Thursday, March 31, 2011

Driving the Mummy Mobile

I call it The Tank. A friend calls hers The Behemoth, though I have a feeling hers is larger than mine. No, we aren't using euphemisms for any body parts. We're talking gas guzzlers here.

A few weeks ago, my faithful car of ten years was sold. I loved that car. It was a colour one could never miss, meaning I never had to wander through parking lots just to find it, and it took me everywhere I needed safely - to and from work every day, on errands, and to every doctor's appointment when I was pregnant, including the trip to the hospital on the day Little A was born. Best of all, it got great mileage.

Little A loved the car too - he picked it out among others in a crowded lot, marked orange as his first ever favourite colour, and always chose the little car over daddy's big black truck when asked.

Still, there were signs that the orange car needed to be replaced. In the last few years, servicing costs were through the roof. Major parts needed changing. Rattling sounds wouldn't go away. Luckily, our friendly mechanic agreed to buy it for his daughter, since he knew what a great car it really was and had the ability to fix it up relatively cheaply. So what started as a servicing trip ended up being the last time I saw my little car. And I didn't even get to properly say goodbye.

I wanted another fuel-efficient car to replace this one, but given the budget we had for a "new" old one, there was none to be found. Available little cars were in poor condition, miles racked up were astronomical, or they were just as old as my orange one, meaning the same costly repairs would be needed.

Then Big A found a great deal. On a car for himself. One that was old, but in wonderful condition and with a ridiculously small number on its odometer. It was a car we could sell easily in a few years and still make good money on.

So now Big A had two cars, and I had none. The big black truck suddenly became my car, and in one fell swoop I went from carbon credit conscious girl to suburban mother in tank.

The truck is large. It keeps us safe. Little A and I are like two peas rattling around in it, and because it has so many areas to explore (a large roomy trunk accessible by climbing over the backseat), he is hardly ever in his car seat. He also insists on riding his Little Truck inside the big one whenever possible.

It is not hard to drive, and not that hard to parallel park - the turning radius is more of a hindrance than the size. But it consumes fuel frighteningly. We now get less than half the mileage Little Orange Car did. And with everything that's going on in Libya, petrol prices are sky high. So we need to make adjustments to make up for this sudden size increase in our family's carbon footprint.

Anyone with any suggestions on how to do that, please send them over.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I Am Mother, Hear Me Roar

Much fuss is being made these days over a book, mainly because of the reactions this article sparked. Parents, children and parenting experts worldwide agree, disagree, and air their two cents' worth.

As a mother and a daughter, I think there are some fine things to be said about discipline and instilling a good work/study ethic in children. These days everything is so different from the time of my own childhood: instant communication versus snail mail, a worldwide marketplace and wealth of information at one's fingertips that keep one from having to even stand up, let alone discover patience and the value of looking for something in a library, and, thankfully, a growing awareness that everyone is unique and some are more special than others and need extra help.

At the end of it all though, in order to raise an individual you can be proud of, one you feel will make as best a contribution to society that nurture will allow, you do what works for you. This may be based on how you yourself were raised, on what you read or on what others say. Or a combination of all three. Every child is different, so every parenting style is too. I know mothers who treat each of their children differently in order to obtain the same results.

Tiger-raising is not strange in this part of the world, with a significant component of the population being partly or fully Chinese and many of the country's movers and shakers having three letter last names. One of Little A's friends is barely three and has daily lessons in four languages, tests every week and elocution programs where they recite nursery rhymes. In preschool. Her Filipino mother (the girl's father is Chinese Filipino) needed more adjustment to this way of learning that the child did, but both now seem to be doing fine.

Different strokes for different folks. One thing we mothers all have in common though, is the fierce determination to protect our children. No matter what anyone might say, there is a tiger in every mother.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thinking About the End

While Little A napped this afternoon, Big A and I watched a very sad movie on tv. It was an end of the world story, but this time America didn't save the day. Several children from around the globe were chosen, though, to be spared and continue the human race, presumably on another planet.

It was the story of a parent's love for his child more than anything, and it made my heart ache because the little boy reminded us of our own. It was hopeful though, in an incredibly sad way, and we took it to mean that if anything should happen to us, our boy would not be left uncared for or alone in the world.

This came hot on the heels of a very good friend and her husband flying into town unknown to all but very few family members and friends, because he is after more aggressive cancer treatments that are not being offered in their home country since he, at not even 35 years of age, despite being fit and reasonably active, was suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 cancer barely four months ago.

It is a shocking tragedy when someone is struck with any sickness, but even more so when they are someone you know and care about, and someone who should have many more years ahead of them.

We've spent the past month researching alternative treatments for him, and of course hope and pray that they will work. He is strong and positive, and determined to fight what will probably be the most challenging battle of his life. We stand beside him to give him whatever support we can.

Finally, a little note of sympathy for the people of Japan.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Birthday Season

The month of March is always a merry one. From the first day to (nearly) the last, there is a birthday of someone near or dear. One niece, one nephew, two godchildren, a sister-in-law, about 10 good friends and finally Big A and myself.

Cake bakers are busy and restaurants do good business. Ideally my little shop will too. Evenings are studded with dinners and drinks, and weekends are packed with children's parties, some of which overlap and necessitate rushing from one to another.

This year, one near friend and one very far away but very dear one are having babies this month. More March celebrations for the years to come.

Happy Birthday, fellow Martians!