Daddee Yah!

A working Daddee learning to cope in a big big world

Yesterday was (also) Caitlin’s school’s parent-teacher meeting.

Chief among the things that Teacher Rachel told me was that Caitlin is among the popular kids in her only-15-student class.

It’s not surprising really. Caitlin makes friends very easily. She approaches humans her height, greets them with her smile/grin, engages them in what they may be up to. She does also almost follow them around, which I have seen kinda freaks the new-stranger kids out. But as with kids her age (at least last year anyway), they talk to each other and go from there (becoming friends). One time we were out and she was already galavanting with these stranger-kids, and when I told her that we had to leave, she shouted “BYE FRIEND!” Obviously didn’t know their names!

Teacher Rachel, whom have had Caitlin in her class since 2009, has kinda watched her grow. She’s also shared with me that Caitlin likes to have friends, likes to be around people, does not like to be alone.

Therefore it is no surprise that Caitlin likes going to school. Her report card from yesterday showed that she had only missed one day in the total of 96 days so far this year.

The downside, however (I won’t say is typical but not surprising to me) is that she cannot be shamed or be put on the spot.

Because she is (or has to be) popular, she finds it very difficult when she is reprimanded when she is at fault- either forgetting her homework, doing the wrong thing, etc. Teacher Rachel also said that Caitlin is (therefore?) somewhat competitive. There is a particular girl that Caitlin is quite friendly with, with whom lately I hear stories about how they are competing. Whatever the friend is doing or has achieved, Caitlin seems to need to be one better.

… Sounds like she has obviously inherited these traits from Hot Mummee! But jokes aside, looks like I have my guiding-work cut out: To guide her on the positive side of being popular and competitive, but coach her on the negative aspects of these, such as negative influence / peer pressure, what “healthy competition” means, etc…..

Caitlin knows her Mandarin counting from 1 – 10, audibly. As in, she can cite it. But give her a break, thus far it’s only in ascending order :)

She also knows her roman numbers already (or do I mean gregorian?? You know- the numbers on your keyboard); proved herself repeatedly in the lift and (since then) any other places now.

Come time to teach her the Chinese calligraphy of 1 – 10, we stumble.

She can point from 1 – 10 and cite them. Jump in randomly pointing at any calligraphy-number with “What’s this?” and she stumbles.

If they are written in ascending order, and if she knows that they are, she can sometimes get by.

How? She cheats.

It’s quite funny watching a 4 year old citing something in their head, and visually counting without fingers, matching the citing and jump/skipping eye-counting!

At least she thought of that herself!

Gotta love podcasts!

When I started this blog I was hunting for resources to educate myself on parenting and to also talk about it here- looks like I had my priorities wrong way around!

Anyway, in my search I had found a few podcasts that talk about parenting- these are only audio versions, of peads interviewing child development experts, answering medical related questions, etc. Then I stumbled upon storytelling audio podcasts too, which is something I don’t mind “learning” too to then tell the kids stories at bedtime. Eventually.

I then started looking into the video podcasts too, and found Dora, Sesame Street, and a few others. I started downloading the Sesame Street ones first, and showed them to Caitlin. She loved them!

Though these are only 5 minutes or so each episode, she has since learned that hitting the space bar starts the clip again at the end. This “trick” has freed me to go about my evening routine like shower, and; well, shower. I just leave her to watching – She doesn’t mind watching it over and again.

Hey that sounds like why the tv is called the idiot box…..

Like the tv series each episode has a theme. One could be about newspapers, another is tricycle; lately Caitlin likes to watch the “eat your colours” one repeatedly. I don’t mind these because she does learn something. Like with this episode, while she chants along with the tune of what food is what colour, she is learning that these are good foods to eat (green is for broccolli, red for carrot, etc). The latest episode is on insects. I watched it with her the first time wondering what they’d be talking about. I was reminded myself that the distinctive feature of insects is that they have 6 legs…..

But at the basic of these podcasts, she is learning good English; albeit that of American accent.

This is what I liked most- that she is actually picking up proper English through watching these. I say proper English because here people tend to not speak properly, since it isn’t the mother tongue of most.

So then my question is: Are there any similar Mandarin educational podcasts? I don’t even mind dubbed ones of Sesame Street. I think there may be a few dubbed versions of popular ones already- Thomas and Pocoyo. Kids shows, that is- ‘cos there are Mandarin podcasts but those are tailored for adults wishing to learn the language.

I subscribe to these via iTunes only, meaning there is likely other podcasts not covered in iTunes.

Friday morning we were getting ready for work and school respectively. Fridays are when Caitlin’s school has a wading session in their small pool. Since she’s always loved the pool it was always a welcomed day; that as well as an early-age adoption of the adult TGIF concept (she doesn’t seem to like school as much this year).

