The daddy dance

Dear daddy,

I watched as you whirled with Vera tonight,

in a gentle and precious dance.

She had wanted to dance

and you were the obvious partner.

Round and round the room you went,

lost in the rhythm

of joy and delight.

Vera too, moving in sync.

Some comical moments,

but I felt your heartbeat for her there and then,

the depth and breath of your love

like the waves of your hands.

I felt a warm glow of pride,

seeing you so close to her side.

Her face, lit with glee

as she leapt and jiggled and turned.

With your hands, you guide her

Swirl, twirl and glide her.

With your eyes, you delight in her,

and she thrives in your embrace.

We may never know

the significant of this little impromptu dance,

but the memories that you create

with every word of affection,

act of attention,

will dance forever

in her growing heart.

 

This poem is dedicated to all daddies this Father’s Day. You have a special place in your children’s lives.
May you always take time to dance, delight and sprinkle love all over your children.
Happy Father’s Day!

Vera’s quotables

If you know Vera, or you’ve been following us for a while, you’d already know she’s full of funny and that she says some of the most hilarious things. I’ll let her words humour you…

One day we were playing this silly childhood game called 老鹰捉小鸡 (literally, eagle catches the chicks). There’s a role in the game called 母鸡, or mother hen, and she’s supposed to protect the “chicks” from the “eagle” by sheltering them from its reach.

Halfway through the game when I was the *ahem* mother hen, Vera blurted out these words exuberantly.

“我要做老鸡!”

We almost died laughing.

(For non-Chinese readers, she basically said she wanted to be an old chicken instead of mother hen. And yes, there IS a difference.)

~~~~~

One balmy evening, after daddy turned on the air-con…

Vera: “Hey, why on air-con every day huh? Waste battery you know!”

(Duracell-powered aircon, anyone?)

~~~~~

Another time, we were huddling together to pray for her brother to recover quickly from his HFMD. We asked Vera to pray. This was what she said:

“Dear God,
Please take away JJ’s hand foot mouth dessert.
Amen.”

I think if her brother knows that his dear sister prayed for God to take away his dessert, he would probably cry.

~~~~~

Children are the best stress-relievers sometimes…I choose to think that she inherited her rocking funny genes from her dad (which was partially why I actually fell for him and got hitched).

This weekend, may all the funnies drive away whatever tensions you may have, and may you find lots to laugh about with your spouse, your children, your friends, or even God (I think He has a good sense of humour too). Have a happy weekend!

What do you find most fulfilling about parenthood?

I asked this question “What do you find most fulfilling about parenthood?” online and offline one day, and received some insightful responses:

  • Seeing the kids grow healthily and happily.
  • When he giggles and smiles, when he responds to me and learns new words from me, when he moves with the worship music playing at the background, when I see him sleep peacefully.
  • I love the sense of bonding, being able to pour myself out for someone, and see my baby respond to me with smiles when contented. Even to see her count on me and call “mama” when she needs me, is comforting because it means she knows she can depend on me.

There’s nothing quite like parenthood that catapults you into another dimension. It changes everything, your perspective, the way you eat, change, and brush your teeth, the way you walk, talk, think…EVERYTHING. CHANGES.

Especially the way we see things.

It’s like we have a new pair of eyes. Suddenly, things around us become potential threats and dangers, people become potential helpers and baby-sitters, plans and decisions are now made with our children’s needs in mind.

New milestones are counted, and joy is found at every corner. When JJ learns a new trick or a new word. When Vera is able to control her emotions or give up her toys for her brother’s sake. All these are met with a certain sense of motherly satisfaction. Like giving myself a mental pat on the back.

Yet as the comments below show, it’s not just the healthy growth and development of our children that brings us fulfillment and joy. It’s also the change that we see in ourselves.

  • Experiencing an incredible ability to love unconditionally.
  • It’s fulfilling to see myself grow in patience and sacrificial love and know that I can live a life bigger than just meeting my own needs.

Bringing up a child is arguably the most formidable task of the 21st century. Bringing up a person-to-be, a future leader, someone’s future wife / husband. It is HUGE. It also comes with many challenges. Tantrums, manipulative tears, fighting (among siblings). There are days when everything goes wrong, when it’s your turn to cry and scream, and feel guilty afterwards.

Going through such trying moments necessarily entails some growing up on our part too. In the midst of learning to love even when we don’t feel like it, we are changed in the process. I’m now in my fourth year of parenthood, and I’ve only just realised this. Birthing a child doesn’t make us parents in the fullest sense. Bringing up a child does.

I am humbled, and a little scared, that I have been tasked with such a task. Knowing that I am the greatest influence on these little people, and probably their greatest role model too. Good habits and bad ones get learnt without me even noticing. (Never before have I been so conscious of my everyday language. Partly because the hubs gives me THE LOOK whenever I say something vaguely crass.)

Yet this giant task continues to grow. The responsibilities increase with each new developmental milestone, and the challenges too get newer and trickier.

As I look back, I see the bumpy road that we’ve been wandering on, I see the falls and bruises, the long way we’ve come. Like a baby, I learn the ropes of parenting. Like a toddler, I fall countless times. And like a child learning to persevere, I pick myself up and wobble along.

To answer the question, what I find most fulfilling about parenthood…is the growth that I see in myself and my children. Sure, mistakes will still be made, lessons learnt and re-learnt, and tears shed, but there’ll also be celebrations, success stories, and tales of grace and forgiveness. We feel the pain and sadness going through the difficult moments, but when we look back, I’m sure we’ll find that we have grown stronger, more loving and more forgiving, and ultimately a better person.

What a privilege it is to be a mum.

What do you find most fulfilling about parenthood?

Love stories

When was the last time you shared with someone your love story?

I was recently asked that question by World Moms Blog and as I typed out a short paragraph of our love story, I just couldn’t help smiling.

We met in Melbourne one winter. I was studying and working part-time. I was closing up the cafe when he showed up with his friends. I made him a cup of latte and served them some food while they waited for me to close so they could send me home.

Home was a rented apartment in the middle of the city, near chinatown. (Cosy, convenient, but not cheap.)

While we chatted over tea, he seemed very interested in the things that I was doing. From there on, I kinda knew…Before he left, he gave me a teddy bear attached to a single stalk of long-stemmed rose, along with a little note that said “I would like to get to know you more.”

After he left, we continued our conversation online and a few months later, I purchased for myself a one-way ticket back to Singapore.

People often ask me with large teasing eyes whether I had decided to come back for him. Well, if he’s in the room, I would usually deny it. But if he’s not in the room, then I might say it’s partially because.

*ahem*

Anyway, Melbourne will always have a special place in our hearts.

To celebrate the theme of love this month, I would like to invite you to write a little note of your own love story (where you first met, what drew you to each other, what he/she said).

If you have a picture, perfect! If not, it’s the story and the moment and the emotions that count.

Remember this special moment and rejoice over the journey. I hope this exercise brings back fond memories, transports you back to that special place where you first fell in love, and encourages you to grow your relationship even stronger.

Please share…that we may also smile along with you.

mamawearpapashirt
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.mamawearpapashirt.com/category/writings/stories/" title="mamawearpapashirt" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.mamawearpapashirt.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/love_Button_2.jpg" alt="mamawearpapashirt" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

how to share your love story

  • Whether you wrote your story a long time ago or are writing a new post today, simply copy the URL to your post and follow the directions in the linky below.
  • Feel free to grab the “love stories” button above and use it in your post.
  • Do visit at least 2-3 other posts in the linky and leave them a comment. That’s it!

How to run your own race – with Daniel Wong, author of The Happy Student

Modern day parenting is a bit of a pressure cooker. Which is why this quote struck me as I read Daniel Wong’s The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success:

…the race isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about what you’re learning and who you’re becoming along the way.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting up with Daniel, and he shared some thoughts on how parents can help their children find their own paths to success.

