Shee Yun is involved in the Prince of Egypt musical production at school. She is part of the lighting team. There were shows on Friday and Saturday, and a final one is today, Sunday. So Friday was a school holiday. The Friday and Saturday shows were evening shows, while Sunday is an afternoon show. At first I thought Shee Yun was simply assigned the job, but later I found out she had volunteered for it. The lighting team position was not advertised. She found out about it from a teacher, and thought it was interesting. So she asked the teacher whether she could join the team. I think this is wonderful. She is taking the initiative to go after what she wants.
The lighting team works in small groups of three. Three of them man a station. Shee Yun is the only Year 7 student in her group. There is a Year 10 (Form 4 equivalent) student who has prior experience leading that group. Shee Yun explained to me that there are two lighting station groups, one on the left and one on the right. The group on the left is responsible for pointing the spotlight at actors on the right side of the stage, and the group on the right covers the left.
On Friday night when Michelle and I fetched Shee Yun at about 11pm, there were many parents' cars waiting in the area. We stopped by the roadside quite far away. Michelle stayed in the car while I went to meet Shee Yun halfway. We had exchanged messages and she had started walking towards where we were. When I saw her, she was running, and she was very relieved to see me. There was another boy running behind her. She had thought it was a bad guy chasing her. Soon after she left the school gate she heard footsteps behind her. She didn't turn back to see who it was and just started running. The person behind her ran too, and she thought he was chasing her. I told her she was being silly. It was just her schoolmate. Even if it were a bad guy, running might not have been a good idea anyway, because she might not be able to outrun him. She could turn back and confront him, and look at him straight in the face, which might deter him. She could prepare to defend herself. She could stop somewhere with more people, so that the would-be attacker wouldn't dare to attack. She could run to a nearby guard house to look for protection.
Shee Yun had to wear all black for her job. She didn't have many black clothes, so we had to wash and dry them quickly each day. On Saturday morning I hung them in front of the fan to dry them. On Saturday night we washed the clothes near midnight after Shee Yun came home, and then hung them near the aircon to let them dry.
I still continue to get Chen Rui to practise the jamming songs on her violin. She is not as enthusiastic now though. The novelty has worn off. Sometimes she is downright upset about having to practise the songs. One of those times I said to her I'd offer her a deal. If she would join me in Clash Royale clan battles (2 vs 2 battles), and if we won, I would excuse her from practising the jamming songs that day. She found that novel, and took up the offer. To me, it was good too. I was creating some bonding time with her. Skipping one day of practice was not a big deal. We had fun playing. She was not very good at the game since she had only played very little of it. I asked her to use a deck which consisted of mostly spells, and I asked her to just play a support role. She fumbled a lot, but we did manage to win 3 times, out of 10 or so matches.
Then there was once when she herself asked whether we could play again. This time I said we must practise violin first. She did it very grudgingly, and got into a very bad mood in the process. I was getting her to learn a new song bit by bit - a song I had written myself many years ago called 失忆. She had learned two phrases before, and this time I just wanted her to learn two more. She was in such a foul mood that she kept making mistakes, and the same ones too. She sulked all the while. I said she needed to concentrate better, so that she could get it over and done with. After she eventually managed to play the new phrase half decently, I released her from the torture. I have read an article which says that stubborn or strong willed children will grow up to be successful people. They know what they want and they are not afraid to fight for it. Maybe this applies in this incident. Chen Rui is still young now and I can still set rules and make her follow them, albeit unwillingly. I think soon this will not work. I will need to use more advanced techniques.
After that painful practice session, Chen Rui was no longer in the mood to play Clash Royale. Sometimes I wonder whether it was worth it, because it was frustrating for both her and me. But ultimately I think it was the right thing to do.
I am now reading a parenting book Teck Seng lent me - The Kite Story by Jim Lim. One interesting viewpoint in the book is there is no such thing as quality time. What matters is quantity. The author's view is "quality time" is a term created by busy parents who don't spend enough time with their children, so they feel as long as the little time spent is "quality time" then it is sufficient. The author's view is a parent needs to spend much time with his child to build a strong relationship, and good parenting is founded on a strong relationship.
I am of the opinion that parents should not simply let children do what they want. I will make the children practise piano, practise violin, wash their shoes, participate in family activities, even if they are not keen or even not willing. If we give children a complete free reign, they will be glued to their smart devices, wearing their earphones and isolating themselves from the outside world and their family members. Parents are responsible to apply the right judgements. I understand it can sometimes seem pointless and counterproductive to force a child to do something he is not willing to do. Perhaps a softer or more shrewd means of convincing the child to do what you want him to do is better. In the end, it is the parent's responsibility to do good parenting.
I try to take an interest in what the children are interested in. Chen Rui has tried to play some Undertale songs on her violin in her own free time. This morning we tried playing some of the songs during our practice session. It was difficult to find the guitar chords for the songs, and it was also difficult for her to play th melodies on the violin. We tried many songs, and only found one which we could manage. Even then she still found it difficult. When we switched over to the jamming songs, we felt relieved. It felt easy compared to the Undertale song.
We are having a long weekend now. I had planned to organise a family activity. I thought of doing either ice-skating or bowling. When I first asked the children, they were enthusiastic. Chen Rui wanted to do ice-skating, and Shee Yun wanted to try bowling. However after a few days, the interest level died down, and now Chen Rui is asking whether she can just stay home to draw. I feel rather dejected. Shee Yun is a little tired from her school activity, so maybe we won't do anything after all tomorrow. I had bought gloves in preparation for the ice-skating. I checked the opening hours. I asked friends for advice. I watched Youtube videos on ice-skating for beginners. I even caught myself trying to remember the basic bowling techniques.
Nowadays it is also not easy to convince the children to play a boardgame with me. Playing a boardgame is much harder to force, unlike piano practice, violin practice or household chores. A forced boardgame session is poisonous. It may be why I rarely buy new boardgames now. I no longer expect the children to play with me. In fact, I buy boardgames with higher expectations of playing them with my colleagues.
12 Mar 2017. Chen Rui playing Santorini.