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Saturday, 14 July 2018

"Great Kids" and Why I Don't Really Care

There's this thing about parenthood that I have been exposed to - raising great kids. Now, if you're like me and you question everything, then your first questions isn't HOW but WHAT. To be more precise, WHAT DEFINES A GREAT KID? Education? Independence? Wealth? Speed? Oh, enlighten me please. 

Everyone wants the greatest kid and there are so many articles on achieving this. So many rules. So many observations, scientific facts, studies - all in the aim of getting that great kid. (Whatever that means)

I'm just going to put it out there - I don't really care. LittleLim isn't the smartest or fastest. She isn't a prodigy (not that I know of as of now, 2018) and neither is she some genius because at 3.5 years old, she still gets confused between A and E, doesn't know how to read and cannot tell the difference between 3 and 8. I'm not going to lie, it gets frustrating when people start questioning me and my parenting methods. It gets worrying when people show concern about the lack of skill my child has especially when they start comparing with other kids. And then, the insecurity sets in when I, myself start comparing my child. 

But every time I find myself falling into the "Asian Trap" and when I start finding myself becoming that "Tiger Mom" I take a step back and remind myself again of the main question, WHAT IS A GREAT KID? Because it really that serious if she doesn't know how to read Cat, Bat and Hat? Is it really that serious if she can't differentiate 1 and 5? Is it really that serious that she doesn't know how to express herself with words? Is it really that serious that she needs you to help her go to the toilet? Not forgetting that she is just three and a half years old? Are these things that she isn't so great at (yet) so serious that it diminishes her "greatness" whatever this greatness is? How about the things she IS good at? Shouldn't those count as well? And they should!

But more so, what is greatness? Till today, I still question greatness and what it takes to be called "one of the greats". I never got it in adults and I certainly do not get it in children. Sure be a pioneer, change the world, be the richest, make the most friends, be the youngest billionaire - good for you. But to be called great, I don't think so. Great is like perfection - unattainable. At least to me. Because to be great you need perfection and to be perfect, you have to be GOD. And well, if adults can't reach god level, I doubt our children can. 

So here we are - I don't care for great kids. I don't care if they never achieve "greatness" because greatness doesn't exist in my books. Greatness is too vague, too empty and yet so limiting. To be great at something, everything means you have to be the best and that leaves little room to fail. I want my kids to fail. To try and fail. Fail and learn. Learn and succeed. I want them to take their time, figure themselves out, use their imperfections to push what they're good at, build good character and above all, to never limit themselves to terms and expectations.

But more important, I want them to run their own race instead of comparing themselves with others and then feeling less than adequate. I want them to achieve their own goals and instead of wanting to be like someone else. I want them to know that just because someone is the youngest billionaire or the youngest violinist or the best gymnast - I want them to know that it doesn't make them any lesser for not being those things. 

Afterall, when we all die, none of those things matter anyways. So really, bringing up my kids for me, what it really comes down to is character, attitude, principles and beliefs. Because everything else just dies when you die. And when you die... who really cares. 

-Ally

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Lim Siblings



Just like that BabyJ is 12 months old, one year. Still wrapping my head around the fact that it's been one full year since I had the privilege of having a son. In that one year, LittleLim had a brother. One year of sibling hood.  It's so easy to separate the two, so easy to talk about one kid but I realised that speaking about BOTH my kids are just as amazing. 

Siblinghood hasn't always been easy for LittleLim. My daughter is a tough one to crack. She's possessive, territorial, fierce and not so generous when it comes to what is hers and definitely us, her parents. So having a brother (whom she didn't ask for) suddenly invade her life hasn't always been fun. While I love my kids to be all lovey dovey and nice, I understand the pain of having another person invade your life and take what you thought would be yours forever. Especially someone like my daughter, I get her because... I am her. My daughter is the replicate of me, a literal mini me. Not just in terms of physical aspects but right down to character and personality. It is because of this, I know how she feels. People say "she doesn't understand" or "force her to be nice" but I know it won't work. If anything it will be the wedge that drives her away, it will be one thing that would cause her to hate her brother. And I know it very well. So I did the one thing I know is best, give her space, time and freedom. 

