If there’s one thing that has truly amazed me about tiny tots, it’s how sociable they are, despite their limited understanding of the world. Jamie, in particular, is especially enthusiastic about making friends.
We live in a condo, and every time we get into the lift, he is always looking around at whoever else happens to be sharing the same space as we are. The moment he succeeds in making eye contact with them, his face breaks into a charming smile and he waits eagerly to see what his new friend will do in response. It does not matter if the other person is an old uncle, a young woman just returning from a long day at work or a family with other children. He offers all of them the same friendly expression. And if there are other little kids around, he sometimes even tries babbling and calling out to them.
It’s so endearing, coming from a boy as young as he is. Even the most straight faced of adults often soften and give in to his tiny gesture of friendship.
Which brings me to wonder why we become so prejudiced as grown ups. Of course, there is the bitter experiences of the past that dictates our behaviour, and sometimes with good reason. But often times, we are more suspicious than we ought to be and tend to view those around us as strangers that ought to remain shut out from our world than prospective friends whom we can engage with and learn from.
I certainly hope Jamie will continue to be as friendly and smiley as he is now, even as he navigates the tougher years of growing up that are ahead of him. But for now, I am thankful for the important reminder that my little companion has nudged me with. We could all do with more friends.
“These are the best years, contrary to what some people say,” he told us, his face wearing a kindly smile. I almost thought I saw his eyes misted over for a second as he appeared to be reminiscing his own parental journey.
“My son, he’s 15 now. They won’t be little forever. They’ll grow up, they want to go out, they have their girlfriends… Enjoy them at this stage. These are the dilemmas we face, time… But money you can always make more of when you’re older.”
There was a glimpse of regret in his eyes as he said it.
We stood to go, Jamie grinning at the doctor as we exited the clinic.
“Jamie, say bye bye,” I prompted as we made our way to the door.
I’d made the trip to our regular GP that morning due to a painful lump in my neck. The advice about parenthood was an unexpected extra, but it served to further affirm my current resolve: To be at home with Jamie and to be available to offer whatever he needed from me, even if it meant taking a step back in my career.
There are all these worries that accompany the decision. Most days are tiring and long, and I wonder if I’ll emerge haggard, senile and cynical at the end of them all.
But Jamie smiles every day, and extends his hands out towards me, asking for my embrace. He calls me a myriad of names, “Mmm-meh”, “Meee” and “Mum-mum-ma”. He grows taller every day. His legs and arms swing farther, hit harder each time.
And I am privileged to be right there as these changes unfold. To notice every little nuance. To applaud each new milestone.
These are the best years. And there will be better ones to come.
I don’t know how many years we’ll have together, Jamie, but I hope that when we do reach the end of them, you’ll look back at them and smile at me and say, “Thank you, Mum, for all those glorious times.”
Happy New Year, everyone, if it isn’t too late yet to say so yet 🙂
It’s been awhile since either Hosanna or I have put up a post here. I guess you could say we were swept away with all the festivities and going-ons that typically take place at the end of the year.
Well, it’s time to break the silence now. Let me kickstart things by sharing something my family and I did together recently.
With 2015 having left us and 2016 at our doorstep, we decided to welcome in 2016 with a new first time experience: A trip to the cinema.
While this may sound like nothing special to any of you readers out there who don’t have kids of your own, let me tell you that it means a lot to parents, especially relatively new ones like Deric and I. That’s because it’s one of those things older parents are always bringing up whenever they get started on the topic of Why Having Children Changes Your Life Eternally.
Going to the cinema to catch a movie is considered by many to be one of those luxuries that parents of an infant or toddler cannot afford to have. Unless you leave the child in the care of a babysitter or an (unfortunate) family member, that is. Which is hard to do when the child is so young and clingy… and even more so if they’re still breastfeeding. They just can’t be separated from you much, if at all.
That leaves you with little option but to bring the baby along if you decide to go and watch a movie on the silver screen. That presents you with some challenges.
