Category Archives: Family

Mr Right: Mr Always Right

Ten years ago today I met my now-husband. The man now known as Superhubs.

It wasn’t the romantic moment that people imagine it to be. There were no eyes locked across a crowded room. There were no magical shafts of light shining down on us from above. No thunderbolt. No singing angels. No cupid. Nor was it a civilised dinner event where mutually respected parties had machinated a relaxed but contrived circumstance under which we were to be formally introduced to each other. Actually, it was at a fairly weak excuse [British-born Chinese Social Night] for a drunken episode [in a bar/club] on a school [Monday] night.

There are a few things that hubs and myself like to note about that night. They are as follows…

1) He nearly didn’t attend due to ticket price. Let it be known that the tickets were priced at £4. He had been offered a discounted ticket for £2. When a potential ticketing problem occurred, he explicitly stated that if it were to cost more than £2, he wouldn’t be attending… Yes. Two. Whole. Pounds.

2) He nearly didn’t attend due to the typically late arrival of his companions for the evening, which caused him to already be excessively drunk at a different bar – the bar at which he was to meet said companions. Yes. He was already drunk when I met him.

3) I nearly didn’t get tickets in time to attend as my godbrother hadn’t managed to find time to pick some up. I ended up buying tickets on the afternoon of the event.

4) Neither one of us had planned on meeting/hooking up with anyone for the foreseeable future. Particularly as I was scheduled to leave the country 2 months later, and he was scheduled for a year long travel break in roughly 8 months.

5) We were not overly bowled over at our first introductions to each other. He looked dodgy-as-hell (to me) with his long (!) hair and pale appearance (which happens when he drinks). I was out with my [quite built] godbrother, who to the rest of the world appeared to be my boyfriend. Therefore I was “off-the-market” with a guy who could probably flatten most.

So it was not a strong start.

The trouble began when my now-husband became stranded by his companions. He stood, somewhat lost, by the edge of the grinding mob of the dance floor, clutching three drinks in his hands, scanning the darkened noisy room for a familiar face. As it turned out, I was acquainted with his companions. I had met them before at a friend’s barbeque. She and I had chatted and we had been friendly. Her boyfriend had brought his office buddy – a long-haired Chinese guy who sits next to him. When she had introduced him, she had given me that pursed-lips, raised eyebrow ‘look’ – the unspoken signal (between women) that this guy was Not To Be Trusted. Clearly, my senses lapsed when I reached out to inform him that “the guys you came with, I think, have gone outside to chat.” That was the moment when he became part of our bystanding people-watching two-strong event.

So, there we were. Two bystanders who became three. We stood. We sipped our drinks. We watched people. Then out of desperation for conversation I began to steer my godbrother to all the apparently single-looking females in the vicinity.  I threw out encouragement along the lines of: Bite the bullet. Seize the day. Go for it. Talk to her. Just offer to buy them a drink. YOU CAN DO IT. But like the mountain of a man that he is, he would not be moved. I grew frustrated. I turned to the newbie to repeat the words of encouragement. Like my godbrother, he too declined to engage. How annoying. Loudly I declared:

“Chinese men. ARE CRAP. They NEVER make the first move. EVER.”

I eyeballed the two Chinese men in my company: Godbrother and Dodgy Newbie. They looked at me, then each other. And newbie said: “That sounds like a challenge. I will prove you wrong. Tonight.”

And so he did. And ever since then, for the last ten years, he has been my Mr Right: Mr Always Right.

Perkle & Horm

There have been some significant changes to the Little Man’s life this year. From January, he has been given his preschool allowance. So five mornings a week he can attend a local nursery school for 15 hours a week (or something like that) for free. More actually as we wanted to pay for him to stay for a cooked lunch too.

It was a bit of a wobbly time for me too as even though I had taken him to playgroups and various baby/toddler classes, I’ve never left him for such a period of time, repeatedly. He started daycare nursery back in September, for 3 mornings, in a younger group with a better ratio of child to nursery keyworker, but since January he’s now in a room with 40 kids, and 4 staff, plus 1 to 4 childcare students, depending on the day, for 5 mornings a week.

