Procrastination, with a Capital P

ImageOne never really knows one’s demons, till you see them displayed in full gory glory.  In your kids.

“Megan,  what homework do you have for today?”

“Megan?”

“Hallo? Earth calling Megan Moon?”

“Waiiit, mum. I need to check my student planner.”

Fifteen minutes pass by while mum bashes out a work-related email.   

“Oi, Megan,  what homework do you have for today?”

“Hmmm…Math worksheets, one Science paper, some Chinese…”

“Okay, get to it, I don’t want to be screaming at you at 9pm again, okay?”

“Can I take a break, muuum? I’m so tired.”

“Okay, twenty minutes, then you MUST start work.”

One hour comes and goes, because mum is either #1 checking emails, #2 mucking about in kitchen, #3, sorting out family-related admin, #4 wasting time on FaceBook, Scramble with Friends, Words with Friends, #5 on the phone etc.

“MEGAN TEO!! WHY ARE YOU NOT DOING YOUR HOMEWORK??!!!”

“Muum, but Dozy has got heat spots, you see? I need to put cream on him. And he’s sooo cute, I must cuddle him a little bit more.”

Mum: “HAIYA!! WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS PROCRASTINATING? YOU WILL NEVER GET ANYTHING DONE! HURRY UP!! MOVE IT!!”

Megan: “GRRR!!” Stomps off to her schoolbag, “GRRR!!”

Half an hour later.

“MEGAN, IS THAT A STORY BOOK I SEE ON YOUR LAP?? WHAT ABOUT YOUR HOMEWORK??” 

And so this plays out, mum descending into shrieking banshee mode, depending on the strength of the coffee she’s just consumed.  

Procrastination is evil incarnate. If not for the dreaded P-word, I’m sure Megan would be right on top of her work load, have gotten the requisite amount of exercise, and sufficient rest time daily.

And yes, of course this her well-meaning mummy speaking. I would have done much better in my studies back then too, if I was actually studying and not hanging out in the school canteen with my buddies. So I resolve to do better each day, with to-do lists and reminders on my i-phone. 

And then my good friend drops off a copy of Longbourn, which I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

Guess that to-do list is just going to have to wait.

 

 

 

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V-Day Without The Crap

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and I was rather pleased that it was a non-event for me. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a bitter old curmudgeon and I do like my knights in shining armour, but the blatant advertising weeks in advance from restaurants and florists, clogging up my in-box and FaceBook feeds was just a leetle bit irritating. Only 3 days left to order your $150 bouquet of a dozen roses! Last chance to sign up for $500++ dinner for two at a so-and-so restaurant!

Are you kidding me?

Better to save those good ones for Mo’s *Sparklies* account than fall prey to all this!

It’s ironic that a saint’s day been turned, like Christmas, into a crazy circus of consumerism. So maybe I’m an old coot, but Love shouldn’t be defined just by how much you blow on V-day, right? It should be defined by how much you give of yourself 365 days in a year to your other half.

So this year, I decided to marry my resolution of being more active with a nice early V-day mountain-bike outing to Pulau Ubin with Le Hubs. Ubin is significant because it is where we first met, on mountain bikes, 20 years ago. I thought it would be a nice touch to see how much the island has changed since then.

We went on a work day, hopeful that it would be less busy. We were not disappointed. The uncles plying the bumboats were hard pressed to round up the 12 passengers they needed to make up their ride.  When we finally made our dirty dozen, the only other people on our boat were the boys serving their National Service as police guards on the island, plus one or two hardcore nature lover types.

photo (6)When we stepped off the jetty to the dusty little street, free-wandering mongrels and ramshackle shophouses plying rickety bikes for hire, we knew that we had hit slow-mo mode.  Not too much had changed in 20 years. The tracks were now roads but the slow, lazy, kampung vibe of the island was still very much there.

Ten dollars each for our rental bicycles and we were off checking out our old trails.  Incredible, my bike also had the old “krok-kreek” whine as mangled gears struggled with each revolution, i.e. I would be cycling twice as much to go half the distance. Aiyah. But yes, this is all part of the charm that is Ubin.

We cycled over to Ketam Quarry, the largest one on the island. Back in the day, it was where we could go swimming in the cool, still waters and because it was a granite quarry with no outlet, there was no bottom for our feet.  Not a place for weak swimmers.  Sadly, everything had been fenced up in the name of safety, so we could only gaze over the fence at the quiet beauty below.

Next stop – Chek Jawa, a mangrove sanctuary that I had not seen before. It was apparently a mere 2.4km away, but to me seemed to stretch an eternity with each hill I had to bike up. Many wise tourists sailed by in mini-vans as I struggled on. Le Hubs, the intrepid runner, could only wait patiently as wife expletived her way to the destination.

photo (7)The pain was worth it, though. Chek Jawa is not only home to many species of sea life, a family of friendly wild boar were hanging about too.  Like the rest of the island, they lolled about in the same “relak, tidak apa” attitude and one even slept right next to a visitor’s bike at the station. Life is good on this little isle.

