Friday, May 20, 2016

Mommyhood: Three Years Later

Time flies, Masha Allah. Alexa will turn three next week and here I am, amazed that we survived the past three years *phew*. Alexa is still alive and kicking, Alhamdulillah, and she has the makings of a healthy toddler and she also has transitioned well from babyhood to toddlerhood. And no, that doesn't mean that she's a docile, well-behaved toddler, but she's behaving just like a toddler would, loud, opinionated (when she wants to),stubborn, cheeky and I wouldn't want it any other way.

If I have time, one of the things I would do is to bring Alexa to the playground. It's one of the things that I know she looks forward to, she would say, "Alexa mok pegi playgeraon." Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of time (as I am sure most mothers don't have the same luxury as well) but we do what we can, don't we?

Positive signs of toddlerhood (in my opinion) includes: laughing when she's happy, fascination at the weirdest stuff (current fascination includes aeroplanes, escalators *yikes*, and talcum powder), crying out loud when she doesn't get her way (we have a 50-50 rule against this, we let her cry sometimes and we give in sometimes), singing (usually when she's enjoying the moment), stubborn when she wants something and sometimes there's drama (she even knows how to sulk *gosh*). She sometimes wants to pick her own clothes (I've told her, she's not ready for fashion) and even objects to the clothes that we pick for her (when I was smaller, my parents made me wear bright yellow pants with a bright red shirt and never did I object to that). She gets frustrated at me (I mean, seriously?) and I know that because she would have this exaggerated sigh and say, "Mommy tok eh."

I love reading to her and to be honest, I don't read out word by word, usually I just explain the illustrations and on other days, I let her explain them to me =).

Being me, I actually have a mental checklist of things that I want Alexa to learn, and I want to make sure that she has these capabilities before she starts kindergarten. Here are three of them:

Alexa at Benbino's, Publika. Love their set up and I know Alexa enjoyed herself as well. Would have enjoyed the place better if they had bigger portions (most are kid-sized portions so you kinda have to order more food). 

1. Be Happy in Her Own Skin
I think we've achieved that so far. We try (very hard) to give constructive criticism when we can. It's not easy I must say (coming from an Asian family where criticism is a culture), and so far we haven't been really successful with this (I'd say my success rate is perhaps 20 - 30%) but I do try to remind myself to say things in a positive manner instead of a negative manner. But Alhamdulillah so far she is happy and hopefully she'll learn to be confident next.
How do I know that she's happy? Firstly, she's very excited to share what she's up to. We sent her to kindergarten for a few days, she cried for the first couple of days but by the third day she came home all happy, bubbly and all excited. There were lots of singing involved on the drive home. She also has her solo playtime and she likes to play make believe with her lego toys. She gives them her milk bottle (I told her the milk bottle is too big for the lego man) and puts them to sleep (arranging them properly on the bed and putting the blanket over them and petting them to sleep).

Alexa having fun at one of the conferences which we had attended. Alhamdulillah the conference organisers do provide toys for the kids to play with which is absolutely great.

2. To Share What She Has with Others
This is a work in progress but I want her to have the ability to be kind and not be afraid to share. So far this is working only half of the time but Alhamdulillah, at least she's trying.
This is how I do it:
Whenever we go for conferences or events, I would buy/ pack a packet of crayons or color pencils and a drawing block for her. Besides that (if I remember to), I would also buy a set of stickers and a packet of balloons. Kids just love stickers and balloons. Then we would also have one or two books handy (because we hope to foster her interest in reading as well). During conferences, in the mother's room, I would have her color/ play with balloons/ stickers or read her book. Other kids would come (kids are naturally curious) and I would encourage Alexa to share her stuff with them. The first couple of times it was difficult for her to share but after the third time or so, she's more comfortable with sharing. I do notice most parents do bring toys for their kids but they are very afraid of sharing (to the point that they would tell the kids to give back Alexa's crayons/ stickers/ balloons etc).

This is us at Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan's session at Masjid Wilayah. 

Personally I feel that that is not the right approach to sharing. The best way would have been to teach the kids to ask for permission in using other people's stuff (it's the perfect occasion for it) and let them play with each other. And once the playtime is over, also encourage the kids to return whatever items that's not theirs. I feel that the parents are the best example to the kids and if we want our children to be generous and kind, we must show how generosity and kindness is practiced in front of the kids so that they can take heed.

Alexa joining my mum and me for Tafseer of Surah Al-Mulk in Shah Alam. As you can see, she always has crayons and a drawing book with her to keep her occupied during the program. As with other toddlers, she does get bored after a while (she does not do this all day). If she needs to run/ walk/ explore, I let her be and just make sure she's within eyesight.

3. Have the Habit of Asking
Kids, being kids, do not know how to ask for things and usually they will snatch the items that they want from the shelves/ other kids etc. I learnt this from a colleague of mine in UiTM when many years ago, she and her family went for visiting to our home for Eid. We had these KFC Hello Kitty figurines in our house and her kids liked them. Her kids were around 7 to 10 years old at the time. When their father saw them playing with the figurines, he asked the kids, did you ask permission? And wonderfully, the kids did ask permission before playing and they even asked if they could keep the figurines and bring them home. What I like about this is that the kids are open and honest, they liked something and they wanted to play with it. They wanted it enough to take them home. And I did give some of them to them, but not all. No tantrums, with proper thank you's and I loved the whole experience. My colleague was slightly embarrassed but to me, hey, there's no need to be embarrassed. Your kids are amazing!
So what we've done is to try and remind Alexa to properly ask for what she needs/ wants and say thank you after. It's still a work-in-progress but Alhamdulillah, she sometimes do it (and sometimes she doesn't). What matters is that we keep on teaching and reminding her to ask, and say thank you (and we show her how it's done as well).

Running to go to kindergarten. Alhamdulillah she is excited about school.

Kids are amazing, they learn the darnest things (so be careful of what you say and do in front of them) and everything is a work-in-progress. As a parent, it does get frustrating sometimes and it gets overwhelming as well. Don't give up and take baby steps together. As much as we are teaching them the necessities of life, they are also teaching us how to be a better person, inshaa Allah. Celebrate small successes and teach them the importance of trying.

Me, a work-in-progress.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

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