Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Toys for all


We have never really approached toys with a "toys for boys" and "toys for girls" mindset. In Ryan's baby/toddler days, we would buy him toys like blocks, loose parts, construction parts, alphabet sets, soft toys (usually Sesame Street themed), and Lego. We did get him train tracks, which I suppose are more boyish, although he was more into the track building than the trains themselves. It was when he was five years old that he got interested in things like Hot Wheels, Transformers, and Paw Patrol, and recently, HexBug and Robocar Poli - stuff that I suppose would fit into the category of "toys for boys". We never pushed him into all this stuff though. Usually he would watch videos on Youtube about these toys and then mount an appeal for us to get them.

Little babydoll plays with all the "boy" toys. She will happily adopt a Robocar Poli toy, grab a couple of Hot Wheels for the bathtub, and put Ryan's robots in her handbag. On her last trip to the toy store, she picked out a Hot Wheels car. Be that as it may, she does have affection for "toys for girls". She loves kitchen/tea sets, playdough, soft toys and princess-ey stuff. Since she was introduced to the movie "Frozen" over Chinese New Year, she also feels a magnetic pull towards all things Elsa-related. These days, our hair-tying options are "Elsa or Anna?" meaning one or two braids? and she usually chooses Elsa.

Today's photo shows babydoll posing with her dollhouse. It was supposed to be a gift for last Christmas but I only opened and set it up last month, in March. I love the fact that it is taller than she is! She absolutely loves it. There is an Elsa doll in residence, of course. In addition, her nanny gave her some dolls for Christmas and they all live together there. Ryan plays with it too and often we will find Hot Wheels cars in there, together with the whole gang of Alphabet Robots, plus a couple of dinosaurs too.

I never tell my children that this toy is for boys or this toy is for girls, although they have gravitated naturally to the stereotypes (while still maintaining an interest in the toys supposedly for the opposite gender). I do think it's strange that we would tell our sons not to play with dolls, but expect them to become loving fathers. I think it's strange that we would tell our daughters that the "guy stuff" is not for them, yet tell them not to feel inferior to men. Perhaps the issue of toys is a small one, but I do think that it is a reflection of our mindset and besides, if we can't get the small things right then we're not going to do very well with the big things, eh?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Six


Ryan turned six in January and I honestly have difficulty remembering his babyness. Sometimes his little sister does or says something, and I ask - was Ryan ever like that? I've reached the stage where my memories of his baby days come to me in broad strokes, with little detail.

I cannot recall anything about Ryan's babyhood which was difficult or which stressed me out. I'm sure that there were some bad days but right now, the memories I have are only of good ones. Perhaps I'm a big picture sort of person, perhaps there weren't many bad days to begin with. Perhaps again, it's just the way mothers are wired. We forget the hard days and we let go of the stressful times. What's left is all good.

In the same way that I enjoyed Ryan's babyhood, I am enjoying the six year old version. He is as easygoing as he has always been, which is to say that he is easygoing towards other people - he is still fussy about his food! He's fun to be with, he's got lots of love to give, he's loyal to his friends and family, he listens to reason, and he can hold an intelligent conversation. Biased I may be, I think he's a great kid.

There are bad days, but they are few and far between and, to be fair, those days are only bad because I didn't handle them better. Parenting a six year old isn't quite the same as parenting a baby, eh? Ah well, the bad days are never a waste. Bad days teach us to make better decisions; they point us in the right direction. I'm learning as I go along and I'm aware and grateful that, with Ryan, it really isn't that difficult.

Just today, someone guessed that Ryan is five. It took me a second to consider whether to correct her or not - part of me is still amazed that six years have flashed past - but I did correct her. Because it's important to Ryan that he's six. He goes around telling everyone that he's six. It's his special number (until he turns seven, of course). He loves being six. (He loved being five too, actually.) Six is when you say goodbye to your schoolmates. Six is when you start anticipating going to "the big school". Six is when you finally tell your mummy, "I'm not a baby". Six is when you start believing, truly believing, that you are someone's big brother. Six is when you have thoughtful opinions about the world around you. Six is a big thing.