She’s still got some audible phlegm in her throat, though she isn’t coughing anymore, it’s still there. Apparently she had also promised Teacher Rachel a show-and-tell of her collection of fridge magnets from home. She told me of this on Thursday night when I was tucking her in.

That morning I made the mistake of reminding her that it’s swimming day. All psyched up, she had been carrying her plastic bag of swim gear all morning wherever she was whilst getting ready. HM reminded me of her still-present phlegm, that we should wait for another week before she is allowed back in the pool (the last time I forgot, her cough came back in full force after a swim with Daddee; and we know how easily she pukes when she gets into a coughing fit).

I told her “no, can’t go swimming; wait for another week”. She wouldn’t have it. Repeated Elmer Fudd vs Bugs Bunny of yes no yes no only aggravated the respective individual emotions of our positions. Of course being the Daddee I managed to almost wrestle the bag off her. Okay I did it as gently as I could.

We were already in the car, basement of our building. Every morning we’d be lugging not just our respective bags; there is also Caleb’s gear for the day, some washing to be done, and Caleb himself aided by our helper. Settled in, buckling our seatbelts, feeling pretty shitty about the whole ordeal already, and she says, between the teary jerks of breaths, “DADDEE WE FORGOT THE MAGNETS!!”

There were really 3 options to handle this: (1) Go upstairs alone. That would be the quickest. But that also means leaving them alone in the car in the basement- toddler, 14 month old, a foreigner; (2) All go up together. Safest option. But taking the longest, making us late for school and work. (3) Fuggedaboutit.

I declared option (3). Caitlin goes into a wailing fit. Feet kicking, top of voice crying protesting she wants to go back upstairs to get the magnets, why wasn’t I listening to her.

I respect that she wants to honour her promise to Teacher Rachel. She was even looking forward to this- I could tell. But either (1) or (2) would mean we’d both be late. I even twisted the argument back at her; not a very nice thing to practise on a toddler I admit; that she didn’t listen to me either that morning when we said no to swimming, that she didn’t listen to us.

I felt bad about her not able to indulge in a simple swimming activity. It didn’t rain that day and the swim session did go ahead. She would, like before, have to remain in class hearing all the cheers and splashes downstairs.

But I felt worse that I couldn’t let her carry out her simple request of going back upstairs to get the magnets. This wasn’t something bad at all. For the longest time I had been instilling in her to honour her word/promise, and this was one example- that she wanted to show the magnets as promised. I was consoling / coaching her to say to Teacher Rachel that she is sorry she forgot to bring the magnets, but that she would be late if she/we turned around to go get them, that she didn’t want to be late, and that she would bring them on Monday instead.

In some ways I was also just lazy.

But what would you have done?

With a lack of toys and an abundance of imagination, Caitlin has had to improvise and make pretend toys to spend (some of) her days. Yes I am a pathetic parent letting my kid endure this.

Her “skills” in improvising seems to have extended into her homework.

See, they are teaching her “long” vowels, like school, food, or, feel, reel, and using a different coloured pencil for these vowels.

You guessed it. In her homework she had decided to first write the letters of the same pencil, and then literally fill in the blanks with the coloured pencil for the vowels.

I guess it gets the job done, I just hope that she will still end up learning the actual word and not finding more efficient ways to complete her writing!

No, I didn’t tell Hot Mummee about this… She may well get Caitlin to redo the whole thing!

I started this post earlier, then other things got in the way, such as bring-home-work and kids-needing-Daddee stuff, and Daddee needing sleep stuff so that Daddee can bring more bring-home-work for Hot Mummee to complain about!

So how was your weekend?

Mine was fairly interesting.

Saturday morning was when Caitlin’s school scheduled the year’s first parent teacher meeting; the weekend before the week-long school holiday. After that there was a lunch appointment organised by my dad for my 3 nieces; which my eldest brother didn’t attend. Then, it was all the way to the KL International Airport to send off these kids- I shouldn’t call them that anymore; but which the same brother couldn’t “avoid”, nor be devoid of emotion either (the reason why he skipped lunch).

If you had been “following” since this year, you’d know the story behind why Caitlin jumped Pre-2 and went straight from Pre-1 to Pre-3 pre-school, and to a whole new language medium for her too. At that time we knew that the first parent-teacher meeting would also be time for evaluating this decision and Caitlin’s progress.

Throughout the last couple of months you’d also know that Caitlin had some problem with school. That seemed to be a cause-effect of unfamiliar with a particular teacher’s methods thus lagging behind in her schoolwork, leading to a general but persistent “I don’t wanna go to school” worry for us- this is her second year in school and the whole of last year there were absolutely no problems, right from day 1.

