How Going Home For CNY Can Help Make You A Better Parent

We’re midway through the Chinese New Year celebrations for 2019, the Year of the Pig. Before we go further, I’d like to wish you a wonderful Chinese New Year, may the coming year bless you with abundance, prosperity, good health, plenty of wealth and tons of happiness. Now, let’s get to our regular programming.

For CNY, I went home to Tawau which is in the state of Sabah, the land below the wind. I got holed up in a house that 17 people slept in during the night and 20-30 people run around in during the day. Eight of those are someone’s grandkids.

With so many family nuclei crowded together, I had the exciting opportunity to observe parenting techniques practiced by each family member and their spouses. But first, let’s set the scene.

Community-based Parenting

In a large household, because not everyone can be at the same place as their children at the same time – some of us are cooking in the kitchen, others are smoking in the balcony, still others are doing housework while the kids are almost always never in a line of sight – we all depend on the unofficial community-based parenting method to keep all eight of the grandkids injury-free as much as possible.

What happens is that you parent the child that is closest to you (by proximity, not by relationship). As every child that runs around will call you a variation of uncle (伯伯 / 舅舅 / 叔叔) or auntie (阿姨 / 姑姑), you can pull rank and make them behave if they are misbehaving.

It’s amazing what an uncle or an aunt can do that their own parents can’t: make them switch off that phone, make them eat the food in front of them, make them stop cussing (kids cuss so much these days), make them stop running around, make them run more, make them stand still and look at the camera and smile like they mean it – stuff like that.

Effectiveness May Vary

Some aunts or uncles are more effective than others. Seniority doesn’t help much; the level of your voice and how stern you are does. Noticeably, the aunts talk more to the kids (is school fun? I bet it’s fun) while the uncles talk more to fellow parents (schools these days, sigh).

Some conversations get really personal.

One of my nephews had an incident a few months back with his mother that left everyone upset. The son, at the onset of puberty and possibly a rebellious stage, had upset his mother. The good news is she is tough and won’t let something like this faze her.

But this is an issue that should be addressed, and my husband carried out his role as uncle to talk to the boy about it. I admire his patience when talking to his nephew. He took the time to ask the boy what happened from his point of view. Rather than take what was told at face value, he asked questions that dug into the details, the kind of questions that tear fibs apart. The boy had no choice but to be completely honest.

Uncle promised a resolution with the mother. Nephew says to leave it alone. Uncle respected his nephew’s decision because he is growing up but made him promise to try harder to be more civil with his mother. Nephew accepts. They go back to their activities.

Doing It Longer Doesn’t Mean You’re Doing it Right

Correcting children’s behaviour is one thing. Correcting parent’s behaviour is another. We often look up to the older generation for tips on parenting, right? I mean, “you raised more kids that I will ever dream of having. They all survived to adulthood, they aren’t robbing banks or doing drugs, ipso facto you must be a great parent.”

With a line of reasoning like that comes a misplaced sense of confidence and belief in those who have been parents longer.

But doing it longer doesn’t mean you have been doing it right.

Parents had it far easier back then: the streets weren’t as dangerous, there is less toxins in our food, teaching was actually an ambition and a dream job, school headmasters were revered, people were less judgemental if you beat your kids etc. Old-timey parents get a Grade A for parenting if their kids grow up normal, in other words average. Average is good.

Today’s kids have to live up to higher expectations in more demanding environments. They have to deal with stress from studies as well as responsibilities in the classroom and at home. With both parents working, today’s children lack the emotional support that many of their parents had while growing up in single-working-parent households.

Society has also grown more dangerous and bold – it’s no longer a viable option for a child to walk to the store alone. In fact, if anything happens to the child during said walk, people call the parents an idiot for being neglectful yet never really ask what caused the environment to change so drastically between their relatively safer time and this currently problematic one. But I digress.

My point is we live in different times.

Old parenting methods may work but they no longer suffice. And we have to adjust and make changes. We need to communicate with our kids more. We must equip them with valuable knowledge and skills and ways to defend themselves. Don’t you agree? Yes? Try telling this to someone who has been a parent longer than you.

Excusing Behavioural Problems

How dare you say I don’t talk to my children enough. I talk to them all the time. Heck, I’ve been doing this far longer than you, my kids are older than yours. You wait until your kids are the same age, then you’ll see how hard you will have it. When that happens to you, then you’ll know.