One of the main ones would be that babies tend to cry or fuss pretty often. That in itself is something to be managed. Then there is also the fact that everyone else in the cinema would be rather displeased to have their enjoyment of the movie interrupted by your child’s untimely noises.
In other words, if you intend to bring your little bundle of joy to the cinema, you’re more or less likely to end up becoming a public nuisance.
But here’s a bit of good news though: TGV now has something they call Family Friendly movie sessions which take place at selected times and locations across the Klang Valley.
These movie screenings are said to be specially tailored to cater for young families. Lights are merely dimmed and not completely turned off. The volume is lowered. Children are allowed to move about and make noise. Tickets are decently priced and there is a special rate for kids below 12. Or if you’re like us and have a child below 3, they can enter for FREE.
Deric discovered this some time back, and we had always intended to give it a go once Jamie was a bit older and more well behaved on our trips out to the mall. So we finally got the chance to give it a go last week.
And you know, it turned out to be not too bad an experience.
Fitting right in
The movie we went for was the Snoopy movie so for starters, it was a pretty child friendly theme and storyline. So we had no worries there about negative influences or potentially traumatising scenes in the movie (eg: fight scenes, excessive drama, shouting/screaming, etc).
The volume levels were not as soft as I’d hoped for, honestly, but sufficiently toned down to not be too big of a concern for me with regards to how it might affect Jamie.
The hall layout and seating is the same as it is in all TGV cinemas; there’s nothing different about it from the usual. But since you are less likely to encounter a full house at such screenings, you can opt for seats that are more spaced out from other viewers. This is easier to plan for if you’re buying tickets on the spot at the counter just before the movie commences, of course, as opposed to pre-booking online.
We chose seats towards the back of the hall, on the right side (the side rows have only 2 seats per row, so effectively we had a comfy corner to ourselves). Jamie the freeloader took turns sitting on our laps throughout the movie.
He was generally in good spirits from start to finish, so the only minor kinks we faced was some tiny bits of fussing here and there. We handled this by picking him up and walking around the hall for a bit, but never had to exit it.
In between, we also offered him a toy to hold and chew on. Whenever he was on my lap, I also frequently changed his position and checked on him to make sure he was never frightened or upset by something that was shown on the screen.
Can’t really say he watched that much of the movie, but there were instances where he did gaze at the screen curiously. He was especially excited whenever there was music played during the movie and would break out into a huge grin.
There were other kids that walked about or made noise during the movie, but being parents ourselves, it didn’t really bother us as much as it would have in the past. However, I think we were possibly the parents with the youngest kid in the hall.
Apparently, there’s supposed to be a diaper changing room somewhere, but we didn’t seem to notice where it was exactly. For some reason, we had this notion that there would be changing tables provided in the hall itself, but that would probably present itself with some potentially hilarious outcomes. And lots of hidden “bombs” waiting to be uncovered. Hehe.
Well, if ever we do go back for another Family Friendly session, I’ll need to make it a point to ask the TGV staff about where that elusive baby room is.
Post outing review
Thinking back on what we did, it’s kind of funny. Why did we take our 8 month old baby to the cinema? Jamie is too young to understand anything that played out on the screen. He doesn’t even understand much English.
If it was meant to be a movie date, well, it wasn’t all that great a movie watching session because I still missed parts of the movie whenever Jamie fussed. And no matter how you look at it, there isn’t much that’s romantic about passing a baby back and forth throughout a movie, although we do love that baby very dearly.
I guess we did this just out of curiousity so as to know what a Family Friendly movie screening would be like. And we also did it to prove to ourselves that becoming parents does not chance our ability to do normal things, despite the fact that it means it may require more effort on our part to achieve the same goal.
But all in all, Deric and I felt extremely good that we were able to achieve this. And apparently, when he relayed this experience to his colleagues, many were encouraged and amazed that it was in fact a possibility.
We’d do it again definitely, if the movie was appealing enough.
Well, I hope our little tale also serves to cheer your spirits at the beginning of 2016 if you’re in a similar position as we are: Parents of a young infant. I think there are parents out there who have done even greater feats than this, so what we have achieved just pales in comparison.