Space to process and adjust to the new changes, the new sibling, the new "invader". Space that she can be safe in and call her own. In that space, we let her have autonomy. She can decide whether to allow her brother in or not. Space where she gets to be dictator and where she can be as territorial and possessive. We managed our expectations and we knew that it would definitely take time for our daughter to accept that she now has to share mommy and daddy. Of course, when we were pregnant we did our part in explaining to her about having a brother and what we expected of her. But we also knew that it would take time for her to know this new person entering her life. And lastly, freedom. As I said, I refused to be the kind of parent who forces siblings to share, protect each other, be nice to each other etc. I refuse because that is not a responsibility I want to put on a young child as LittleLim. I want her to choose to do all these things herself, for her to do it out of love and not obligation and definitely not because it's "societal standards". I refuse to do that because I hated it as a child and I hated being forced to take care of my sibling. It's something I refuse to put LittleLim through and like it or not, my son will also have to learn how to fight his own battles and not depend on his sister to come rescue him all the time. 

I know my daughter well and I'm glad I did what I did. Today, these two are closer than ever. It makes me smile whenever I see the both of them together and I see how protective LittleLim is over her brother. A protectiveness that I did not force her to do nor told her about. A protectiveness that come out because she has accepted him as her own, as family, her brother. A protectiveness that comes because she really loves him. Of course it isn't always fun especially when the little brother doesn't understand "wait your turn" or how to follow his big sister's instructions. A few fights is sure to follow, but I always make it a point to never interrupt unless it gets violent. But it does make me so happy whenever LittleLim comforts BabyJ when he's upset, when LittleLim sits in his crib with him and plays with him, when LittleLim shouts "hugging time" and smothers him with hugs and kisses, when LittleLim is concern about her brother and tries to make him as comfortable as possible, when she brings her toys to him so he can play with them too and of course not forgetting BabyJ and his love for his sister. At 8 months, his first words were "jiejie", he smiles whenever LittleLim enters his vision, he gets so excited when LittleLim is nearby, he laughs so hard when she plays peekaboo with him... it's moments like these that comforts me and reaffirms that my methods work. 

But again, it's only because I know my children and I know myself. You do you.
-Ally 

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

More Than Just #littlelimootd Photos


So LittleLim has been going to pre-school for a year now! School is great, she loves it and we love it. We are a little bit spoiled in this area - LittleLim's school is one of the best. Good teachers, good procedures, good security and good safety processes. It was hard for anyone to come and kidnap LittleLim because of the school's procedures and pick up points. Yes, Hubbycat made sure that location was just as important factor when choosing a pre-school for LittleLim. Naturally, I didn't have any fears of anything unbecoming coming towards LittleLim. That is until one evening, after talking to Hubbycat, I realised how unprepared I am if anything happened to LittleLim. 

While nothing could happen in the school compound, anything could happen outside of school. Outside when we're walking towards our car. Outside when we go for lunch after school. What if something happened to LittleLim? What if someone took LittleLim? Am I prepared? That's when I realised that I would have failed the first instance Police asked me questions. What is she wearing? How tall is she? What does she look like? 

The best way I realised is to have photos of her. Current photos and with modern technology, you can get REAL DAY photos. Which is why every morning before I walk in to school, I take a photo of LittleLim. Regardless if we are late or in a rush, regardless if people are waiting for me, regardless if I have an audience - I snap a photo. That way, I would be able to give informed answers and the Police would have a current up-to-date photo as a reference. On top of that, every month I write her weight and height in a piece of paper and place it in my wallet.

Sometimes I do feel like a super paranoid mom, but I also believe it's better to be paranoid and prepared than not at all. On top of that, I tell LittleLim to always note her surroundings whenever we are out. Observe people, observe things, observe your surroundings and if anything feels out of place, let us know. Sometimes we make a game out of it with "I Spy" and sometimes she tells me things that slipped my observation. 

Of course, now that I have a months worth of pictures in my phone, it's nice to look back at all the outfits she's worn this month and in the long run, I would be able to notice her growth on film. Sometimes I hate that I have to prepare for these things but I realised that regardless how "safe" it maybe, it never hurts to be prepared. 

-Ally

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Ini Malaysiaku

"This is my Malaysia". Sometimes it's so hard to focus on the good of this country. I won't lie that there are times where I just prefer to live in my perfect world and hide away from the ugliness that tries to penetrate my defence shield. It's hard when words such as corruption, crime, cronyism and and "masalah masyarakat" is heard everyday. Ask any citizen and they will have a thing or two to say about what is wrong with the country. I won't lie that there are times where I feel like Thanos (sorry, I just watched Avengers so I'm going to be using this as an analogy) and feel like this country does need a "wipe out". Whether harsh or ethical, it's besides the point after all I betcha Thanos doesn't care either. 

