Rubber Duck and My Son 

Around 15 years ago, at Child Psychopathology class, my favorite lecturer shared her own experience of handling separation anxiety symptoms showed by her son. Back then she had to leave her two-year old son to pursue her study at the Netherlands. When she returned, her son started to show specific behavior, in which he would touch my lecturer and whisper to himself: Mommy is here. Then he would walk toward the door, just to return and do it all again for several times. 

That story sticks with me throughout these years as I met numerous children at my professional life. And turns out, I have to face it now with my son. 

I just returned from a week long business trip. I was feeling abnormal to leave him at home for so long. I had no doubt that my parents and family will look after him very well, but at the same time, my guilty feeling strikes. The thought of ‘I should’ve stayed longer at home with him’ was never out of my head. 

Two days ago, I was spending time with him in re-arrange his toys and cleaning up the shelves. He reached out to his rubber ducks – with one mother duck and four ducklings. He was choosing the mother duck and said to himself: Mama. I was watching him closely. When he finally touch the mother duck to me and said: Mama again… I knew something was not right. I asked him, did you miss Mama so much when I was away? He nodded. Then he stood up and hug me. 

He is only twenty months old, but he certainly knows how to express his feeling. It is killing me as I know what is the message that he conveys to me. 

Last night, he insisted to bring his mother duck to bed. I was next to him and whispered to him that he doesn’t need the rubber duck, as I am there with him. 

I believe this is the challenge that every working mom can relate to. Therefore, it is very important to always remember what is our priority. I heard a lot of super moms who finally put down their careers for their children. Brave decision can only be taken by brave people. I hope I do remember my priority and act accordingly. 

Expectation and Heartache

It’s been a very long while since my last post! I just found out a few moments ago that my account was expired, due to technical issue on my automatic payment. All good now and I am in a good mood to write something here.

Expectation. We all have it. You just have to admit that you, me – all of us are expecting in many ways. We expect our spouses to be better, to treat us better. We expect our children to behave well, to achieve high. We also expect ourselves to be great, to be known. Is it wrong to have expectation? Is it right? Do you have the answer? Because I do not.

I met one lady a few days ago. I have heard stories about her – she is a single parent with two children, her husband left her for another woman (she was also the ‘another woman’ in his previous marriage), and she has no formal work to support her life. But when you look at her, you can get the glimpse of her being ‘her ideal self’. The way she walks, she talks, the way she describe those fancy restaurants, those beautiful places that she ever been. The reality is quite different in her perspective. She looks at it as if she is still living in her ideal world. She loves to talk about her dreams in the past – how she wanted to go and live abroad (The Netherlands was a popular destination for Indonesian during her school years) and yet, her mother was not allowing her to go. She loves to show the pictures of her being invited by her friends at fancy restaurants and have a dip on those expensive menus. Somehow, unconsciously, she rejects the second-class menus. She tends to compare everything with her version of ‘the best goods’ that she ever tried before.

thestoryteller2

While she is trying to keep her ideal world up in the water, her son sinks it. One day, he went home and sat with his mother – telling her that he has a daughter with a woman that he had a fling with. He was aware that he had a daughter, but decided not to do anything about it – until he lost everything in a fire, got fired and left with nothing. He then realized that he needed to do something regarding his responsibility as a father. While for him it is a way to complete his least responsibility, for his mother it is almost the end of the world.

This lady – now a grandmother – talked to me in teary eyes that her son is not  supposed to live his life that way. He used to be so free and individual, but now he has to share his life with his wife and daughter. For her, that’s not a fair life.

When I listened to her, I was almost scratching my head – and about to scream at her. How on earth you think that way? That little boy of yours is now a husband and a father. He has to take care of his family. He has to let go his free life and be in order now. But of course I did not do so. I felt pity toward her.

Her life is so full of expectation, and yet she gets none of them done. She never had that chance of living abroad. She could only taste the great menus when someone is kind enough to pay for her. She never had the moment of preparing her son’s wedding properly, and yet suddenly given with a granddaughter. She was looking for love, and she gets loneliness instead.

What do you expect from life?

Who’s to Blame?

I know one family of 3 children and their parents. Two of the children were born sick, they were unable to form the enzymes needed for digestion. Therefore, their parents had to buy special milk, which cost them three fold of normal baby milk. It was a struggle for them, but their parents never asked why.