But whatever it is that people say you can’t do JUST BECAUSE you’re a new parent, make it your aim to not let it deter you. There’s always a workaround, if we are willing enough to look for it.
Here’s to a great 2016, and to the many happy memories you’re about to make in it with your family in tow. Have fun out there 😉
* Note: This is not a sponsored post and all comments and opinions expressed above are entirely my own.
So many of our friends are having babies lately. Some have just delivered, while others have one on the way. It’s a really exciting time.
I just spoke to one such couple who are that the 32nd week of pregnancy. During our conversation, some of their concerns surfaced:
“Is labour painful? Does it take long? How was yours?”
“We’ve bought some baby stuff already but I don’t feel prepared.”
“Does the baby get up often at night? How often does yours do this? How long does it go on for?”
It’s funny how things look like on the other side i.e. once you’ve transitioned from being a married person to becoming a parent.
Just 7 or 8 months ago, I was in the same position they were in.
Fretting about the delivery of the baby. About whether I’d be able to remain sane while having to work the required night shifts of feeding, changing and soothing a crying infant.
Well, looking back, I guess Deric and I haven’t done too badly. Our 7+ month old baby is doing well. He’s happy most of the time, and he tells us so through his frequent smiles and laughter (which occur even in his sleep!). He’s gained weight and stretched taller. He’s pooping and peeing all the time.
We have a pretty good understanding of what Jamie wants by now. We recognise what we call his Pangsai Face as well as his sleepy and feeding cues.
We have a rough bedtime routine that mostly works (though there are, of course, those nights where Jamie is wide eyed and nothing in the whole wide world can make him fall asleep until he’s ready).
We know now what our weekly routine looks like, feels like and what we need to do to get through a typical day as a family.
We are also able to take Jamie out for trips out on the town, mostly without incident. Yet we also remained unfazed to keep doing so even when we are faced with disastrous events like a diaper blowout or a complete meltdown crying episode.
Are we perfect parents? Not in the least. But we ARE parents, and we ARE making it through. And we’re finding out that while there are challenges to raising a baby, they aren’t always all that bad.
If any parents-to-be were to ask me about how they should prepare for parenthood, I’d tell them this: There is no way you can possibly be 100% prepared for what’s ahead of you.
That’s because you cannot really fathom what it involves until you’ve got yourself fully immersed in the experience of parenthood itself.
So while you do what you can to get ready, there should be a part of you that says, “I won’t worry too much about this big challenge called parenthood that’s in front of me. God has graciously blessed me with a child, and He will just as surely grant me the strength to raise him/her.”
As for the pains of labour or the possible complications that might eventuate during delivery, it’s pretty much the same deal.
You can read up about pain relief, and how to recognise contractions (something that nobody seems to be able to describe properly to a first time parent, much to my frustration back then).
You can draw up a birth plan of ideals. Discuss concerns with your obstetrician/gynaecologist.
But it is only on the actual day itself, as things unfold, that you’ll learn what works best for you as you make those split second decisions while the baby descends and makes its journey out into the world.
There are some bits of advice that I could give regarding delivery and coping with the early days of parenthood, but I’ll save that for another post, another day.
For now, what I’d like to put out there is this:
If you have a child on the way, if this is your first time, if you’ve got a ton of worries clouding your head and heart… I just want you to know that you CAN do this.
You don’t have to be perfect to parent your child. In fact, you’ll soon realise that your baby is much more accepting and forgiving of you than you probably are towards yourself.
Arm yourself with information wherever necessary. But more than that, learn to rest in the assurance that you have what it takes. You’ve gotten this far into the pregnancy. You’ve put in the best of your efforts to lovingly prepare your home to welcome a new family member.
You’re all set. Really, you are.
Just determine to parent with all the love you can muster in your heart. The rest of it will come with ease.
This is for the mum (and dads) who need a little pick-me-up, when the days are long and you just need some chicken soup (or ABC soup, in Malaysia) for the parenting soul. Here are some words of consolation from those who have been through the trenches and back. Because sometimes, we all could do with a little reminders and a pat on the back.