Have you got friends like Eeyore’s?

https://www.facebook.com/cmhagb
https://www.facebook.com/cmhagb

Dear Boys,

I came across this post by  Canadian Mental Health Association Grey Bruce Facebook post, and along with the comments.

It has never dawned to me that Eeyore‘s creator A. A. Milne has created such a melancholy character filled with such love and affability. But in real life, characters like Eeyore are often shunned, avoided and sometimes hated. Humans typically like to hang around positive energy, and will do what we can to get more of that, less of the negativity. So the knee jerk reaction to shun characters with depressive states is understandable.

This post challenge that understanding, when we read Winnie the Pooh’s adventure, we like to read about Winnie, Tigger, Piglet, Kanga and Roo, Eeyore usually stuck out in his own depressive way, perhaps something like an anti-hero of sorts. He is not the main character, but he has his own unique way to complete the ‘family’, Reading Winnie the Pooh without Eeyore, just don’t quite sound or feel the same.

Despite of his depressive trait, his friends didn’t leave him. They stuck with him, and involved him in their games and activities. They didn’t judge him, tell him to change, improve him, send him for therapy, counselling, treatment, detox and other stuffs to help him get ‘better’. They are friends of Eeyore, they didn’t want Eeyore to be ‘better’ so that they can be friends.

This is the metaphorical attitude of being ‘unconditional’ towards your friends and loved ones. You be with them for who they are, not for who they are going to become, because of your influence. You cannot manipulate your friends to become someone you think you might like to hang out with.

‘Change comes from within, not without.’

It is like how people always categorically puts it ‘Change comes from within, not without.’ You cannot change people by asking them to change, using your influence, Jedi mind tricks, hypnosis, peer pressure and other extrinsic methods. Eeyore’s friends never asked for him to be any other guy, other than Eeyore.

I have read to you boys some stories about Winnie the Pooh, watched a couple of movies about it, but I’ve never thought of Eeyore like this until I saw this post. It is very profound, telling how quickly we stereotype people, and make often ‘callous’ comments like ‘Why don’t you cheer up?’ If the person is brooding, let the chap brood, be there, be present for the person, if the person is worthy to be your friend.

Honestly, you cannot get ‘infected with depression’, by hanging around depressive people, it is all in you. If you get depressed around depressed people, the problem is you, not them. you have to ask yourself, why do you let external factors affect you and change your mood?

Not forgetting what we are  discussing here is a 2 way street.

Whilst it is not in your power to cheer people up, others do not have the power to ask you to cheer up, when you don’t feel like it. When you become depressed, your friends will ask you to cheer up. You would want to cheer up, pretend to look cheered up, so that you don’t disappoint your friends. Honestly, sometimes, it is okay to stick with the group norm, fake it to make it a bit, but sometimes out of those friends, you might come across a friend, who is okay with you being sad, okay with you being happy, okay with you for being you, then that friend is someone who has the maturity to accept you. That is a gem of a friend.

In Eeyore’s case, he has quite a handful. He even has Tigger, who is poles apart in character with Eeyore. But they never quarreled about it, they literally ‘agree to disagree’, if I’m allowed to use that very abused cliche.

So this is not a post that says, boys, it is okay to be yourself as who we are as ourselves, are often constructed by the friends we hang around, and if you have friend like Pooh, Tigger, Roo, Kanga, even an Eeyore will learn to have fun when feeling depressed.

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What is a Flag?

 

 

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Dear Boys,

This should be an easy one, that is the Singapore Flag the both of you drew this year. We can look at all the flags of the countries around the world and give a symbolic meaning about it. Describe it, the design the meaning and the history behind it.

Singapore is not big; it can almost be capture in a single photograph.

It is just a picture, drawn by someone, 2 dimensional (OK, so the physical flag is 3 dimensional, fine.) While it is good to have something iconic, a flag cannot feed you, cannot give you sustenance. You cannot build your home on a flag, you cannot make friends on a flag, feed your family.

This is the real flag.

photograph of Singapore-sourced from Aaron Loh
photograph of Singapore-sourced from Aaron Loh

This is a picture of Singapore, taken by your dad’s friend. You can almost see the entire island, from Tuas all the way across the horizon to the East, Changi. You can go to Google Maps to get the entire map of Singapore, but this hazy picture take from the sky, tells the story of our home, Singapore is not big; it can almost be capture in a single photograph.