Whoa, I’m sorry for trying to drop a hint that your child needs a little bit more of your time. This is not about you or your parenting skills. It’s about your kid. But fine, I’ll back off. Cause I get it: getting critiqued as a parent always makes one feel really bad. And let’s face it, you get a higher dose of those during CNY.

We all seem to think that if we fail as a parent, then it’s all over. I’ve learned that this is so not true. Parenting isn’t a job you can quit or a career you can leave. That thought is downright frightening. But at the same time, if you look at it a different way, this also means that even if you mess up a thousand times, you’re still going to keep your job as a parent. As long as you keep trying, and keep doing that job, it’s never really over.

Instead, what we (my finger is doing circles in the air right now) shouldn’t do but still do anyways, is that we set the bar low. We attribute every behavioural problem to a phase or a developmental stage. In other words, we make excuses for our kids. It’s almost a culture.

Child disrespecting you? “Oh it’s their rebellious stage, it will blow over soon.” Child can’t manage their studies well? “They’re kids. It’s unnatural to chain them to a desk for 6 hours a day.” Child stuck on screens a lot? “There’s nothing for them to do here, the weather is so hot, there are kidnappers out there on the prowl.” You get my drift.

When we make excuses for our kids, we are actually making excuses for ourselves. That’s when we stop trying. And that’s when we need to sit up and pay attention.

Tackling Parenting Like A Boss

(Have I got your attention? Want to have a share of the nuggets of parenting tips I’ve collected from various parents in the past few CNY? Come join me. Let’s all learn together-gether.)

I’ve learned to keep an open mind with parenting advice. Some parenting advice are golden, those passed down from generation to generation, those that have proven themselves over and over again. Others reek of passing trends (those gleaned from articles) and failure due to poor execution (low levels of commitment). It’s healthy to mix it all up and then pull the ones that work with your situation out of the parenting hat.

Bear in mind that what works for you may not work for others, and of course, vice versa. Also, what works for one child may not work for their sibling, and of course, vice versa. Parenting isn’t a science, it’s an art. #rollwiththepunches Here we go:

You have to commit if you want to be an effective parent. Be consistent. E.g. you can’t treat your kids being rude to you as a joke on a good day then snap at them when you are having a bad day. If they’re not supposed to be rude to you, tell them, every single time no matter what mood you are in.

You have to teach with your actions and your behaviour rather than your scoldings and lectures. Practice what you preach e.g. stop playing with your phone 24/7 if you want your kids to stop playing on their phones 24/7.

If parenting isn’t difficult, you probably aren’t doing it right. Worrying about whether you are doing this right is part of the process too. You need two things to help you through: faith and patience (time). The second one is harder, trust me.

Even if you mess up, it’s okay. It’s always okay. Stop beating yourself up. Stop being so stubborn. Learn from your mistakes. And stop doing the wrong thing again and again.

What works in one family may not work in another. Every technique works based on a set of circumstances (home environment, how much time you spend with your kid, principles you have lived with and are now passing down to your kids etc) e.g. not all kids function better if you scold them, some kids don’t require scolding in order to do what you ask but they may require specific instructions and words of encouragement. Adapt.

If you are going to complain about your child with them in the room, (to another adult), you need to sing praises in front of them too. Don’t do one in front of them and one behind them. Be fair. Keep their self esteem and how your actions affect them at the back of your head at all times.

Talking to your kids isn’t the same as communicating with them. Communicating with your kids is teaching them without it feeling like you are teaching them. Think that is hard? Then try teaching first. Teaching is the art of delivering what is in your head into your child’s head. It’s actually harder than it sounds. What you are telling them may not be what they are receiving on their end. You will need to always make the effort to make sure you both are on the same page. Hence, talking to your kids isn’t the same as communicating with them.

Kids have good opinions too. We just have to learn to listen. Sometimes we need to wait quite a while. Without interrupting them. While motivating them to speak. In a no-judgement zone. Without saying things like, “you’re a kid, what do you know?” And we need to do this often if we want to raise kids with good, solid, substantive opinions.

Kids who talk back grow up to be more assertive and sure of themselves. So long as they aren’t rude, give them some leeway. Never fall back on, “you do as I say because I said so” cause that will come back and bite your ass faster than you can say “because I said so”. Kids who talk back develop better sense of logic. Rather than discourage them, encourage them by breaking apart their argument. They will come back stronger and that trains their sense of logic to the point where that will keep them out of trouble because then they know how to tell right from wrong.