~~~

What’s the most common question that parents ask you?

Parents often ask me, “How does this apply to me if I’m not a straight-A student?”

My reply to them is, sometimes as a student, you think you will be happy when you achieve all these things. But you need to define what success means to you, and at the end of the day, I always encourage students to run their own race. There’s only one person in this race; you’re not trying to beat others to the top of the ladder. It’s all about being better than who you were yesterday.

Do parents tell you that your school of thought is a bit idealistic? I mean, no parents would want their kids to struggle…

Parents think they want what is best for their child, but actually they want what is good – and the “good one” is where there’s not so much struggling, but the “best one” is the one that involves hardship and challenges. Through dealing with the challenges, your child will grow stronger and be a person of greater character. (Now I’m not saying that parents should intentionally put their kids through difficulty.)

I believe that idealism is the foundation of greatness. When you start off with a foundation of idealism and then ask yourself how you can practically achieve those ideals…that’s the way to achieve greatness. If you start off by asking yourself only the pragmatic things, then that’s the way to mediocrity. I believe that applies to parenting as well.

 

How do you view competition? Is it possible to be totally not competitive?

It’s very difficult to get completely out of the competition mindset. But it’s something worth reminding yourself to do. When you’re caught up with competition, you’re in a mode of survival, you take an inward-looking view, and you’re asking ‘How am I doing?’ versus ‘How am I adding value to other people’s lives?’

In this day and age where so much information can be found online, it’s much less about having a spirit of competition, and much more about having a spirit of curiosity. And those who are genuinely curious are the ones who can really make a difference.

 

But some competition can also be healthy right? 

Yes, but I think the emphasis should not be about winning, it should be about finishing well. As a parent, you should be asking how this experience is moulding your child. (For example, is he developing perseverance, discipline, and other desirable character traits.)

I’ve also seen parents reward results more than effort, which is something I discourage. Because you want to encourage behaviour much more than results. There was one study where kids were given different puzzles to solve. For some of them, they encouraged the results, and the others, they encouraged the behaviour. They found that those children who were encouraged for behaviour were much more willing to try more difficult puzzles.

How did you find the strength to run your own race?

