A manual on parenting

Last night Zayan kept doing things despite us telling him not to do it – jumping on sofa, throwing pillows around, playing around with his food, making a mess, throwing toy at his Ayah (when his Ayah asked for it). By the end of it, I was tired of it and despite multiple ‘time outs’ and ‘I’m sorry’, he kept misbehaving. What made me even angrier is that he would be laughing when we’re clearly being angry at him. Seriously, when I was a kid, we were too scared of our parents to misbehave like this. Kan mau penampar atau kana cubit ada kali masa damit. (Actually my dad has never laid a hand on me but the mere thought of him being angry would make me scared)

Anyway, I had enough after awhile and just took him upstairs, mandi, changed to PJs and sleeptime without any milk. I felt bad pulang because he didnt eat much dinner, but I figured he’ll wake up if and when he’s hungry and had milk at hand for him if that happens (it did).

Sigh.

I asked M – “Do you think we’re doing the right things (as parents)?”
“I dont know. Sometimes I think we are, sometimes we’re not…”

Sigh.

If only there was a manual on parenting. Sometimes I imagine what our beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. would do. Like I think of his characters and think what he would do in these situations. (Be patient is the epitome of it all) I try to remember the stories of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W with children. Like how when a kid peed on him and he just asked someone to get some water. And like how he carried his granddaughter during salah. When he bowed, he would put her down. And when he stood up, he would pick her up again.

Anyway, I’ve researched (googled) on more hadiths and came across these:

1. Narrated by Anas ibn Malik:

The Prophet said, “(It happens that) I start the prayer intending to prolong it, but on hearing the cries of a child, I shorten the prayer because I know that the cries of the child will incite its mother’s passions.” (Al-Bukhari)

2. Allah’s Messenger kissed Al-Hasan ibn `Ali while Al-Aqra` ibn Habis At-Tamim was sitting with him . Al-Aqra` said, “I have ten children and have never kissed one of them.” The Prophet cast a look at him and said, “Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.” (Al-Bukhari)

3. Reported by Abdullah ibn Shaddad from his father:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came out to lead us in either maghrib or ‘isha’ one night, and he was carrying Hassan or Husain. The Messenger of Allah came forward and put (the child) down, then he said takbir and started to pray. During the prayer, he prostrated and made his prostration long.

My father said: “I raised my head and I saw the child on the back of the Messenger of Allah whilst he was prostrating, so I returned to my prostration.”

When the Messenger of Allah finished praying, the people said:

“O Messenger of Allah, during your prayer you prostrated for so long that we thought something had happened or that you were receiving Revelation.”

He said:

Nothing at all happened, but my son was riding on my back and I did not want to disturb him until he had had enough. (An-Nisa’i)

I have to remind myself of this whenever Zayan does this to me.

4. Narrated by Abu Hurairah:

“Dates used to be brought to Allah’s Messenger immediately after being plucked. Different persons would bring their dates till a big heap collected (in front of the Prophet). Once Al-Hassan and Al-Husain were playing with these dates, one of them took a date and put it in his mouth. Allah’s Messenger looked at him and took it out from his mouth and said: “Don’t you know that Muhammad’s offspring do not eat what is given in charity?” (Al-Bukhari)

This explains how we should just take the offending item (things we ask not to touch or eat) and give brief explanation of why not to do it.

5. Anas said:

“Allah’s messenger was one of the best of men in character. One day, he sent me to do something, and I said: “I swear by Allah that I will not go”. But in my heart I felt that I should go to do what the Prophet of Allah had commanded me. So I went out and came upon some boys who were playing in the street. All of a sudden Allah’s Messenger, who had come up behind, caught me by the back of the neck, and when I looked at him, he was laughing. He said: “Go where I ordered you, little Anas”. I replied: “Yes, I am going, messenger of Allah!” (Abu Dawud)

Of course, I’m only human and get impatient and raise my voice. But I hope I can harness any anger or annoyance yang inda berpatutan, so I do not get too emotional when angry/annoyed. InsyaAllah. I pray that I would be as gentle and merciful and try to follow the footsteps of our Rasul, Ameen.

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A mother’s expectations

Something has been weighing heavily in my mind these last few days. I try not to think about it too much but I think by confronting it and finally writing about it, I can resolve it in my heart and head.

Zayan has done me proud since the day he entered our lives. Yes, he was a high maintenance baby (cries and fusses a lot, has very specific needs to be met, etc) but he is also a very ‘interactive’ child. He loves giving hugs. He likes meeting new people and saying hello and being all around inquisitive with them. He is very advanced with his motor skills when he was a baby. He says the sweetest things sometimes.