Teach your children respect so it becomes part of their principles. Children may think being rude is just being playful. Don’t wait until they make that association before you teach them to be polite when they speak to someone older than them. Make it so it is engrained in the way they are, to the point that if they see another child being rude to an older person, they will speak up.

In Conclusion

Oh, I’m done with the post. I just want to share something else: a theory and this cool shot of home.

During CNY, while it is festive to be amongst so many people at all hours of the day, the discomfort of working long hours in the kitchen and running through hoops to get things done in time does get to you. Meanwhile, children run free and get into trouble. Tempers flare, especially if those children belong to you.

I think that some Chinese ancestor from all those years ago noticed this and passed down specific rules like “No scolding or anger on the first day of Chinese New Year or bad luck shall befall upon you and your family”

As a reaction, parents proactively give warnings to their children, “Please behave on the first day of CNY, I don’t want to scold you please, it is bad luck. Please.” The children behave (or not) and the parents will ignore their shenanigans or correct them in a calm manner instead of shrieking at them for being such a hooligan, thereby keeping the harmonious nature of CNY in spite of all the stress and hectic goings-on behind the scenes.

In conclusion, I think the person who set this rule is a goddamn genius and deserves a Nobel Peace prize.

Who Has It Harder: Working Moms or Stay-At-Home Moms?

Yeah, I’m going there.

First of all, I have been many types of mothers: A full-time working mom, a part-time working mom, a full-time work-from-home mom and currently a stay-at-home mom.

I’m far from an authority from the subject but I have so to speak been there, and as my own editor, I have decided, that’s good enough.

Disclaimer: Please don’t take offence that I’m writing this from a mom’s POV. I can’t speak on behalf of dads even though some of the things here may apply to a father as well. Just do the gender switch in your head. Thanks.

Full Time Working Mom

Pros:

You spend time away from your children. You don’t have to be distracted at work unless you allow yourself to be. No one will come bother you every 5 minutes seeking your attention or approval when you don’t have either to spare. You contact them, their sitter or your mom, whenever you have time to spare and care. You’re in control of how you spend your time.

You have your own income to use. You can buy that bag or shoes or lipstick you want without needing to ask anyone for sponsorship. You don’t have to answer to anyone questioning your spending habits. It’s a privilege you don’t realise you have until it’s gone.

You will feel mother’s guilt. No matter what it is that you do, some people will give you a tough time because you aren’t attached to the hip to your kids. Are you spending enough time with your children? Do you help with homework? Do you send them for karate lessons, violin lessons, enrichment classes, tuition so they can keep up with the rest of the class? Why not? #urghleavemealone

Cons:

You spend time away from your children. You miss their first steps, their first words, their first crush, their first disappointment, all inside stories you could make references to when they are older (What was I like, mom? You were an angel in everything #coverstory). But the good news is that doesn’t make you less of a mom. If you make the effort to spend quality time with your kids, however short that time is, that’s what your children will turn into their childhood memories.

Sit down and have a chat with your kids. It’s the most liberating thing in the world.

You have your own income to use. This also means that you have to chip in when it comes to spending money on the children. Their tuition classes, birthday gifts for classmates, get-ups for school performances. Children are expensive. You just don’t realise how expensive they are until you start keeping track (which you totally should).

You will feel mother’s guilt. No matter what it is that you do, some people will give you a tough time because how dare you want time away from your children? They are angels. You had them, you have to take real good care of them. Are you making them homemade lunches for school and feeding them superfoods in every meal? Are you personally baking cookies and cakes for them to sell the school sale? Do you send them for karate lessons, violin lessons, enrichment classes, tuition so they can keep up with the rest of the class? Why not? #urghleavemealone

Stay-At-Home Mom

Pros:

You have all the time in the world. You can wake up whenever you like, sleep whenever you like, go out for tea with friends whenever you like because you are not tied down by any work schedule, opening or closing hours, or any company policy that prohibits you from leaving your workplace before your break time starts.

Your kids are your best friends. You are there for their firsts, 100ths and beyond. You can soothe them when they are sick or sad or disappointed or upset. You are there to remind them of what is important in life and how a drawback does not mean it is the end of the world. You keep them in check so they do not lose their way. And they do the same for you as well.

You’re in this together.

