Learning good manners again at 40

I had a 3 weeks hiatus as I was doing a few firsts at 40. I first saw the Northern lights, I finally got to try skiing (and suck at it of course) & I stayed in the Artic region for 7 days. While I enjoyed those experiences, my sister also experience first hand of taking care of my almost 5 year old daughter for 3-4 hours a day. There are good times & also bad times (like her highest ‘skill’ – crying).

So she found my girl to have bad manners – like 1) ignoring an elder  2) asking someone to go away while she watched TV (although I told many time to my family to NOT let her watch any) 3) did not address an elder. It does seem not like a ‘big’ deal, cos as I write it in words – it doesn’t seem big but when it is in action – trust me IT IS, especially coming from an almost 5 y/o.

Naturally, being a ‘google’ addict, I google for a method to help with my methods. One can find many (gazillions maybe) articles about this & most are teaching methods which surprisingly was not what I was really searching for. After much quick views of the many write ups, I found this – 7 ways to teach your child manners – it centered around the parents’ themselves – which is more inward looking vs outward.

My sisters & family members also suggested that I send her to a weekly ‘buddhism’ based gathering for kids which centered around teaching young kids good manners like respect, kindness etc. While I do not disagree to this method, I do feel that it is more than that. Spending 2 hours a week in these gathering isn’t going to help if the other 50 waking hours of the week that is spent with the family does not practice good manners isn’t it?

So, the difficult truth is – I have to take this ‘bad’ manners of my 5 y/o as my fault. Why? While I always remind her to address the elders when we meet one, I didn’t tell her why it was needed. Thus it will explain why she didn’t feel the need to do so when I am not around. While I did correct her ‘ignoring’ behavior when I see it, I didn’t go back & explain to her what it is like to be ignored (but that said, I do ignore her although not often when she was being whiny & unreasonable, she may have thought it is ok to ignore because mom does it). While I did correct her for being rude with ‘telling’ people to go away or taking things that are not hers, I did not explain to her why it is wrong to do so. While  I try not to chide her bad behavior when we are outside (insisting her way with my friends), I did not explain to her that her behavior was wrong when I am alone with her at home just because I am tired & just want her to sleep after the long day.

Lastly, I think I have taken for granted on my manners when I speak to Mike. We have become too comfortable with each other, we forgot to say please or may I or can I ? I raised my voiced often because of rush of time or tiredness, so to get things done quickly. That would explain why Relm likes to ‘tell’ vs ‘ask’ for anything.

I do not want to run away from this responsibility of my daughter’s bad manners. In fact, I do think the main cause is me – which saddens me & also served as a revelation for me. It is time for me to re-learn my manners with my daughter.

No wonder people say one learns a lot when one has a child. Not just learning with them & from them but also for them.


I am reliving my ‘teenager’ years at 40

You know how teenagers are associated with peer pressure & easily influence? Well, I do feel that I am entering into that same mode now at the age of 40 but this time the cause is my kid.

You know how teenagers know that some friends are not worth it, but they still hang around with them just to feel ‘in’? Well, I feel that too with my kid’s need to do spelling. I know that it is just wrong to ask a 4 1/2 yo to do spelling yet I do with with her anyway so that she fit into her school.

You know how teenagers doesn’t really like to do house chores, but obligations call (or rather parents’ orders) ? Well, I am doing that – but this time I enrolled her to a state school education system which I do not believe in just because I need to get it done first. (also on MY father’s advice)

You know how teenagers know that watching too much TV is bad, but they do it just because it is enjoyable? Well, I do that too to my kid , ie I let her watch the TV so that I have some moments of peace to do household chores.

You know how teenagers just like to do the opposite, just for the sake of testing the limits? Well, I do that too to my kid, so that I can gauge what will work to correct her behaviour . (let’s just say 70% of the time it backfires during these ‘tests’).

So yeah, it is sad. And just last year I was celebrating the fact that I have finally matured without worrying what ‘other’ people think – but here I am reliving my insecure ‘teenage’ years caused by my own insecurity of being a parent.

My 9 reactions to Spelling test for a preschooler

The difficult truth is that most humans have the ‘herd mentality’ and me included as I am not some amazing bright individual like Gates, Jobs or Bezos. So it is with a very heavy heart that I have to admit that I am a ‘chicken” because I was not able to against the ‘education’ norm  of M’sia. My daughter of 4 1/2 year old was given a list of spelling for 3 languages that will be tested on for the next 2 months & my reactions were:-

My first reaction was “What the h$#* ?!”

My 2nd reaction was “Ok, Relm.. let me help you to practice these spellings”

My 3rd  reaction was “Oh my God? Why is there such a need?”

My 4th reaction was (after some session with Relm) “I obviously can’t teach & I totally suck”

My 5th reaction (after 1 week plus) was “Why am I succumbing to this ridiculous spelling requirement?”

My 6th reaction was “Ok.. I need to do this else Relm could get ‘sounded’ by the teachers”

My 7th reaction was researching if really there’s a need for a preschooler to be taught spelling. (here are 2 articles of the wonders of Finland’s education system – first write up & 2nd write up – confirming that it is really not needed)

My 8th reaction was ” I am a chicken”  cos while I know play based is the best for kids till 5 , yet I have succumbed to the ‘system’ because of social pressure instead of advocating actively for this play based education system.

