Let’s go… Rock climbing!

A little while ago, a bunch of us mums gathered our kids together for a rock climbing session (for kids between 5 to 12 years old) at Kinetics. Xan and I have never tried this before and I was skeptical how he (the boy who thinks wushu with the pole thing is a very violent sport) would respond to it. What if he chickens out at the door? What if he throws a power tantrum and refuse to get out of the car?? With kids ah, you never know when they will suddenly change their opinions about activities or even foods they originally have an aversion to so I took my chances and signed him up. Don’t try won’t know right?

Since the cost covers the necessary gear, all we needed to bring were socks to wear with their special climbing shoes. Please ah, no skirts for obvious reasons. Jeans are not encouraged so keep the dress code light and comfy.

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Xan was thrilled to see familiar faces and even managed to make some new friends. All the kids had a good warm up session from all the laughing and mischief kids at this age are usually up to.

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I must admit I was very proud of Xander who managed his anxiety and even succeeded to scale the wall a few times at the beginning. It also helped that the other kids and their mummies were cheering whoever was climbing and that helped boosted everybody’s confidence level a fair bit. However, as the level of climbing difficulty increases, so did the amount of instructions. For newbies to sporting activities such as this, having what seemed like a hundred instructions being thrown to you by the instructor AND the parent at the same time can be very chaotic. Xan was visibly overwhelmed and felt defeated when he couldn’t move according to instructions. By the time his feet touched the ground, he was ready to give up and go home.

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How do you encourage a child to try and continue with a difficult task when he is feeling so defeated? I resisted from comparing him with the other kids who sailed through all the levels with great ease. I had to remind myself that every child has a right to choose whether he wants to continue with it or not, just like any adult. So I let him rest and hope he might want to try and finish the rest of the course after he see how the other kids managed to.

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At that moment, Xan’s friend Poppy saw him sitting by himself and looked so sad. She came over to ask him what happened and even tried to cheer him up without much success. At this point I was very surprised to see a child this young trying to console a friend in need. That was a completely new experience for me. Wah! She was so sweet I should’ve hugged her to thank her for her kindness but I was too blur to react. * heart melts* Although he didn’t immediately cheer up but he later mustered up enough courage to try climbing a few more rounds before we call it a day. Yay Xander! Mummy was super duper proud of you!

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Image credit: Gingerbreadmum

As parents, we can only provide so much guidance and tools to help our child through the various stages of their lives. We can only hope that he will learn to use these tools and perhaps even with the help of good friends, be able to scale greater heights and achieve their goals during their lifetime. Failure is inevitable but to be able to pick ourselves up after every fall takes a lot of courage and perseverance. I hope after the rock climbing experience, Xander would have learnt that every time he fails, he would have also learnt what went wrong and how he could do it differently the next time in order to overcome it better. *crossing fingers, toes and eyes*

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Let’s go… Be a Dentist Day at the National Dental Centre

If not for a tip off by a friend, I would have never known about this event organized by the National Dental Centre of Singapore (NDCS) Paediatric Dentistry Department in conjunction with their NDCS Paediatric Dentistry Facebook page‘s 1st anniversary.

Xander has yet to visit a dentist at this point because like many parents, since we haven’t had any problems with his teeth, we didn’t think of bringing him to the dentist. My first thought when I saw this was that this would be a wonderful way to introduce to him what a dentist would do during a regular visit! Maybe by his appointment, he wouldn’t be so scared of dentists like I did when I was a kid. I had initially registered Xander and his cousin to attend the event but at the last moment, my nephew couldn’t make it so Mary (Simply Lambchops) and her son came to my rescue and took over his spot for the session. Thanks Mary!

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Similar to the Doctor for a Day event we attended in August, Be a Dentist Day also involves the children exploring several stations at the NDC where they were guided by the volunteers to try tasks like bending wires, filling cavities and how NOT to choke your mother to death whilst trying to inspect her mouth with a tiny mirror in her mouth. They also reminded the children what foods are bad or better for their teeth with some role play in their mock supermarket which was stocked with all sorts of food you would normally see in a real supermarket.

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You know ah, I didn’t understand what this particular station was about. Bend pipe cleaners for what ah? The young dentist didn’t explain very clearly at the beginning. It was much later that Mary found out from them that this exercise was part of their training in forming braces. Ohhh….

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At this station, the children were asked to pick out food that they think is good for their teeth. Most of them just picked whatever they liked and at the end of the “shopping trip”, they were taught why certain foods are better than others.