I’ve always held this thought. Most modern artillery has a maximum range of over 50 km, especially the German Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH 2000). It claims to have a range of 60 km. Which would means that if we place a PzH2000 in Changi end, and fire a round, that round can land in Tuas, 50 km away (that’s the entire length of Singapore, east to west). One battery of Pzh2000 stationed anywhere in Singapore, will most likely reach out to any targets in the island. That is how small we are, we really have nowhere to hide (perhaps on the outer islands?)

This is it, boys. Have a good look at the picture, really good look. That is where we stand, make friends, build our home, defend, die and bury our dead. The whole piece of rock, sand, water, grass, trees and concrete, it is nothing much. But if we give it up, even a bit, the whole landscape is redrawn. The symbolic flag stays the same, but we know, on the ground it never will be the same anymore.

So while we do project a significant leverage in the global community, it means nothing if we cannot hold ground. It means nothing if we cannot keep this land. Nothing else matters other than the ground we stand on, and this photograph, is the best testament, every single inch of this land, is a Singapore flag.

Our Bali Adventure-Day One, The Plane trip

3K241 departing .0715hrs, gates open!
3K241 departing .0715hrs, gates open!
Terminal 1, at about 6am in the morning
Terminal 1, at about 6am in the morning
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Gate C11, waiting to board our plane…

We can choose our trip, but we can’t choose our adventures.

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boarding yay!

We experiences exactly that when we depart for our Bali trip on 27 November, a warm Friday morning. We booked a cab, we took the first early flight to Bali, Jetstar 3K241, on an Airbus A320, and we were all excited about what lies ahead. The flight will be about 2 hours 40 mins tops, and we settled down with the take off, and other mundane experiences of taking an aeroplane.

Ian, your timing was impeccable when you asked your mother,’what time are we landing?’ To which your mum replied, ‘in just about 30 minutes.’ We’ve been on the air for about 2 hours and looking forward to touching down on Bali about 9 or 10 in the morning, on schedule. Cool.

‘hate to be the bearer of bad news…’

That was when the PA system came on and the captain of the plane told us, he ‘hate to be the bearer of bad news…’ (His exact words!!!) and proceed to professionally deliver it to us, due to the volcano erupting spewing volcanic ash into the atmosphere….(I was still think at this part, ok, our landing will be delayed. Which is fine. Still) … ‘We are unable to land and we will be returning to Singapore’… Yes… returning to Singapore…people in the plane was shocked in disbelief…. Not to mention an air of disappointment. The captain proceed to sum it up… ‘Safety first…’ And that was that. And to add on, the return flight would be another 2 hours…. Of on-air dismay…

Landed back in Singapore, about 11.40am
Landed back in Singapore, about 11.40am

It was no fault of anyone actually, it’s just one of those things, unexpected. While we were flying back, I was still half entertaining thoughts that ‘Hey, things might take a turn for the better and we might make another U turn and head for Bali!’ That’s me entertaining wishful thinking, but of course the reality is that, there is only so much fuel the plane hold, and once a decision is made, it is made and will not revert.

The look on your face was utterly disappointment, Wayne, I don’t know about you, Ian, because you were sitting with your mother, but from what I know from her, she said you look just as sian. Well, what to do, we are all encapsulated in an airborne flying tube, with no control over what has just happened, we cannot march into the cockpit and commandeered the plane to land in Bali, the pilot is doing his job for the safety of the entire plane. It is a sense of helplessness, that our plans for the day, or even for the whole holiday might be in jeopardy.

So your mum and I worked out our contingent, claim insurance. If we can take an afternoon flight, we would, we might lost a day, but we can still salvage the rest of the trip, and the highlight, Water Bom.

So the plane made its way back and we sat pondering our fate. The crew was very nice and tried their best to make everyone comfortable. We landed in Singapore, with the cabin crew announcing ‘Welcome to Singapore.’ There were a lot of ‘pfffft…’ And hmph!!!….’ In the air but everyone knew and understood it was not really Jetstar’s fault. It was their company’s policy on safety, and we cannot argue with them on that, better we land back in Singapore, than to have other untoward situations happen elsewhere.

DSC_0137 As it was Singapore Changi Airport, we were not short of help. We were told to proceed to Transit counter ‘C’ to check out our alternatives. As we were amongst the last to leave the plane, a queue has already formed at the counter. The Changi Airport staffs wasted no time helping us, by allowing us to help ourselves with their inexhaustive supply of Nescafe Canned coffee, Milo, bottled water, biscuits, Oreos. They helped to allay our inconveniences. The staffs were also very helpful in ‘babysitting’ the both of you while you parents handled the process. It always feels good to be home, even if we were inconvenienced.

