Aidan

Eight years of Aidan

A photo popped up on my Facebook memories this morning, one of my firstborn’s first birthday party. He was seated on a table, chubby leg smeared with cake, his little round face peering at the camera with a slight smile hovering on his lips.

Aidan at his first birthday

Fast forward to seven years later. He’s turning eight tomorrow. Any ounce of baby fats has since vanished into the vacuum called “growing up”. His voice is still as sweet as ever and oh, almost eight, it is such a beautiful age for my darling boy right now.

At eight, he still comes to me for hugs for all the reasons in the world. We hug when he is sad, hug when he is happy, hug when he just wants to feel close. He showers us with kisses before he goes to school, and we shower him with kisses at bedtime. He loves to be next to me as he drifts off into sleep.

When he feels sad about going to school, he clasps my hand in his, his smile wobbly and his eyes filled with tears. I hold him close, tell him that I will see him very, very soon. He nods, leans into my ear and whispers, Pick me up early, okay? And I say, You know I will if I can. He then takes one tremulous step, two, three, before turning back and calling out, Bye bye mummy! Love you! I wave back feverishly, and reply, Love you boo! And then we repeat this dance of walk-turn back-wave until the car rounds the corner or he disappears from our view.

How did eight years fly by so quickly? It felt like only yesterday, when we were pacing up and down his bedroom, willing him to go to sleep (and stay asleep!). And yet here he is, all limbs and length. Ah, eight. What a wonderful age. Where he’s old enough to be independent in many ways, and yet still little enough to want us to be near him.

He loves Beyblades. Loves reading. Has completed the first three books in the Harry Potter series (YES!) and is now starting on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Can do a mean floss. Is serious about his haircuts. Plays football and basketball during recess. Picked up inline skating like a natural pro. Is attempting Grade 3 ABRSM piano exam. Still hates sleep with a vengeance. Just built a kickass house in Minecraft. Cannot say no to candy and chocolate and ice-cream. Does not like cream in cakes. Bosses his little brother around. Is also awfully protective of his little brother. Fabulous at traveling. Loves Art and Mathematics in school. Thinking of joining wushu for his CCA. Has learnt all the different strokes in swimming. Aces spelling but isn’t as good at ting xie. Is a skinny minny like mummy. Teaches me what conditional love, patience, humility and joyful living is all about, every single day for the past eight years.

Happy birthday, beautiful boy. God knew exactly what we needed when he brought you to us. We love you to the moon and back.

My little man and I
Aidan

Five years of Aidan

“Five years ago, at this very moment, you were trying to come out of mummy’s tummy but you couldn’t. So the doctor had to cut me up to take you out.”

“When you were a baby, papa could carry you in one hand, just like that.”

“When you were a baby, mummy carried you everywhere in the wrap and you would fall asleep in there.”

“When you were a newborn, you were so small and slept so much. Until you turned two weeks old and stopped sleeping.”

We were regaling the firstborn with all the stories of his babyhood this afternoon. Oh, there were plenty to share. Of all the times he refused to sleep and drove us nuts. Of all the times he giggled at us and brightened up our world in that nanosecond. Off all the times we rocked him gently in our arms, crooning lullaby after lullaby in the darkened room. Of all the times he fitted so neatly into the crook of our arms, his head floppy on our chests, his hair carrying that whiff of baby scent that we had so desperately wanted to bottle up and keep forever.

It then struck me how fast time was. Five years it had been since he came into our worlds and turned us into parents. The road has been equal parts acknowledged privilege, unbridled joy, sheer exhaustion, internal frustration, quiet retrospection and oodles of humility.

But most importantly, it has also been pure and utter love.

It’s not just the love that we have for our child, our beloved boy who came at a time when we were despondent and clawing so determinedly out of the barren pit we had found ourselves in. It’s also the love that he has for us, this unconditional and unselfish love that he has for us, and taught us about.

We are far from perfect, and there are times when we regret not being able to hold our tongues or keep our tempers in check. And yet, his love never faltered.

Every day, I look forward to waking up to his little voice going “good morning mummy”, before he plants a quick peck on my lips. When I drop him off in school, we hug and kiss for just a moment, enough to let us know that we love each other and that we will be waiting for that time when we are done for the day and can be together again. And when I finally rush off from work to pick him up, he never fails to fly towards me with the biggest of grins and the most exuberant of hugs.

