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.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Challenging the stereotypes

One of the most frustrating parts about being a teacher is realising that my students bought lock stock and barrel the racial/ religious stereotypes that were virulent in Singapore. I have lectured, nagged, corrected, ranted and raved at them for making grievous assertions.

Evan came home announcing that there was a food drive in school where they were supposed to bring can food to donate to the underprivileged. While Evan tried to explain the mechanics of the food drive to me, I felt the familiar sensation of my blood boiling. But I had to remind myself that this was my son and he was 7 years old and he was reporting a message he had been told in school.

He had said "We need to buy can food to give to the poor people. And the food must be Halal because the poor people are Muslims."

In my mind, this was a precursor to the ignorant assertions I hear from 17 year olds about how all Muslims are terrorists and all poor people live in Africa. I am very sure that their stereotypes come from bits and pieces of misinformation as well.

I don't think his teacher actually said any of that to him. I suspect the message was that
a. We are running a can food donation drive for the underprivileged.
b. Please make sure the can food is Halal so that if the underprivileged we are going to give the can food to are Muslim, they can eat it too.

So, donning my teacher hat, I proceeded to try to correct the misinformation and explained to him that it wasn't that all poor people were Muslim and that it was so that we could bless everyone equally with our donation.

I could see he was having a bit of a hard time understanding everything I was explaining to him but he tried to correct himself later on. And he was very pleased with the stash of can food he had picked out. Of course, he's footing half the bill so perhaps, when I tell him that he owes me $6, he isn't going to be so pleased.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Building buckets of character

Some one recently commented that of all three, Jordan had the most serious disposition. If I think about it, I suppose it's true though Evan does come in a close second when he starts thinking about things a little too much. For Evan, it's part of him. He's the worrywart and he's me. For Jordan, it's because of circumstance.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing but it is painful to watch her have to grow up so quickly. Her seriousness comes from a strong and recently acquired of a sense of responsibility.

She was recently appointed Assistant Class Monitress and that sent her into a planning frenzy to get to school early. Packrat and I were suitably chastised when she asked if she could go to school on the school bus. When we asked her why, seeing that it meant she would need to get up earlier, she said she needed to be in school for her duties and the time we usually dropped her off was too late. When we promised her we would get her to school by 7 the next morning, she was by my bedside by 545 am shaking me awake.

To be told by our first born, in not so many words, that we couldn't be trusted to get her to school on time was a big metaphorical kick in the nuts.

Some weeks ago, she came down with the flu and had to stay home for 2 days. When she returned to school, she was given a whole stack of homework to catch up with. It was impossible for her to get it all done within the day and we didn't expect her to. But it evidently seemed that she expected herself to. 2 hours after she went to bed, she was up and out of bed pulling out her unfinished homework from her bag. Even though she kept dozing off, she kept at it till we forced her back to bed.

A lot of good that did because she spent the whole night sleeping fitfully and waking with a start and with worry because of her unfinished work. When I eventually woke her up in the morning, she burst into tears because she was so exhausted.

Our instinct was obviously to blame the school for giving her so much work but to be fair, it was work she would have completed had she gone to school. And when we spoke to her teachers to ask for the weekend to finish the work, they told us that she hadn't been given any deadlines. The expectations had been self-inflicted. Her teachers had noticed that about her as well and knew to reassure her that she wasn't being tardy with her work.

It's admirable that she took it upon herself to finish up her work and that she was tough on herself when she didn't. It's great that she's developed a great sense of accountability and it's difficult for us to watch her beat herself up about it because she's still our little girl. At the end of the day, she's only 7 and we've got to step in and temper it or she will end up being wound too tight.

That means, giving her the space to be silly and clown around and to chuckle and giggle like a 7 year old ought to.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Separation Anxiety

As teachers, we don't travel as much for work. When I did travel for work, I went away for long stretches but that was pre- kids. I no longer do. Packrat still does so; for conferences, courses and student trips.

So when he had to fly off to Japan this evening, we thought nothing about bringing JED to the airport to say bye. After all, they've been home with just me for close to three weeks without Papa and they were fine.

What we hadn't counted on was that Evan was now old enough to feel the loss of Papa leaving. I recently blogged about Papa being his best friend and while I knew that he was worried about Packrat leaving, it really hadn't occurred to us that he would take the leaving so badly.

First he followed Packrat like a puppy, while Packrat gave instructions to his students. He sought out Packrat to hold his hand or just be in physical contact with him. Then when he saw Packrat's luggage get checked in and he knew it was a matter of minutes before Packrat needed to go through security, his eyes began to redden. I said in an earlier post that Packrat had a good sense of what Evan needed so he disengaged himself from his students and comes round to Evan, swooping all 26 kg into his arms. He whispered a prayer with Evan so that Evan might be reassured that he would come back.