When these two children grew up, they became very active. They fight in school, their academic achievement was always at the border of failed and they got into the wrong crowd. As teenagers, they got into more serious fights – and they ended up at police station a few times. They went home in a very bad shape, after being hit by some gang members. They involved in accident when driving a friend’s car and their parents had to pay for the service and fixing fee.

Now they are adults. They gambled now and then. They lost and repent – only to fall into the same pattern again. They borrow money from whoever want to give them the money – because they tend to forget how to count the interest. Some debt collectors come for them, and they hide behind their parents. They lost billion of their family savings and still, no regret, no repentance. Nothing.

The eldest of the children then think to himself. Why is it so different between me and my brothers? He asked his father since he was young, but he never got the answer. One day, when he was a teenager, his father admitted that he did that out of guilty feeling – that he wasn’t a good father and therefore those two boys were born in a bad shape. Unconsciously, his father pay his regret by covering and protecting his younger brothers.

When this eldest son became an adult, he asked his father if he could change his treatment toward his brothers – because he could see that the two won’t go anywhere if they don’t change their behaviors. His father replied, give me time to fix this and after a while, if your brothers still do the same, you can call me a failure.

—-

The story above represents our families, somehow. There’s no such thing as perfect parents, perfect children, nor perfect family. But we can always strive to be one. The end of the journey is the last day before we close our eyes for good. What have I done for my partner? What have I done for my parents? My children? My siblings? If I ever made mistakes, did I admit it and apologize for it? If I ever wreck their dreams, have I apologize and rebuild the dreams together with them?

Ability to accept and forgive others are necessity in this life. We can’t go on with anger and hatred in our heart. The same philosophy goes with ourselves as well. Have you forgive yourself? Have you accept your flaws and limitation? Because if you haven’t, you are hurting yourself. And those who close around you will get hurt as well.

Family life is very complicated. I heard a lot of people think and say that it is easier to live away from their families. Because at least, they don’t have to deal with such family issues. I come from a very complex family – both in size and dynamic. It shapes me to be a strong person. It shapes me to prevent a lot of things in the future. I have to admit at last, that those fights and arguments, those irrational actions and belief, those high-pitch voices – are the color of my life. I can become who I am today – because all of them.

What about you?

Let Children Exploring Their World

This beautiful scene was captured when I had dinner with a friend around Kuta, Bali. The girl who took the picture was very young, around 2-3 years old, I guess. At first, she didn’t know how to capture the photos or how to set the focus.

Slowly, her Daddy taught her on how to capture the photo. But first, he taught her to set the focus. After a few missing shots, she finally could made it! She was so persistent and was supported by her Daddy’s patience.

Parenting is a hard work to do, but it’s worth it. I’m glad I could took this photo.

Way to go, Parents!

Writing is my way to share it to you.

Saving Babies

“Saving Babies” is a show in Australia Network – and I’m watching it now, while writing this article. One thought that crosses my mind is how grateful it is for us to be able to live. Well, supposedly we feel grateful for our lives.

Unfortunately, we usually take our live for granted. We forget how to be thankful for our live. We forget how great it is to live day-by-day and enjoying the live that God has given to us.

It happens to me lately, where I started to loosen up myself – a bit at first, get bigger by the rolling day. I forget that live is not merely my own, it should be given back to the Creator – through ministry, helping others and reflect every lesson that I’ve got from my life experiences.

Back to the show, there are many babies who were born premature or having disabilities. Their parents are trying to hold on to a little spark of hope that they have. Their parents can see a glimpse of hope in the midst of their sorrow. And miraculously, this faith strengthen them to face the fact that they are having a child with special condition.

When the doctors are able to save their babies, they feel such a huge relief and being thankful for a second chance given to their babies. And from their expression, I can see one thing that I miss: being thankful for my life.

Whatever state you’re in now: at the peak of your happiness or at the bottom of your sorrow, remember that you will learn valuable lesson from that experience – that life is a gift for you. May you choose to live your life wisely, because everything in life is about choice …

Why not choosing to be thankful for your life?

Writing is my way to share it to you.

Lesson from The Rich

Two nights ago, I got a sudden invitation from Joe Kang, a good friend from Perth. He was in Surabaya for a day and invited me to have dinner with him and a few friends. At first, I thought it would be just a dinner. But then, I learned something very valuable from them.

