Archives for category: Imperfect Kids

Raeven has invented another new game, and it’s spooky how much sense it makes to me, a grownup. And not only that – how much fun it really is.

Check it out: She changes some of the lyrics of songs into hilarious combinations.

For instance, Nancy Stewart‘s Shake Play song, with the original lyrics:

I like to eat my apples, red and yellow too
And if you give me apples green, I’ll make an apple pie for you
Come on and shake, shake, shake your apples
Shake ’em way up high
Shake ’emĀ  to the left and shake ’em to the right
Let’s have a little apple pie
I like to eat bananas, ripe and yellow too
And if they’re really, really ripe, I’ll make banana cream pie for you
Come on and shake, shake, shake your bananas
Shake ’em way up high
Shake ’em to the left and shake ’em to the right
Let’s have a little banana cream pie
Come on and shake, shake, shake your apple
Shake your banana too
Shake ’em to the left and shake ’em to the right
I’ll make a fruit salad for you, it’s true
I’ll make a fruit salad for you, that’s what I’ll do
I’ll make a fruit salad for you

Raeven changed them to:

I like to eat my TOESIES, red and yellow too
And if you give me TOESIES green, I’ll make A TOESIES pie for you
Come on and shake, shake, shake your TOESIES
Shake ’em way up high
Shake ’em to the left and shake ’em to the right
Let’s have a little TOESIES pie
I like to eat MY FEET, ripe and yellow too
And if they’re really, really ripe, I’ll make FEET cream pie for you
Come on and shake, shake, shake your FEE-EET
Shake ’em way up high
Shake ’em to the left and shake ’em to the right
Let’s have a little FEET cream pie
Come on and shake, shake, shake your TOESIES
Shake your FEE-EET too
Shake ’em to the left and shake ’em to the right
I’ll make a FEET salad for you, it’s true
I’ll make a FEET salad for you, that’s what I’ll do
I’ll make a FEET salad for you

You can download the MP3 here and have a grand old time singing about feet and toesies salad :).


A bitter sweet moment.

As much as I dislike loading my kids with sugar, how can you not love that look on Rae’s face?

You can’t deny it. The joy of junk food.

One of the more enjoyable – and harrowing – parts of parenting is to watch your child interact with other children.

Today, she made friends with some children a couple of years older and the conversation went something like this:

Girl: Are you from China?
Rae: No, I’m from Malaysia.
Girl: You look like you’re China.

Her logic defies even me so don’t ask.

So she comes over and I take off her band for her, explaining to her that she is Malaysian Chinese, which made both of them right. Rae shakes loose her hair and runs back, fully expecting her new friend to go, “Ohhhh NOW I see what you mean!”, which, of course, didn’t happen.

A couple of minutes, the conversation took a turn:

Girl: You know, China is becoming very powerful.
Rae: Well, Malaysia is powerful too…

All I could do was smile. I was so proud of her.

Here’s Rae, running about, proudly Malaysian with her Malaysian heritage hair abound.


It was the girls’ bedtime, and I was reading Fox in Socks to Raeven, something I rarely do since that book annoys the hell out of me.

But since she gets to choose her two books, I had to read it, so I read the whole thing. Took me ten minutes but when I did, I half wanted to throw up.

At the end, Rae sighed contentedly. And just as I thought that she would sink right into her pillow and go straight to sleep (right…), she sat straight up as though she’d just remembered something.

“Open your mouth, Mommy!” she demanded.


“I wanna see!”

I obeyed. She peered into my cavernous mouth and inspected it for a second.

“Okay, your tongue is still straight.”

Satisfied, she climbed up to her bunk bed.


This is what makes all the meltdowns worth it.

One thing I did not mention about Rae when I wrote about how she was different from me, was that my daughter is also a Really Sore Loser.

It has gotten so bad that these days, she even cheats her way to victory, and no matter how much I try to reason with her, winning remains her ultimate goal in every game she plays. And she will make you rue the day she loses and I mean, kicking-spitting-screaming-The-Exorcist-headspinning rue.

