Monday, March 29, 2010

Help! Another Prodigy!

I really cannot understand why parents push their prodigies into university.

Let me go on field trip or I'll sue, prodigy, 13, tells college

Clearly these brains are so advanced they cannot see that learning something/sitting exams/graduating university earlier does not make them any better/more mature/nicer people.

So what if my child is able to sit A Level exams at age eight, ten, or twelve? After that, what?

My son was able to read anything he set his eyes on at five. So Dad bought him a whole set of Famous Five books. Why not? Both Mum and Dad enjoyed the Famous Five.

Son tried reading one and gave up. He did not have the emotions to cope with that kind of adventure. It frightened him.

He read the lot more recently and quite enjoyed them. Age nine is so different from age five when you are under a decade old.

Thirteen-year-old boys should do what 13-year-old boys do: get zits and gain an interest in girls. Children and only children once. They should not be deprived of their childhood.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Grey is the new Green

Do you know someone --anyone -- above the age of 40 who has NEVER coloured her hair?

I was researching old people in my mid-30s. It was advantageous to me then to point out that I was already greying and felt much at home with the old people I spent a lot of time with.

But they kept telling me I was grey not because I was old (they were in their 70s, 80s and 90s and I was relatively young to them), but that I read too many books.

Crunch came when I returned to Singapore to prepare for my wedding. Friends suggested that I might consider colouring my hair, either "just to hide the grey", or sometimes in a more diplomatic way, to give it some 'highlights'.

Having seen my mum struggle to keep her hair black when there wasn't that wide array of over-the-counter hair dyes we now have, and having seen how beautiful she looked when she went completely 'silver', I was loath to colour my hair.

Some years back one hairdresser had in fact suggested my trying "burgundy highlights", because my hair had shades of burgundy and a burgundy wash-in colour would be great.

I learned that it would wash out in about 16 washes. A complete waste of money then, as I wash my hair every day.

The colour of my hair has always been a mystery to me. It has never been black, or I've never remembered it as black, like that of the rest of my family (at least when they were, uhm, younger).

I used to be told -- and believed -- that I was picked up from the dust-bin (Singapore equivalent to "the stork brought you") and felt truly out of place for many years.

One day (and I remember this very clearly) sick and tired of being teased for my not-so-black hair I stood in front of the mirror and started plucking out those hairs which were not black.

After a few minutes I realized it was futile. I would have been left without any hair. So I decided to live with my hair with all the different shades of brown, and even a few strands of orange (or 'red' as the Europeans call it).

It was not until I was sitting my 'O' Levels and waiting for my oral exam (English or Chinese, can't remember) while chatting with another girl that I learned that many other girls would die/dye to have hair colour like mine.

Really? I didn't know that.

Fast forward to one Wednesday morning after playing Majulah Singapura at the flag-raising ceremony at junior college. The sun was beating down on us as usual, even at just after 7.30am. A fellow clarinettist (I had defected from the trombone section then) exclaimed in disbelief, "SP, you have orange hair!"

Once on a bus I heard the driver and his mate talking about a girl with "ang tao mor" which in my limited Hokkien means "red hair". I didn't think anything of it till I was getting off the bus and realized I was the only person on it and they were in fact talking about me.

So how on earth did this Chinese girl acquire red and brown hair? No one knows. One niece also has this red hair (I don't know if she's lost it since) and so does my son (who incidentally has one strand of white hair, or is it blond?). Mum-in-law insisted that no one in her family (ie including husband's) has ever had red hair.

Back to the wedding. I didn't want to dye my hair and had to come up with an excuse or two:
  1. It has taken me so long to find the man I wished to marry I have hair to match the colour of my wedding gown. Why hide it?
  2. If husband-to-be would dye his grey hair, then I would, too. (Knowing full well Mr T would not bother.)
  3. Why bother? I already have natural highlights!
I am really loving my salt-and-pepper hair with its 'natural highlights' now. But I was surprised to learn that most of my female friends and relatives have resorted to colouring their hair.

As one of my old ladies from my research days said to me, "Don't start dyeing your hair. Once you start, you cannot stop." She had jet-black hair, totally out of place with the rest of her.

Yes, I noticed that my skin colouring (tone?) has changed as I age. While I used to wear a lot of black, especially to work, I cannot now wear black any more. I look ghostly. Not for me the LBD (Little Black Dress).

And as I've never had black hair it seems silly to try to turn it black. I am happy and comfortable to be grey.

Why is grey green? Just think of all the packaging, plastic gloves, paper instructions, and other paraphernalia that come with hair colouring products. Not only have I saved a lot of money by not bothering, I have saved a lot of unnecessary packaging going into landfill.

A few days ago I came across a newspaper article going on and on (and on) about Liz Hurley showing her grey roots. Has she decided to age gracefully, etc, etc. Goodness! Why such a big fuss about a few greying hairs?

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."
Proverbs 31:30

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Black boys are too feminised

In the parent-and-toddler group I help to run we have two fathers from Croatia who bring their daughters. They often chat loudly together during singing time.

The lady in charge is afraid to tell them off because it could be viewed as racism.

I spoke firmly to these fathers and immediately instead of talking between themselves they sat down with their daughters and did "Row, row, row your boats" etc with them. The young girls were delighted.

