work by making me feel guilty about the sacrifices that you made. It's not going to work - I'm making the same sacrifices now for my own child.
Please stop nagging me into going back to work. I will not allow you to martyr yourself on my behalf - you can barely manage to babysit for an evening without grousing. Besides, as you have so rightly pointed out, you've made quite alot of sacrifices as it is.
Please stop nagging me into going back to work. No amount of nagging will change a decision that I have been praying about for more than 10 years. Yes, more than 10 years. Yes, there are some 18 year olds who do know what they want in life. I am achieving my goals, I am.
No, I am not saying that I will never work as a doctor again. I am just saying that I am not going to work as a doctor now. Stop asking me when I will go back to work. I'll tell you when it is the time.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm very busy now treating Stardust's nappy rash.
1. Leave Stardust with reliable babysitters (i.e. the Aged Ps)
with pre-cooked dinner of lentil soup and poached pears for dessert
with 1 bottle of milk
with 4 'daytime' nappies (2 for use, 2 for accidents)
with 1 'nighttime' nappy
with a change of clothes
with a sleepsuit
with a kiss and cuddle
2. Wear something cool (but hot. I am going on a date, after all)
black cotton halterneck top
grey corduroy bellbottom trousers (I really need to get a new pair of jeans.)
amber and ivory bracelet
1. Eating at:
Brotzeit, a German bierhaus at Vivocity with great views over the harbour towards Sentosa Island. It was fun watching the cablecars whilst sitting on wide cushioned benches. The atmosphere was so comfortable and relaxed, and there were a few customers who entered the restaurant just to sit with a beer and a book, letting time flow quietly on.
Fast and Furious. Fast cars and Vin Diesel. I might have fallen asleep halfway, much to MDH's disgust. It must be the rumbling of car engines that lull me to sleep!
We've been back in Singapore for more than a year now and we still haven't made it across the causeway to Malaysia.
Well, after reading about the mystic beauty of Fraser's Hill, we have decided that we will make the trip up there with Stardust and the Aged Ps. Yes, we are fully aware that it is an excruciating 8 hour drive, part of which is on a rustic (potholed) narrow road that winds nauseatingly up the side of Bukit Fraser. However, MDH all but crying out for a breath of cool smog-free air, and the stone cottages that date back to the proud days of British Colonialism is probably about as close to home as he will get for now.
I have not been to Fraser's Hill since I was 6 months old so I am quite excited about this trip.
If anyone has any advice on places to eat or walking routes or tourist traps to avoid, please drop me a line! Recommendations on good reststops to make en route from Singapore to Fraser's Hill would be very useful to me too.
Stardust has a lovely head of hair - silky, curling hair. When he was born, it was thick and black, but it slowly faded to a fine fawn-gold which shines bright bronze in the sun.
It's grown long and longer and if I let it grow out any more, it'll form cute little ringlets. At first I thought he would be more like Little Lord Fauntleroy, but now I think he will appear much more like Shirley Temple. I am quite tired of stupid people asking me why I like to dress my daughter up in blue dungarees.
So, I got out the scissors, read a few websites on how to cut toddler's hair, and got to work.
He sat ever so still on MDH's lap holding a book when I started to dampen his hair with a wet comb. He was fine with me trimming the hair on his crown and round the back of his head, but when I started on the sideburns, the 'snip' sound of the scissors near his ear was just too much for him to bear.
Wiggle and squirm, wiggle and squirm.
Wiggle and squirm, wiggle and squirm, attempt to grab blades of scissors. Irritated squeal.
(Even more carefully) Sniiiiip.
"Hurry up!", hisses MDH, unsuccessfully trying to pin him arms down.
Snip, snip, sniiiiip.
For some reason, this new hairdo makes Stardust look less like a wee baby and more like a little boy.
MDH has been awarded his Singaporean Permanent Residency - whoopdedoo - which means that he gets a paycut, a pension fund, a permit that allows him to travel in and out of Singapore whenever he wants, and a nice new blue identity card to carry around.
I must say that our Singaporean bureaucracy isn't as insulting or as expensive as British bureaucracy, but it did irritate me a little bit that we had to visit the Immigration and Registration centre three times before all the paperwork was completed. It cost MDH nearly two days of his precious annual leave.
On the bright side, I did manage to finish reading Coehlo's The Alchemist.
It was a fairly cool but bright morning, the kind where the blue sky is still visible beyond a veil of wispy cloud. A perfect morning for a walk by MacRitchie reservoir.
MacRitchie reservoir is an old friend to me. I remember staying in a flat located just a stone's throw away. As a child, my mother would bring me to the reservoir as a special treat if I had finished all my morning milk. We would bring along any stale bread in the house and feed the terrapins from the wooden zig-zag bridge that spanned the corner of the artificial lake. I remember the fountain that sent a jet of water shooting up high into the sky, and the giant flower clock with the broken mechanism that was planted on the side of a hill.