No, I’m kidding. She doesn’t do any of that but she will weep and refuse to play another round.

During our weekly preschool meeting today, I shared this problem with my friend S, a seasoned mom of three. And to my relief (which sounds bad, I know, but it helps to know other people’s kids suck) she told me that her oldest child was that way as well. And what she did was that she created opportunities where her child could ‘practice’ losing by making family game night, three times a week.

“She would refuse to play and I had to make her because it was family game night. And then when she did play, she would taunt the rest of the family, so that we would kick her out so she wouldn’t have to play, and in not playing, she won’t have to risk losing. In the end, I had to make her play through the game. Sorry is a good game to start. And remember, practice makes perfect.”

All I can say is, S is a genius (she said she started her children on Sorry as young as three). Isn’t family game night just the best idea ever?

Thing is, her oldest child is now in her teens, and she still has the problem of not being able to handle defeat. So don’t expect family game night to make the problem go away.

“It just helps her to accept and deal with the fact that you can’t win at everything, but it doesn’t take away their dislike for defeat,” says S.

And here I thought that it was a PreK or at most elementary thing.

Sigh. Well, it doesn’t hurt to try. Good thing I love board games!

I’ve never been a book parent (you know, parents who read books from What to Expect When You’re Expecting right up to Parenting Your Out-of-Control Teenager) but since Rae’s little outbreak, I’ve been doing some research online and man, there is just too much info out there. Not all of it can be trusted but they are still good to know.

I discovered I am a weak-willed parent.

Well, I didn’t need the Internet to tell me that.

And that Rae may be a strong-willed child. No kidding.

I think the parts that make most sense are:

A strong-willed child likes to help make decisions. When possible give your child choices. “Would you like to have a chocolate chip cookie or strawberry ice cream?” Give them projects in which they can take charge, like planning the family vacation. A strong-willed child doesn’t want to control you; he just wants you to allow him some control.

A strong-willed child will only comply with rules or laws when they make sense. Give them a solid reason for a rule.

A strong-willed child wants to feel unique and special. He does not want to be ordinary. He struggles against the confines of traditions and conformity. <== OH YEA!

and most important of all:

Stay on your child’s team, even when it appears to be a losing team. You’ll have the rest of your life to enjoy mutual fellowship if you don’t overreact to frustration now.

Why does a strong-willed child do what he or she does? Robert J Mackenzie had this to say:

It is often because he is trying to test your rules, by ‘doing research’, to see what he can get away with and what works for him.

Dr. MacKenzie teaches that effective discipline starts by giving a ‘clear, firm message’ that focuses on the behavior you are trying to control and not the child, is ‘specfic and direct’, is given in your ‘normal voice’ and includes the ‘consequences for noncompliance.’

The hardest part for me? The calm ‘normal’ voice. I am an emotional person, and can run hot and cold in half a second flat.  

I guess practice makes perfect!

ps. Rae has been really good after the incident. She has said a million I Love Yous and has come to me whenever she faces a conflict with her sister. Just one minute ago, she came to me complaining that Skyler would not share with her. We worked through the problem where she sort of understands that her two-year old sister may not get what sharing means, and that she has to show her.

“Mommy, Mei Mei does NOT understand what sharing means! I’ve showed her and she doesn’t know. This is fuster-rating!”

Believe it or not, that’s progress. At least she’s not ripping the toy off her sister, right?

When Lokes and I moved to the US, we pretty much moved blindly.

We didn’t know if he would earn enough to support all four of us. We didn’t know how much our monthly expenses would be. We didn’t even know if we would be able to communicate properly with the Americans. Sure, we speak English, but English is not American (just like Malaysian is not Indonesian).

But the one thing we knew right off the bat was that our kids would have better childhoods compared to the ones they would’ve had back in Malaysia. Instead of weekends spent trolling The Curve or One Utama or some other bigger, better super mall, or cooped up in some indoor playground because of the haze or the heat, the girls are now able to go to the beach almost every day, or tool around on their bikes or trikes at the park. Summer comes and we are eating strawberries right off the field. In the fall, the girls trudge around in the mud, picking out pumpkins. And if we’re really lucky, winter would bring a gift of snow, and the girls would spend hours just messing around in our backyard, building – and eating – snowmen.