So Hot Mummee and I went to the meeting; being somewhat familiar with the whole event already after last year. Last year it was generally discussions surrounding her motor skills of writing and colouring, not knowing her ABC’s well enough, and generally a stickybeek in class! ie nothing major. This time though, after having seen Caitlin teary about going to school given her almost perfect record last year, we were somewhat weary that perhaps the teachers would have more-than-negative things about the last only 2+ months.

Caitlin has been able to keep up with the older kids and syllabus

We met with the 2 teachers, as usual- last year too we met with the class teacher, and the additional Mandarin-class teacher. This time, since she is actually in a Mandarin medium class, there was no extra class. The teachers were/are the class teacher (who teaches everything in Mandarin) and the Bahasa Malaysia & English teacher.

They both shared the same sentiment, with the latter having only that to share and that Caitlin’s writing needs more practice in that her letters are not uniform in sizes.

I don’t fault her for that, after all she’s only been doing her last-year’s homework in box-lined paper, not horizontal-lined (notes) paper. This is the first time she’s had to write between the lines.

The class teacher, Teacher Rachel however, being the one with the most contact hours with the children and thus closer, had more to share.

She assured us that Caitlin’s slow start to the year has passed now- that she is coping just as well as the others who are up to 2 years older (remember this being Pre-3 when Caitlin ought to be in Pre-2, and that she is a November child).

Caitlin is also the stickybeek that she was, and she is well received by her new-this-year peers, and Caitlin is therefore comfortable, now.

I have to hand it to teachers like Teacher Rachel. These are the rare teachers who genuinely care for their students. In our meeting she was advising how we ought to spend more time with our kids; that Caitlin only mentions me and little of HM. She knows that these are days of double-income households but we should prioritise our time for our kids. She cited Caitlin’s classmate as an example of neglect. The child is somewhat defiant and rude, and not all that close to the parents.

Teacher Rachel also shared how Caitlin’s general development is going. My takeaway from this meeting was largely that Caitlin has adjusted well largely due to Teacher Rachel’s efforts. Caitlin’s peers are aware that she is younger than them. Teacher Rachel has addressed this very well with the class, making them understand that she is in fact younger and sometimes requires a little more attention. Attention in a little less homework, but that HM and I quite quickly suggested otherwise- Caitlin can handle it. Caitlin’s peers have also jointly praised her new jacket (of grey with bright coloured polka dots) with Teacher Rachel (spurred on by her?) making Caitlin very happy showing up in class these days.

This is confirmed when I ask Caitlin if her friends are nice, in trying to ascertain her reasons for “I don’t wanna go to school”. It’s never been about her friends.

The highlight for me was when Teacher Rachel shared her surprise at Caitlin’s maturity just a few days before the meeting:

Caitlin was aware that I had signed the form indicating that we’d be attending this meeting that weekend. At school, she handed the form to Teacher Rachel.

Later, she went up to Teacher Rachel on the pretense of showing her her new pencil case.

“Nice or not?”


Inches towards Teacher Rachel, elbow to elbow now.

“What are you going to tell my Mummee ah?”


So anyway, that’s why I was kinda rushing the bring-home-work in order to still catch some school-holidays with Caitlin before the week is out…

Oh I will have to come back about the other events of the weekend another time!

I would say that in planning for this event, my niece has had her first taste in project (event?) managing and executing a pretty major event, even if it’s only a family affair.

And being the cheeky uncle that I am, during times of emailing and IM-ing with her I pressured her highlighting things like “Are we on schedule?”, “You do realise that it’s now only seven days till the event”, when we (she) still hadn’t settled on which doorgifts would be best for the occassion / guests, let alone allowing time for the suppliers to come back with a quote and also getting them made!


She’s been frantically visiting the venue, executing the questions we had about where and how the tables will be arranged, sorting the seating by guests, getting her team (of cousins) to memorise the tables to help ushering, where to position the tv / screen (we have a slideshow of photos of last 50+ years), compiling the photos, “do they have wireless mics”, “this doorgift is better than that”, and getting her surprise gift completed, etc.

Yes, she’s done a surprise gift too.

At this juncture, from my own observations I’d say she has experienced at least some of these emotions!

  • Some small forms of accomplishment (getting things in order for the event)
  • Asking for favours
  • Asking authorities (her older relatives) to stick to deadlines!
  • Gratitude
  • Controlling some (anxiety-related) emotions
  • Pressured!
  • Can’t please everyone!
  • Panic!

Pretty good training just before heading off to uni!

Will let you know how the event goes!


Photos courtesy of my brother’s Flickr collection