Your patience will be tested. After being around kids for a long time, you will develop a patience level for saints. You have the liberty to push everything else aside and sit down with them to ask, “Are you okay? Do you need my help with anything? I’m here for you.” And you have the freedom to wait for them to answer you and sometimes they will take a while to reply you. You will learn that patience is just practiced waiting.

Cons:

You have all the time in the world. But you are constantly tired because since people think you have all the time in the world, you don’t need (or deserve) breaks. You can go anywhere but you have to schedule that around your child’s drop-off and pick-up time. The things you do must always be done within a “window of opportunity” instead of something done in leisure.

Your best friends are your kids. You’ll develop children talk, watch children shows, sing children songs. You will know everything about your children’s TV show hosts, when they are coming to a theatre near you so you can get tickets. You will learn about how expensive children merchandise are. And you will lose touch on everything else grown-up if you don’t actively keep your grown-up side relevant.

Together TV time

Your patience will be tested. You will develop zero patience for things you have told them a thousand times. After a soft warning, a hard warning, a threat, the death stare, your kids will get the cue to do or not do something as per your command. This may extend to your spouse as well. It is good to be patient, but it isn’t good to be a pushover. Reserve energy for when you need to act, but always remember to act when the situation calls for it.

The Conclusion

As you can see, it’s neck-and-neck between the two groups in this so-not-exhaustive list. As much as people want to pit working moms versus non-working moms, all moms are constantly trying to make things work while trying to not fall apart themselves. Sometimes motherhood feels suffocating and rewarding at the same time. Tell me you feel it too.

Let’s be frank here. Whether you work or not as a mom is never really a choice. It is a necessity that we drop the apron and go out to work, as it is a necessity to lose the work pass and stay at home to raise our kids.

Moms are a Jill of all trades. More often than not, many moms feel like they were pushed into a corner and the decision is taken out of their hands. I think we need to recognise the fact that we have this amazing ability to switch between the two and still continue nailing this mother role. And we deserve a pat on the back for just rolling with it.

Created by senivpetro | freepik.com

Personal thought: it matters little if you work or not, if you stay home or not. You carry a responsibility that only fellow mothers could empathise with. Stop pitting yourself against a mother from the other team and give your role your best shot.

Why Mothers Cook

Before I got married, I only know how to make a couple of egg dishes, stir fry vegetables and tasteless, bland soup.

I love food but I don’t really like making it. You take forever to shop for ingredients, then another forever to prepare the ingredients. Sometimes the recipe works, sometimes it doesn’t. Everyone is a critic and the wash up afterwards is just so darn tiring. Can you blame me for preferring takeout?

Six months ago, my significant other got me a pressure cooker. The purchase opened up half a world of possibilities for me. I have the tool, but I still need the skills (pretty much how to properly use the darn thing). So I joined a Facebook Group there. That’s where I found a full world of possibilities waiting for me.

roasted-pork-belly
HDIM Makes Char Siu

Since Sliced Bread

It’s the best invention ever. The pressure cooker. Throw all your ingredients in and push a few buttons, and let it cut down the cooking time to about a third of the usual time. There is minimal clean up afterwards, results are almost always the same, flavourful, calming and fulfilling – pretty much the last three adjectives I would use to describe my cooking.

But everyone is happy with what I make. And that makes me happy.

I’ve even started baking. If you told me exactly a year ago that I would be making Japanese cheesecakes (yeah, the jiggly type) like a pro (ok, semi-pro), I’d call you crazy, and perhaps a few other names just to drive the point home.

marble-cheesecakes
HDIM Bakes Marble Cheesecake
zebra-cheesecakes
HDIM Bakes Marble Cheesecake

My mother and late grandmothers don’t bake. It’s just not something people in my bloodline do. We buy cakes. We don’t make them. And yet, here I am making jiggly cheesecakes and chocolate cheesecakes with baking paper and a baking tin.

cheesecake-in-pressure-cooker
HDIM Bakes Cheesecakes in the Pressure Cooker

Other times, I bake chicken instead. A good friend of mine told me that I would love baking. And she was right. Baked chicken is a different kind of goodness, and should be savoured by all.

yummy-baked-chicken-drumstick-recipe
HDIM Bakes Chicken Drumsticks

Apart from baking, I also use my pressure cooker to make delicious, nutritious soups, curries and even steamed seafood. And I don’t have to stand over the hot stove for hours to get them done. I just throw them in, and an hour later, take them all out and prep for dinner.

what-an-asian-Chinese-dinner-looks-like
HDIM Pressure Cooked Dinners
what-a-second-asian-Chinese-dinner-looks-like
HDIM Pressure Cooked Dinners

I’ve always known the feeling of coming home to a hot dinner. It is one of the ways I know I am loved – be it by my mom or my mom-in-law. And now I pour all of that effort back into the food I make for my kids, my significant other, my extended family and my guests.

