Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Coming of age

On 30 July, a kid in the neighbourhood turned two and her mother invited a few of us over for brunch to mark the special day. Being the image-conscious Mummy I was, Rosabelle was also dressed up in her pretties, haha! This is Rou Rou, the birthday girl who was crying non-stop as she is very possessive of her toys/belongings, so you can imagine how much sobbing she went through with 5 other kids milling around and touching her items - her Grandma had to bring her downstairs to appease her at one point. Turns out she's Miss Sobby when her mum's around - tsk tsk...

Everybody loved the butterfly wings on this Cotton On singlet I got for Rosabelle in Singapore, heh!
Kids and adults alike feasted on yogurt, drinks, biscuits, noodles, and of course, the birthday cake, though I found it strange the Mummy didn't get us all to sing a song/blow candles first before cutting up the cake. The Mummy only informed me the night before (she didn't want us to come bearing gifts and did not even say it was a birthday), I remembered vaguely and luckily asked, so I went with a Care Bear furry bag for the girl.
Our girl wasted no time in getting acquainted with the new environment and set herself to play - other parents commented that their kids needed 'warm up' time, or often dragged/waited for them to initiate play, but Rosabelle was rather 'fearless' in that sense, which is quite good, as she is not afraid of new/strange environments.

Rosabelle is feeding Fei Fei a grape here - he shifted away last month to his Grandma's as his Mummy just gave birth to another boy on 9 August (same birthday as Singapore!). His Mummy must be quite disappointed as she was hoping for, and thought, it'd be a girl. Oh well, both are hale and hearty so that's what is important, I say!
Rosabelle plays well with her friends but of late, in the past few weeks, she's been increasingly giving me heart attacks and heart aches by hitting/shoving kids for no reason. She can be kissing/cuddling a younger kid one moment and the very next, quickly slap the poor unknowing kiddo across the face. She will also get possessive and push other kids away if they try to touch/go near something she's riding, or even looking at. Sigh! I've given her many tongue lashings about this, and even counselled my MIL that she also has to be harsh on her when she pushes her, because kids being kids, Rosabelle cannot tell the difference between play and aggressiveness, and Grandma has to stop being so mild or playing around when she gets smacked by her grand daughter.

I still need to remind Nainai at times to scold her and make her apologise for beating others/Nainai, but being grandmothers, they cannot find the heart to be harsh enough, and I believe the scolding has to be timely, not some long-winded counseling 10 minutes after – the effect is lost as toddlers have short-term memories and have to be told off there and then that that specific action is inappropriate. Nainai even told Rosabelle to ‘
打吧!’ at one point, as a reaction to see if she will stop it, but at her age, how can Rosabelle tell between sarcasm and instructions? If you ask her to continue beating, she will of course be confused, right? Sigh… though I am aware that Nainai has years of proven experience in bringing up and disciplining a kid, I wish at times that I did not have to keep reminding Nainai that it’s useless for just me to keep scolding Rosabelle outside, and then have her come home to whatever she wants to do at home.
Most of the times, Rosabelle will say '好' when I warn her to not do it again, and will not cry even when I am harsh, but there was once on 3 August when she smacked me on the face (maybe in jest as we were playing) and boy, did I tell her off till her lips turned downwards and she cried slightly. I told her that her actions were making Mummy very sad, and asked her to not make me sad again. She gave me a big hug and a kiss, as if she knew... so sweet.

But sigh, she's still at it, so I really have to watch her all the time whilst outside to make sure there are no innocent victims. Today, she even used a toy car to hit another girl on the head – out of the blue and for nothing. I was so angry I just pulled her aside and told her to play by herself as nobody was going to play with her, before I went on to apologise to the girl and her grandma, and play with them whilst ignoring Rosabelle, pulling her away whenever she came crying to ‘Mummy carry’. After a few times, I made sure she went up to say sorry, and repeat after me to have ‘No beating, no pushing’ before I included her in our activities. Haiz… this is going to happen again and again until she learns to stop this spate of unprovoked aggressiveness.

On Sunday, when Wayne was feeding her dinner, she kept throwing the cloth meant for wiping her mouth onto the floor, even after Wayne warned her that he will
打手. On the third time, Wayne took her right hand and smacked it lightly twice, but our girl did not cry nor get scared. She was still quite happy, but of course stopped doing it. After that, I told Wayne, ‘Next time try not to beat her, no matter how naughty she is, or how angry you are. It just teaches her that it is alright to beat people when she’s feeling angry, and that she can also hit others when they are wrong.’ Wayne was on the same page as me on this and we have an understanding about this now – we have to be systematic and set a good example if we want to tell her not to be aggressive, as how can they control their own anger if we cannot control ours? Snatching a toy away can make her angry, so does it allow her to also beat others then? It will just make her confused as to why Papa/Mama can beat her, whilst she cannot beat others.