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I thought the kids spent a little too much time at this station dressing up and cleaning hands. I wished the volunteers had asked the kids to demonstrate how they have been keeping themselves clean at home and at school so that whatever bad habits the kids had can be pointed out and discussed as part of the programme. Sometimes when mummies nag too much, kids kind of ‘switch off’ and stop listening so getting advise from strangers might be a little more convincing.

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I felt a little weird out when the young lady kept referring to the cavities as “the black black thing”. Why do folks like to baby-talk to kids ah? Cavities say cavities lah. It’s not a dirty word what. Sorry ah, I cannot tahan when seemingly educated young people like to talk like that and undermine kids. You really think the kids are stupid or wat?

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At the last station, Mary and I had to take turns to be our kids’ guinea pigs. The boys had the opportunity to pretend to be dentists, played with the buttons that controlled the complicated chair and inspected our mouth very very closely with their small mirrors. It was damn fun 🙂

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I think the experience as a whole was fun for the kids and the duration was just nice. Which kid doesn’t like to role play you tell me?

Do like the Paediatric Dentistry NDC’s Facebook Page for updates on future events such as this.

Let’s play… Doctor for a Day!

I meant to write about our experience at the Doctor for a Day event in August but so much had happened in the months that followed so this post had been sitting in my Draft folder for a while. Better late than never right? *awkward silence* Heeheehee…

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I read about the Doctor for a Day event that was to be held at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital on a couple of mom bloggers’ sites who had attended earlier sessions with their children. They shared many photos as well as their experiences about the event. The more I read, the more intrigued I was by it. Really so fun meh? I thought “Aiyah too bad I missed it this year” I was going to make sure to sign up for next year’s session. Lucky for me, Jean gave us the members of SMB a heads up about an available session and of course I grabbed it! Heng ah! Still have chance!

The kids got to experience some of the different tasks the different types of doctors had to go through daily at the Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital. There was the pediatric doctor, general practitioner, heart surgeon, etc. Xander got to learn how to put on scrubs, practice good hygiene, change a poopy diaper on a traumatized looking doll, patch up an injured child and even cure a scary man doll of his cancer! Phuwah!

After 90 minutes of “intensive basic medical training” with the professional volunteers, all the kids graduated medical school with flying colours, a class photo, a certificate and even a pair of stethoscope! Proud mama looks on with tears from the corners of her eyes. My son! A doctor! *sobs*

As with most hopeful parents, I thought Xan would be inspired by the day’s event and would want to become a doctor, a surgeon perhaps!! Doctor good leh! Next time when mummy and daddy are ill Dr Xander can take care of us for FREE! But alas, the little one maintained that his love was still with cooking. He wants to be a chef, not a doctor. Doctors have too much to do, too busy. Chef better. Ok lor. To be the next Heston Blumenthal isn’t a bad idea too eh?

You can keep yourself updated with the latest events at the Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital through their Facebook Page.

Pin-hole camera workshop that was supposed to be fun

A little while ago, Sengkang Babies held a giveaway in their blog for a chance to win a free pin-hole camera workshop with Npower Education. By then, I had already read a few cool reviews about it from a few fellow bloggers who were invited by them earlier this year to bring their kids to give this workshop a go. Everyone enjoyed it and I was also quite intrigued. The workshop looked simple enough so I wondered if Xan will be interested. Lo and behold, I was one of the 3 winners of the giveaway! Yippee! I wasted no time to make reservations for Xan and booked an extra space for his cousin so that they could attend this together.

Npower Education (opened in November 2012) is mainly a tuition centre that caters to students from about 6 years old to 16 years old and occasionally offers special classes such as the pinhole camera workshop during the school holidays. Kids will learn how to construct the camera from a cardboard box and other commonly found materials as well as learn how to develop their photographs the good old fashion way in a darkroom. So exciting right?

Ok I need to hao lian a bit here. I studied photography back in my university days so I am already familiar with the process of developing black and white prints in a dark room. The developer, stop bath, fixer, dodge and burn, Ilford paper, etc. That being said, I went mainly to observe how the instructor was able to engage a classroom of kids in this potentially dry subject. Not every kid is interested to know why in the early days a landscape photo had to take 8 hours to get the right exposure. When the instructor Miss Khoo held up some 35mm film negatives, all the kids and I mean ALL 8 boys ( ages from from 10 years old to 12 years old with the exception of our 2 boys) drew a blank stare and said they have never see it before. Some were even shocked to learn that film was limited to only 36 exposures (sometimes 38 if you were lucky) and they would not be able to delete anything at any point of time. The gasps were deafening. I also suddenly felt extremely old for knowing what film negatives were. 🙁