Now, there are large signs near the zig-zag bridge advising visitors not to feed the terrapins and fish lest they grow bloated and lazy. The fountain is still there, and it captured Stardust's attention; he laughed excitedly to see the droplets dancing on the wind, then falling to make big circles on the surface of the water.
I forgot to bring along Stardust's stroller, but it did not really matter because he was happy to stumble drunkenly along the pavement, with one hand clinging firmly to my index finger and the other hand outstretched, the better to conduct the invisible orchestra.
There were a surprising number of students around, exercising before the start of school. Dressed in their gym attire with school crests prominently displayed, they took turns sprinting round the path alongside the lake, then walking across the zig-zag bridge back to the starting point. Some of them were obviously training for school competitions - they ran like gingered up greyhounds, faces intensely screwed up and mouths puckered. Others appeared to have been dragged along as unwilling participants in a P.E. torturefest - they loped like sodden ragdolls with mouths open and arms swinging listlessly by their sides. Stardust attempted to cheer them on by applauding with gusto, but it only seemed to make their shoulders sag even further.
We were approached by a friendly but incontinent Sheltie dog, whose urinary frequency required his frustrated owner (who was trying unsuccessfully to do some jogging) to stop at every single tree, bush, and blade of grass. Stardust patted his fur cautiously, then scuttled hastily behind my knees as the dog turned his black and gold head to inspect him. From his hiding place, he tugged at my trousers with one hand and waved the dog away imperiously with the other.
The sun came up higher and Stardust's hair quickly frizzed into sweaty curls. It was getting much too hot and Stardust's little legs were getting more wobbly by the minute, so I whisked him off home for a cold drink and a nap.
Wearing: Black checked kimino dress with a white tube top Black leather flats
Eating: DIY temakizushi Creamy tomato pasta bake Apple strudel
Watching: Stardust as he sits on the sofa building a fort out of cushions
Topics covered: Movies based on popular comics PS3 vs XBox 360 Dress habits of adolescent boys Housing prices Swindling real estate agents Swindling dog trainers The current price of rabies vaccinations The techniques of rolling a temakizushi Eating habits of toddlers Food poisoning Interfaith Sports Day Choosing a dog to suit your personality The barbaric practice of tail-docking in show dogs Fertility rates amongst ex-schoolmates
Stardust has been strafing around furniture for the last 6 months, and for the last 2 months, he walks holding onto my hand for balance. He will probably be walking independantly pretty soon!
We have tried to let him learn to walk barefoot indoors as long as possible, in order to encourage healthy foot development. However, when we are out, Stardust has been getting increasingly more restless in his stroller, trying desperately to stretch his legs by wiggling and kicking them in the air. I would love to let him run around barefoot outdoors, but the cement pavements can be too hot for tender little trotters and with our tropical soil harbouring all sorts of deathly nasties, it is probably better to have some form of footwear as protection.
So, I have been dragging the little boy all around several shops looking for a good first pair of shoes. Although I was loathe to spend a fortune on a pair of shoes that will be quickly outgrown, the shoes would have to meet the following criteria: 1. They have to be comfortable (that is, after walking in the shoes for a few minutes, there should be no red marks on his feet caused by rubbing against the inner lining of the shoe) 2. They have to have non-slip soles suitable for walking on wet or smooth surfaces 3. They should not impede his sense of balance
Looking for good walking shoe for beginners was much more difficult that I expected. I tried the usual places: Bubblegummers, Clark's, Colettee...but the results were all similar: the shoes, even with rubber soles, caused him to slide around the floor and lose his balance. Some of the shoes didn't even wrap his feet well, so he could kick them off and send them flying across the room. There were other baby shoes that were much better, but these were expensive and had suede soles that did not appear the least bit waterproof.
In the end, we found a great pair of shoes at Metro, Paragon called Pedipeds. These shoes were not only the only pair of shoes that did not cause Stardust to fall over, but the foot support was so good that he even tried taking a few independant steps. They did cost almost as much as Clark's shoes, but I noticed that the workmanship was much finer - all the outer parts were handstitched!
The only drawback, as far as I could see, is that there is such a fabulous range of incredibly cute designs that I found it really difficult to choose just one pair!
Since Stardust turned 13 months old, I have noticed that he has developed a much more defined sense of self. This manifests itself in several different ways - he recognises his own reflection or picture, he can identify his own body parts as well as that of other people, he initiates games, obeys simple instructions...and he gets upset when he doesn't get his own way.
In the past week, he has had some difficulty balancing his will and his self control - that is, he has been throwing shocking wobblies. Great, big, red-faced wobblies with the clenching of fists and the loud open mouthed shouting.
"ARGH!" he says, with red-rimmed eyes blazing with anger, "AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!".
Fortunately, he seems to stop after shouting within a few seconds, usually because I've distracted him by directing his attention elsewhere. However, these episodes are getting more frequent and he is getting more difficult to distract. He has not yet gotten to the stage where he throws himself kicking and screaming onto the floor. I do not intend to allow him to progress this far.