If I remember correctly, the last time we visited a mall was last fall. Bizarre since this is the country that created the mall.

Don’t be mistaken. It’s not that these things are not available back home. We have parks and the most beautiful beaches you will ever see in this lifetime. We even have strawberries in Cameron Highlands. But even having lived all our lives there, we rarely did these things.

We took the girls to Taman Perdana ONCE.

We took them to the SS2 park TWICE.

We took Rae to Karambunai and Pork Dickson (beaches) ONCE and even those were Lokes’ company offsite trips. We simply tagged along because we would otherwise not have the time or inclination.

And therein lies the irony. That we worked so hard that even though we had the money, we didn’t have the time to do anything as a family.

We may not have as much money today. And we may not drive an expensive car or own any branded stuff. Honestly, I can’t even remember the last time we took the whole family out some place fancy for dinner, something we used to do almost every week back home. In fact, there have been days, I swear, that we’ve looked at our bank account and wondered if we could get the girls new clothes or shoes without dipping yet again into our savings.

It’s THAT bad.

And then, there are days when you see your children standing knee-deep in rows and rows of ripe, crimson strawberries, their faces and fingers stained red from stuffing their faces with the ruby fruit, juice dribbling down their chins and onto their pristine, white not-so-much-for-berry-picking clothes.

And as they squint into the ripe afternoon sun looking for me because they’ve walked so far ahead, their hands working quickly through the bushes, their mouths chomping even faster, I can hear these words come tumbling out of their busy little mouths.

“MmmmMmmm Mommy. Stwabewwies! Mmmmm!”


It is these moments that let you know that it’s not about being able to afford a trip to Disneyland, or getting your daughter that Limited Edition $29.95 Magic of the Rainbow Barbie, or having the perfect house.

It is these moments, these little gems of sheer joy that come bursting through when you least expect it, just from being able to spend an hour in the hot sun, plucking and eating dust-covered, earthy strawberries until you feel as though you may just burst at the seams.

These are the moments they will remember.

Yesterday, as my girls and I were making our way to the car after jazzercise, Rae announced, loudly and purposefully within earshot of my friends’ children, that we were going to McDonald’s.

Since we made no such plans, I reacted.

“No, we aren’t!”

“Mommy! Don’t say that!” She barked at me.

And then her face crumbled.

For 30 minutes after the incident, I tried to demystify my five-year-old’s actions (by talking her ear off). Her decision to suddenly make something up for no reason, had shocked me to my very core. Why did she lie? Was it to make her little friends jealous? Isn’t that kind of…bad? Cruel? Evil?!

Is my five-year-old evil?!

When we picked Lokes up from the office, I ‘reported’ the incident to him. He was as shocked as I was – and a little scared as well.

“Did you talk to her?” he whispered worriedly in Cantonese (the girls were napping in the car but we didn’t want to take chances).

“Of course. I asked her why she did what she did,” I whispered back.

“What did she say?”

“She didn’t know what to say so I asked her if she was saying we were going to McDonald’s to make her friends jealous. She didn’t know what jealous was, so I gave her an example, that if I said I was going to McDonald’s, and I told her that she couldn’t go, I asked her how she would feel.”

“What did she say?”


“And then? Did you tell her not to do it again?”

“Of course I did. I told her if she doesn’t want to be made to feel like that, that she cannot do it to her friends. I even asked her how she would feel, if someone did it to you and me. People she cared about. But don’t expect it to be fixed overnight.”

Lokes sighed. We sat in silence for a while.

“Do you think all kids are like that?” I asked. Hopefully.

“I don’t know…”

“Seems so…cruel. Like she’s evil.”

“Maybe they are.”

“Yea, kids can be cruel, right?”



Imperfect parenting rule #22: When there are no answers, assume the worst.