Bought star stickers as potty training reward but nothing seems to work. Not even Three Little Pigs and The Frog Prince plays. She plain refuses to sit on the potty.


So many animals

Sophia woke up today and, with her eyes still closed, waved her hands around in circles saying “SOOOO many animals”. I think she dreamt of animals. I asked and she said yes. How cute. She allegedly dreamt of rabbits and turtles. I think those are her favourite animals. She likes horses too but “I’m scare of lion/tiger/crocodile”. Its getting more and more fun to have a conversation with my little baby.


Recently in my volunteer work we met this lady single-handedly taking care of 5 children aged between below 1 to 5. We were concerned about the lack of schooling for the children, especially the older ones and, out of concern, asked the oldest whether he knew his alphabets and numbers, which he didn’t in English but did in his mother tongue. I was asked whether Sophia knew her alphabets and I (too) proudly and quickly said yes, which promptly got everyone worried about the 5 year old not knowing things that a 2 year old knows. BUT, Sophia doesn’t really speak Mandarin and the boy was fluent in his mother tongue (or so it seems to me, who’s a non-speaker of said mother tongue), so who’s to say who’s more developed.

Anyway, the whole episode just got me thinking more about language again. My grand plan was for me to speak English to Sophia and the entire family speak Mandarin so, if anything, wasn’t she supposed to be lacking in the English department? I have no idea why she decided she would speak only English. All the schools she attends adopt the immersion program whereby an English and a Mandarin teacher will be in the class all the time and speak in their respective allocated languages. I tried for months to get my father, who’s her primary caregiver to speak to her in mandarin but he would always slip back into whatever language she spoke in. I tried to get the daddy to speak more to her but that is, as many mothers know, a lost cause. So out of desperation I spoke to her occasionally in Mandarin and was told off for confusing her! So how oh how am I going to get the situation to improve? Even the teachers of the chinese playgroup she attends asks us why does Sophia not speak Mandarin when her parents’ Mandarin is so good. We have no answer.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to reverse the situation?

Do our children really need to be over-achievers?

I am a kiasu mum, I’ll admit it. My friend told me about her nephew who could do simple 2-3 piece puzzles before he was 3, my daughter has to do 18 piece puzzles barely past 2.



But then you wonder, right, if you didn’t give the child all these stimulation (read: pressure) whether that would lead to them losing out and blaming you in the future. Or just lead to them not leading the best life they could.

So then I catch myself sourcing out the best schools for music, dance, language, all to give Sophia a headstart then fret when they don’t allow her to start yet or are completely filled up and then a few months past my schedule of getting her to classes worry about being a completely bad parent. There is, really, no need to be that concerned at this age, is there?

Mama, come back

All this while Sophia has been wanting to pick up phones but very shy to speak into them so I thought she didn’t quite grasp the idea of speaking into a phone – until I went on this 4 day trip to Beijing and came back to be told that one day she went looking for me in my room and was told that I was at work. She then fished out my old defunct mobile phone, punched in random numbers, held it up to her ear and said “Mama, come back.” My heart melted when I heard that. I can just see more of those calls coming once she figures out how phone numbers work.

Classes for toddlers in Singapore

I told the family that I plan to enrol my daughter in swimming, art and music classes and all of them accuse me of creating a pressure cooker environment for my girl. Is that true? Before you start pointing fingers at me, consider this:

1) Art Class

I’m specifically thinking of signing up for twoosy doodlers at Abakradoodle at Rochester. The teacher was great when I went for the trial class and it was really the first time I see Sophia opening up so quickly in a foreign environment, being able to go get materials on her own on her first class. Apart from leading very creative handicraft projects every lesson, the very dynamic teacher also sings and reads to the children and tells them what the handicraft is inspired by. At the end of it, there is gallery time where the children get to showcase their work and talk about it. A great self esteem booster!

I do warn that standards may vary depending on teacher because I bumped into friends attending a trial for older children and they weren’t too impressed.

2) Swimming Class

I am planning to join a group class which a couple of friends with babies younger than Sophia have already been attending for what must have been almost a year. The trainer is supposed to be really good with children and after the swimming session, which the children enjoy and I’m sure Sophia will too since she loves the water, the parents bring out food and drinks and everyone sits down for pot luck and play time. Doesn’t sound like too hard work does it?

3) Music Class

Well, this is potentially hard work as I have unfortunately not come across a toddler music school that I really like but I do see that Sophia really likes music. She is always dancing to music and tapping on tambourines and makeshift drums from tins and boxes so I am keen to find a class that she can enjoy while preserving her option of developing a musical niche for herself in future.

4) The alternative

She stays at home with grandpa after her half day of school and sometimes plays silly games but more often watches DVDs or plays iPad and iPhone games. The classes are so much more engaging right?

Peh peh

Sophia has been into drawing for the longest time but it is only recently that we begin to sort of make out what she is drawing. These days she’e been doing a lot of circles (faces) with 2 dots (eyes) and a line (mouth) inside. She sometimes pre-warns us what sh’e going to draw so we can see it coming. I’m not going to show the “mummy” ones, which, incidentally are the better drawn ones with circles that are quite round and distinct dots and lines, so here’s one of “peh peh” ie uncle or specifically father’s elder brother in hokkien baby-speak. We were quite surprised she would draw “peh peh” because usually its papa, mummy or the grandparents.


Doodly doodle

Do you remember this magnetic drawing board thing from your own childhood that you write with a pen that had a metallic end and can be cleaned with a swipe of a tab across the board? Like this:


I just got Sophia one of these from a neighbourhood shop and it was such a great decision. Just yesterday when I came back from work she jumped up saying “mama.. mama..” and headed straight for the board. Once she laid hands on it, she started drawing squiggles that look like nothing but curly pig tails mumbling “m..o..m..p..” (basically a sequence of alphabets that didn’t make sense) and proclaiming “Mummy!” We all clapped and said “well done!” and afterwards I demonstrated how mummy is really spelt by writing and saying it out. I hope she’s not actually supposed to get it at 22 months though, because the next time I asked her to write mummy I think she mumbled “m..o..p..q..” and walked off.

Sing along song

Here is Sophia with her mic. I know that looks like a drumstick to you but trust me, it is a fully functioning, voice magnifying microphone perfect for singing into, at least in Sophia’s mind. To the adults, though, it is a stick for playing the glockenspiel. But why should that matter. Next step: to work on actually singing to tune instead of chanting the individual words.




Sophia made this mooncake at school. Nobody really dares to eat it but its cute. She actually made a mooncake before I did. I better get used to the fact that growing up in this day and age and in a much more wealthy (relatively) family than I did, she will have the chance to experience so much more than I ever did, and I WANT her to have the chance to do that.

But this leads me to worry that she may grow up with the entitlement mentality. I was having a discussion with a friend yesterday about primary schools and he suggested that I go for a particular school which I was not very inclined to go for precisely because the typical student from that school will be born with a silver spoon and have the tendency to feel superior because of that. However, my friend reminded me that the reality is it helps for Sophia to have friends who have the backing of a rich and powerful family and hence are likely to succeed. She will find it much easier to reach high places with the help of such contacts. True and it is tempting but if Sophia turns out to have the superiority complex then I will be so disappointed with her.

There are so many choices that I will have to make for Sophia while she is young, and I pray for the wisdom to make those choices that will help her grow but not make her head swell. Not easy at all.