We learned that there is another flight out for us, which will depart in 1525hrs, which means we have a little more than 2 hours to kill in the terminal, we were given meal vouchers to settle our lunch at Burger King (honestly we weren’t too starved after gobbling the biscuits and drinks), but want not waste not! We got our meals and had our tummies filled.

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kill time at a terminal 3 play area

We explored the terminals a bit, since this is quite a rare chance for us to have free time, we went to terminal 3 to explore and then took a sky train back, after going to our gate at C11 only to find out that the gate was empty, we panicked and your mum rushed ahead to check what happened, did we missed the flight???!

Delayed!
Delayed!

Turned out we didn’t and the gate was changed to D38, which is at the other side of the terminal. So we rushed there, only to find out the flight was delayed! Until 1705hrs, gates open only at 1605hrs. So we sat and waited again. It sure feels a bit like the Amazing Race! Without the prize money.

So much happening for Day 1! And we have not reached Bali! Eventually, we did, board the plane; the plane took off; the plane flew for the entire journey; and landed in Bali!. This time there was an euphoric cheer in the whole cabin, when they announced “Welcome to Bali!”

Our 'Lucky' SG 50 plane
Our ‘Lucky’ SG 50 plane

Your Great Grand Aunt has died

With Ian, we thought the both of you looked fabulous on this picture, we developed it and put it in a frame next to Ah Po's bed
With Ian, we thought the both of you looked fabulous on this picture, we developed it and put it in a frame next to Ah Po’s bed

Dear boys,

Your Great Grand Aunt, Ah Poh, has died. She was 75 years old.
  Her demise was somewhat expected as she has been plagued with a number of ailments, diabetes, kidney failure, and finally gastro-intestinal cancer, which was certified by the doctor to be the cause of death.
  As much as I am sad for her passing, honestly, I didn’t feel much sorrow for her; rather, I felt that death was a kind of release for her, and also for your grand Aunts too. Your Ah Po wasn’t married, and relied on her 4 nieces and 1 nephew to do most of the care taking, and when it became too much for them to handle, they employed a maid for Ah Po, but even that, your 3 grand Aunts and your Grandma, still make an effort to take care of her, especially in the twilight of her life. Despite of not having kids, her nieces and nephew were her children, they cared for her every needs and wants.
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  She was a simple lady, with not much needs and wants. Quiet and unassuming, she helped your grand-uncle at his pork stall, until she is no longer able to. For all family gatherings  and occasions, she has never made it a grand fanfare or trouble anyone too much. We always enjoyed her presence as our grand dame and of course, her occasional humor.
  She belonged to that generation where she don’t display much affection publicly, but she dotes on all her great grand generations, and please remember, part of your Ang Pow coffers comes from her, she never fails to give the both of you every Chinese New Year.
Ian's birthday August 2009. Wayne was just 6 months old
Ian’s birthday August 2009. Wayne was just 6 months old
Her final days
  She was in the hospital for more than 3 weeks, and through the barrage of tests the doctors made, they found out that there is a cancer growth around her diaphragm, which is physically obstructing her ability to swallow food. Whenever she tried she would vomit.
  The cancer growth was aggressive and it was beyond any treatment to save her. By then we knew the eventuality.
  Death or the process of dying can be very unpredictable. The dilemma was whether to continue with her dialysis which helps her clear her toxins in the body, but her blood pressure will plummet to a life threatening stage, and if she is taken off dialysis, she will bloat up.  The doctors, being the experts in matters of life and death, gave her expiry as a matter of days to live, so her caretakers came to a consensus to take her off the machine and let nature takes its course.
  It was on a Tuesday morning when the caretakers were summoned to SGH as they deemed she is at her final hours, it was not to be. Your grandma, through the discussion at her bed side, noticed that she was visibly stirred at the mention of ‘home’. She wants to go home!
  What I heard from your mum, was that Ah Po was so happy to be back home, lying on her own bed, stretching and kicking her bolster, feeling so comfortable to be back home. Her caretakers did what they could to prepare for the eventuality to catch up.
  We brought the both of you down to see her on Thursday and she is already drifting in and out of her sleep, sometimes she would open her eyes to acknowledge, sometimes, she would just sleep. We were glad we saw her on Thursday, because on Friday, evening she quietly slipped away, while everyone was outside, about to take their dinner.
  We weren’t there, your 4th grand-aunt post a message on our whatsapp group that Ah Po has passed away.
Whatsapp message 30 October 2015
Whatsapp message 30 October 2015
  When we brought the news to the both of you, already tucked into bed, Ian, you’re the first to cry, followed by your little brother. I think it affected you more than your little brother, because, Ian, you’ve always been the more emotional one. Your little brother cried, perhaps because you cried. But I guess the bottom line is we were glad we brought the both of you down to see her before she died.
Ah Po's Funeral 2 November 2015
Ah Po’s Funeral 2 November 2015
The Funeral
  The cremation was slated for Monday, 2 November, and all of us tried to be there, for her final journey. the mood is obviously somber as the monks performed the funeral rites. the both of you have to go to school, but your mum and I decided to pull you out to make sure that the both of you attend the funeral. It’s an obvious no-brainer, She is your Great Grand Aunt, this is her funeral, period.
Remembering our past
  I think we as Asians, don’t talk much about death as if it is a taboo, I agree with that, but I want to make sure that you boys remember your elders who has passed away, these people are the reason you boys are here. Without our past, without these elders, whom have shaped us, we will not be able to carry on the values and ethos to the next generation.
  More importantly, I want you both to remember and talk about your senior generations, it is obvious that when (if) you both have kids, you will tell them about your Ah Po, whom they have never met before. And you will tell the people you’ve met about your Ah Po, the kind things she have done for you both. You cannot have a beautiful future by not telling a story about your beautiful past. sometimes the past is sad as it contains death and destruction, but these are events no one can escape from, we all will die, and we all will depend on our future generations to tell stories about us, so that we can live forever, in the stories you children tell the next generation