He talks of growing up, of going to primary school. He wants to be a big boy. And whenever I sigh at this, he would ask me, “Why are you sad for me to grow up, mummy?”

Oh baby boy, it’s because you are fast outgrowing me. One day you will no longer want to nestle into my arms during music class. You will not want me to lie down with you at bedtime. You will not want to “cook” for me with your toy kitchen. You will not need me to read you books. Your hand will be bigger than mine, and no longer in mine as we walk. You will be too heavy for me to carry, and you will no longer lay your cheek down on my shoulder.

But grow up, my little man must. I do not have the power to hold back time and I shouldn’t want to. That’s not my job as a mother. I have to let him soar into the sky, in his own time, and learn to be his own person.

In the meantime, we will keep creating beautiful memories of even the seemingly most insignificant moments. And we will keep it in our pockets till the time comes when our children are off to explore the world on their own.

Happy fifth birthday, my darling. You are our dream come true.

Aidan

A typical dilemma

The husband flew off a couple of weeks ago and needless to say, I have been solo parenting.

It hasn’t been too bad, really, I am enjoying my time spent with the littles. They have been rather generous in proclaiming their love and adoration for me over the past weeks and I will gladly take all of that. Bad moments, yes, there have been some raised voices and frayed tempers, but generally these come and go and are easily resolved.

I am lucky in that sense, these two are rather good-natured and love their mummy so.

What really struck me, over the course of the past two weeks, was just how much Aidan has grown.

We were strolling along the airport this evening – one of our favourite haunts because aeroplanes! Food! Caffeine! – and as he walked next to me while I pushed Zac in the stroller, I suddenly realised that he’s a bona fide boy. He’s mature and rational and logical (MOSTLY) and I can reason with him. He’s going to be in kindergarten next year.

But his growth is not just measured in numbers.

Last week, his school celebrated teachers’ day and I prepared some gifts for his teachers. For the past few weeks, the school has been hosting some polytechnic interns and he has been interacting with one of them in particular.

As I was packing the presents, he suddenly asked, “Do we have a present for Teacher Edward (the intern)?”

I said no, we didn’t because he had not joined the school when I was purchasing the gifts.

“Can we get something for him? Otherwise, he will be sad,” he said. “Mummy, can we give him something?”

Earlier today, we had lunch at my in-laws’. On the drive back, Zac fell asleep in the car and I gingerly carried him back to the flat with Aidan following close behind.

As I moved swiftly into the boys’ bedroom, I instructed Aidan to stay outside so that I can transfer Zac to the floor bed. To my surprise, he continued following me into the room. I was all ready to raise my voice at him when he dashed into the room and said, “Mummy let me help you.”

He then proceeded to position the mattress in the right way, and he even arranged the pillows all around the bed, the way I usually do. All this while, I was standing in the room with a sleeping Zac in my arms. Once done, he zipped quietly out of the room and closed the door gently.

When did he grow up into this thoughtful boy without my noticing?

All those times when I wished for him to grow up and out of that horrible infancy period, when he woke up a million times at night and I cried in frustration, when he clung to me as he drifted off to sleep – that’s all gone now and in its place is a little boy armed with his future in his hands and a long road ahead of him. Right now he is walking hand in hand with me but I know that it won’t be long before he lets go and goes off without me.

It makes my heart swell with pride and yet there is a tinge of sadness at all that has come and gone. While each moment had felt so long and never-ending, it’s really been just a blink of an eye.

Aidan_yann

Aidan

Four years of Aidan

Dear Aidan,

Exactly four years ago, I was having the worst night of my life in the hospital. But that turned at 4am, when you arrived into this world and it became one of the best nights of my life. Because once I held you in my arms, I knew that I would love and protect you with every cell of my being until the day that I die.

You know exactly how loved you are, since that early morning of March 5. You know it, because we tell it to you every day and every night. You know it because we make it a point to hug you and shower you with kisses. And you know it because even when you are less than delightful, when you are not a happy child, you understand that we will never abandon you and we will never reject you.