I remember when I went back to Singapore over the CNY holidays, when Rosabelle was in the stage where she wanted to touch all electrical sockets/items. I kept reminding her sternly not to do so, and my mother/sis/brother-in-law advised that I should beat her hand to tell her to stop doing so. Each family brings their child up a different way, I guess, and when I gave them a plain ‘I don’t even beat her, so nobody should’, they got my drift and never brought this subject up again. Beating is just an outlet for an adult’s frustration, but what does it teach the child? Fear, submission, aggressiveness, and absolutely nothing about expressing/channeling his/her emotions the right way.

I’m not a child professor, and the child-rearing process is an entirely new experiment for me, and there are occasions when Rosabelle can really test my patience, like when she purposely stepped onto puddles of water in spite of having wet shoes/pants, and me reminding her not to. I just lashed out at her, but luckily stopped short of beating her. You can wash away the dirt on her shoes/pants, but at that point, she learnt that puddles are wet, fun, grimey, and go splish-splosh when you march in them. This is what keeps me sane when she dawdles a lot these days looking/touching a lot of things, reminding myself that at this age, the journey is more exciting than the destination and every little thing, no matter how mundane to us (or disgusting, like dog poo!) is really something new to her.

However, I also need to maintain a fine balance between such unprovoked aggressiveness and her ability to defend herself. There were times when other kids would be instigating the bullying/beating/shoving, and our girl also naturally hit back and stood her ground, strongly standing up against the older/taller/stronger kiddos without crying. I would have to break them up and tell both parties that hitting each other is wrong.

There was once when an older girl pushed her away from a bicycle they were both looking at, to the point that Rosabelle fell onto her butt, and if not for the girl’s mother standing behind to cushion her fall, she would have fallen backwards further and hit her head on the ground. Now that she is diaperless, I’m sure the fall on the concrete would have hurt her bum, but our resilient girl stood up and did not cry. After I told the girl off, I had to remind Rosabelle that what the Jie Jie did was wrong, and that she should not follow. At times like these, I would give her a big hug and tell her I am proud of her for not pushing back, and for not crying.

At another time, there was an older 3.5 year old boy Do Do, who is rather mischievious/hot-tempered, and has a nonchalant (i.e. does not discipline him) mother to boot. He will spout things like ‘
我打你啊’, ‘妈妈真讨厌’ for no reason, and I will of course tell Rosabelle that Ge Ge is talking nonsense and being naughty, and not to learn from him. Since she likes to play with older kids, she is still drawn to him, and I got irritated when Rosabelle was pointing a gun at another of his friends, and he quickly came up and wanted to push her away, saying, ‘你别打我喜欢的朋友!’ – I rolled my eyes, brushed him away and walked off with Rosabelle. Later, two of them came up behind her as she was squatting on the floor, minding her own business and playing her own things, and started saying ‘我打你、我打你’, pointing their fingers at her. Of course they did not (dare) lay a finger on her, but I was seriously pissed and said very loudly for their mothers to hear, ‘你们有病啊?你们两个去玩你的啦,别来烦妹妹!

The next day, Do Do was without his male buddies, and maybe feeling emasculated (?!!), he actually wanted to play properly with Rosabelle, chasing her and letting her chase him, and holding my hand tenderly when I fed him fruits. Ok, buried the hatchet. But the very next day, when his Dad was helping his friend to pump the bicycle wheel, and as the kids were milling around to say ‘
加油!加油!’, Rosabelle was of course curious and went up to look. Do Do came rushing up (I had to physically shield her away from him) and pointed furiously at her, ‘你别在这里加油了!’. WTF?!! If my daughter wasn't around, I would seriously have sworn at him! I was so angry that I said, ‘你干嘛你?!滚吧! Nowadays, I know better than to let Rosabelle play around him, and don’t even bother to be cordial to him and/or his mother. (And he’s not even cute, sheesh!!!!)

At another time, an older (and very rough) kid came up to her to block her way as she was holding somebody else’s toy gun. Our girl knew how to avoid him by switching directions to run away, and even innocently held the gun up to ‘poom, poom’ at his face, thinking it will scare/injure him away, heh! In the end, he chased her into the lobby, stalled her, and as she held the gun in front of her, he snatched it away from her with such impact that she fell to her knees. Aiyo! I had to go up and tell the boy to return the gun to her. Luckily she did not cry, but I’m glad she can stand up to such slight bullying as bullies love to pick on those who they can get a reaction from (i.e. cry and/or go running to adults for help).

It's such an exciting journey, isn't it? Childhood and all the joys it brings? Haha...

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