But lately, I have done the one thing that parents shouldnt (but inevitably) do. I compare. I look at other kids and think how articulate they are. How they seem to understand fully rules, how to play a game, general social etiquette. I look at other children and am amazed at how much they can count already, how they identify letters.. all around the same age as Zayan.

I have to keep reminding myself that Zayan has always been delayed with his language skills. He didn’t start speaking until he was 2 years old – I really kid you not. He would understand what we say and understand instructions but he just wouldn’t talk. However much I repeat words, ask him to say things, NADA. And then he started speaking and he says things more and more now. But he isn’t near what (some of) his peers are. My friend, who has seen Zayan growing up, reminded me that he has gone leaps and bounds in the last few months.

I go through counting and alphabet books with him and he doesn’t seem to remember what I teach him a minute after we went through it. *sabar fiz sabar* Then, he surprises me by saying them a couple of days later. I tend to forget how much of a sponge his brain is. He may not show it to me right there and then but he has demonstrated that he is absorbing things so much. Sometimes he says words that I’m not even sure where he gets them from – for example I was explaining what Ayah’s job is (he keeps asking “Where Ayah gone?” – like multiple times in a day) and he said “Ayah work in office.” Where did he get that from???

And I keep doubting what I’m doing. Am I doing enough? Am I not teaching him enough? He likes to play pretend and re-enact movie scenes. Now this is ok, and quite funny. But it isn’t so much when we’re walking in the mall and he decides to re-enact robot scenes or Kungfu Panda scenes. With full facial emotions and arm gestures. Often stopping people in their tracks and looking bewildered (or terrified if they’re kids). I feel he is in his own world sometimes and doesn’t understand the social etiquette of not being in his own world when in public! I’ve tried telling him that he can only do this at home (“In car?” he asks. “Ok, in car too…”) but he play pretend from time to time, somewhat unable to control himself.

Don’t even get me started on him having the occasional hitting. That said, he was playing with his friend Riaz the other day and they were fighting over some cushions. He suddenly hit Riaz in the face. All the adults, myself included, were standing at the other end of the room. Riaz sat shocked and turned towards me. Before I said anything, Zayan (whose back was towards the adults) hugged and apologised. The two of them started playing together again. I could never be more proud of the two boys – Riaz for not crying and telltaling and Zayan for apologising.

Anyway, I have to stop comparing. I have to remember that he will get there eventually and he will mature eventually. It has dawned on me that I have my own expectations of my child and sometimes I just have to let it go. I’m doing my best and I will strive to give him the encouragement and resources to grow in his own time.

I love you Zayan, and I’ll try not to be too much of a Tiger Mama.

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Traveling long haul with kids: part 1

The first time Zayan went on a plane, he was six months old. We were flying to Brunei and I flew solo. (Mumtathil couldn’t go just yet and would meet up with us a week later) It was actually an ok trip, with minimal crying and stress. And I think it’s because I was fairly organised with it.

That’s the secret of travelling with kids, I feel. Things need to be organised and easily accessible. I read an extensive blogpost by this ex stewardess on what to expect when travelling long haul with kids, which was really useful. Unfortunately I can’t find it now :(

So, here’s my take of travelling with Zayan, both as a baby and as a toddler (he last flew when he was 2.5 years old – again on my own):

Arriving at the airport:
– Remember to check in online if you can. The queue for online check in is usually much much less. Toddlers hate queuing!

– Also book your seats, especially if you want a bassinet.

– Think of how you want to have your kid travelling around the airport. It’s such a long walk from the moment you walk in the airport to the gate. When Zayan was a baby, I used the Mobywrap and had him wrapped around me from the get go. I didn’t have to take him out of it at the security check (YAY!). When he was older, I had him in a stroller, which I used all the way to the gate. The stroller can be brought to the gate as long as you inform them when checking in.

– Milk: I brought expressed breast milk once in a carry on bag (I put it in a small cooler bag filled with dry ice packs). I think I was asked to taste it, but can’t really remember now. As long as you inform them at the security check, there wasn’t much of a fuss. They did have to check it in their machine but it wasn’t a problem really (just 2-3 minutes of waiting).

Then when he was older and drinking formula/cow’s milk, I just bought some milk inside the terminal. In Brunei, they didn’t have this of course but I did bring in milk (formula) and they didnt stop me.

