We brought Aramis for his shots today. The appointment was originally scheduled for the morning, but when Porthos heard that Di Di was getting an injection, he whined that he wanted to come along. The sadist….
So we turned it into a family outing. The boys were goofing around at first, but when the needle made its appearance, they watched in awed silence as the nurse prepared the vaccine.
I don’t enjoy needles, but somehow it feels much worse when your child is at the other end of it. As the needle went in, Aramis let out a loud cry of dismay. I felt terrible for him. Surprisingly it lasted all of 5 seconds, and then he was fine. I think having his brothers around as a distraction helped. Both Athos and Porthos asked to “see the hole” and the cotton wool with the spot of blood on it….
Someone told me that it helps to put the baby on the breast while he is getting his shots so that he feels protected.
Over the weekend, we celebrated the boys’ Great Grandma’s birthday at a top-notch Chinese restaurant. Now I’m ordinarily as game as the next person for good food. But the prospect of putting two preschoolers in the company of breakable tableware, exotic ingredients, and waitresses carrying bowls of hot soup had me a little nervous.
So here are my survival tips for fine dining with the kids. They won’t make the occasion stress-free, but they might help you leave with sanity intact!
- If you expect the menu to comprise mostly things the kids won’t eat, feed them ahead of time. Most restaurants will also look the other way if you bring in outside food for very young children.
- Ask for plastic tableware for the kids, and move all breakables as far out of arm/elbow reach as possible.
- Arm yourself with wipes or tissue paper. Accidents will happen, and if you can start the mop-up operation before the waitresses respond to the SOS, so much the better.
- They will get bored! If you don’t want them playing hide-and-seek or catching at the restaurant, have some ideas up your sleeve. Here are a few:
- Many parents use their cellphones or other electronic devices as a distractions.
- Bring a notepad and crayons (or markers for older kids whom you can trust not to stain the linen)
- Play a game with toothpicks. Get them to design a house, a car, a train. Or see how many braised peanuts they can skewer from one dish to another in 30 seconds (only if the other guests at table don’t mind!)
- Set up a tic-tac-toe grid with chopsticks and play with coins.
A note to anyone organising a fine dining event: if you’re expecting some kids, speak to the restaurant about setting up a play corner with some mess-free toys and party favours. I went to a wedding where the couple had even set up a TV with kids videos playing all night – no matter where you stand on the great TV debate, you’ll have to admit that’s a pretty smart solution!
Tonight I had the responsibility of keeping a pair of 4-year-old twins occupied. We sang songs, played with lightsticks, and talked about whatever they felt like talking about.
One of my favourite things to do with my own kids is to read. So I brought along three of my all-time favourites to share with the twins, in the hopes that they would enjoy them as much as Athos and Porthos do.
It worked! We read them, talked about them, read them again, and would have read a third time except that supper was ready. There are few things more delightful than seeing young children connect with a good story. Here are the books:
- Hug by Jez Alborough – Bobo the monkey goes through the jungle and with the help of other animals, finally finds what he’s looking for. This is a truly remarkable book that uses just 3 words, yet communicates powerfully through a heartwarming storyline and expressive pictures. Works well for pre-bedtime reading and cuddles!
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – A caterpillar is born, eats his way from Monday to Sunday, builds his cocoon and emerges a butterfly. The artwork is vibrant and colourful, and the story works on a surprising number of levels – the plot itself is engaging, and there are opportunities to teach about numbers, colours, days of the week, types of food, the life cycle of a butterfly, and even the importance of fibre and greens!
- The Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch – Originally in German, the book was subsequently translated into English, and what a superb addition to the world of children’s literature! In general I don’t mind spoilers for children’s books since the idea is to help parents make a decision whether or not to introduce it to their kids. But in this case, it is such a deliciously funny book that I shan’t rob anyone of the pleasure. Let’s just say that it’s a story about a mole who wakes up one morning to a dreadful event, sets about finding the perpetrator, and brings justice to bear. Now there IS a sub-plot of revenge, but in this case, the retaliation is so harmless (and funny) that I don’t think the kids will take it too much to heart.
In my earlier post about our visit to the Science Centre, I wrote that the science would largely be lost on kids under 5.
Looks like I underestimated the kids. Again.
This morning at breakfast, I overheard Porthos (just shy of 4) say to our helper, “The food goes in my mouth, then it goes down and comes out as poo poo…. The water goes in my mouth, and then it goes down and comes out as wee wee…. Mommy told us that day.”
He remembered what I said at the digestive system exhibit! As Miss Bingley might say, I am all astonishment….
Today’s PSI hovered around 20+, and I saw clouds in the sky – what joy!
Today I also had a lunch appointment with a colleague. He called ahead to ask if I would mind having lunch at Jurong Bird Park and that he would explain on the way. My office is in the city, but I’m always up for an adventure (and was also mightily curious!) so off we went.
It turns out that on his way to a meeting this morning, he found an injured kingfisher on the ground. Small enough to fit in my palm and covered in beautiful red, blue and brown feathers, the little creature’s right wing appeared out of joint. Not wanting to leave the bird in its vulnerable state, he called the Jurong Bird Park who said that they would be able to take the bird.
So there we were, two adults and a little bird in a fruit punnet (courtesy of the office cleaner), way out in Jurong on a working day. At the information counter, my friend was asked to fill a form. Among the information requested: where the bird was found and how long he had had the bird.
The final section was a declaration stating, among other things, that he was relinquishing ownership of the bird, that he would not ask to visit the bird, and that if he reconsidered his decision he would be charged at $50 a day. The service staff explained that they get 2-3 birds dropped off every week, and some of these were pets whose owners would eventually miss their birds so much that they change their minds.
A Bird Park vet named Gan came to the counter to pick up the bird. He told us that this was the fifth (!) kingfisher they had received recently. It seems kingfishers are migratory birds and while passing through our island, some of them injure themselves. I wondered if the haze had anything to do with it. Anyway Gan said that they would do their utmost for the bird.
Somehow this little adventure made Singapore a nicer place to be in for me.
Yesterday, while I was carrying Aramis, his usual razzing sound suddenly changed into “la, la, la, la”.
First consonant-vowel syllable! I was so surprised and tickled and lala-ed along with him. So there we were, mother and child, dancing around the living room, saying “la, la, la” to each other like we were having the most important conversation of our lives. (And so we were!)
Then I tried to get him to move to “ma, ma” but it was not to be. One can but try….
Aramis is teething! The poor fellow is drooling non-stop, and when I carry him, he leans forward , fastens his whole mouth on my chin, and hangs there for a long time like a limpet on an abandoned ship…. It’s really quite a sight.
The problem now is that when he’s done breastfeeding, he likes to give a hard chomp or two. I can’t anticipate it so all I can do is suffer the abuse before I pull away and tell him “no!” as firmly as I can manage. But Limpet Boy looks back so pitifully that my protests have been quite half-hearted.
The travails of motherhood…..