Daddee Yah!

A working Daddee learning to cope in a big big world

Being the youngest I grew up with books and some comics already in the house (as well as contemporary music like The Carpenters, some Beatles, Glen Campbell, John Denver… Oh my I’m scaring myself while I list this)

One of the comics that sticks in my head is Peanuts: Charlie Brown & Snoopy, Linus & his security blanket, characters whose heads are way too big for their bodies.

I guess it’s not just the Peanuts specifically- I think in all comics & cartoons that, whenever a character is concentrating on a task, be it while writing, drawing, cutting, etc, that the character is drawn with his/her tongue out, as if in the midst of licking the upper lip. It seems like a universally accepted comic-body-language.

I have always wondered about this, even consciously stuck my tongue out hoping that my homework, drawing, whatever, would turn out nicer or better than usual. It didn’t work.

Then, I saw this only last night.

If you stick your tongue out, your work isn’t necessarily going to be good. But if you concentrate on the task at hand, the tongue comes out.

Try it.

Sorry for the quality of these photos. They are actually still frames from a video that I took of Caitlin’s tongue action with my iPhone- I freeze-framed these shots and screen captured them.

No I haven’t played them back to her yet. Hot Mummee just suggested that I do, and highlight this to her before she gets older and where kids are mean!

Caitlin’s classmate Chloe had her birthday party at Centrepoint’s McDonald’s over the weekend.

I had organized Caitlin’s 4 year old birthday party before, and one of my criteria was that all the kids should enjoy the party or event. I did consider McD’s then, but didn’t think it was going to be all that fun, as I thought it was just all sit-down and eat, with party packs and hats to take-away, and maybe the chance for them to go crazy at the indoor playground.

I was wrong.

The party invitation, a McD stationary no less, stated that Chloe’s party is from 12-1:30. We only arrived around 12:10, cos since it was a Sunday lunch time all the good shaded parking spots were taken. Darn it I had to park in the sun, illegally no less. Went in, saw the sign that said “Chloe’s party” pointing upstairs. Went upstairs and some of the kids were already at their designated-just-for-kiddies long table munching away at their fries. An older kid came to greet us, and asked what Caitlin’s name was. “Hey, that’s my name too!” quipped the probably-10-years-old girl, and proceeded to write the name on Caitlin’s McD cap.

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Caitlin then was led to the table to an empty seat. Rather apprehensive at first, as she is when attending any event, she soon got comfortable with her friends and found her fries and the McD toy in her mealbox, with her hat on – which is still at home today :)

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Okay, so now what do I do? The playground doesn’t look like it will hold my weight….. I thought.

There were other parents there. I noticed some of them were talking to a McD staff. Others seemed to already know one another. Relatives, is what I thought. Do parents of school kids get involved with each other??

I didn’t know anyone, so I sat myself down to watch the kids for a while. Wait a sec, what about me- the kids are eating, and I am starting to get hungr..

“What would you like to eat sir?” said the same McD staff from before.

Isn’t this a fast-food self-order restaurant? “Err….” I was just thinking about going downstai…

“Would you like to try the Spicy Chicken McDeluxe?”

“Okay”. Can’t say I have heard of that menu-item before; Qtr Pounder and McChicken- yeah. This one must be new…?

Soon the staff came back with a tray full of the red boxes, closely followed by another with a tray full of fries and drinks. I warfed mine down, and so did the other parents; partly cos I was getting hungry, but mainly cos this is some tasty chicken burger with some spicy zing to it! ;) It wasn’t bad, just like the McChicken that I always get, but with that extra kick, and it also seemed crunchier. I never liked adding sauce to most things I eat (not even on fries) so the spiciness of this burger is just what I liked, without the sugar of sauces.

“Cabbage-between-the-teeth for seconds anyone?”

I soon realised that Chloe’s mum was taking care of even the adults’ meals as well, so after I kinda picked my teeth to make myself presentable (cabbage-between-the-teeth for seconds anyone?) I went over to thank her for it. Made some small talk. By this time the kids were being rounded up for some games and activities already.

I realized then that my impressions of a McD’s birthday party was all wrong. The kids didn’t just sit around wearing their hats, munching on fries and going home with party packs (which btw contained a colouring book, colour pencils, and stickers of “My name is…”). There were 2 staff there actually getting the kids to play pass the ball, musical chairs and even the quintessential happy birthday song, complete with a big chair fit for the princess for the day!