The dinner was not just dinner or talk over food, but it was a small reunion among us: Joe Kang, Edwin Suryali, Yeo Kevin, Cynthia and myself. We were united by the same community called TOM (Turrist Orationist Ministry) back in Perth.

Previously, I had assumptions upon all of them: they were born into a filthy rich family and as soon as they finish school, they will have the company right away. Is that right?

The first assumption was right: that they were born into a rich family.

The second, was wrong!

Joe Kang shared a story about his first day of working at his father’s company. He was not introduced as the future generation of that company, instead, his father asked him to make coffee for the guests.

Edwin Suryali also had similar experiences. For the first 8 months of working at his mother’s company, he never get full salary, because he used to come late to work. So, his salary was deducted 30-60% every month, depend on how many days he came late at work.

Kevin Yeo is also facing the same experience. His mother will deduct 250,000 rupiah per day! if he can’t make it to the office at 830am.

While Cynthia, she is still at college, but she also shared a story about her father. They used to stay in Surabaya, but when the children (Cynthia and her siblings) started to go to Perth for higher education, her parents decided to move along. Her father used to own a factory and he was the Director. When he decided to move to Perth, he had to start everything all over again, from scratch. He’s working with Australian Post as a courier. One lesson is that her father was not afraid to start over again, no matter how old was he at that time.

I was amazed with the facts that I just learned about those rich kids! My assumption was wrong and I am reinforced to work harder than before.

I want to be rich! *fingers crossed*

Writing is my way to share it to you.

I Don’t Want to be a Mom, I’m Still P1

I have a private tutorial centre for International School students. Every day there are a few classes held by my assistants. Last week, on my short stay in Malang, I came to the classes and met with the students and my assistants. There was one girl called Alice. She’s one of P1 students at my place. When I entered the room, her teacher asked her to tell me a story that just happened at school. So, I asked her to tell me the story. She said, “Zachary (her classmate) said ‘I love you, because you are pretty’ “. We laughed when she told me that story.

Then, with my curiosity, I asked Alice what did she reply. At first she said nothing, but then she realized that she replied something to Zachary. She answered, ‘I don’t like you!’. We made into another chorus of laughter …

But, the biggest flow of laughter came when Alice told her teacher that, ‘I don’t want to be a mom, because I am still P1’.

For me, her honest answer came from a deep observation on her mom’s daily activity. Her mom always drives her around and knows everything on her school works, homework and her development at school, so Alice understands how hard is it to be a mom. She emphasized that she doesn’t have that capability to be a mom now, because she’s only a young child.

The way children nowadays analyze the situation represents a great growth of mental capacity. It comes from the nutrition given since their conception up until their development throughout their childhood years. Parents and school staffs also provide another kind of stimulation which differed from the old days stimulation. It also means that the older generation has to come up with a better way of parenting, stimulating and teaching their children.

Alice did a good job in analyzing her mom’s roles and she knows that it’s not yet her time.

Way to go, Parents!

Mommy is Stress Out During Exam Period

This is another real life story of a young mother, who is stressing out during her children examinations period. She has 2 children, son and daughter. Her son is the eldest and started his Primary at 5.5 year of age. She complained about her son to me, just a moment ago. She said that her son is a hard child when it comes to any school work. He would not start his school works if she does not call him. He would not study for his test, if she does not shout it out. He always makes the same mistakes over and over again. Even though the night before the test, he could answer all the practice given by his mother, on the test day, he would make some mistakes. So, he never really achieve high standard, which has been lined out by his mother.

benefits_of_studying_by_savethemuzika

We tried to sort things out, especially on why her son show no interest in any school activities. Then we come into a few conclusions:

  1. Her son might be too young when he entered Primary school. He did not have enough time to play with his peers and not thinking about his diary and school works. By sending a child to school at a very young age will have different impact on different child. Maybe her son is craving for playing time during his kindergarten years.
  2. She set her own standard of getting high scores at school and hoping that her son will enter the highest 10. She put her past experiences into her son’s scope now. She was in the highest 10 and her mother did not pay any attention on how she was doing her school works. She wants the same thing to happen with her and her children at the moment.
  3. She asked her son to do his best at school because she wants something from her son. She has a mindset that she already gave a lot for her son, so now it’s time for her son to give something back, by doing good at school. By saying this, her son will think that the one who needs good grades is not him, but his mother. Her son will not be bothered by this request because he could not understand the meaning of studying, having good grades and so on. His mother needs to tell him the right examples of why he needs to study well for his own sake.
  4. She does not have consistent studying hour for her son, so it will depend on the daily basis. By setting schedule, a child can learn to adapt into such routine. Of course, the schedule not meant to be dull and not fun. The schedule must meet a child’s ability, biological hours and capacity. If a child can stand for an hour and needs a break, then parents must understand such condition. Pushing a child to go over his limit, will bring the child down and bring parents down too, for they can’t reach the ‘standard’ set.