But in moments of fighting between which part is better suited, which is the lesser evil, which is the safer choice and all that - you see humanity rise up. You see people holding on to each other and helping each other. As I was going to vote, I saw people, like myself stepping up above their call of duty. No barriers of race, religion or party they support. No barriers of who is better and who is not. Just human beings trying to help smooth processes. 

I mean no one really knows which party or who you've voted for. No one. So to see human beings treat other human beings with respect and dignity, coming together to make things work and all with the same agenda - a better Malaysia. That's the Malaysia I know and want. 

The Malaysia I know was what I saw today as I cast my votes. People helping each other, people being civil and polite, people stepping up above their call of duty to get things done and to make life easier for others even if it means they have to sacrifice something of their own and people who have no other intentions other than helping a fellow citizen out. 

Inilah Malaysiaku. Malaysiaku yang saling memahami, saling tolong-menolong dan saling menghormati satu sama lain. 

Because the fight isn't over regardless of which party wins. The fight has barely begun. Trust me that no matter who wins, there is still a lot more to do. There is no "my country your country. There is only, our country. 

Our Country, Malaysia.

-Ally

Friday, 4 May 2018

First Mommy-Daughter Date

 

I've waited all my life for a day like today. Only difference is I always imagined it would be with my son and not my daughter. I always wanted a son. I never saw girls in my future. But God, again, knew me better. I finally had a mommy daughter date with LittleLim. Funny it took a turn of events to get here because if it was up to me, I would never have tried it. Ever since LittleLim went into her toddler, cannot sit still, disobedient phase, I really dread whenever I have to take her out alone. Haha. I always worry I would go wrong and lose her if it's just the both of us. Drama I tell you. But that Monday, I had no choice. Fate said today you will date your daughter. Haha.

I followed Hubbycat to pick LittleLim up because I was in office and no one else was around to take me pick her up (I usually don't drive to office). Hubbycat had a meeting nearby and so I followed him and then we separated. He went for his meeting while LittleLim and I went on our own. 




It was soooo much fun. My baby is now a young lady 😭 I bought the coffee, she chose her drink and food. Then I got the table, set down the tray and she picked my plate. "This is yours, this is mine." As she placed my doughnut in front of me and took her own sausages. Teachers, you taught her well! I am eternally grateful. Haha. Talked to her a bit, listened to her tell me about her classmates, her Onion plant and what she ate today 🤣 then she proceeded to doing silly antics and it was so funny watching her have fun.

 

It was amazing. I didn't have to raise my voice, no threats or bribes and no meltdowns. She did walk around the table but knew not to be more than an earshot away. Hehe. Strangers approached her she would run right beside me. It was a dream come true. Of course, sandman came and ruined our fun. Because shortly after, koalamelia came and crankiness set in.

 -Ally

Friday, 27 April 2018

When She's Ready - Our Toilet Story



We did it! LittleLim did it! LittleLim has been diaperless for about 6 months now. Just recently we have tried night time and we still have accidents but it's not as frequent. But for the day, our baby no longer needs diapers. 

Baby Ally spoils market. Baby Ally was potty trained at 9 months old. Baby Ally did not wet the bed. Baby Ally was reallllly good. Or that's what my mother, grandmother and aunty tells me. Baby Ally has set the standard really high. When LittleLim was 9 months old, LittleLim was still in diapers. Many people tell me that she is ready to learn how to use the toilet with many tips and advice thrown in. 

"Just spank her and she will know how to use the toilet."
"Reward her! Give her stars when she uses the potty."
"Just take off her diaper." 
"9 Months is too late to learn already! Better start now."

Reaaaally helpful. Of course, me being me who loves to do things MY way, I turned a deaf ear and ignored it. My motto to everything "Eventually she'll learn (insert skill)". Of course at 18 months when she was still in diapers, people frowned. At 24 months still in diapers, everyone had something to say about my "failure" but hey, one ear in one ear out. You do you, I'll do me. 

I did get over excited and tried to force her to use the toilet. I bought a kids potty to encourage her to not use the diaper, I got her training pants and I even read her books and let her watch videos on toilet training to inspire her. It all failed. She hated the mini toilet and even more so the kid seat attachment. But the worst was when she would wake up in the middle of the night and cry because she peed in her diaper and felt like she made a mistake. That was the worst feeling I've ever felt as a mother because I caused the fear and paranoia she was feeling. After that, I stopped trying and told myself "When she's ready". We continued to let her wear her diaper. 