Usually, he does have a reasonable excuse for having such a short fuse - he is too close to naptime or he is uncomfortable in a dirty nappy. Even so, I do not want him cultivating the habit of shouting or screaming in order to exert his will.
Additionally, I would like Stardust to display 'first time obedience'. I will not be that cattle auctioneer-type parent running around shouting "nononononono" or "comecomecomecomecome" whilst my kid is wandering around doing whatever he wants.
Last week, Stardust started having about 4-5 screaming fits a day. The worst one happened when I was at lunch with a friend, and he decided that he wanted to play with my utensils. Of course, the sharp metal fork and knife were placed out of his reach with a firm 'no'...so he had a good long yell in the middle of the restaurant. It was his worst episode ever. I was really shocked. It was horrible.
When I got home, I told MDH about what happened and after some discussion, we came to the conclusion that the word 'no' probably carries no weight with Stardust as disobedience appears to have no consequences. At his age, corporeal punishment probably will not make an impression, and encouragement to behave well seems to have a limited effect.
So, I am now enforcing the following rule: Disobedience is a sign of poor self-control. Children who have poor self control cannot be around polite society and will have to sit in their cot for 2 minutes to calm down. I am also making more of an effort to minimise situations where Stardust is likely to be disobedient or to throw a fit of temper.
Well, it has worked, even though I have had to be very strict with myself and enforce consistent punishment for even the smallest infraction (very hard to do, trust me). In the last 4 days, Stardust has not had a single tantrum. It's too early to celebrate, though! But it's a good sign.
He has occasionally loudly proclaimed his displeasure - but he limits it to one short burst of irritation. I don't mind him expressing himself, as long as he doesn't insist on getting his way all the time. He has to learn to deal with disappointment in a gracious manner.
I needed to get a present for a good friend and I wanted it to be something locally made and interesting, so of course I tootled over to Haji Lane for an afternoon of window shopping.
Actually, I have been looking for a good excuse to visit this part of town for a very long time. The last time I stepped onto Arab Street and the surrounding district of exotic tradeshops was when I happened to be getting a very special gown tailored at a tiny boutique that had just opened. I remember walking into shop after shop admiring the glorious display of textiles - rolls and rolls of heavy silk sari cloth in glowing jewel colours, gossamer chiffons richly embroidered with gold thread, exquisite hand-dyed batiks with their painstakingly intricate prints, sheer georgettes shimmering candy bright, fine cotton fabrics looking cool, crisp and light. Even the very air of the place seemed to be interwoven with the scent of jasmine and spices, leather and wood.
Stardust was on his best behaviour that afternoon as I strolled with him along the front of the graffiti covered shophouses. Haji Lane, at first glance, appeared to be a deserted alleyway lined with green portable dustbins. There was nobody around apart from a black-and-white cat who returned Stardust's friendly overtures with a sulky yellow stare. I found out later that most of the shops open after 2pm in order to cater to the after-school crowd of indie-lovers.
We ducked in and out of a few emporiums, admiring their eclectic collection of wares but finding nothing that would suit my friend's tastes. I saw a pair of very cute and impractical platform saddle shoes, a fine silver necklace that looked like it was made from bubbles, a vintage leather handbag with enormously hideous gold buckles and a set of gilt china teacups.
Finally, just as Stardust was getting restless in his pushchair, we entered yet another hole-in-the-wall and found ourselves in the wonderland that is PLUCK.
In the corner of the store was the ice-cream parlour and beckoning to us enticingly from the front of the cooler was a row of funny little characters. Behind the counter was a pretty lady wearing a black-and-white bustier who smiled pleasantly at us. Stardust was immediately enamoured and began blowing kisses to her, much her great delight.
I decided to take a break from the hunt and release a very wriggly Stardust from his pushchair. (Now that he is learning to walk, he gets fidgety after sitting still for a long time, so I have to allow him to stretch his legs.) We shared a scoop of honey-and-walnut icecream and sat quietly on the plush seats, reading a book together.
Whilst Stardust stood at the window with his hands pressed firmly against the glass, smiling at passing tourists, I wandered around the store, trying my hardest not to touch anything - especially the display of mod belts lying enticingly on mirrored shelves.
There was an amazing collection of trinkets handmade from vintage czech crystal beads and salvaged brass filigree. Amongst these I found something simple that might look rather pretty on a bedside table which I felt would make a good gift. Yay!
By this time, Stardust was getting rather tired and so I took one last, longing look at black belt with a red enamel roundel before leaving. Stardust blew kisses at the storekeeper all the way out of the shop and halfway down the street.
The verdict (according to TSCD): "Who is this boy who keeps showing up on the screen? GO AWAY AND BRING ON ANGELINA JOLIE!" "Hey, Morgan Freeman is in this movie! Why isn't his picture on the DVD cover?" "I can't hear what they're saying in between all the cussing."
The verdict (according to MDH): "Wow, this movie is the embodiment of the American Dream! Spend your life training yourself to be the top assassin, so that you can shoot people from your armchair. The ultimate couch potato!"