Quite a massive change for such a small human being.

Anyway. It’s been a tough time as I’m pretty sure he’s been going through some massive milestones. One of them is emotional development.

My boy has always been strangely emotionally astute. When he was 18 months old and I was entering the 2nd trimester of my second pregnancy, I had a tearful breakdown (the first of many). My as-yet-not-talking Little Man was toddling around the room, when he turned and noticed me seeking comfort from hubs. He looked at me curiously, then toddled over to me, picked up his blue blankie and pressed it into my arms, looking at me earnestly. Then carried on playing with his toys. I still get emotional recalling it :’)

The big change in his nursery life has emotionally disrupted him quite phenomenally. By the end of February he was telling us each morning “No nursery. No thank you.” And at the drop-off, he would stand listlessly watching as his Daddy left. It broke our hearts :’(

So. Before our 2 week holiday to Hong Kong and the school half term I wrote a letter to the nursery. I had let things stew for about a week (and only putting him into nursery for 3 out of his 5 sessions anyway) so I could be sure I wasn’t acting rashly. We sat down and had a meeting with the Deputy Head and also set up a one-to-one meeting with his keyworker for our return. The focus was to go away and enjoy our holidays, and then come back to set a plan on how to proceed.

So we did.

It’s been 2 weeks since we came back from our holiday, and things have improved ten fold. The Little Man gained a newfound appreciation for time away from his parents (the holiday was very much the 4 of us together *all* the time) and was keen to get to nursery for the 3 session we had planned for him. We took him out from the lunchtime period too, so we’d pick him up just before the tiredness became overwhelming. Then the following week, we asked him if he wanted to go for an extra morning – “YES” was the resounding answer. He’s even made a little friend in his class. Relief doesnt even begin to express how we felt when we heard this…

Another of the milestones he’s been going through is communication.

Our Little Man is a bit slow in his communication skills. Not in a noticeable way. Just ever so slightly. I credit this to the fact that we speak two languages to him. Hubs and I speak Cantonese to the kids as much as possible. When the Little Man was a baby, we spoke a larger proportion of English, but as he grew bigger we realised that if we wanted him to have any understanding of Cantonese then it would be our responsibility to do something about it. Now we communicate with about 90 percent Canto, and 10 percent English. Following the holiday in Hong Kong, both kids’ Cantonese skills have improved 100%. We stayed with my parents in the house/flats we have there – where my grandparents, auntie and uncle also live. It was astonishing how much they improved and right before our eyes too. It was worth the effort and hard work (very hard work).

At nursery of course, they speak English.

Now, before the new year, his English had been coming along in leaps and bounds – beyond our vision actually. His file at the nursery was coming home with reports that he was speaking full English sentences (“Look! Ann! Cars are over there!” – we nearly fainted when we read this). Meanwhile, at home in Cantonese he was managing mostly short phrases of only 3 words on average. His strangest habit however was that whenever he was faced with something he didn’t know the word for, either in English or Cantonese, he would think for a moment. Then looking up at us with bright eyes, he’d declare emphatically: “Perkle.”

Eh?

He’d been doing it a good few months before I finally cottoned on. By early January I was able to let hubs know to look out for it happening. Hubs loved it so much, he decided he wanted to adopt the word too, for those situations when there are just no words that seem quite suitable. It tickled us so much I mentioned it to a good mummy friend who completely unflinchingly understood and told me her son (my son’s best friend in life so far)’s word is “Horm.” lol!