When LittleLim hit 2.5 years old, one day, she came up to me "Mummy, LittleLim wants to peepee". I was so happy she could tell me. Then she surprised me when she told me she wanted to go to the toilet. Quickly took out the potty which she flat out refused. "No, I want the big toilet!" Okay, took out the kid toilet seat attachment and put it on. "NO! I don't want this mommy!" and then took it off herself. I carried her on to the toilet seat and held on to her so afraid she would drop in. She did her job and jumped off. 

Then it happened again and again and again. Soon she was going to the toilet everytime she needed to pee and poo. And then she just went diaperless and that was it. She was potty trained. Just like weaning, walking, self feeding - she learnt everything on her own time. Little Miss Independent will figure it out "When She's Ready" and that has been our motto.

Many people ask me how I did it - the weaning, the self soothing, the toilet training and my answer is always the same. Encouragement and Communication. Talk to them, let them know the end goal and teach them how to get there and then encourage them as you let them explore on their own. When mistakes are made and trust me it does happen, I try my hardest not to shame them but instead be there for them and encourage them to try again.

I very rarely force our children to learn new skills because I know that they will get there eventually. In the meantime, I try to enjoy her childness a bit more. I try to enjoy being needed a bit more. I try to enjoy it before she becomes so grown up and tells me "Mommy go outside and wait!" while she does her business. 

Then suddenly I'm the one not ready to let her go *cries*. 
-Ally

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Pain You Don't Feel, The Tears You Don't See


The word "STRONG" has many meanings to me. If there's one thing I know, I know that I'm strong. Even when my eyes are swollen from hours of crying, heart ripped out of my chest, breath caught in my throat, hands clammy and  and all that - I know I am strong. I know I am strong because I don't have a choice. Strength is the only thing that will keep me alive, it is the only thing that will drive me to survive, it is the one thing that tells my brain to work, my body to move and my hope to not fail. Strength is the only option left and without strength, I die. That being said, I also know I have moments of weakness. Moments when death sounds better than being strong. When I think of ending everything because the pain is too intense and life is just too hard. During these moments of weakness, I don't need someone to tell me to be strong. I need someone to remind me I matter, remind me it's going to be okay, remind me that one day I will feel like myself again. I don't need someone reminding me of my weakness and as if being strong is something I can choose to be. 

I used to think strength are for the people in the forefront fighting for us, that strength is loud and resolve, that strength is reserved for the fighters who make their fight public, who smile in the face of danger and trouble, who stand up loud and proud and for people who are brave enough to say that they are not okay. I am wrong. 

Over the past few days, I realise that strength is also quiet and cautious. Strength is not always seen, strength is a feeling and a drive that pushes you forward. You are strong even when the world doesn't know your fight. Even when the world doesn't see your demons, when the people closest to you don't feel your pain and see the tears you cry - you are still strong. You are strong because you are still here. You are still alive. 

Not having answers to the questions is not a sign of weakness. Not being able to stop the pain is not a sign of weakness. Not being able to be okay is not a sign of weakness. Weakness is when you give up, when you choose to die. That's weakness. But strength is the choice to keep going despite everything. Strength is a drive to face tomorrow. You are not weak if you're still here. 

-Ally

Saturday, 21 April 2018

The Onion Plant called "Onion"








I'm envious of LittleLim. I wished my kindie was as cool as hers. I wished my teachers were as amazing as hers. I wished my parents had put me in a Montessori School, not just any Montessori school, but more specifically HER Montessori School. Lol. Her school is amazing on so many levels. From the amazing teachers right down to the infrastructure of the school - everything is just on point. 

Every term, LittleLim's school has a theme where they do activities around the theme. This term, the theme is "A Sustainable World" where the kids learn about the environment, nature and how to preserve the world. Such a meaningful theme and one I believe is never too early to be introduced. Among the many projects that is being organised, the latest one involved us parents as well. We parents were invited to help our kids out to grow onions to teach our kids the circle of life as well as the responsibility of keeping something alive. 

We were asked to bring "pots" recycled from empty bottles / milk cartons and then decorated them. LittleLim had a lot of fun bossing me around. "Draw clouds mommy!" "Draw grass!" "Mommy, I want to scribble!" "Mommy pass the stickers!" "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" and I was all "Yes miss bossy pants. Sure!" *rolls eyes* Such a mini me this one, definitely inherited the my bossy attitude. But we make a good team! So proud of our little masterpiece. LittleLim was extremely pleased with it! She kept asking to hold it and kept reminding me to show it to her homeroom aunty. Such a showoff *laughs*. 