I can get away with telling these parents most things because I am not-white.

So I'm glad that there are people like Mr Sewell who dares tell it as it is: (black) boys need fathers.

Check out also earlier post here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dangerous Dogs, Owners and Parents

This week the talk has been how to control dangerous "status" dogs owned by young men (usually) who are often simply young people on benefits. They swagger around with their pit bull-like dogs, letting these dogs foul the pavement and often use these dogs to threaten others.

Would you, in your right mind, confront one of these if you saw that they were not picking up after their dogs?

So our good minister, a certain Mr Johnson, has been talking about making sure that dog owners insure their dogs against their biting innocents. My former band instructor said he came from a school in Singapore called "Holy Innocents". The boys' nickname for their school was "Holy in no sense".

Mr Johnson was, in my reckoning, speaking "wholly in no sense".

Then there was the news of John Veneables, "one of the Bulger killers", being thrown back into prison. A certain children's "Tsar" (advocate) also said that we are criminalizing our children at too early an age, incurring the wrath of Bulger's mum. Understandably.

I also caught snippets of a Channel 4 documentary on three young men vying to get a scholarship to Harrow School, just up the road from us. One of these candidates -- from the little I had seen -- appeared to me (rightly or wrongly) so obnoxious that my instinctive feel was: if Harrow welcomes boys like that, my son is not going there.

With his IQ of 141 his parents had been trying to get him into a school a year ahead of others. Having failed to do so, they went down the independent school route.

Over meals, husband and I came to one conclusion. It is not the child's fault. It is their parents'. Neither are dangerous dogs "dangerous", it is the dog owners who are dangerous.

If dog owners and parents would only discharge more of their responsibilities then life in this country would be so different.

Do you reckon?

We've just spent another Sunday morning at the ski centre where son is getting some lessons in readiness for a school trip. Watching their children ski next to us was a family whose pushy mum drove me nearly mental.

First of all she talked really loudly. Why do people assume that other people wish to, or enjoy, listening to what is essentially a private conversation between members of a family? Is this the mobile phone culture gone badly wrong?

Then she went on and on about 'Matthew' who would just do his own thing. He would not keep in line and would overtake his sister. He would ski down the slope as quickly as he could. And we noticed that Matthew had no respect for others at all.

Instead of queueing up like other children, Matthew simply went as far in front of queue as he dared to, completely ignoring the people who had been there before him.

Why did the people let him? Because Matthew is tiny.

And that was the other issue. My son was enrolled in the class for children aged 7 to 10. Matthew was not quite 7 yet and should be in an earlier class with other 4-to-6-year-olds. How do we know? Because Matthew's Mum announced this to the world (actually his grandparents, but rather loudly), "O well, since there were just a few weeks to go I didn't want them to go to separate lessons. That means having to wait one hour for Matthew and one hour for Abigail."

Meanwhile, according to my son after the lesson, Matthew was causing mayhem. He kept falling over using the Poma button and causing 'pile-ups'. The lift had to stop several times and according to my son it was because of Matthew.

Part of the 'syllabus' required the children to ski in a path set out by the instructor. But Matthew would do his own thing, lose control, fall over and messed everyone else up.

Just because one selfish mother insisted that her child who was clearly too young and ill-disciplined and could not follow instructions, was allowed to join an older class, so that said mother need not be inconvenienced.

Meanwhile other children in the class suffered because of Matthew's lack of control, or desire for control. I noticed that she never said anything about Matthew's habit of jumping queues.

So, broken Britain, what chance do we have if even (presumably) middle-class parents do not teach their children discipline? If the mum is so selfish that she prefers to inconvenience others so that she does not need to wait another hour at the centre, what does it say of her other parenting responsibilities?

Would this type of parents be the same ones who take their children out of school during term time to go on holidays, to take advantage of cheaper deals? Are these the same parents who insist that teachers give their own children time to catch up on work missed as a result of such holidays?

Never mind that time spent on such holidaying children would mean time taken away from children who did not go on holidays.

Ten is too young for children to be deem responsibile for a crime, in most cases. But their parents are not. If we could have laws (like the truancy laws) that allow a parent to be taken to court for the 'crimes' of their children, parents might just become a bit more circumspect.

Rant over, for now.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brrr... Cold Callers

Grrrrr! more like.

I wonder if these cold callers know how annoying they are.

They call often when I am cooking, trying to get a baking tray out of the hot oven, or stopping something from boiling over. Or in the middle of my lunch which I sometimes forget to eat.

You run to the phone, answer it and ... nothing. No one breathes, no music. Pure nothing.

Then, I imagine, something clicks or lights up on THEIR machine to indicate that someone has picked up the phone.

Then they speak, usually asking for my husband.

I have been so fed up recently about these calls I've taken to doing the same thing to them.

I pick up the phone and when the silence indicates that it is a cold caller, I'd wait.

When they ask to speak with "Mr T" I know it IS a cold caller.

I hold my breath for a few seconds, then I hang up.

The most hateful ones are those who say, "O! Don't worry! We are not trying to sell you something."

Yeah, sure. Did they call to discuss the weather or shall I take up their time to talk Kierkegaard?