For the past few months, you have been longing to be four. You ask me if you are four yet and when I say no, just a bit more till you are four, you get upset and insist that you are already four. Why the hurry to grow up, my darling? You grin when I say that you are my baby Aidan, and proceed to inform me that you are no longer a baby but a big boy.

And so you are.

The four-year-old you is so incredible to behold. You are sassy, no doubt, and says the darnest things to me. It never fails to make me smile when you say “yes, please”, the way I do. And you love to sing to yourself, when you think nobody is paying you any attention, when you are focused, the way I do. You love your brother and tell me to “play the music” of the baby monitor when he is crying at bedtime. You love to hold my hand and when I have your little hand in mine, my world is a happy, contented place. You remind me to use my hot water bottle whenever my bad back acts up and it hurts to walk. You love yogurt and fruit and have no qualms demolishing three plums after dinner. You have a thing for shoes and socks. Every night, you fall asleep with your head on my stomach. When I ask you why, you just smile shyly and say you like to do that. I can and will never understand why. In the morning, you tell me that you are off to breakfast when you wake up before I do. And when I say good morning to you, you say it right back at me with the sweetest voice, before giving me a gentle kiss.

Now, that’s not to say that you are an angel. There are difficult days and there are difficult moments. But it’s not because you are a difficult child – far from it. You are a really fun little person to be with, most of the time, and I think your papa and I lucked out in that aspect.

And the best part is how much you love us. I know you love me by the joyful way you yell “mummy!” when I pick you up after work. I know you love me from the way you zip out of the holding area into my arms with that big grin. I know you love me when you wrap your arms around my legs and nestle into my body for comfort. I know you love me when you cuddle up next to me and ask me to read you a book. I know you love me when laugh so gleefully when I tickle you.

And I know you love me when you say to me before you drift off into slumberland, “Goodnight mummy park kor*. I love you.” (*He loves to make up names!)

Happy 4th birthday, my boo boo boy. You are our dream come true.

Love you to the moon and back,
Mummy

Aidan

My son danced, and I cried

Over the weekend, we attended the year-end concert put up by Aidan’s childcare operator.

It was the first time we ever attended such a concert, the first time that Aidan was involved. And we had absolutely no clue what to expect. Maybe a group of children singing and dancing?

“Wonder what they are going to do for two hours,” mused husband. We asked the star, who gave us absolutely no clue, except that he was singing “I Like to Teach the World To Sing”.

Were there dance moves? Yes, he said. Could you show us? He ignored us.

On a sizzling hot Saturday, we trooped off to the concert venue with both sets of grandparents in tow. The concert began and then we realised just why it was slated to run for two hours. First, they called all the K2 classes across the different branches onto stage, individually. Then there was a video montage of, again, all the graduating students from all the classes.

OKAY.

Now this sounds really boring on paper but I gotta tell you, I FREAKING CRIED!

Seriously. Those were not even my kids graduating AND I CRIED. As the video rolled and I saw pictures of smiling children flash across the screen, I thought of how proud the parents must be and, oh, how their hearts must be aching. And if their kids had been in the centre since they (the kids) were 18 months old, how bittersweet this moment must be for both the teachers and the parents.

I mean, that’s such a large part of their lives. Just like that, one chapter closes and another begins. It must mean so much to the teachers, seeing their charges grow from tiny humans who can’t talk to independent little people. And I imagined my Aidan being a strapping six-year-old boy, no longer my tiny baby, and tears welled up in my eyes.

Damn hormones.

After the montage, the first performance begun and it was my little man and his friends! So they were supposed to be performing to a Hawaiian theme and as they trooped out, my heart burst. The boys were wearing floral shorts while the girls were wearing shimmery green grass skirts. All had luau around their necks. They started their dance and MY GOSH IT WAS SO CUTE.

Imagine tiny little people clapping, twirling their hands, shaking their bums, all in two rows. They were so earnest and for three-year-olds, they DID SO GOOD.

I CRIED.

Here’s my little fellow, after more than a year of being in daycare, performing independently with his friends. He did not miss a beat and was so, so great.

Silly me, sitting there in the dark, beaming like a monkey and wiping tears from my eyes. Silly, silly me.

But oh, what a proud mama I am.

One day, he will be that six-year-old graduating from kindy and one day, I will be proudly cheering as he goes on stage to pose with his friends. One day, I will be bawling at the thought of him being all grown up and entering primary school.