It’s not easy to be parents. I’ve been dealing with teaching young children for 4.5 years and I’ve met many parents with different expectations, wrong belief and their own standard of being success for their children. I would not blame such parents, because they do not understand on how to see the world from their children’s point of view.

As a start, imagine yourself at the age of your child now! Then you will understand what they need …

Facts on School-Aged Children

I was asked by my colleague to help her in one talk show about children development, to be her partner. She’s the one who would do all the talking, and I will help her to answer questions from parents, as participants. During the talk show, I caught some interesting facts about school-aged children nowadays. Following are the description:

1. The responsibility has been transferred into parents/caregivers.

When children go to school, parents tend to worry excessively. This weariness due to their own pride and demands toward their children. Parents want the best for their children, and that’s a good thing. This ideal goal can brings children down when parents push to do it their way, and not allowing the children to be part of that ideal plan. Parents then control everything in order to sort things out quicker, compare to what their children can do. For example: when children haven’t finished writing down their diary for that day, parents will make the call to their children’ classmate and busily completing the information on homework and tests. This conditioning will make children learn that the responsibility of completing school work can be done by their parents/caregivers.

2. Children learn the self-helplessness strategy.

Following the first description, children will learn the self-helplessness strategy, in which, children will not do anything to help themselves. It could be started by small activity, such as: sharpen their pencils, writing down their diary or tidy-up their books after studying. And by the the time, this condition will be applied to more important activities, such as: being ignorance during studying time, because children think that everything will be handled by their parents. They do not need to think and analyze their math problems, because whenever they can’t do the problems, parents will give the answers, because parents want them to finish their homework soon.

3. Parents create a cranky and want-instant-success generation.

Children will soon lose their capability to fight harder in their future and they will find it hard to measure success objectively. They will be very dependent toward their parents in whatever they are doing, including completing their responsibility as students or adults, in later life. I remember when I was a child, my Dad was very hard on me. He used to watch me when I was doing my homework. He disliked any help given to me, from my mom or caregiver. I was not understand his motive at that time, but later on I become very grateful for that. When I told my relative about that experiences, she said that my Dad is an old-school (well, he is). She said that nowadays if parents do not help their children in compleying their school works, then the children will not get any awards at school, because all of their classmates are getting help. I wonder …

Parents have to work harder to fight the needs of themselves to show off through their children. Children have their own future and ways to gain their success. Parents need to guide their children, but minus their dictate ways to their children on doing things.

Way to go, parents!

Parents are Craving to be Famous

This story is a bit ridiculous, but yet happened.

So, my niece is a student in a baby club in Malang, East Java. Last Tuesday, the principle called my sister-in-law. She said that my niece is chosen to be the model of that school and her photo will be on the brochures and other promotional media. My niece is not the only one, for there are 23 other students chosen from hundreds. The principle said that the promotional media will be used for 1.5 years and therefore the media tax is very expensive. She said that every one of those 24 students will need to pay 500,000 IDR (around US$50)!

For me it’s weird … the school needs models for their own benefit, but then the parents have to pay certain amount of money to pay for the taxes and other expenses. My sister-in-law refused at first, because she did not want to pay that amount of money. Then, on Thursday, the principle called back and she said that my niece got 50% discount, just to lure my sister-in-law…

Amanda and Ellice

Amanda and Ellice

Well, in fact, she tries to lure all the 24 parents to pay the money by saying that ‘your children will be models of school and they will be famous’! How good her marketing system!

One young mother said that she did not think twice when she got the offer, because she thought that her son might get another offer from modeling agent. I think she’s not the only one who think that way. Don’t you think so? Imagine, how much money that the school will get?

Oh, parents … you are craving to be famous!