But that act of affection and intimacy set free the flood gates that Evan had been so valiantly holding back. And he sobbed as if his heart had just been broken. No amount of consolation and holding him calmed him down. He wanted his Papa.

My eventual solution to calm him down was to take him in search of supper. That however, worked for as long as it took him to finish his sausage roll. He kept talking about how he couldn't stop thinking about Papa and who was going to help him build his Transformers and talk to him about Star Wars.

I know how difficult and awful it feels when I travel sans JED and I'm pretty sure that if any of JED pulled that on me before I had to go anywhere, I would have willingly given up my plane ticket and gone home.

Hanging onto Papa and not allowing him to work. Perhaps thinking that by doing that, Papa will not leave.

The boys sticking to Papa like glue while Jordan is happy to clown around.

Hopefully the night's sleep puts things into perspective for Evan and that he will feel better in the morning. I suspect the Saturday treat of watching television will help loads. 

Whatever it is, I join him in wishing that the week will pass fast so that Packrat will be back again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Evan and Packrat went on a daddy-son date today. Jordan and I were pretty envious and wished we could have gone along too.

Alas, we only had two tickets.

Two tickets to the WTA Championships in Singapore.

And since Evan was the one in the family who played tennis and since Packrat was the parent who was free, they got to go.

6 rows from the court. And they got to see Maria Sharapova warm up before watching Monica Puig and Zhang Sai Sai (most unfortunate name!) slug it out.

Photos by Packrat

Evan's review:
"The players were cool because their backhands, forehands and volleys were so good. "

"I wished I could throw the ball that high when I serve."

"How come they can use two hands when they do a backhand?"

"I liked the one with the pink shoes."

When I asked him if he thought he could play as well as they could, he replied in affirmative.

All I could think about from the 400+ photos that Packrat shot was how nice Sharapova's legs were.

Yup, the tickets would have been wasted on me.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Clubhouse

JED have a club. It's the Secret Seven, Famous Five and Five Find Outers all put into one. Their club consists of Jordan, Evan, two of our neighbours, an honorary member who is the neighbour's friend and Muffin who is the pet dog.

They have a name for the club (which they will not reveal),  a leadership (the eldest is the Big Boss), rules (which include no sleeping at club meetings), a password (stolen straight out of one of the Secret Seven adventures) and apparently a song (Firework by Katy Perry). They plan events like dance parties on Christmas Day (obviously without consulting any of their parents) and they have a clubhouse; a little gazebo at the base of our flats. On behalf of the club, Jordan petitioned for a tree house. We told her that if they wanted a tree house, they needed to find a tree first.

We toyed with the idea of buying a cardboard house for them from Groupon and making them split the cost with us. That way, they could paint it and decorate it as they wanted to.

Then, two days ago, walking past the recycle bin, I see movers deposit a box that could fit Packrat, myself and JED standing up in it. It used to contain one of those luxury massage chairs. Now, it was just empty and I thought that rather than spend money buying them a box, this box was much bigger. The only challenge was hauling it up to our flat.

Our helper yanked while I shoved, up 2 flights of stairs and me plastered against the lift wall with the box towering in front of me and blocking me entirely.

I told JED that I looked like an idiot hauling the box up when movers had so conveniently left it by the bin for recycling. But I also told them that that would be their new club house.

JED and associated members of the club spent two days decorating it and making it their own. I helped by cutting windows and doors for them.

Then, they painted, coloured and drew. They 'built' furniture out of the padding and cardboard beams that were in the box. There was a table, there were pillars and there was a roof awning.

Evan, writing the rules of the club on the front wall.
Jordan putting on the final flourishes to her mural on the back wall.
Painting is hard work. Tea break in the club house.
It wasn't just about making the outside look pretty, there were flourishes too. "Welcome" pillars flanking the "house" and more design more rules on the roof.

Welcoming messages and warnings, side by side.

The club house. Fits five children with room to spare.

Every free moment they get, our apartment empties and quiets down because they are all doing something in their clubhouse.

We thought it was all destroyed yesterday when the cleaners came round to jetspray the corridor. But the kind cleaner had laid their 'cardboard' pillars on the ground and raised their clubhouse onto them, thus rescuing it from the great flood. 

We'll see how long this clubhouse lasts then I'll be looking like an idiot again as I haul it back down to the recycle bin though by then, the box would have been 'upcycled', from a box to a club house of sorts!