Amidst the craziness and fuzziness of Covid-19, new work-from-home routines and increased workload both directly and indirectly due to the virus situation, I received an email from one of my function leaders in the US, with the subject title above, which I’m gladly leveraging for this entry.
She shared a personal story about her twin daughters who had to undergo brain surgery for a condition they were diagnosed with at 4 years old.
One of her twins went for the surgery first; it didn’t work and she was in constant pain while the brain surgeons tried to develop a new procedure to try to help her.
They weren’t sure if the next surgery was going to work either. There was so much uncertainty and to this day, it remained the most difficult time in her life. She would have done anything to stop her daughters’ pain, but she felt so helpless then.
Today, both her daughters are happy and healthy young women. Someone asked them how they went through something so major when they were so young.
“All I remember is hanging out in the hospital bed all day with mom watching movies – it was great!”
During what was the darkest point in her life, her daughters remembered the light and joy and the good things that happened.
It was her call to us, to remember the good things that are happening, the new connections we are making, the time with our families and the little things that make us smile in the next few weeks or even months of hardship and inconvenience due to the virus situation.
It is a good reminder that in the grand scheme of things, nothing matters as much as my family and friends staying healthy and safe.
I took this photo on Sunday, after standing in front of the Lego friends shelf in Toy’r’us for a good 20 minutes.
I’d dropped Clarissa off at the English class, gone to Popular to hunt for notebooks for her to practise writing Chinese words, and went into Toy’r’us to look for little treats to get for her.
The drop-off then felt a little like the drop-off at her school, four years ago, when she was barely two and didn’t want to be away from Mummy and Daddy.
We’d done it right, or so I thought. Completed the rest of the homework and revised her spelling in the morning, went to Ah-gong’s place for lunch and play, headed home where she showered and then napped for a good 1.5 hours before heading out for the English class.
At the entrance, she asked me, in a very small voice, if I could speak to her teacher again.
“I cannot copy so fast. Can you help me tell teacher?” She said.
I told her what I’ve tried to repeatedly assure her, “It’s ok if you are not as fast as your classmates. You just have to try your best and it’s ok.”
She started tearing up. “But I cannot follow. Can you help me ask teacher to tell me if I’m doing it right?”
I agreed to speak to her teacher, but she’d already started crying by now.
Her teacher came out and we spoke. She said she’d write the words on the board for the kids to copy. She’d not tell them if they did something right because she wanted them to be confident and not ask for assurance over every little thing; she would only tell them if they did it wrongly.
Which was fair, and it was the same thing she’d told me the previous week.
But Clarissa got more and more worried and by then, she was crying uncontrollably while hugging my leg and refusing to let go of me.
“If you don’t mind, I’ll just take her into the classroom,” her teacher said to me firmly.
With that and the assurance that I’ll be waiting right outside for her when the lesson is over, she went in, the big bag she was carrying on her shoulders overwhelming her small frame.
I felt bad. It has always been a dilemma as a parent – to push or not to push? When to push? How much to push?
Is this something that is too much for a 5.5year-old to take?
I stood in front of the Toy’r’us shelves wondering, how can I cheer her up? How do I assure her that life is not all work and no play? Yet how do I balance it and not make her think that hard work (or work) would always be rewarded? (In other words, is buying toys a short-term bribe that will turn into a long-term problem?)
I texted the hubs to tell him about how Clarissa cried before class (he was back at home handling Allie who thinks NAPS ARE FOR THE WEAK 😂), and he said, she’d be ok.
I texted my friend to tell her about my #mumguilt and dilemma, and she assured me that Clarissa would catch up in no time.
Still I stood in front of the shelf for a long time, thinking about what to buy and what not to buy.
Clarissa’s favourite Lego friend is Stephanie; Allie’s favourite is Olivia.
Stephanie is very sporty and kinda like the leader of the pack. Olivia is science-y one, who builds robots and does experiments and whatnots.
Only Olivia’s and Andrea’s toy cubes were available on shelf.. so I ended up checking Toy’r’us Online to see if the rest were available.
They were! And it was the last day of the March holidays promotion.. so I ended up carting out all five of them.
I know they’d both love playing with the set (I’m very surprised by how Allie loves watching Lego friends with Clarissa) because they love the friends and the songs.
Now I’ll have to think about how and when to give it to them.
I ended up buying just one thing from the store that’s not a “surprise egg” or an “LOL” toy.
I waited for Clarissa to come out from her English class. She smiled brightly when she saw me, and immediately ran over to give me a hug before she started talking about how the class went.
It was good! I know my spelling! Teacher lent me her pencil and I can write faster now!
I spoke to her Teacher, who suggested I buy the tripod pencil for Clarissa. It has a better grip and indeed she was writing with better ease with it.
(I’m finding her Teacher really strict by the way, because when Clarissa tried to chime in about the pencil, she turned and told Clarissa, “Remember what I said about waiting to speak?”
It’s probably not a bad thing, but I shall observe how it goes.)
We immediately walked over to Popular to get the magic pencil. 😂
Clarissa was in a happy mood, chatting about class and her new friends. I asked her if the class went well, and she said yes. I told her I was sad seeing her cry. She said she’s fine now.
Over at Popular, she saw a Little Pony and a Disney Princess coloring box, did a ee-nee-mini-minee-mo which landed on Disney Princess, but picked up the Little Pony one anyway.
“Can I get this Mummy?” She asked.
It was on 20% discount so I said yes.
“Can we get one for Meimei too?” She asked. It wasn’t exactly very cheap so I told her they should share. 😂
She saw some Sharpies and asked if we could get it for Allie because, “All her colouring pens are spoilt and have no ink already.”
She was right and so I said ok.
We eventually found the legendary tripod pencils after some help from the staff, paid for our stuff and met up with the hubs who drove over to pick us up.
Had a nice dinner of spaghetti and fries (the girls’ request) and in the midst of dinner, I turned to look at Clarissa munching all the noodles and fries and smiled at her when our eyes met.
Out of the blue, she stood up, ran towards me, hugged me and gave me a peck on my cheek, “I love you Mummy!”
I laughed at the outburst of affection, though deep inside my heart melted.
I hope she understands. I think she does.
Maybe I’m overthinking this whole #mumguilt thing.
That night as she requested for her nightly cuddles and talked about her day, she told me she was happy because she played at Ah-gong’s place and upset because Allie did something naughty.
The English class did not make it to the list.
Perhaps all she remembers, and I hope all that she would remember, is the feeling and knowledge that we are all behind her and that we all love her, whether she aces the English class, or any class for that matter, or not.