My biggest fan is my daughter, who takes two bowls of rice whenever I cook. She spoils me with praises (which I ignore) and almost always takes a second helping of rice and the soups I make (which I appreciate).

I get it now. I get why moms cook. And I get why moms get upset when you don’t come home for dinner when you said you would. But I digress.

By controlling what I make for her (no fried foods, not too oily, minimising artificial seasoning, opting for healthier alternatives), I don’t have to worry whether she is eating right or if she lacks certain nutrients. I’ve got the minimum covered.

I let her indulge in junk food if her father is the one who bought it for her. She knows to not take soft drinks after any school or sports activities that make her sweat (only water) and when it comes to ice cream, it’s a weekly family activity. Children need childhood memories, after all.

So yeah, get a pressure cooker if you haven’t got one. It will change your life in the kitchen and at home.

Personal thoughts: I need to take better-looking photographs.

Stay At Home Mom (SAHM): Is it for me?

Many women work nowadays, especially those who build their lives and families in urban areas. Ultimately, when they become mothers, this question will pop up: Should I become a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM)?

If you are a working mother wondering if you can and/or should make the transition to Stay At Home Mom (SAHM), here’s the gist of what to expect.

It’s Not Going To Be Smooth Sailing

To start off, one major disadvantage of being a SAHM with no help from family (a sister, a mother, an in-law living) nearby is that you don’t get days off or sick leave.

You are also expected to accommodate your spouse who is always tired whilst you are never allowed to be.

Why are you tired? You’re always at home!” is going to be something you may hear a lot, as if you automatically recharge once you step through the house door. Don’t let that bug you.

You’re expected to keep the house clean, keep your body slim, tend to the children’s every need then your spouse’s every need.

You’re going to be up at an ungodly hour, prepping kids then meals, doing the laundry then the dishes, run to the market, post office, school, bank, government offices etc because your significant other can’t take time off from work to do these runs and get back in time for their next meeting.

At the end of the day, you will be expected to wear a smile on your face.

It’s All About The Money

The amount of things to do every day will seem endless, and for many SAHM they opt to get outside help for instance they take away food instead of cooking, and opt for school buses instead of doing school runs themselves.

If you want to get outside help, you can, if your spouse earns enough. (We’ll talk about money later on. It needs its own section.)

You want to go for a facial, do your hair, get a mani/pedicure etc, sure, no problem, but this is a conversation between you and your spouse.

Different households have different financial situations which can lead to different conversations.

But all of us will have to be really good with money, and figure out how to manage that finite amount we have to work with every month.

If there comes a time when you don’t have enough to work with, you have to (or learn to) tell the breadwinner. Remember that it’s not your fault if people decide to hike prices, so don’t apologise for asking for a higher allowance/funds.

Splitting responsibilities

As a Stay at Home Parent, you run a household so all you need to do is worry about the household; income is not under your department.

I say this because it’s likely that you are not getting help around the house from your spouse if s/he is working and you are not. Because that’s not their department.

It’s some weird unspoken deal that was made when one of you stops working. I believe this is one of the many issues that will plague households that make that transition from two working parents to one working parent.

Some couples hash it out, while others go into multiple weekly fights fighting about whose turn it is to do the dishes and take out the trash. It helps to remember that everyone is entitled to a break (even though they are always at home).