Almost noon and too hot for these wusses, so we made our way back to the mainland. V-day date lunch comprised the best that Changi Village Hawker Centre had to offer. Goreng Pisang and Goreng Chempedak, Beef Noodles, fried Or Luak (oyster omelette) and sugar cane juice.  The food of champions.

The grand total for our date that took place one week early? $50 including parking.  Happy Valentine’s Day, folks!

Four things my furry kids teach me

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People wonder why I have a zoo at my place. Two dogs, and when mum comes over, four. A cat, a tortoise and fish. For a while, Megan had a snake, but I gave up because its diet of baby lizards was just too hard to manage. I also had another tortoise but it had a wandering nature and I think it’s gone off on an adventure in our neighbourhood drain. Hasn’t returned yet.

So…here are my four reasons. I have many more but I’ll keep them for future posts:

1. Don’t be shy, just Ask 

Patches, Dozy and Le Cat are 100% food motivated. Which means that they will stalk you, sidle up to you, look at you with their googly eyes (see photo above for proof). They have learned the art of asking in the most heart-melting ways possible. Nine times out of ten, we throw the training and disciplining out of the window and they get what they want. Us humans are usually too proud or paiseh to ask, and then we wonder why we don’t get what we want. Wise pets say – Throw out the dignity and pride, and learn the arts of sweet persuasion. 

2. Patience Rules

Similar to #1, ze pets know that patience and fortitude will eventually result in something. They wait endless hours till mum and dad get home, they wait for their walkies, they wait at the table in the hope of a morsel or two. They can afford to teach my kids that instant gratification ain’t everything. They wait, and the joy on their faces when they get what they want – priceless.

3. Dogs show us what unconditional Love is

My dad had dogs all his life, and I asked him why many years ago. “Look at them. They don’t question, they don’t manipulate, you can be your true self and they will still love you.” How very true. I could look like and smell shite and they still love me. Dogs have amazing empathy and they always know when I’m miserable and feeling sorry for myself. They’ll come up to me without fail and sit at my feet. Even after a thrashing for eating kor kor’s brand new crocs, they come back, grinning and tongue lolling for more hugs. It’s true, given their amazing capacity for love, there is a reason why D-O-G is G-O-D in reverse.

4. Being proud of who you are

Anyone who’s had dogs and cats will know that they are supremely comfortable and confident in their skins. Just look at how they roll lazily onto their backs to let their junk hang out on hot days, in the open, for all the world to see. When visitors come by, that’s when my babes will hunker down in front of the guests to clean their bits most fastidiously. I’m not saying we should let our bits hang out too. But there’s a lot to be said for being self-confident and happy with what God has blessed us with.

My non-homo-sapien kids may leave the floors sandy and there’s fur flying everywhere, but the lessons they hold for me are bountiful. Be happy with yourself, learn love unconditionally, be patient and be brave.

Chinese New Year 2014

The Tseng Family. Standling (left to right):  Rosy, William, Nancy, George, Dorothy, Seated: Nelly, Grandma Lau Hing Yee, Alice and Godfrey is seated on lap

The Tseng Family. Standling left to right: Rosy, William, Nancy, George, Dorothy, Seated: Nelly, Grandma Lau Hing Yee, Alice and Godfrey is seated on lap

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Chinese New Year 2014: (left to right) Sarah Yap, Grand Aunty Nancy, Joseph Wong and Yours truly

Festive season. The end of year and the beginning of another is a special time for me. Christmas continues to be my favourite holiday, but Chinese New Year is a close second. Family and friends who are not in Singapore often fly back at this time of year, so the months of December and January involve a whole lot of reunions and feasting. During this period, happy memories of past celebrations and present get-togethers collide in a happy, sweet mix.

This year is especially poignant because it’s the first proper CNY without dad presiding. He’s the central figure, the family stalwart, and relatives would come by to visit us because of him.  This time, mum takes centrestage and it’s heartwarming to see dad’s relatives come to see her.

Yesterday, we visited Aunty Nancy who turns 90 this year. She is the only aunt left alive on my dad’s side that I am close to, and she’s also my Godma. Aunty Nancy is now wheelchair ridden and so frail, but she still is chatty and alert. Looking at her, I see living proof that beauty in a good woman does withstand the ravages of time.

I also found a gem on her wall, a family portrait of the Tsengs that is at least 65 years old. In black and white, the sharp, almost Eurasian features of my family stare back at me. Aunts and uncle, still young and fresh, their lives stretched before them in the hope of a new life after the horror of the Second World war.  Their lives were hard. A philandering father and the war meant that they were always struggling to make ends meet, but as a family they were very close.

This closeness is their greatest legacy. Two generations on, we still meet. Everyone is busy, but the Chinese got it right in defining one day when family should get together to celebrate new beginnings.

Happy Chinese New Year!