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Friday, June 12, 2015

Of Crocodiles & Rivers

The little boy let out an earth-shattering wail. "Mummy!" he screamed. But Mummy was nowhere to be found. "I want Mummy!" the almost 3-year-old cried, in a voice that sounded as if there would be no tomorrow. 

'E, Mummy's not here. Tell Daddy what you want."

"I don't want Daddy. I want Mummy!" 

The dialogue carried on for a couple of minutes; although for the Daddy it seemed as though time had stood still and Mummy would never return home from her work.

Then the Daddy remembered something that he had learnt from parenting course, and an idea began to form in his exhausted mind.

"E, if you don't stop crying, the crocodile will come and get you!"

And with that, little E experienced an onslaught from one of the most vicious creatures in the world. His tummy area, especially, was mercilessly attacked by the powerful reptilian that gave no chance for its prey to escape...

"No. Daddy, no!" protested the little boy, who was now bursting with laughter at his Daddy's merciless tickling. "Crocodile, go away!'

And so the crocodile went away, and so did the tears of the little boy, as he proceeded to jump onto the back of his poor Daddy Crocodile.
Little E riding on the back of Daddy Crocodile. Our little boy really loves
the close physical contact with his Daddy.

It's been a busy few weeks for us. While it seemed that the June holidays would be a respite for us given that I can take a short break from my teaching, that didn't turn out to be the case - especially with the launch of our new online retail shop Sensational Play, which brings in educational products for children with special needs and also items to help all children learn through fun and play. We were also busy facilitating a new parenting course in church - the Parenting Children Course by Nicky and Sila Lee. It was a wonderful five weeks spent with fellow parents, each of us trying our best in the long journey of parenthood.

The course covered many issues - how to build strong foundations, how to set boundaries and manage temper tantrums, and how to connect with your child, among other pertinent topics.

While the part about connecting to your child through love languages is not new to me, it reminded me that each of my children has a different love language. Sometimes as parents we try to treat all our children equally - and that is taken to mean that we have to love our children in exactly the same way. That is true to a certain extent; but we have to remember that each child understands love in a different way. For us, our older son Z values quality time and words of affirmation most. This is unlike our younger son E, whose primary love language is touch, with the secondary language that of quality time. I told myself as I went home from the course that I had to actively seek out opportunities to show love to each of my children in a way that they will understand.
One of E's favourite activities - cooking with Daddy. This Daddy allows him lots of space to "mess up".
Perhaps that's why he enjoys cooking with Daddy!
It was with that mindset that I decided to take on a completely "touchy-feely" approach with E. This is a child who is very securely attached to his mother. And he would seek her out even when she leaves the room for a couple of minutes. On that day, Sue had left the house during the time when E was taking a nap. And he was very upset to wake up to a missing Mummy. Thankfully the crocodile game took the tension away and the afternoon became a lovely Daddy-son time of bonding.

During the past few weeks, I have expanded our crocodile play, and it now includes an elaborate river song - "Row, Row, Row your boat", and culminates into a time when the boat capsizes and the crocodile comes up to attack little E. The child is almost always in a fit of laughter, and he repeated calls out for Daddy Crocodile to stop tickling him; only to again request for another boat ride and another "attack" from the crocodile. 

It has truly been a busy but enjoyable time. For E, his love language is touch, so the crocodile game works. But not for Z, who cringes away when Daddy tries to hold him too tight. I have, however, been enjoying time with my almost 5-year-old. Just the other day Mummy gave him an option to either go for a walk in the park or to build blocks with Daddy. And the little boy stated clearly his preference - he clearly wanted to spend time with Daddy, with both of us building elaborate wooden block structures that allow the marbles to roll from one end of the room to another. Since Z was young he has always enjoyed construction and building, and for him, nothing compares with the time that he can spend with his Daddy, engaged in an activity that he truly enjoys. That can be block building, train track building, or any kind of building activity - the end result would always be a large smile on his face. Z clearly enjoyed quality time with Daddy.
Our older son Z loves water play. So we decided to spend some
quality time with him. This photo was taken during a recent trip to
Legoland Water Park Malaysia. 
Parenting will always have its ups and its downs. Sue said it best during one of the sessions during the course - "It's not been easy for us: but our children are only this age once. I still miss the time I could hold them in my arms and carry them like a baby."

Indeed these are not the easiest of times for us; but as for me, I wouldn't want to trade these moments for anything in the world!
Some of the best moments with the children occur just before bedtime. Here we are experimenting with torches and lights.

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