Many Things Won’t Go In Your Favour

There will be other things that will leave you feeling second-rate. What actually transpires may be different from one house to the next, but here are just a few examples of what to look out for:

  • Often, you may be made to feel like you are second-class; phone calls from work will always take precedence before you, and your family time. You will have to be both parents to your children.
  • You could have completed nine things in the span of an hour, but people will focus on that one thing you have not done just yet. “Why is the laundry/dishes/dinner still not done? They will interrogate you but they will probably not lift a finger to help. At times like this, ask for help rather than asking them why they are not helping. In other words, say “Can you help me pick up the kids from piano class?” rather than “Would it kill you to pick up Sam from piano class on your way home for lunch?
  • When your spouse breaks promises to your children, you have to also be the one who will have to defend them, even though you yourself are upset with them.
  • On top of that, the children’s problems are always your fault. Bad grades? Your fault for not sending them to enrichment classes. Too skinny? Your fault for not being a better cook. Fell down scrape their knee in school? It’s your fault for not getting them involved more in sports. Got bullied? Your fault for not teaching them to stick up for themselves. Teacher complain about them? Your fault for not making them perfect little angels. They taking junk food, soft drinks, fast food? Your fault for opting for the drive-thru instead of hunting for healthier albeit slower, more expensive and more cumbersome alternatives.

So… Are You Saying “Don’t” Be A SAHM?

By now, you may be thinking, “you know what? Being a SAHM doesn’t sound like all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe a SAHM isn’t for me after all seeing as how it looks like an incredibly bad deal on the part of the mom’s.”

Well, it depends on the type of partner you have and whether you have a healthy mindset that will allow you to attach significance to your role as a SAHM.

Having a supportive partner goes a long way. A supportive partner will not only help out with the kids and in the house, he will also acknowledge your contributions in keeping expenses low in the house and putting nutritious food on the table, and he will speak on your behalf when people say silly things like, “why stay at home all day? Come out to work and contribute to society.”

On that last note, I’ve just recently learned that you have to treat being a SAHM as an actual job.

You have to list your achievements, your capabilities and your disadvantages and not let people put you or your role down. Like it or not, your children are a product of your upbringing and the environment you put them in – and thus, your source of pride.

When your children behave in public, are healthy, well-fed, know how to handle themselves and their siblings well, are opinionated, are fun to be with, are helpful, respectful to elders etc – that means you excel in your role as a SAHM.

And I promise you, being told that “you are a good mom” will make all the behind-the-scenes worth it.

Personal thoughts: I should write about the way you never notice SAHM contribute to society.

Letting Kids be Kids

I was with my kids having a go at their bicycles after dinner. We live in a guarded neighbourhood so riding their bicycles after 9PM is a common occurrence. Hey, we get them out of the house whenever possible, right?

This time though, a 3 year old from next door saw us and rode his push-scooter over to play. He was chubby, a little sunburned, chatty and frankly a little bossy. His grandmother (turns out she was his great-grandmother, 85, small statured but still limber) came over to watch him not fall and hurt himself, like all mothers do instinctively.

Fifteen minutes into play, the boy manages to get my son unseated from his bike. The boy tries to ride it. Fails. Grandma reminds him repeatedly to not play in the middle of the road. He tries again. Still haven’t quite figured out the bike. Gives up. Goes back to his push scooter.

Another ten minutes into play, while playing cops and robbers, the accidentally grabbed my son’s arm too hard. My son grimaced in pain though by his lack of tears, I figured it wasn’t intolerable. After making sure he was okay, they continued playing.

Five minutes later, Grandma starts scolding the boy really loudly, then goes to retrieve a cane(!) I must have blacked out before this because at no point was the boy misbehaving so badly that Mr Cane needed to make an appearance.

Grandma starts the ritual: threaten, threaten, raises cane, boy holds his ear, stays in submissive position. Grandma lowers cane, boy runs off to continue playing. Grandma waves her cane around some more, then asks us to ignore him. “Go play. Ignore him.” Then to her great-grandson, “Why can’t you just play by yourself? Why do you need to talk so much? Why order people around so much? Why… Why… Why…” The questions kept coming, to no listener in particular.

She comes to me, apologetic. For what, I’m still not sure. I smile to her, gesture positively. “It’s okay. He’s just being a kid.” Perhaps she was afraid her kiddo had upset my kiddo with the arm thing. But that’s 10 minutes ago, by now – all but forgotten.

Then she starts her gripes. “His mother has canes all over the house. We go swimming, he goes and bother other families. He refuses to come out of the swimming pool even after swimming for an hour. I’m 85. I can’t control him without the cane. He doesn’t listen to me. His parents work late nights. See, until now, they are not back yet. I’m 85. How can I manage him without the cane?”

“CAR!” We usher the children into the parking spots, away from the road.

The boy waves at the driver and its passenger. Mommy and daddy are home. They walk over while the boy tries to squeeze in 3 more minutes of playtime. “Say goodnight to aunty and your friends.”

“Goodnight!”