No matter what, though, I will always be his proud mama.

My Hawaiian boy//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Aidan, Health Goddess, Motherhood

HFMD comes round again

Another year, another round of HFMD.

Yes, the three-year-old is down with this dreadful illness again. Poor baby has ulcers at the back of his throat and isn’t eating well at the moment. When he gives up three quarters of his chocolate biscuit, you know he is in great pain. He would never have given it up willingly in healthier times, hah.

The silver lining is that he is still, pretty much, himself. He’s happy and playful and still singing away.

Right now we are concerned with separating Aidan from Zac. The last thing we want is for the baby to get it too. And that’s where it turns dicey. We now have to activate our parents’ help – I can’t take leave because of classes and assessments while the man is juggling several projects. The logistics can be a challenge and this is frustrating for two parents who are working full-time.

At the same time, I am terrified of getting HFMD too. My last experience was nasty, I could barely eat or drink for seven days. It felt like I was swallowing shards of glass whenever I tried to ingest something. And then, miraculously, the ulcers disappeared on the 7th day.

Yup. HFMD as an adult is a terrible experience.

It’s been tough for the past year because we have been bouncing from illness to illness. It’s frustrating that we can only catch a short break before the next wave of illness comes, we are talking in terms of a week or two, at most a month. This is something that we accept as part and parcel of daycare life but it’s still difficult to live through. I’m tired of being sick, of my two babies being sick, of having to wake up a gazillion times at night to an angry, crying baby who cannot breathe through his congested nose, of having to clean snotty noses and rub phlegmy chests.

Well, everyone tells me that the first year of daycare is usually the toughest on the kid’s health. Fingers crossed that their immune systems would be strengthen soon as we inch towards that one-year mark.

Aidan

Aidan is three!

Little man turns three. I cannot believe it. Whatever happened to my baby? Suddenly, he is all long limbs and sinewy muscles. The baby fats have all but melted off his frame. He is all boy now, running here and there and everywhere.

And yet, he is still very much our little boo boo. Every night, he tells me that he wants to “sleep with mummy”. Before he falls asleep, he must, must put his hand on my belly button and then lie his head on my lap. When papa teases him and calls him “baby”, he retorts that he is NOT papa’s baby but he is “mummy’s baby”. He lets us hug and kiss him silly. We play fun little games and sing songs with lyrics that we make up on the spot. He “cooks” for us. He likes to ask me to feed him his yogurt even though he is perfectly capable of feeding himself. He only wants papa to open the car door for him. He says “thank you” and “sorry” in the cutest, sweetest manner.

I still cannot resist kissing his cheeks, even though they are no longer deliciously juicy. I still love to carry him and have him nestle against my neck. I still sniff at his sweaty noggin, pretending that he still retains that sweet baby scent. I still love it when he calls me “mama” every once in a while.

I wish I can bottle up every moment with him. I wish I can remember every single funny thing that he says, every single new thing that he does which astounds us. I wish I can keep him at this age forever, this delightful age where he constantly amazes us with the little facets of his personality.

Three years ago, my life changed. It was turned topsy turvy and I found myself crying and laughing at the same time, as I cradled the tiny little being whom we had made, and who was irrevocably connected to us.

My son was born and he taught me what unconditional love is all about. I thought I knew everything but I was wrong.

Everything is still work in progress, of course. We are still figuring our way around this parenting gig. I still wonder if I am doing the right thing. I still wage battles to protect my family and to bring up my children the way I want to.

But then, I look at my little man and I think, I must have done something right. I must have done something good in order to have him in my life.

Once upon a time, he was but a mere flicker of hope. Today, he is my son.

Happy birthday to my boo boo boy. We love you madly, to the moon and back.

Aidan

Almost three

And just like that, my first-born is fast approaching his third birthday. I know, I know, we all say the same thing but honestly, where did the time go? How did he go from a pipe dream to a newborn to a chubby baby to a funny toddler to a precocious preschooler in so short a time? I look at photos of him when he was littler and my heart goes all funny: a mix of intense love and bittersweet wrench.

If Zac is my redemption at motherhood, then Aidan is my miracle. He is the child that almost never was, the one who came into our lives so shockingly when we were expecting nothing. And he is the child who made me a mother, who taught me what this motherhood gig is all about.