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In all this time, I was trying to capture as much as I can photos of my darling girl, who is growing up so quickly … and then, not suddenly but slowly …. something still didn’t feel right in my stomach.

Hmmm…

I looked around the upstairs a little bit. Should I leave Caitlin “unattended” while I step away for a while? Will she freak out if she can’t find me? Or will she even notice that I wasn’t around?

I took the chance. Headed straight downstairs hoping that it was gonna be a quick one, and found that there was a queue! Yikes, I gotta wait!

Tick tock tick tock….

Soon, it was my turn, and I conducted the “transaction” as fast as I could, and quickly went back upstairs, happy with myself with what I needed to do, and also that Caitlin didn’t even notice I was gone, being so engrossed with the games that the staff were putting on.

Sat myself down again, and enjoyed ANOTHER SPICY CHICKEN McDELUXE McVALUE MEAL!

mcd_burp

Heh heh! Now I was happy.

We left only at 2pm, even though most of the kids were still loitering. The real reason we had to leave was because, as stated in the invitation, the party was only supposed to be until 1:30pm, because at 2pm another one was starting!

Thank goodness I still managed to get the the second McValue meal- it’s actually catered for the lunch period, 12-3pm; but luckily it’s on everyday! Guess where I’d be having a value-lunch mostly these days, now that they also have a new menu-item (at least for me) that’s to my taste? RM5.95 only, no less?

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I did, twice in a day!

I didn’t think it would escalate to this point.

I thought I had addressed it with her properly; case closed.

But alas.

Yesterday was the first day back in school after the Chinese New Year week-long break. When Grandpa went to pick her up, apparently he was told by Teacher Rachel something about Caitlin crying earlier.

This morning about halfway during the journey to school, Caitlin started protesting that she didn’t want to go to school. Ever. After realising that the protests was not going anywhere, she “suggested” that she didn’t want to go to school “only today”.

We arrive at the school, and she is starting to get teary eyed. Okay; I am a sook. She is the apple of my eye. I admit for a brief moment the thought of giving in flashed through my mind.

We sat in the car for a few minutes. Me twisting in the front seat straining my bloated mid-section from all the CNY feasts, to rationalise with her in the backseat.

She said something about disliking the teachers walking in and out. Gotta admit I didn’t quite get what she was saying.

She only relented when I promised I’d have a word with Teacher Rachel upstairs.

Up we went, and since we were a little late, Teacher was already starting her lessson. The other kids were already seated. I gestured Caitlin to enter, and motioned for Teacher to come over for a quick chat. Caitlin was of course still very hesitant.

I said in Mandarin that Caitlin had started to “fear” coming to school. Teacher shared that, perhaps from yesterday or the days before the week off, that Caitlin finds comfort in having her (Teacher Rachel) around when Teacher Ann comes in, and when she is teaching. Yes, Teacher Rachel was sitting at the back of the class. She even shared that Caitlin had come/run over to hug her when Teacher Ann came around / came in. She also did say that there were times when she had to go out of the classroom sometimes / visit the admin office etc. I think Caitlin starts getting edgy as soon as she steps out of the classroom.

Teacher Rachel reassured that she’d be present in the classes, for Caitlin’s sake.

I wanted to then leave. Caitlin starts crying, not wanting to let me leave. It was quite hard detaching her off me without really creating a scene; which would only make matters / emotionally worse for her.

It was quite heart wrenching- I know now what parents really feel on first days of school. This, coming from Caitlin who has been going to school all last year without an incident.

Two things I learned.

  • Caitlin doesn’t really communicate well at times.
  • She doesn’t handle stress very well.

More to come.


Update Thursday 5 Feb

That was yesterday. Caitlin was again distressed this morning.

The “incident” wasn’t as long though, mainly because, well, I didn’t hang around.

We reached the door and Teacher Rachel came out, seemingly already had something in mind to tell me. What she managed to tell me was that Caitlin is (also?) unhappy with the amount of homework she is given; something about Caitlin saying “.. but I have already done this homework- why am I doing / writing this again…?”

Managed, because Caitlin started crying and wanting to hug me again at the door. Teacher Rachel then started ushering her into the class, and I wanted to get out of Caitlin’s sight. Waited for 20 seconds or so, decidedly not to wait anymore if Teacher Rachel was gonna come back out to complete her “analysis” of Caitlin’s frame of mind.