My 9th reaction was “maybe I should switch pre-school” that is more play based (but it means I am running away from the problem which I feel is not going to solve the issue of my ‘chicken-ness’)

I am now working on my 10th reaction – ie I hope it will not be just a ‘reaction’ but a well though out reaction. Deciding how to convey the right message to Relm while still let her learn her spelling without the stress but also having some fun with spelling.

P.S: It is also interesting that my sister asked me why don’t I just complain about it to the school? I said I don’t want to because it will seem like I want my child to think she’s special & get preferential treatment. But then, I wonder if it is because I secretly hopes my daughter can spell well by 5 year old?

The tiny old shoes & her antics

It is the time of the year where we do spring cleaning. So I found these tiny pair of shoes that belong to Relm. I just couldn’t throw it away or have the heart to give it away last year just because it is one my favorite shoes of hers.

I decided that it is time to give it away. I have kept it for 2 years since she last used it. I do not think she can ever fit in them ever again (oh, and she tried it as well just to confirm).

It took me a good 30mins to explain to her that the shoes can’t fit & needed to be given away to little girls but she she’s still upset even after trying to wear them.

Finally – I said – we will just keep them!

So- here we are.. back to keeping things that we won’t be using for another year.

Till the next spring clean!

to be stingy with praises

I was brought up in an environment with very little praise thrown to us because the things we do right are like the ‘basic’ expectations that my dad expect from us. To be fair he also does not criticise us for our mistakes. He lecture us about it but never criticise. And I am the X gen.

Fast forward to 10 years later – the theory is for parents to ‘praise’ their offspring more so as to build their ‘self-confidence’ so that they will do better in life. And this is the Y gen.

Then now (another 10 years later after previous latest theory), it is shared that it we should not be praising the kids on their ‘talent’ but praising on their ‘effort’. It is kind of like combining both of the X gen & Y gen brought up.  (if you are interested – read this worthy article > the learning myth) .

For me, I like the information a lot. Mainly because I am this X gen whom are not used to dish out praises due to how I was brought up. I do not think there were anything wrong with how I was brought up with so little praises / encouragement given. In fact, I think I gain a lot from it. Without praises for our supposed natural talent – we are more grounded & practical. We know we have to be exceptionally good if we ever do get a praise. In fact – we hardly get any rewards even if we do a little bit better than your last attempt. It did taught us grit though. We are doggedly persistence to the end or some will call it stubborn. But at least we never give up no matter how hard it gets. Of course – we dream big a lot less – which is not good. We do the work well but do not ask for the rewards since we think it is ‘no big deal’. And because we dream big less, we become mediocre as time goes by.

This current theory is not without reasoning or scientific proof. It is something that is worth reminding myself about when I teach my daughter. However – I do worry if I will criticise because I am so adept at it (which is not a good trait).

Well.. reminder for you – Praise the Effort . Shut up about the talent.

more proofs that dogs are mans(/kid)’s best friend

I am one of the lucky ones that are not born to a religion that restricts ‘touching’ these gentle & loyal animals. Yes – the DOG. (incidentally.. did anyone notice that spells backward is GOD?, although I am not saying the DOG is GOD but maybe it is a small reflection of God to love humans unconditionally)

Anyway, I digress, check out the latest news on a 4 year old surviving in the siberian forest for 11 days with only her dog. And to note it is a puppy. I always wonder how is it that an animal so viled upon by a religion can be so compassionate to a life yet we see human beings that are so bent on being the ‘winning’ party kills each other without any thought.

So despite my husband’s & my parents’ disagreement about me exposing my child to my pet dog, I do not plan to change.

One of the cute moments between Mr B & Relm.

Relm & my favourite book : Mr Magnolia – Quentin Blake

Of late or rather for the past 2 years that I am quite alarmed by the famous story books for the kids (eg. Puss in Boots, Jack & the Beanstalk etc). I never realized these stories have such bad elements when I was young..but these books were glorifying cheating just because the other party is supposedly a ‘bad’ person (eg. Puss in Boots cheated & killed the ‘evil’ ogre so that his master can stay in the castle so to impress the princess OR how Jack stole the Giant’s riches slowly before he killed them then live happily ever after?) . Then there’s this the Little Match Girl which is just too depressing or Snow White & the 7 dwarfs which I feel is too ‘evil’ for a 2 year old.

Then about 6 months ago – I found this book. Relm absolutely love it mainly because of the illustrations but also how the author relate his story to a rhyme which makes me a fan too. It is a positive book about a man despite only having just 1 boot (meaning pretty poor) he is a very happy man as he is rich in love, hobbies & friends (he had owls, parakeets, dinosaurs as pets, sisters, his love for juggling & many little friends) . And one day – someone (anonymous) sent him 1 boot as a present – which of course he has his whole gang of friends, pets & family celebrating with him. For me, I enjoyed the author’s writing (even though very short) & despite reading it for more than 100 times, I do not dread the reading it to Relm every night like I do with nursery rhymes (which is another story).

Mister Magnolia – Quentin Blake

Relm happily posing with her fave book

I recently read from the imagination soup  introducing the Here’s a Little Poem with some example like One poem, by Berlie Doherty, called “Grandpa” reads,

Grandpa’s hands are as rough as

Garden sacks

And as warm as pockets.

His skin is crushed paper round

His eyes

Wrapping up their secrets.


Well.. I think I will enjoy this book too except that I can’t find it in local stores.. I want to buy those pre-loved ones but they are all only available in the US. So.. my next book hunt will be this!