– When going through security check, I just had to be efficient. Make sure our outer gear is removed. Pack up the stroller. Have all liquids in one bag. Have electronics (phone and ipad) out.

In the terminal:
– I have learnt that it’s better to eat before going into the plane. Only because it might be another hour or so before meal is served. From house to airport, it takes us two hours so by the time we’re in terminal, Zayan is most likely to be famished. So it’s better to just have a meal. A full toddler is a happy toddler.

– Ditto for toileting activities. Empty the kid’s bladder and change nappy before boarding. It would be another hour before this can be done and anyway, the plane’s toilets are not that big and comfortable anyway. (It was a bit like juggling act to have zayan as a 2 year old and myself in the cramped space of a toilet – and ensuring he doesn’t press any alarms/roll down the toilet roll/any other mischiefs).

– Before getting inside the plane, when packing the stroller, take any bits that are loose. I forgot to take one of the stroller adapter thing and it got lost by the time we arrived in Brunei :( Lesson learnt!

In the plane:
– I have surprise ‘presents’ for Zayan in the plane when he was older. Just small, lightweight stuff like books, stickers, little car. Given at intervals ie before he gets too bored/stresses me out.

– It’s better to bring a lot of snacks as well. Zayan eats a lot of things – he’ll eat rice, pasta, meat, chicken. But he eats what he recognises. So sometimes it takes awhile before he’ll eat something that looks new to him. Or he wouldn’t even eat at all. Also the kids meals actually is not what zayan is used to – he doesn’t eat nuggets, pizza. So, we should prepare to bring stuff which he can eat if he refuses to eat plane food.

– Remember to change nappy every so often! He slept a lot really, maybe in 18 hour flight (two legs of 8 hours each and a stop at Dubai), he would sleep 10-12 hours. Sometimes I wouldnt wake him up so as not to disturb him but actually forgot to change his nappy. Once this happened and I found his seat to be wet and him having a really full nappy *cue crying emoji*. We had 3 change of clothes: one for the overflowing nappy and two for being so messy/spilled drinks. Sigh. SO MORAL OF STORY: Bring at least 3 sets of clothes and also, for yourself.

– When baby sleeps, you rest too! Because usually for Zayan, he would sleep on one leg and then be so energised for the next!

– Organise your kid’s carry on bag well. I like the idea of having ziplock bags and putting a set of clothes for each kid in it. Then I dont have to rummage around looking for Zayan or Ayman’s clothes. Also, have a little bag that only has changing mat, wipes and one or two nappy. Then, you can just whip it out and go to the toilet with it each time.

– If it’s a night flight, I do change Zayan into PJs when we’re in the plane. Basically, treat it like his bedtime at home.

Ok, that’s all I can think of right now. Next: Jet lag and how I hate it.

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Changing time perception

Ok, so we’re flying in 12 days time. I’m not counting days really. Ok, I am but I’m trying not to.

I’m making a list of what to pack and prepare before going. Like exchanging money. And printing tickets and stuff like that.

You know, digressing a little bit, last week I prepared stuff for Zayan’s swimming lesson the night before his lesson. It suddenly felt to me like I HAVE BECOME A MOM. Ok, so I’ve been a mum now for 3 years and a bit. I am more organised than I was pre-babies but I still find myself rushing through things and going ‘COME ON ZAYAN! We’re late now!’ (as he slowly walk to the door and deciding whether to bring his fire engine or not). So, now I feel like I’ve had it with being late and rushing through things. Aside from the stress that comes with it, I find that Zayan is in a better mood when we’re not rushing. I mean, when we didn’t rush to swimming lesson and he had time to take it all in before jumping into the pool, he was in such a better mood. So, it’s time I curb this bad habit of mine.

I recently read a blog post on why people are late (here by CupofJo). I could totally relate, especially the one where I have poor time perception. I think that I can get ready and out of the house in 5 minutes (10 mins minimum in reality). And that if the appointment is at 2.30 pm, I take it as being there at 2.30 pm. Rather than I should give myself 10 minutes leeway and should be there 2.20 pm. So, I am trying to change this time perception of mine, insyaAllah slowly but surely.

And of course, having things ready the night before will help. I used to think of this as such a cumbersome and boring thing to do. Why prepare stuff when I could just do it the same day? Well, I’m changing now and getting ready stuff the night before. I feel like such a mom. In my head, mums have it all ready before you even articulate what you want/need.

OK, where was I? Oh yeah. Making a list for travelling.