Last night I did ask Caitlin how her school day went, seeing as that was the same morning as the first incident / post. She did offer that school day was okay, no incidents.

She also offered something about “I was paying attention” (and thus I wasn’t scolded, or reprimanded, which seems to be the crux of her issue).

Apparently that may have been the issue- that she wasn’t paying (enough?) attention in class, getting told off for it. I am only guessing this.

That, and perhaps that she (therefore?) did not know how to answer something / do her homework, that she was “scolded” for it.

Maybe in future I will just walk her to the stairs, and refuse her request to walk her to the classroom door… What do you think?


Update 2 – after school today

Teacher Rachel called me out of courtesy. Very nice of her.

I guess she had wanted to finish what she started telling me this morning; possible adding new insights into the situation…

  • Indeed, Caitlin (also) thinks that she has too much homework; you will recall that our arrangement for Caitlin this year is that she will be getting extra attention;
  • That Teacher Ann does speak / scold loudly, and even though it may not be directed at Caitlin, she seems to take it “personally”;
  • That Daddee matters a lot in her life

“Our strategy” now is to re-gain or re-instill Caitlin’s confidence and interest in school, using that last point: Daddee has to show (greater) interest in her schoolwork, justifying the amount that she (complains) has to do, to kinda give praise (positive reinforcement) to her work done.

We will start this tomorrow morning.

It’s going to be interesting this Saturday, given she has replacement school-days because of the week-long Chinese New Year break. Interesting because I will be dropping her off in my non-work clothes, and she is going to complain she still has to go to school!

I am in kinda stressed frame of mind at the moment

I have mentioned before about Caitlin’s creative streak. When we are at home just chilling and the kids are watching the idiot box, Caitlin would actually “multitask” and do some handicraft, using the scrap A4 papers that HM and I bring home from the office.

She’d make her own pretend mobile phone, camera, toll card, baton (I think she means the wand that an orchestra conductor uses), just last weekend it was a walkie-talkie. She’d get me to play along sometimes using the corresponding walkie-talkie, be the toll plaza / booth, or she’d just draw something; lately it’s the not-so-surprising-for-her-age family “portrait” complete with Daddee having blue hair and as stick-figure skinny as he’d wished he was.

She has an interest in this art stuff, just like Daddee… okay she does acknowledge the joke about Daddee’s hair being blue, so it’s not really a talent gone awry.

Anytime that Playhouse Disney channel shows a 5-minute filler of anything remotely handicrafty or sketchy, she’d head straight for the pile of A4’s and try and repeat what she saw.

Fridge art

So, how do I cultivate this talent, or at least, this interest in her? Our working hours are such that we really only get to see and spend time with her from dinner onwards, and before long it’d be her bedtime already.Otherwise it’s reading with her, either her story picture books or her school books for revision. On weekends, we try and treat the kids by simply visiting my folks, the mall, the pool if Caitlin isn’t still having the sniffles / cough.

Art classes at the shops in the malls and the works that the kids bring home do look impressive, but it’s all assisted and guided in that (I believe) the kids are told what to do. Caitlin does these things all from her own imaginative play. And I don’t want to stifle this flow of imagination and crafts.

But, as Moomykin had suggested in the last blog post, maybe it’s time (dare I say or suggest to the OCD-ed HM??) for Caitlin to start with water colour next??

Here she is making gameboard pieces. She had already cut them up (yes, with grown-up scissors; been at it since last year I think) and here she is decorating them.

Making her own gameboard pieces

Making her own gameboard pieces

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!

School kids nationwide are on holidays from this weekend on.

Caitlin has some holiday homework to do for the week off school, from (as far as I can see- gotta check her bag/books) 3 subjects of English, Malay and Chinese. Each of them have a date on the homework pages for respective dates of the week- yes, the teachers are pacing the kids so that they have homework each of the holidays.

Hot Mummee and I are of the opinion that Caitlin, whilst it’s a lazy-ish Saturday afternoon, that she can do as much of them as she can, even to have them all completed. Caitlin on the other hand, quite vehemently objects, saying that she should follow the pace that the teachers have set, to listen to what the teachers have told the class.

HM herself thinks that Caitlin is just being lazy, whereas I was seated beside her surfing whilst she was quite happily completing the homework that was set for the first few days- so I know she isn’t lazy per se.

What would you do? I kinda respect Caitlin’s respect for what the teachers have said, despite also somewhat agreeing with HM’s rationale to complete her homework early in the holidays.

Holiday homework