Where do they get these words from?? Who knows. Although. I have to say, ‘Perkle’ does magically combine some of my favourite letters/sounds. And ‘Horm’ – well, that’s pretty cool sounding too. To a certain extent, I can almost see why/how they chose these words. They do make sense. Well, ok, they don’t. But I like them. Now, of course, the Little Man is speaking full sentences both in Cantonese and English. Life is much easier as he’s able to communicate his frustrations more clearly – he’s becoming a bit of a bossy boots, quite a serious little kid. He tells us when he’s forgotten to wipe his hands and mouth after dinner. He tells me about his day at nursery (“I broke the rainbow” in Cantonese), and he can tell me about Diane (his keyworker) and his new friend, Ahsan. I’m so proud of him :)

As proud as I am though, I have to admit, I am starting to mourn the loss of the word ‘Perkle’ from his common vernacular…

And that’s just perkle :(

Resolutions for 2011

2010 has been a challenging year, in ways I can’t seem to pinpoint. It began with the most difficult phase of being a mother of 2 small children which lead to a breakdown, mentally and emotionally. I was forced to concede I was struggling, but in turn I learned how to recognise when I needed help and when I needed time off.

Then we had 2 huge shocks to the family as both my parents-in-law fell victim to life threatening health problems at different points in the year. We’ve been counting their blessings ever since.

And then finally my year ended with one last bout of illness and depression which seemed to come from nowhere, and for which I was poorly prepared. Perhaps it was the poor timing of longer nights, extreme weather conditions, cabin fever and hormones. Thankfully, this too has passed.

Not to say this year hasn’t had some truly fantastic moments too. But mostly, as 2010 draws to an end, I have looked back to find that this has been a year where I’ve really grown and changed. There’s not one single moment that I can attribute this to. Nor can I place my finger on what exactly has changed. All I know is that I feel more at peace with myself; I understand more of myself; I’ve let old grudges die; I’ve placed more priority on the important things in life to me; And I’ve taken a good look around me to really appreciate all the things that I am lucky to have in my life.

I have 5 resolutions for 2011:

1) Save

2) Go to the bank

3) Practice forgiveness

4) Appreciate my Mum more

5) Make time for family – it’s the most important thing and you never know how long you’ll have it for.

Happy New Year everyone.

x

Merry Christmas 2010

image

To my dearest family & friends,

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

It’s been our first Christmas where both kids have had any awareness of the presents & merriment. The major lesson learnt today was: Clothes do not a good present make. We will avoid making the same mistake next year ;) (poor little girl!)

However, chocolate reindeer, chocolate coins and gingerbread houses covered with icing & smarties are *very* good.

I hope the festive seasons brings you love, peace, joy, happiness & lots of good food. Missing you wherever you are and thinking of you dearly.

Lots of love & hugs

From Me & Mine xx xx

My Early Days

Some of you will know this about me already. Many of you won’t have had a clue as it’s not really something I broadcast or announce everywhere I go…

Don’t worry, I’m not going to confess to being a national spy. It’s much less sexy than that :p

I’m the Branch Secretary for my local NCT committee. Really. I know. You’re stunned & alarmed. You’ll never speak to me again.

Ok. I’m being facetious. Sorry :p

But seriously. I actually do, like, Branch Secretary type *work* for a charity. Although, to be brutally honest, I don’t do an awful lot for most of the time. I attend monthly meetings to discuss how our local activities are going & what can be improved (or as I call it: Meet with other humans & practice my grown up conversation skills while eating cake). But mostly I lark about on Facebook, do the odd update for the [somewhat neglected] group/fan page & very occasionally I also tart up our page on the main NCT website (although I am desperately trying to find someone else to do this…. ;p). I even run a [very self-serving] Parent & Child playgroup at the Children’s Centre near our house.

I don’t do much, but as with all volunteer/charity work, every contribution helps as it lightens the load overall. You could argue it at least looks good on my CV… hah.

Truthfully though, I volunteered for the role because I wanted to give something back to the organisation that I feel became my salvation as a new mum…

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve noticed a growing group of online voices expressing discontent with their experience with the NCT this year. I read this blog post, which disheartened me along with the subsequent comments. I got the impression that people perceive the NCT as a militant pro-natural birth organisation, or the “breastapo.”

Well. Not to totally rock the boat, but I haven’t found very much in the way of negative impressions when it comes to my local NCT. Which is why I wanted to write this post. I never did the antenatal course due to the cost, which quite frankly scared me and caused my hubby to shudder and mutter something along the lines of “I don’t think we need anything like that..” A common reaction, I think you’ll agree. I suspect this would go some way to explaining why the typical (actual? perceived?) demographic of NCT fans or members is middle to upper class and white. Probably both working. Maybe over 30. Possibly a bit hippy. I am none of the above.