Sparing the rod

Source from Google
Source from Google

Dear boys,

I’ve spared the rod, a few months back, did I spoil the child?

Frankly, I don’t think so, to begin with, looking back, it was not the wisest thing to do, caning you boys for the mistakes you both made, and of course the mischief you boys do.

The use of the rod has long outlived its purpose, and the reason I continued to use it is that I hadn’t found another method to replace it. Admittedly, it is somewhat like an addiction. And since it worked so well before, it will continue to work well now and into the future,when in reality it has long outlived its usefulness.

To be honest, your dad then was too immature to handle the 2 of you. It was a dark learning process for all of us. When I wield the cane, the rage compliments the pain it dispense, unfortunately you both bear much of the brunt. And now looking back, much of the caning was quite unnecessary, uncalled for. I just didn’t have enough patience wisdom and good in between my ears to handle your misdeeds appropriately.

Everything that should happen the way it should happen, on hindsight, that is where regret resides. But I justified it shallowly by saying, my parents cane me and I turned out alright! I fell victim to the ‘spare the rod, and spoil the child!’ Argument, and defended using the rod, since i was part of its indoctrination, so I’d indoctrinate my kiddos the same why, it didn’t hurt me that much, and it sure as hell will not hurt my kiddos more that it hurt me, but the truth is, it hurts me having to resort to caning.

There is a better way than this.

Using the cane, honestly limits me. Limits my options to educate and teach you decently. In defense of using the rod, every problem becomes a nail because the only tool I got was a hammer. Any misbehavior will almost always result in the cane being deployed. And I justified it with shallow reasons every time, while that little voice in me tells me otherwise. ‘There is a better way than this.

There is indeed a better way to do this, but it requires a lot more patience, love, understanding, time and more patience, love, understanding and time. I have to find ways to educate the both of you on what was done wrong, what needs to be done right, and how the punishment needs to be met. There is a lot more reasoning involved, and while I do lose my temper due to the insolence of you both, I screamed and threatened, but never spanked again.

So did the earlier days of spanking helped made the both of you the way you are today? I do think so, as I’d like to see things in a positive perspective, no matter how dark it was before. I just feel that the spanking was a little too much, too overdue.

The beauty of you boys are your innocence, right now as we walked forward, and putting those caning days further and further in the past, I can see that you both are just as sensible and mischievous as before, I honestly do not expect the both of you to forget those emotionally heavy and intense days of being caned. I hope I hadn’t cane you both so badly to become emotionally scarred by the experience. And from the looks of it, no, you boys remembered the caning but no in a horrified ways. For that I’m thankful that both of you are resilient in such manner.