And yes, it's important to me too. I wanted her to know that I've had this amazing child for six wonderful years. I may have trouble recalling the bad bits, yes. Be that as it may, there are, overwhelmingly, so many good bits in those years, so much happiness and joy, so much laughter and love, so much personal growth and learning (on my part as well as Ryan's), that I wouldn't discount a single day. Six years old? Yes, oh yes.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Updates on Rachel at preschool






Babydoll started going to preschool in January this year and, well, she took to it like a duck to water. No issues at all, no tears. She was so happy - finally she could have her piece of the action. She was quiet for the first week, observing what was going on around her, deciding who she wanted to be friends with, and learning the class routines. She was soon comfortable enough to speak her mind and it wasn't long before her teacher told me, highly amused, that they'd had an "argument" over sharing, which ended with babydoll giving her the stink-eye. Hahaha! Her teachers are pretty cool, I like them.

Babydoll is a late addition to her class, together with one other student. The rest of her classmates had all done at least one term (or more) of preschool when babydoll started. I actually think that this fact assisted in a smooth settling-in for babydoll as her classmates were familiar with the class routines, eg. sitting down for reading time, sitting down for snacktime and lunch and putting away the plates and utensils, keeping her stuff in her cubby, plus nobody was crying. This environment, I imagine, is far less confusing and far less scary compared to being in a chaotic classroom of children who are all clueless.

The other new student did cry on her first day and - bad timing - she was crying at the classroom door when we arrived with babydoll. I saw babydoll's expression - a little spooked and slightly panicked - which made me think that babydoll might burst into tears as well. She didn't, my brave fearless girl. She got a hold of herself and walked right into the classroom. Amazing.

We watched her through the window for a while. It was some time before a teacher could attend to her as they were occupied with welcoming the students. Babydoll stood in the middle of the room, alone, watching everyone and taking it all in. After a while a teacher approached her and invited her to join a group that was using playdough. Babydoll had been using playdough a lot at home so I was quite happy about that - it would be familiar and comforting for her. After a while, she moved on to try painting at the easel, also something she was familiar with. That's when we left. When I picked her up after school, she was all smiles and her teachers told me that she'd had a great first day. She also met her brother in the course of her day, which helped, I think. From there on, it just got better.

In her first term, I regularly received hilarious recaps of her day in school, from her own teachers as well as other teachers in her school. One of her teachers told me, again highly entertained, that babydoll would regularly "escape", meaning babydoll would wander off from the group to do her own thing, and it would happen at least once a day. One day, her teacher was searching high and low for babydoll in the canteen, and finally found her, still in the canteen, but crouched down next to a plant pot, carefully examining the plant leaves, her tiny size well camouflaged by the massive plant.

Babydoll would also join up with Ryan whenever she saw him on the school grounds (usually during outdoor playtime) and sometimes she'd "forget" to return to her own class. This habit provided the background to another funny story - one day, babydoll had to put on her shoes but her shoes were nowhere to be found. Her teacher asked her where she left her shoes and babydoll told her, "In class". Well, her shoes weren't in her classroom. Her teacher searched all over the school grounds and came up with nothing. Until her teacher realised that the shoes must be in Ryan's classroom - and they were. They were neatly placed in Ryan's cubby.

Babydoll would also often go to her brother's class to play with their stuff, and she even "borrowed" their stuff. Ryan's teacher told me that she saw babydoll walking towards the sandpit with their stuff and when babydoll saw her looking, babydoll actually turned her body to hide the "borrowed" stuff while making a run for the sandpit. Heh heh. She's a wily one.

Babydoll has just started her second term now and I don't hear as many stories about her escapades. She has made some good friends among her classmates so she has her own little gang now. That probably occupies her a little.

There's lots more to share about babydoll but I'll leave that for another time. Meanwhile, enjoy the photos. They were taken last week outside our house.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cheeky


Let's get this thing back on the road, shall we?

I usually take a break from the blog for December, and as it turned out, last December's break stretched into this year's April. To say that time has flown by would be an understatement - it has blasted past at the speed of constant change.

And yes, a lot has changed around here. There have been lots of good, great changes, which we deliberately and consciously engineered. Our life looks very different from how it looked six months ago, and we are very happy.

I'll update you as we go along. For now, be reassured that not everything has changed - as you can see, the littles still live in the water and babydoll is still as cheeky as ever.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hello?





Insomnia. At half-past four in the morning. What better time to scroll through four months' worth of photos and memories for a post on my dusty blog?

This, my dear mother-in-law (aka my blog's number one fan), is for you.

Now back to bed.

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