My parents have always encouraged me to run my own race. But I felt the pressure from peers and from the school system itself. (Though I’m not blaming the system because we all need to take full responsibility for our own choices.)

I had a difficult time in secondary school. I was a short and skinny kid, and was bullied a lot. They locked me in the classroom once, and hid my schoolbag at another time. So, even though I was acing every exam, I felt like I was failing life.

That brought me to a place where I needed to turn to God. Before that, the whole God thing was like having faith in faith. It’s like oh, it’s nice to know my sins are forgiven and that I’ll go to heaven when I die, but I wasn’t really putting all of my trust in God. When I came to this point, things started to miraculously change. And today, even the people who bullied me are some of my most trustworthy friends.

When I went to the army, I did a lot of reading and thinking, and it helped me to clarify my thoughts and develop a long-term vision about what I wanted my life to count for.

 

You mentioned about the importance of adding value to other people’s lives. How does this resonate with a generation of youths where everyone is asking “what’s in it for me?”

We need to have a mindset shift. If you want to be great, it sounds ironic, but you have to focus on other people. If you keep looking inward, you will never be able to make the decisions that will enable you to be great. And that’s not the end goal. When you get out of that mode, it’s much easier to make decisions that are truly great, rather than a good one.

Jim Collins, a business philosopher once said, “The enemy of good is not bad. The enemy of great is good.” So you need to choose a path of intentional abandonment of all things good, in pursuit of only the best. You need to say no to all the good things, and yes to only the best things.

Let me illustrate with a story. A family is walking along the beach, and the son is picking seashells along the way. (These are not really seashells, more like seashell fragments.) All of a sudden, they spot something bright orange in the sea, not far from the shore. And when the boy goes closer to have a look, he exclaims, “Mom! Dad! It’s a starfish!”

“Go pick it up, son!” urges his parents.

He walks closer to the starfish. Then he turns around and runs back to his parents.

They are puzzled, and keep urging him to pick up the starfish.

Once more, he runs towards the starfish. This time, he is so close he can just reach out and pick it up.

“Pick it up, son! Pick it up!” Mom and Dad shout.

The son looks close to tears. He stands there for awhile, then looks at his hands and says, “But my hands are full of seashells.”

So the point is you need to always have room for the best things in life, and not be holding on to all the good things.

We need to have a clear sense of direction and purpose in order to ‘choose only the best’. But how exactly can we get there? 

Here’s one of my all-time favorite quotes:

Many succeed momentarily by what they know;

Some succeed temporarily by what they do;

Few succeed permanently by what they are.

I think permanent, enduring success is much more about character than it is about competence. Performance, results, achievements, awards — all these are fleeting. But character remains.

Plus, if you’re a person of character, you’re also more likely to have the attitude and work ethic it takes to be an achiever. Achievements should always be a by-product of who you are. If you focus on the achievements while forgetting about character, it will be an empty kind of success that you attain.

Back to the question, you need to  have a specific idea of who you want to become. Only then can you ‘choose only the best’.

I encourage people to write down a list of 10 kinds of behaviour or character traits they want to acquire or pick up. This list is aspirational — it’s about the person you want to become.

Some items on the list could be “I am a person of integrity and purity” or “I am a person of fiery passion”.

Once you have this list, it becomes easier to set goals and make decisions, because all you have to do is ask yourself if those decisions are in line with who you want to become. If they aren’t, then they might be ‘good’ decisions that simply aren’t worth your time!

Choices are the foundation of our destiny, so let’s choose wisely. Choices result in consequences, but it’s not just the consequences that we should be concerned about. Our choices mould our character, and character is something we should never compromise on.

~~~

Thanks, Daniel, for sharing your insights with us!

Now we have the pleasure of giving away one autographed copy of The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success to one lucky reader.

The Happy StudentIn The Happy Student, Daniel shows you how to:

  • Enjoy a new sense of purpose in your academics
  • Keep your motivation levels high using practical strategies
  • Conquer your fear of failure
  • Set meaningful goals and achieve them
  • Increase your self-confidence
  • Deal with the expectations of parents and teachers
  • Fall in love with learning again

To participate:

1) Leave a comment on this post, telling us what you hope to learn from reading the book

2) For an extra chance to win, share this article on Facebook / Twitter (Then leave an additional comment saying ‘shared’ so that I know.)

This giveaway closes on Sunday night, 11.59pm. A winner will be picked randomly and notified via email. All the best!

About Daniel Wong: Daniel is a project engineer, a speaker and the author of The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success. He is passionate about personal growth, and he is interested in anything related to maximizing your education, career and life. He blogs at www.daniel-wong.com

 

~~~~~ UPDATED: GIVEAWAY CLOSED ~~~~~

And the winner of the giveaway is…PR, who left a comment saying that she hopes her children will be ‘happy students’ at every stage of their lives.

Congrats, PR, I truly hope that this book as well as other resources that you may have, will help you and your children achieve that goal. (I will be in touch with you via email shortly.)

Thanks for participating in this giveaway. I hope this has been a meaningful experience for you too.

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