He amazes us every single day. He says the darnest things, this boy, and every so often, husband and I would exchange incredulous looks of “did you hear that?!” over his head. We are just so fascinated by his development and personality. I mean, when he was a baby, he was a happy, chubby little thing (we are very blessed in that both our babies are happy babies) who was so very easily loved. But now, the nuances of his personality are slowly emerging and it’s pretty exciting to witness it.

For instance, he is not very good with new people. When we go to birthday parties, he’s the kid who hangs with his parents and doesn’t want to join the other kids initially. He’d rather play by himself, which is exactly like me. I hate parties and I hate being in an environment where I am the new kid. But, like me, once he warms up, he becomes the ringleader, everyone’s friend. That’s pretty evident from his progress in school. According to his teacher, he loves to chat with his friends, even if his friends are not capable of responding verbally to him yet! And everyone knows Aidan – whenever I pick him up from school, I always get little kids pointing and shouting his name at me. It’s hilarious!

He’s mostly a happy chappy who loves to sing – just like papa and mama. He comes home warbling new songs, which are mostly tunes that we know, and he loves it when we sing along with him. We’ve been meaning to enrol him in music classes, hopefully once the transitions at home have settled.

One thing that we are so very thankful for is his acceptance of his little brother. The first few weeks were tough, undoubtedly, as he struggles with the knowledge that the attention of his parents are being diverted. But now, he is a loving brother who is just as affectionate with Zac as he is with us. He would reach for Zac’s hand and say, “Zac, hold hands, Zac.” Or he would pat Zac when the latter is crying. Or he would console Zac in the car seat with “don’t cry! We are going to NTUC, Zac.”

There are times when he drives us absolutely nuts, of course. But it’s your typical toddler will, trying to assert his independence. And we get that, so we try to remain patient and calm. It doesn’t always work, of course, but these incidents are far and few these days. (Let’s talk when he enters disequilibrium again.)

So there you have it, my almost three-year-old in a nutshell. There’s a whole lot more, of course, but these days I find myself writing less and less about him. Well, I am just writing less and less in general but I am also a little more mindful about putting my kid out on the inter webs now that he’s no longer an itty bitty baby. There are some things that we can share and then there’s stuff that should firmly remain offline.

We are still not too sure how we are going to celebrate his birthday, to be honest. Big parties with fancy food and entertainment are not quite our thing. But one thing’s for sure, we will be celebrating as a family of four.

I love my little man.

Aidan

Oh Aidan!

At age 2.5, Aidan is right smack in the middle of the disequilibrium stage. Oh, the meltdowns! It’s amazing how much angst a toddler can have. I mean, he’s only 2.5 years old and it’s like the world is ending if mama does not give him his crayons in the car.

Luckily for my first-born, he is rather amusing and highly entertaining so I haven’t harboured the thought of selling him to his grandparents. Yet.

Just the other day, my mum made curry chicken for the adults for dinner. She especially made a pot of porridge for my little man because he was nursing a cough and a fever. As Aidan and I sat down for dinner together, he insisted on spooning the curry gravy from the bowl into my plate of rice. Well, it’s good for his motor skills and all so I let him. But before I could stop him, he had conveniently dumped a spoonful of the gravy onto his porridge. Urghs!

I exclaimed loudly because, man, what a waste of food. Now he wouldn’t be able to eat the porridge, right?

WRONG.

He kicked up such a stink when I tried to stop him from eating the curry-laden porridge – and this was curry that had an extra spicy kick to it, mind you – that I decided to just let him do what he wanted. Because, TODDLER ANGST.

He proceeded to stick the porridge into his mouth as I sat there, watching him. IT WAS HILARIOUS. His face changed as he swallowed the porridge and without making a peep, he started to feed himself soup as fast as he could.

I quickly fed him some water and gave him a little “I told you so” spiel. But did our friend learn his lesson? NOOOOOOOOO.

He picked up a spoonful of curry gravy again, dunked it into his soup and TRIED TO DRINK IT UP. When I sternly told him that he should not do it because it’s spicy, his face crumpled and he started wailing dramatically.

Well, okay then. I stopped myself and let him drink the soup.

