Friday, December 9, 2011

Ten Sure Signs You Are An Expat Spending Christmas in Singapore

1) Going home involves a 12 hr flight (24 if you're from the States or Canada).

2) In addition to plane fares, presents for every relative, friend, and acquaintance you are likely to meet back home, you also need to buy a winter wardrobe for every member of the family since everywhere is colder than here.

3) After realizing the total cost equals the price of a minivan, you may decide to stay put.

4) You soon discover that for your other friends, staying put, actually means short breaks to Bali and Phuket.

5) The top wish on your children's list will be to build a snowman. (There's that small detail of us living in the tropics...remember?)

6) Roasting chestnuts over an open fire...when it's 93 degrees Fahrenheit...not so fun.

7) Having family visit is great as long as you realize that, along with the delicious Swiss chocolate and Jo Malone creams, they will bring a virus they picked up on the long haul flight. And they will have major jet lag. If they have toddlers, two words: good times.

8) You're not the only one who thinks going to Singapore's Snow City is a good idea.

9) You are thinking of having your entire Christmas dinner home delivered.

10) Your child may spontanously assume the buddha position to decide where to put up the tree.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What If Amy Chua Were Alexander's Mother?

Yesterday, I let Alexander read the online Wall Street Journal excerpt of Amy Chua's book: The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.
The book made quite a stir by highlighting the different parenting techniques between the 'no-nonsense' Chinese approach (no playdates, no sleepovers, no school plays, only top grades praised, hours of piano practice...) and the more lenient, 'it's okay if you don't win' Western one.
Halfway through the article, Alexander asked me:
"You're Western, right?"

*** *** ***

This got me thinking, what if Amy Chua were Alexander's mother?

Instead of prohibiting playdates and sleepovers, she would very likely encourage them. You know, to recharge her brain.

Instead of vetoing school activities, such as the debate team, she would embrace a forum where he could debate. One where she was not involved.

She might even feel giddy the day he announced he was giving up the violin or piano. Because frankly, life is too short.

True, she might realize too late that to answer ALL of Alexander's questions is not a good idea. Or to rationalize all decisions is not the best approach, soon recognizing she is facing a mental ninja warrior more adept at finding legal loopholes than a lawyer in a John Grisham novel.

But, maybe one day, she would relent. And sit down with him to watch back-to-back episodes of Mythbusters, admiring his drawings of small villages with large libraries, listening to minute details about the latest Percy Jackson novel, marveling at his photographic memory and his sharp wit. She might even stop trying to run the show. Finally realizing, that with Alexander, it's much better to just sit back and enjoy the ride.