The Diaperbag family.

We are the Diaperbag family. There are Jordan, Evan and Dylan (also known as Muffin) and they are fondly known as JED. We are their parents. Ondine and Packrat.

This is JED

Always playing or planning and plotting to take over the world. Always up to shenanigans.

This is Jordan, our first born

Actually she's part of a twin set. She was known as Twin 1 in-utero. She loves to draw what she dreams, dances what she draws.

This is Evan, reluctantly the younger twin

He's Twin 2 by two minutes because it took the doctor that long to find him. We don't think he'll ever forgive the doctor!

This is our youngest, Dylan (also known as Muffin)

He fancies himself the Lion King. His favourite activities are to climb, jump, pounce and roar at the world. The world is his Pride Rock.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Censorship

As JED grow older and their exposure to things grows, they pick up strange things along the way. I remember how stunned I was when a 3-4 year old Evan, while playing with toy planes, flew two towards each other shouting "Evasive manoeuvre!"  or when Muffin, on seeing the BBC logo on the screen declaring "This is the BBC World Service!". Along with all these funny and occasionally useful snippets of information, they do pick up things that we have to clamp down on.

Mostly it's got to do with attitude and language.

They watch mostly American television shows and the occasional Chinese animation. And both have issues that we have to temper.

1. Language.
There are words that we ban outright because 8 year olds or 5 year olds shouldn't be using language like that. Evan was stunned when he got smacked on the back of his head for declaring "I am DAMN full!" . We told him "damn" was not a word to describe how full he was and "damn" meant to send someone to hell or criticise badly. Either of which, it wasn't appropriate for him to describe the state of how much food he had eaten.

This however, was something they pick up, not just from television but from the kids in school. Muffin, while unsuccessfully fixing his Lego, uttered the expletive "Ah... F*#k!" to our horror. Evidently, he picked it up from an older kid on the bus.

So these are the outright words that we have to constantly police and Evan, being in a boys' school, seems to hear them in THX surround sound.

2. Words.
Then there are the more insidious words that we have to catch. Words that are inherently harmless on the own but when uttered with juvenile arrogance never fails to make the blood boil.

i. Jordan: Fine (with the eye roll)
ii. Evan: Whatever (while turning his back to you)
iii. Muffin: Boring
iv. JED: Sentences that begin with "I WANT YOU TO..."

Pt iii. is the most commonly used. Every.Thing.Is.Boring. And they whine about wanting gadgets that others have or the television. Our current retort is that if what we do is boring to them and they don't want to do it then we won't do what they want to do which we find boring. On top of that, there are always chores and homework that we can find for them to do to cure boredom. That is usually met with an extremely sullen and reluctant silence.



And with Muffin, we can't issue the awful threat of rubbing chilli on his lips/ mouth for using inappropriate language because he actually likes the stuff. 

If necessary, we'll try soap. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Birds and the Bees Part 1

T'was inevitable that at some point, the twins were going to ask how babies were made.

This happened last night. In bed, just before they went to sleep. It started with Jordan lamenting that she didn't want to get pregnant or give birth because it was painful. And my telling her that it was okay to feel that now and she might change her mind later.

It's amazing that even at 8, they could fathom that accidents do happen because her anxious reply was concern about what would happen if they forgot they didn't want a baby and accidentally kissed and as a result, she got pregnant.

She missed a couple of steps there.




That's when I decided it was time that I took them through some basics. In that split second, I decided that I had to be as truthful and as informative as possible.

1. So I used the right terms. There was no couching of genitalia in more cutesy terms that we do on occasion use (though I try to be evasive here).

2. I laid down the ground rules.
a. Girls and boys have anatomy that work together to create a baby. But that doesn't happen till after marriage. Underline, underline, super bold, with exclamation marks.
b. Since the boy parts are more obvious, the definite curiosity must be tempered with the fact that asking a girl where her specific parts are could lead to very dire consequences; ranging from getting slapped to getting arrested for indecent propositioning.

3. I would explain the processes and the parts involved and talk about how to keep safe. (While I do firmly in abstinence, I want to be sure that if they chose any other path, parental wrath and chastity belts notwithstanding, they needed to be safe)

4. I would also explain where we stood as a Christian family.

I didn't quite manage to cover every bit of it. We never made it to the actual process of how a baby was made. What I had not counted on was so much laughter that it was hard to go on. There were obviously questions and here's the 8 year old's toilet humour laced FAQ.

Q. So I pee out sperm???
A: No you don't. You use the same equipment but different things can come out of it.

Q. What happens if pee came out into the woman instead of sperm?
A. You would have a partner who would be extremely pissed off with you (pun totally intended, which they actually got and sent them into greater gales of laughter) and might never ever want to let you go near her again.

Preamble:  I had explained that it was also something that ought to happen between 2 people who loved one another.
Q: What happens if you want to make love but not want a baby?
A: Then there are things that you can use, like a condom. (They had seen a condom before in a coke-Mentos experiment).
Observation: So you use something like a plastic bag to make sure the sperm doesn't swim out?
A: Uhm, yes.
Observation: Then you just throw away the plastic bag? Do you have to tie a rubber band around it so it won't spill into the bin?
A: Well, it's not exactly a plastic bag but it works the same way and yes, you'll have to tie it up to throw it away. That's only polite.

Q: It's like poking right? So won't it hurt?
A: It would hurt if it isn't done properly.


By which time, they were both convinced that copulating was going to be painful, troublesome and required the use of plastic bags.