The other reviews about this workshop were extremely clear so I won’t elaborate further. You can search for them by typing “Npower Education + pinhole camera”. I do however, want to share my feelings about the 3 hour session: the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good

When I contacted Npower Education to claim the free workshop, I mentioned to them that the boys were about 5 and 6 years old. They replied to say they will arrange for an additional assistant and other preparations for them. So they did and the boys thought the JieJie was very friendly even though her long hair bothered them a bit. Hahahaha! Aiyoh! At one point in the darkroom Miss Khoo casually asked if anybody was afraid of the dark. A little hand went up and Xan said quite softly “I’m a bit scared of the dark…” From then on, he held the assistant’s hand whenever the lights went off. How do I know? I was present throughout the whole workshop lah. That was another nice thing they did. They allowed me to hang around the entire time. I think mainly because the boys were so young compared to the other participants. Miss Khoo also made a conscience effort to include our boys in some Q and A so that they wouldn’t feel left out.

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The bad

The classroom was a tad too small to squeeze 8 active boys so there was a bit of jostling and whining when anyone wants to move around. The 3 ladies (Miss Khoo, assistant and Raine, the person I had been liaising with via email) tried their best to keep the excitable boys under control. Xan and my nephew being the sociable kids they are, attempted to engage so of the boys with some small talk but sadly most of them ignore the little ones presumably they couldn’t “get” what was so funny. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not offended. In fact I expected it to happen. Our boys need to learn how to deal with such situations on their own right? So ke lian.

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All excited to take pictures of each other.
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Miss Khoo showing the boys the various chemicals needed for developing the prints.

The ugly

Perhaps it is a hormonal thing with young boys, some of them obviously didn’t like the fact that they got “thrown” to the table of “babies” and they really made their displeasure known. Comments about the workshop is supposed to be for 12 year olds and why these 2 kids are allowed in the class was thrown sarcastically to the instructor. She held her ground and replied him that she knows and it was ok. She also added that the boys didn’t lie about their ages just to join them so his concerns are unfounded. I watched as Boy A kept pushing his water bottle onto Xan’s worksheet (not that Xan was really writing anything constructive on it) and insisted the bottle was Xan’s just to irritate him. Luckily it stopped before either one decides to swing the bottle at the other’s head. Then Boy B decided the worksheet was a total waste of time, started to comment how stupid it was. Somewhere along line, my nephew said something about not know something, Boy B, the oldest kid in the group, suddenly pointed at my nephew’s forehead and shouted “…he doesn’t know because he’s STUPID!” Wah! At this point my blood began to boil! He had the audacity to say that while I was sitting right next to him!! The entire class fell silent and stared at the boy. Prior to this he had already irritated all 3 ladies at various times during the workshop but they all tried to tahan him and not scream at him. Won’t look good in front of me I guess. Miss Khoo’s face turned into several shades of black and sternly made him apologize to my nephew who by then was too shocked and embarrassed to speak. Boy B was defiant even after being made to apologize 3 times. I wished I was informed during registration that the other kids were THIS much older so that I can have the option to wait until they have a class of kids who are of a closer age group to our boys or to tell me frankly our boys are too young. When I had to relate this story to my nephew’s mum (my sister), I could tell she was extremely angry that her son was got bullied for no reason. I was embarrassed it happened and regret subjecting the boys to the wrath of the 2 bullies. Can you imagine if I was not there to witness all these first hand? I’m sorry but thinking back, I wished I had given both bullies a piece of my mind.

My conclusion

Our boys appeared to have enjoyed the workshop and even thought being in a class of older boys was cool. However when I asked them about the 2 boys they became visibly uncomfortable. The workshop is not recommended for kids under 6. If you must, it will be better to sign up with a group of your own kids. The course is simple and interesting. Venue and location very accessible and clean. Maybe I am out of touch with the ways of kids nowadays or you can even call me over protective to make such a big deal out of such a small situation. Well, I don’t think this is a small deal and I certainly have the right to share feel how I feel. Don’t fault the centre for the bad experience, I blame bad parenting for the big boys’ behavior. They clearly didn’t want to be there so why did their parents signed them up for it in the first place? You know what I think. I think their parents probably treated the centre as a dumping ground while they go run some errands. Sigh. I hope I don’t grow up to be like them.

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Xan not looking too pleased with his prints whereas his cousin was absolutely thrilled with his finished product.