Sunday, May 12, 2013

3 hours with a child

It was around 8 pm when the next door neighbour knocked on our door to drop off his son. The father had to leave for work while the mom will only reach home at around 11.30pm. Apparently this babysitting arrangement started this week while I was away in camp.

The kid was probably in K1. He came with a bag stuffed with a writing book, two storybooks and some toys. My twin brothers aren't exactly fans of kids - one went into hiding in mom's room and later fell asleep, the other hiding behind his phone. My mum had to alter some pants for the neighbour upstairs and left me to entertain the kid.

We read a book.

He spelled the words. He could spell pretty well. Couldn't read though. "Around the house, the fox chased the mouse..," I read. He repeated after me.

"Show me the house." He pointed the house to me. "House dalam bahasa Melayu apa?" I asked.

"House dalam bahasa Melayu.... rumah!" He replied.

"Around tu apa Sheldon? What is the meaning of around?" 

"Around tu...."

I took a biscuit container and told him to imagine it to be the house. I then took a car and a fire engine and told him to imagine it to be the mouse and fox respectively. And then the fox chased the mouse around the house.

"Chase dalam bahasa Melayu apa Sheldon?"

"Chase dalam bahasa Melayu kejar-kejar."

I then pointed to the tree on the page and asked him what that is. "Tree," he said.

"Tree dalam bahasa Melayu tu apa?"

"Tree dalam bahasa Melayu tu pokok."

"Bird dalam bahasa Melayu tu ........ burung."

"Sheep dalam bahasa Melayu tu ....."

"Kambing," I prompted.

"Spider dalam bahasa Melayu tu ......"

"Labah-labah," I prompted.

He then pointed to the spiderweb and asked what spiderweb is in Malay.

I replied, "Spider web dalam bahasa Melayu tu .....Spider web dalam bahasa Melayu tu .... entah eh! Abang pon tak tau."

It went on until  the last page. I don't remember reading a book to a small kid before. Should I have kids some day, I wonder if i have the time or the patience to read a book to them - to teach them how to spell, read, write and recite, and translate. Would I have time to show them around? - to show them the field and explain to them what the field is, what the field is in malay, the many creatures that can be found in the field. Would they be interested? Would they be inquisitive? Would they be close to me if  I spend most of my days at work?

Gosh! I still think too much!

Later I asked him to recite the English alphabet followed by numbers. Not bad. I then asked him if he knew "Aleef, Baa, Taa". He gave a blank face.

I went to Google Play Store and searched for arabic alphabets for kids. I pointed at the first letter and asked,

"Sheldon tau ni huruf apa?"

And when I concluded that he has never been taught the arabic alphabets, I went through it with him. It's amazing the apps that can be found in the store. One touch on the letter in the screen and one could hear the letter being pronounced. He touched, listened and repeated after the voice. He swiped to the next letter, touched, listened and repeated after the voice. I then wrote the first four letters of the Arabic alphabets and instructed him to write lines.

"Write from left to right," I reminded him each time he wrote huruf baa, taa, saa from right to left.

We then watched Youtube videos of kids reciting Surah Al-Faatihah. I recited a verse in parts and he repeated after me. Secretly I was jealous of the voice some of the kids had in the videos.

Soon it was 1130pm. His mom came to pick him up. Finally some rest, peace and quiet. Not long after, I fell asleep in the living room.

It was kinda tiring entertaining the kid from next door as he waited for his parent to come back home from work. I tried to make him tired by making him spell, read, write and recite but the kid had too much energy. I even tried to make him sleep by tucking him in on the sofa bed in the living room and pretended to fall asleep. Nothing seemed to work. The kid seemed to want attention. When he doesnt gets any, he would quietly play with his toys or just walk around aimlessly like a lost child.

I then remembered the amount of endless attention I received from my aunt, my grandma, my parents. I then realized that even up till today, I crave for their attention. For some reason, during the duration of his stay, I tried my best to keep him engaged. For personally, I know the effects that attention and love may have on a child.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

When reservist and weddings collide

Today's technically Day 3 of 16 of my annual reservist. It's been such a wonderful break from work and I've never felt more relaxed and refreshed. It's nice to be able to meet individuals whom you only meet once a year yet they still feel dear to me. 3 of my camp buddies recently got married, 1 is getting married at the end of this year, another getting engaged this year and getting married next year. I lost count. At this rate, the remaining 6 in-camp-training over the next 6 years will be like going to a Malay wedding and people will take time to catch up with you and ask the question,

"Bro, so when are you getting married?" or ...

"Bro, so when's your engagement?" or ...

"Bro, are you seeing anyone at the moment? A girlfriend perhaps?" or ...

"Bro, seriously, still not seeing anyone? Let me know if you need my help."

I don't know which is worse - the makciks at weddings or fellow soldiers in camp! haha. I guess any pressure is good pressure - not that I need any, I think. And as I lay in my bunk bed staring at the big blue sky, I wonder a never ending wonder.

Ah, when reservist and weddings talks collide. I've been warned.