Why world affairs should matter to our kids

My love for politics started back in 1996 when I visited Myanmar and found myself at the cusp of a student riot and political change. To cut the long story short, it made me deeply interested in politics- the art and the science of things, and I ended up double majoring in psychology and political science with special interest in political campaigns, elections and how all of that impacts world politics.

Needless to say, US elections hold particular fascination for me since the impact of the person sitting in the Oval Office holds sway for the world, world politics and world policies. Wun and I took leave in 2008 to watch America elect their first black president (I would have preferred Hillary personally) and when Q was born, our good friend and fellow Politiko Aunty Karyn made Q his very one ABC onesie: A is for Arendt… N is for Nasser…T is for Thatcher… Y is for Yoda.

When our local elections took place (GE2011), we let Q stay up with us to wait for the results, explaining to my not yet 2yo who Lee Hsien Loong was, who the men in blue were and he clapped and cheered along with us at the various speeches and all. Somedays, instead of our usual ABC 123 lessons, we teach him about the great people in the world; a modge-podge of world leaders and other notable characters that have shaped our world.

When Neil Armstrong died, we learnt about the moon, talked about the Mars Explorer, looked at photos, built mock Apollo 11z, re-created walking on the moon (not the moon walk; we walked on sponges) and pretended to be aliens.

Yes, its important our kids learn their ABCs, 123s and all the other classroom stuff… but we also think its darn important they learn about the world.

 

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the man without a hand

We were at the grocery store the other day and met a man with no arms. He was wearing long sleeves shirt and one arm was distinctively emptier than the other. When Q walked past him, he waved and said hi and my 2.5yo could only muster a whisper of a “Hello Uncle” in return. He continued staring at the armless man for a while more and said nothing for a while.

Several minutes later, he came up to me and said: “That uncle had one arm only, Mummy. Oh no!” And since he had clearly been thinking about it a lot, we spent some time talking about what it means to have only one arm, what it means to have a handicap. We talked about people in wheelchairs and people who couldn’t walk or talk. It seemed a little much to be having this conversation with a 2.5yo but, ah well, i figured, why not.

Now, Q has a swim noodle with a connector making it into a hoop and today he took it apart, I think to play horsey with the noodle with the connector as a sword. Anyway, he stuck the connector onto his arm and tired- valiantly, to hold stuff. When he got quite quiet and I asked him what he was thinking and he said wearing the swim connector kinda made him “armless”, like the uncle he saw the other day. And after a pause, he said: “Its very hard to hold things with only one arm you know.”

So, after talking about it some, I asked him then what now? And he said that maybe “we could help the uncles with only one arm cos its hard that they cannot hold things.”

As parents, sometimes life finds us opportunities to teach our kids life lessons. And sometimes, God uses these little ones to remind us of our humanity and the task we have as parents to nurture a generation better than our own.

 

between the shadow and the soul

My friend S texted me the other day about a helicopter crash that claimed 12 lives, one of which was an acquaintance of hers; she is also friends with his widow, and his brother. He leaves behind a young wife (after a whirlwind courtship), a two year old son and there are expecting their second child in a little under five months.

She ponders how his widow would feel when she delivers, what it would be like to lose the love of your life after only being together for such a short time. She heart wrenchingly questions how things would be later that night as mother explains to toddler why daddy would never be coming back again. And she concludes with these words: “It’s a truly very big ask and I am thankful that God has not asked that of me.”

I recently said goodbye to a friend who was only 31; there was no “real” reason he passed away, his heart, brain and general physical being was in tip top shape- coroner ruled,  sudden death syndrome.  He was Possibility personified: he was successful, well liked and an all round amazing guy. He was a great son and brother and the world was his oyster.

I’m not yet 32 and have buried several friends called before their time: some to illness, some to accidents, some self-inflicted. Its hard to comprehend how or why things happen. The famous question we ask is :why bad things happen to good people. And really, there’s no answer except the belief that the “will of God will never send you where his Grace cannot keep you.”

The day I became a parent, the notions of life and death took on a different perspective completely. The frailty of life, the fragility of our humanity beckons at these moments and I find that sometimes I find it hard to breathe if I dwell on “what it all means”.

I look at my young sons and I learn that I cannot take tomorrow for granted- who knows what the future holds? But what I do have is Today, the now and for most days, that’s enough.

mummy choices

I am grateful to be a full time working from home mom.

Its a fragile balance I am mindful to keep cos while it means I get to be home with my boys, it also means there are nights I barely sleep because I only get to work after the kids go to bed.

It is a perpetual battle to stretch (or bend) time, prioritize my insane to do list with my mummy duties of loving, educating and hanging with my energetic and curious two year old and mummy-ing my equally as energetic and wakeful four month old. They are one of those nap phobic kids that would rather mummy entertain them. Oh, sure, they nap- only when mummy is by (read: either carried by mummy or cuddled by mummy). Ah well.

I keep my training to a minimum as far as possible and I am constantly grateful that my team are ok to work around my mummy duties, sometimes even pulling babysitting duties. Yeah, I know, they kinda rock, huh? 🙂 On days I do have training, I make it a point to make up to them: if my gig is in the morning, I spend the afternoon with them, it the training is in the avro, maybe I’d take them out to the zoo before heading off to work.

Today I spent a rare day working all day: before the sun rose and right till dusk. No less, by the time I got back, I was completely knackered. No less because I spent the entire day around people whilst maintaining energy levels of an Energizer bunny all I want to do once I get home is crawl into a hole of silence and solitude. (That’s how us introverts recuperate). Which means, well, that post-(long)-training me makes for a poorer version of being mummy.

And its in these moments that I am so grateful these days are few and far between. Tomorrow would be a new day. A busy day, undoubtedly, but not crazy like today. Thank God.

 

Paradox of our time

The recent case of the Ferrari that rammed into the hapless taxi has caused a huge outcry and debate about affluence, racism, entitlement and a whole lot more.

It beckons wondering about the onslaught of capitalism, materialism and more on the physical state of our generation, the moral state of our humanity and it makes the parent in me deathly worried for the future of my sons.

Paradox of Our Times: Dr. Bob Moorehead 
We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers;
Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.
We spend more time, but have less;
We buy more, but enjoy it less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families;
More conveniences but less time;

We have more degrees but less sense;
more knowledge, but less judgment;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly;
laugh too little, drive too fast;get mad too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values;
We talk too much, love too seldom and lie too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life.
We’ve added years to life, not life to years.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We’ve conquered outer space but not inner space.
We’ve done larger things but not better things,
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.
We’ve split the atom but kept our prejudices whole.
We write more, but learn less.
We plan more but accomplish less.
We learned to rush, but not to wait.
We have higher incomes but lower morals.
We have more food, but less taste,
We build more computers to hold more information,
to produce more copies than ever; but we have less communication.
We have become long on quantity, but short on equality.

These are times of fast foods and slow digestion;
tall men and short character; steep profits and shallow relationships.
These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare;
more leisure and less fun; more kinds of food but less nutrition.

These are the days of two incomes but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality,
one night stands; overweight bodies and pills
that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

These are days in which we can choose to stand up and make a difference
or pretend that we never heard these cries at all.