When you boys have kiddos of your own, I hope I’ll still be around to tell you how unnecessary it is to cane them. I hope I’ll live long enough not to protect them from your caning, but to protect you from your children’s mischief. And when you have to punish them for their misdeeds, let’s do it together, in a much more mature and novel way, sans the cane.

Leaving a Legacy

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Dear Boys,

Joel’s Ah gong did one heck of a job with his garden. He took an empty piece of land and turned it into a little oasis that everyone can enjoy.

More importantly, he has build something to be left as a legacy. All of us will leave something behind when we die, the question is the what we leave behind. As your parents the biggest legacy I have and will continue when I die is the both of you, this is the most direct form of legacy. You will continue my genes, my stories and carry on my history. you will tell you children(if you plan to have children) about my stories, and your children(if your children plan to have children) will tell their children about my stories and yours. Legacies usually goes from word of mouth to word of mouth.

Sometimes having a legacy means that you leave your work undone, for people to continue. Work can be large or small. Mr Lee Kuan Yew left us the entire country as his legacy for us to continue, that is a monumental task!. For Joel’s Grandpa, his garden will be his legacy.

The pond.. where little fishes swims

It is a beautiful piece of work, and it is all him, he got the land from his Resident’s Committee, did the planting, and segregation, there is a little pond, some chilies plants, there is a small corner for cactus and it is all well spaced out. It is a simple piece of joy to walk in it and it will be a spot for everyone to enjoy! He is still working on it and every little plant and flower has been touched by his green hands.

Of course, he couldn’t have done it alone. But if he hadn’t started something, then other people can’t follow. His garden draws fellow gardeners there, to help him, and also to work and make the garden nicer.

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And gardening is a never-ending job, if you do it well, it can go on and on. There are constant challenges, in making sure the plants are watered, pests, kept at bay. When the plants bear fruits, you can distribute it to the community. when plants whiter and die, you grow new ones. and when Joel’s Grandpa dies, his garden will continue and someone has to take over the task. To keep up the good work. and when people look at how magnificent the garden is, they will remember the person who first bring about its fruition.

We will also remember him, because he has given us place that we can enjoy.

Wayne’s little insecurity

Wayne trying to cycle
Wayne trying to cycle

Dear Wayne,

Watching you develop as our youngest family member can be very endearing and frustrating at the same time. You have a very light frame, very much like you dad. Small and punch size, you naturally have to fight harder for your fair share of existence.

Of late, I noticed that you have a certain disdain for bicycling. We went for a night supper a couple of weeks back, and we all agreed that, mum and dad will jog, you and your big brother will cycle. You refused to, using all sorts of excuse. Saying that you will be slow and you’ll be left behind. We constantly assured you that we will not, to no avail, you refused to budge from your stand.

I know how you feel, son, you have your smallish kiddy bike, with training wheels on, you don’t look very cool when your big brother’s bike is bigger and he is already riding on 2 wheels. You look inferior compared to him. Riding bike has somehow become your weakness, and you didn’t want the world to know.

Your weakness is not a weakness to us.

You see, son, there is no weakness to show in this family. We are one, your brother loves you and so does your dad and mum. We will not leave you behind no matter what. Your weakness is not a weakness to us.

Wayne on his bike
Wayne on his bike

This will something that you have to deal with when you grow older, handling your insecurity, your weakness. Always bear in mind, you have a family, we are family. We will help you, and even if you are struggling and stubbornly decline help, we will still help you. We will help you even if you don’t ask for our help, because that is what family is all about. You don’t have to fight your insecurities alone.

We tried to teach you to ride on 2 wheels some time back but it was tough, you made it tougher for us to teach you as you constantly self sabotage yourself, by purposely falling, pretending that it is harder than it really is. We didn’t push it, but I think the hardship has been etched already, you associate bicycle as your weakness.

You are a kid that cannot be rushed. you will do it, and you will do it well, when you want to. So I am not pushing you to learn to ride a bicycle on 2 wheels. You take your time, there are people who goes through life not knowing how to ride a bike, which is fine, so I’m not going to rush you.

your bicycles
You and your brother’s bicycles

More importantly, please don’t make your challenges your weakness. I hope by the time you are old enough to read this, you can find enough in you to face your obstacles and overcome them. We are humans, and we are born to overcome challenges. You possesses enough will and tenacity, we have seen it in you, but you’ve choose to use these values as inertia instead of a source of motivation. We need to correct this in time to come.