Fortunately, I’ve got a ‘Babychecklist app’ that I’ve kept since Zayan started travelling. It doesn’t matter if it’s one night to my in laws or two weeks to Brunei, I use this app to check that I’ve got everything. I’ve made a personalised list and it’s great because I have a list for when Zayan was a baby (now applicable for Ayman) and when he’s older.

In my next post – because I like compartmentalising my posts- I’ll talk through my travel history with Zayan just to jog memories of what I should bring and what stuff to remember to do.

Ta for now!

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Counting days

I am counting days. We’re going on holiday. Out of the country. I am massively excited but also wary and cautious that something will stop us from going (because I look forward to it so much).

In the meantime, we’re just going to contain this excitement and go on with our lives.

Like making cupcake.

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(The cupcake was so easy and quick to make -15 mins- but the icing was too sweet and have made Zayan super hyper)

And Ayman will continue to be my human doll.

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Much love,
me

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The other day, I was trying to find my old blog and had a moment of panic when I couldn’t find it. You see I have always wanted to export the contents of my blog into hard copy. For memories sale. Like how I keep my old journals/diaries still. But that project never took off.

Finally, I found it and exported it into pdf. So happy, it is saved now! 11 years of writing and pictures. It’s amazing how I’ve been blogging since 2001. That’s 14 years of blogging!! My writing has changed as well, or perhaps my priorities and responsibilities have changed now. There’s less exclamation marks for sure lol. I look at the young ones(by that I mean those still in uni) and they are so upbeat and excited. That’s how my writings were then.

Anyway there are some stuff that I still stand by with.

Wrote this on October 20, 2006:

“It has taken me YEARS to realise how grateful I should be to my parents. I have always looked at myself as the daddy’s girl. I look up to him so much and we are alike in so many ways that I get attached to him. When I was a kid and after he scolded me, I would go to my room and cry my hearts out. But before long, he would come in and invite me for icecream/makan luar/dinner and I know it’s his way of a peace offering. He always knew how to make me smile, doing all these sweet things like buying me gardenia bean paste bun when he came here.

On the other hand, when I was a teenager, I could easily get annoyed at my mother. As I grow older, people commented that I look more and more like her, which infrutiated me. I would get annoyed when she told me to clean my room, cut my hair, buy this kain and this and that. When she likes big flowers, I like small. When she wants me to wear this, I want to wear that. She was different from my father, which to me, meant that she was different from me. It was only till that I came here that I begin to realise how much my mother laboured for me (if there is such a sentence). All the times she cooked in the early mornings before work just to feed us, when she would sleep in my bed whenever I was ill, when she made this beautiful flower piece in primary school, when she sew my trousers. All the little things that my memory seems to forget.

And then, I realise that I wish I was more like her. That I can one day be super-mum too. My mum (in a kambang tone, I cant help it) is the best cook and baker. She can sew, knit, whatever every woman from a finishing school can do, she can do it too. She maintains an immaculate house that whenever she starts spring-cleaning, I get worried for my belongings. Mama finished from high school at an early age. She didnt go to university, she didnt learn english language properly, she is very technology-illiterate (yes, even more than me). But she worked as a great nurse, and I knew this because whenever I medic-talk, she would always give me the right answers. I think, how can my mum do all these things, take care of a husband, 4 children and yet have time for everything else?”

I have to go now. Ayman crying.

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If you’re happy…

My ‘stress’ of the day: tryinng to quicken process of mother nature as the British gas people are coming in 20 minutes time. You can’t quicken these things! (Unlike some people who can go and take a dump during short lunch break, but that person shall remain nameless)

Anyway, it has occured to me that I can be a hermit and not go out of the house at all and life can proceed as normal. Everything can be done online these days. Online banking. Grocery shopping. Amazon shopping. Clicking on the kindle. Skyping. All our bills are done through online debit. Takeaway meals. Why would I need to go out??? Oh yea, so I dont go crazy between these walls of my house.

M is oncall this week, ie he’s out of the house from 8 am to 10 pm. I am managing reasonably well. My patience was tested last night but I held back my tongue as much as I could and tried to exude much zen and calmness instead. Do you know what can make you happy? Singing the ‘If you’re happy and you know…’ song. Esp the hurray bit. Sing it to a kid and I challenge you not to smile as you pump those arms up in the sky and say hurray.

If you’re happy and you know it, and YOU REALLY WANT TO SHOW IT, If you’re happy and you know, you say HURRAY!

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