This time, the spice irritated his throat and he started coughing and sputtering until his eyes watered and his face turned red. Mama had to come to the rescue (after sniggering inwardly) and fed him water again to clear his throat. I would have felt sympathetic except, well, he kinda brought it upon himself, no? Very or bee good. After that, he didn’t attempt to ingest the curry any more.

After dinner, however, I thought about it and I realised that Aidan had really taken it like a man. He didn’t cry when he realised exactly how spicy the curry was, and he didn’t whine. He choked on the curry, drank the water and moved on. With nary a complaint.

So yes, I was sort of proud of him. Also, YAY TODDLER ATE SUPER SPICY CURRY! Atta boy!

**********

So the kid has been in school for the past four months and we can see that he is truly thriving after the rather difficult start. He sings all the time at home now, with some hilarious and funny lyrics.

For example, Twinkle twinkle traffic light/How I wonder what you are/Red means stop/Green means go/Yellow means wait.

Then, he commands us to make up lyrics for him. “Mummy sing airplane on road,” he says. So I do: (to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus) The airplane on the road goes zoom zoom zoom/Zoom zoom zoom/Zoom zoom zoom. After that, he says, “Sing the train on the sky!” And so on and so forth. I sing whatever he asks of me and it makes him smile.

*********

My little cutie. Love him like crazy.

Aidan, Letters to

2.5 years of Aidan

Dear Aidan,

You know, it’s kinda funny. Time crept up on us so stealthily that we hadn’t realised just how big you have grown so far. I mean, it’s like we have been keeping pace with you and we knew you were growing but suddenly, when we see you with your little brother, we discovered just how far we had all come together.

You, my boo boo, are an amazing little fellow. The past few months have not been easy for you but you have grown through it with such joy and unbridled love. You have shown me how strong you are and how much I really, really love you.

We started June just hanging out, you and me. Oh, we did loads of stuff together: we went to Ikea and had tea, chilled at the playground and looked at photos together. We read books and played with trains. We took naps together and woke up happy.

And then Zac came along and your world changed. Suddenly, you were thrust into the unknown and here’s a tiny human demanding so much of your parents’ attention, especially mama’s. Suddenly, all these weird big people were telling you to hug and kiss that tiny human, saying stuff like “if you don’t do XYZ, I will give your Thomas train to didi”.

Of course you acted out. You are only two years old. You are meant to act out at this age. And you did. There were loads of tears and illogical tantrums and strange demands. But those, those I could handle. What I could not handle was the sobbing: big, fat tears accompanied by cries of “mama! Mama!”. It nearly broke my heart into two, it made me wonder if I had been selfish in wanting to have a second child when clearly, my first-born was in despair. All I could do was to hold you, stroke your back, shower you with kisses and tell you that it was going to be alright and I loved you.

Three months on, you have blossomed into the loving and warm big brother that your papa and I had envisioned. You love Zac and say the funniest things to him. Like, “Zac, we go the NTUC, okay?” and “Mama give the num num to Zac”. You love to hug and kiss him, and then tell me to “take photo! Take photo!”

Of course there is still jealousy, of course you still want whichever parent is holding on to Zac. But that’s natural and to be expected. Bit by bit, you are entering the realm where you cannot remember how life was like without Zac.

You started attending school and oh boy, it was so tough in the early days. You cried your heart out when we left you in the new environment. I could not stop my own tears from falling when I saw you sitting on the teacher’s lap and sobbing. I wished I could help you to understand why we had to do this, I wished I could help you through your confusion and sadness.

But look at you now! There are still tears, true, but they go off pretty quickly. The teacher tells me that you are a happy little chappy who loves to sing, and you have a hearty appetite. Sometimes you tend to wander off and do your own thing but you know, that’s so you.

School taught you independence but it also gave you the “gift” of bugs. You caught a nasty bug and you never really recovered from it. For two months, you coughed and sneezed your way through life and we despaired of ever having you healthy again. Throughout this period, though, you remained your happy self and you never let the illnesses bring you down.

So yes, it’s been an eventful three months. Life has changed so much for you but you have been such a super trooper. I’m so proud to be your mama and so glad that you are ours to love and adore.

Don’t ever lose that wide-eyed wonder, okay?

Love you to the moon and back,
mama