I did make them both swear not to talk about this in school because knowing them, something would get lost in translation and calls from exasperated teachers or annoyed parents would be likely to follow.

There will probably have to be a part 2 because we never got to the actual bit of how the baby is made. Time to take out the book that I have called "How babies are made.".


Monday, July 06, 2015

Comic Drawing: The new past time

Part of JED's reading diet consists of my entire collection of Calvin and Hobbes as well as science comics. I'm not averse to letting them read comics though I have had people 'tsk!' me and tell me that they ought to be reading 'proper' books.

They love comics. They love Calvin. They want to get up to the same sort of shenanigans that Calvin gets up to like bathing in the toilet bowl (No.) . I remember all those years in college chuckling at Calvin and Hobbes and love that they derive such joy from it, though I suspect they don't get everything at this point.

Anyway, they all try to draw comics. It can't be that hard to write a story in a few panels, they think. They succeed to varying degrees but only Jordan will let me photograph them.


Then I find this link that provides blank comic templates. They have panels with speech/ thought bubbles and they have some with more panels and some with less. I print a stack and bring them home.

There is silence for 30 minutes with a lot of sniggering and Jordan produces this. Evan produces a self-deprecating one with his last panel ending off with a stick boy thinking "Scrap!" and cannot stop chuckling. But he crushes it up and throws it away, promising me a more coherent one soon. They beg for more comic paper.





I teach them to sign their names at the bottom of the strip like Watterson did. And I tell them how much I enjoy reading their comics, because I genuinely do.

And the best part is that they are each other's biggest fans. They wait anxiously for each other to finish and grab it from under the pen to read it. They chuckle, they laugh, they discuss how to make it funnier and that makes them laugh some more (it is often toilet humour, but I pretend not to hear it.)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A giving sort of birthday

The twins' birthday aren't till the end of June but they like doing a thing with their friends. Unfortunately, the thing about having their birthdays during the holidays is that there isn't ever a time where all their friends are around. The solution: to do something before everyone goes off on vacation.

Term, however, ends a good month before their birthday and it does seem strange and artificial to me to celebrate that much earlier. Eventually, the consensus was to do a simple small early- birthday play date with their friends. Nothing elaborate; just pure, unadulterated fun. Not exactly a party.

At the same time, we've been talking to the twins about learning to not covet and how there will be no end to wanting mountains and mountains of toys. We've also been talking to them about helping and the responsibility to others. Helping others who have less. Helping others who need help. Add to that, we've gotten to the point, with JED, that birthdays and Christmas are met with dread because of having to sort out the presents that they get.

So, the eventual party was a swim date where each twin invited 8 friends with dinner at MacDonald's after. There were no goodie bags and no cake; we bought everyone a simple water canon to play with and they could take it home at the end of the day. They played till the water park closed.

And after talking it through with the twins, we decided that we would ask their friends not to bring presents but to bring a donation that would go to Nepal. The twins had heard about the earthquake in Nepal because for a time, that was all that was on the BBC, ad nauseum. To contextualise it, we had shown them pictures of the destruction and talked to them about what they thought the Nepali people needed.



It truly became more of an end of term bash with an occasional reference to the twins' birthday since there weren't balloons, banners and cake with only the small occasional present from parents who thought the twins might still want something tangible for themselves. The biggest thrill for them came when breaking open their home-made donation box and counting the money in it. While there was a great amount of exclamation about how much money they had counted (we raised an even $1000 from their friends!), not once did they ask for that money to be spent on them. Yesterday, we finally found the time to take them to the Red Cross to donate the money. They fought all the way there. Both wanted to hold the envelope. Both wanted to present the money for donation. Both were thrilled when they got the receipt for having donated $1000. 



In the recent week or so, we wished that we could have donated the money to the guide who lost his life trying to rescue victims in Sabah or the local teacher who also lost his life in Sabah as well. But because Nepal was what we had told the twins' friends and their parents, we honoured our commitment and donated it to Nepal. This was once again something we had to explain to the twins. Jordan had asked if the money could go to Sabah when she heard about the tragedy and the children who had lost their lives. We explained that while we wanted to, we had already promised that money to Nepal and we would donate to the Sabah victims separately. Evan's remark was an insightful and telling one- there are so many people in the world that really need money.

Yes, indeed.

If I had a birthday wish for the twins, it would be that we would be able to do this every year with them, now that they are a bit older and able to understand their obligations to the wider world out there.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

The bigger person

Today, I looked at Evan through new eyes.

We've always known that he's a gentle soul and recently, we were wondering if he was a little bit too gentle. He's at the age where the boys rough house a lot but he doesn't and stays away from those that do. He claims he doesn't like those who play rough and are aggressive.

But after today, I've decided I'm going to leave it because he's a better kid than that.



Scene:

A pair of girls teased him. He wasn't happy and came to tell me. I told him to ignore them. They continued to tease him. So he took a jar of fake insects and tossed them in the direction of the girls. One of the girls retaliated and hit him really hard. That was when we had to step in.

Girl's dad demands she apologises for what she did. Girl refuses. Girl's dad calls Evan over.

Evan goes over, reluctantly.

Girl's dad invites Evan to hit her back. As hard as he wants too, since she wouldn't apologise.

Evan shakes his head, whispers 'no need', holds his head up and walks away, despite repeated invitations to hit back.

Girl's dad points out to girl that was the right way to behave, that instead of escalating the situation, he turns his back to it. Girl hangs head in shame and cries.

She comes up later on and whispers an apology to Evan, by which time, Evan has forgotten and forgiven her.

- End of Scene-

So proud, my heart could sing.