That morning, we were introduced to the materials to plant onions. There were dried coconut shreds, soil, sand and of course onions! It was so educational because up until that point, I had no idea how to plant onions. Definitely not a green thumb here. I mean, planting, what is that?! Can eat one ah? (shhh, I already killed 3 plants back home *gulp*. I'm so thankful I'm not required to keep this plant alive.) We were asked to layer the material in that order and LittleLim did an amazing job. I could not help but wonder when did my baby grow up. She handled the scoop and everything so well without spilling anything. Not only that, she followed the instructions so well without any talk back or "no"! It was as if she was a completely different person in school compared to at home. School, I love you! I also noticed that she has inherited my perfectionism. She made sure everything was layered perfectly and she chose exactly TWO onions because it's a pair, and she made sure both onions are perfect size. 

After she was satisfied with her work, we headed out to the garden to put her little plant with the rest. The amount of effort the aunties put in is so commendable! They had turn the playground into a garden with wooden structures where the children's plants will later be hung on. Did I mention how I wished I was in LittleLim's school when I was younger? 

After putting her plant down, I asked her "What shall we name your onion plant?" She looked at me and answered, "Mommmyyy, ONION! Silly mommy?!" 

So there we go, an onion plant named Onion. Don't ask silly questions ok. *laughs*

-Ally

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Living In The Unknowing

I used to think that I could only function when I knew the answers. I grew up asking the big questions from a very early age. I set out to search for my identity and purpose from an early age. I did not waste time or my youth. I tried to make all the mistakes early on so that I would never be 31, lost and unsure. It was a good plan, no a great plan. One I am very proud of because at 29, I've managed to achieve things that people my age are now only figuring out. Before I reach 30, I've already been to places both the good and the bad. I've seen my worst and I've also seen my best. I know what works for me and what does not. 

And yet, at 29, I found myself at another crossroad. I found myself asking another set of questions that I have no answers for. I found myself wanting to know more and I want more answers. Again, I'm at a place where I have more answers than questions. A place where I am again, very very uncomfortable at. The fear, uncertainty and insecurities start creeping in. I start doubting everything I knew, myself and what life means. 

Principles and truths I thought were my foundation started to shake. Again, I am at a place where nothing makes sense again and in one too many situations, I started losing my sparkle. Life started feeling dull and uninteresting. I wondered about death and I started losing myself in my thoughts. I wandered into the darkness and my mood was a mess. The denial was the hardest part of everything and the thing that eventually broke everything.

At 29, I like to think I'm wiser to know that everything is just temporary, even this place of unknowing. I know to never settle and to never let it get the better of me. But first I had to accept that I am in a new place. A new stage of life and before anything new happens, I need to be okay with the search, I needed to live in the unknowing for a little bit. 

And so, that's where I am now. A bit here, a bit there and a lot everywhere. Thoughts split into many branches, I am stretched and pulled and the questions I have are plenty. I am now in a new search, a new stage and a new phase. I still have a lot of things to figure out and at 29, I know this is merely the beginning. I am not done yet and I don't want to be done. Not yet, not now. 

It's interesting how far you think you've gone only to realise that you really haven't gone very far. That the starting line is really just behind the horizon. You're not even 1/4 of the race yet. Sometimes it's so tiring because it feels like all you've been doing is running. It's frustrating because you realise there's still so much road ahead and you are impatient and just want to get to the end. I'm not sure if anyone has ever felt like this but I have, I am. 

But the good thing about being so far away from the end is that you can still catch up, still correct, still pace and still recollect. It's not too late to change. And maybe that's where I am at the moment. Changing again. In the process, the future is still unknown. 

One day, I'll have the answers. One of these days for sure. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

LittleLim









My darling daughter, the other day you were telling me a story you made up on the spot. It was such a creative and funny story about a princess, a pig, a sword fight and a lot of food. I was so amazed at how much you were absorbed into the storytelling that you were so unfiltered, so animated and so raw. I couldn't help but quickly grab the camera and started snapping you. Of course, you noticed it later and got annoyed because I wasn't paying attention, but looking at these pictures of you, so worth it!

My darling, you've grown so much. As I listened to you go on about your princess, a story which you completely made up yourself without any help, I am so amazed at your creativity and the ability to imagine such a fun and exciting adventure. My wish is that you never lose your ability to create stories. It will bring you far in life especially when things get hard and you need an escape. 

Your spontaneity always leaves me in wonder and it always brightens my day. I always look forward to the stories you will tell me and if you let me, I'll never stop listening to your stories. One day, the tables will turn and I will be reading posts about me from you. 

-Ally