Infact, the only course I did (the postnatal Early Days) was actually a case of misinformation where I thought I was turning up to a Mother & Baby group, only to find, 30 minutes later, that I had joined a facilitated discussion group. Yeesh. You can imagine the dawning terror I must have felt.

But as I packed up my baby and ginormous bag of baby paraphernalia at the end of the session to go home after my first proper outing with my baby, alone, I realised I felt different. Less alone. Less anxious than I did that morning when I left the house praying that I would find the methodist church, unlike the previous week where I drove around for 1.5 hours before finally giving up and coming home, dejected & feeling like a failure. I had spent the session surreptitiously stealing glances at the other new mums in the room while discussing our expectations of parenthood. I realised that I wasn’t the only one flailing, wondering if I was doing everything wrong or if everyone else was coping better than I was. It hit me like a brick wall: All new parents are in the same boat.

Phew.

I continued with the course – it became the highlight of my weekly routine. Infact, long after I’d participated in nearly every session of Early Days in the drop-in format, I continued to attend, like an addict, to discuss issues I had already covered! I remained good friends with the mums I met on my first session, and then made even more good friends in subsequent sessions. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t click with every new mum I met. There were some I just did not click with. Some who came across downright strange (!). But it’s to be expected in any new social situation isn’t it? Anyway. The course became the oasis in my week, infact it was the oasis in my new life as a new mum-of-one. When I think back, I don’t even know how I coped for those first 3 and a half months prior to discovering the NCT where I struggled, scouring the internet for specific baby advice, reading baby books when I should have been resting and listening to advice (both solicitied and UNsolicitied) from family (my dear mum…. omg, let’s not go there just yet…), friends and even strangers, when I should have been enjoying my baby. I recall it being a very emotional/hormonal time, filled with self consciousness and anxiety that maybe there was a better way to be doing all the things I was doing for my child. I just didn’t understand that I alone was the mother of my child and, actually, I know a lot about him and what he needs. My instincts were never far wrong and I actually had a lot of knowledge about how to take care of him. And the big feather in my cap was: I was GOOD at breastfeeding.

I couldn’t believe it. I was GOOD at something and I was GOOD at my job as a Mummy. Why the hell couldn’t I see that before? Was it the hormones? Was it the shock of birthing a baby? Was it the pethidine? Was it the epidural and stitches?? Maybe it was all of the above. Or maybe, it’s just totally NORMAL to feel this way as a first-time parent… *sound of the penny dropping*

I’ve been pretty lucky. I have a pretty amazing husband who took 2 months paternity leave from his freelance work to support me at home after baby arrived. He fended off my mum, relatives, in-laws and various visitors when I couldn’t deal with them and he reassured me repeatedly that I was doing a fantastic job. He was everything you could wish for in a new dad. But there’s only so much pressure you can put on your partner in life before it becomes unfair. I’m so grateful for that day when he gently pushed me out there looking for support from another source as I never would have found the NCT. I never would have found Helen, my lovely postnatal leader. And I never would have found all the wonderful, fabulous and amazingly supportive mummy friends who I’m proud to know and spend time with, whether with or without our children in tow. Granted, not everyone meshes well with their coursemates. And granted, not everyone will mesh well with whatever personality they find in their post/antenatal leader/teacher. But regardless, the support that the NCT provided me (and also the friends I have since recommended the course to) has been invaluable. It sometimes makes me nervous to think about where I would be now as a person, as a wife and as a mother had I not taken this course. I’m sure there are plenty of people who are amazing parents who never needed such a course, and I probably would have found my way on my own – eventually. But all I’m saying here is: It worked *very* well for me; It shaped the parent that I have become.

So for that, I will be eternally grateful and I will continue to volunteer for my branch, and recommend the courses, as long as I still feel the benefits. So there.