Friday, October 28, 2011


It's the school holidays again. This one would be an equivalent to what I once knew as half-term. Little A gets nearly two weeks off school and a week off therapy, so we hied off to the mountains for a few days.

The culminating activity for this half-term was a United Nations Day programme, with children from the five classes in Little A's preschool dressed in various costumes, shaking maracas, jumping up and down and moving to different bits of music.

This was Little A's third time onstage since last Christmas, when he simply cried and tried to get off at every opportunity. This time he'd been practicing assiduously with his classmates for weeks after getting accustomed to the new piece of music, but always with his Shadow Teacher nearby to give constant encouragement.

Come D-Day, she was off sick. Little A stood onstage, crying slightly because of the crowds and the noise, but calmed down when he heard the familiar music. He didn't do all the actions, but watched his classmates and did the ones he knew best and liked most.

Big A stood right in front with the video camera and tears in his eyes. My sister, her daughters and my mum were next to him and I was a few feet back. We were all very proud.

A huge thing that will get Little A going in the speech and behaviour management direction is imitation. He does things voluntarily but rarely upon command. So the main focus of our work the past year has been to this end. It's gratifying to see some results, and we pray he continues to improve.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Making the Grade

I met a good friend for tea this afternoon. She's been studying for the bar exams these past few months, but took time off yesterday to celebrate with her husband and sons because the first term's marks had been released and both boys made the honor roll.

My sister and her daughters came along too, because both girls had gotten good grades as well. While sitting at a cafe outside a large toy store, we saw countless parents with their children there for the same reason. (Little A was home, asleep.)

I was simultaneously appalled and fascinated to see this blatant display of material rewarding. While at university 15 years ago, I remember being amazed at how some classmates would boast of receiving large cash sums as a "prize" for making the Dean's List. Upon mentioning this to my parents they replied, "We never believed in using such incentives. You should earn good grades for your own sense of accomplishment, not because there will be a cash reward for doing so." They were so right.

At boarding school, earning a prize on Speech Day came in the form of a paper certificate and a book token. I loved this reward system, because it made sense. Surely those hungry for knowledge would want to enrich this by acquiring more, then only available in the form of books.

As children, my sisters and I looked forward to visiting the bookstore on weekends with our parents and picking out one book each - two if we were lucky. I cannot recall a single instance of a visit to a toy store that inspired such happiness.

While sitting outside that toy store I wondered if the bookstore at the opposite end of the mall was doing as well. I hoped so, and I hoped that more parents begin to realize what my parents knew so long ago - that books can often create a far richer sense of fulfillment than many toys can.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Worlds Collide

September sped by and I survived relatively unscathed. Little A's godmother, her partner and my newest goddaughter are now back in chilly Helsinki after a visit to Manila that was all too brief. The big corporate event I was supposed to help organise was postponed because two years and a day after one huge storm hit the city, another came along and caused significant damage to the hotel that was meant to be our event venue.

Part of my duties for this event's coordination included sourcing the evening's entertainment. Dance was the chosen medium for the conference's opening number. As I did wear pointe shoes for a large chunk of my life, no one was more qualified than I to find the perfect performers.

During the search, I realised that despite the many hats most of us now wear, all of my dance colleagues have remained in the industry somehow or another. Once you've gotten it in your blood, you can never be rid of it. My dance friends now run their own schools, choreograph, teach or do related things like costume design, notation or makeup.

Coming back in contact with my local dance friends has, sadly, taken the form of securing them as event entertainment as I've been unable since having Little A to take enough time out to go to the theatre and see a performance. One simple question by the director/choreographer at the recent event meeting made me realise I truly miss this part of myself. Not the glare of the lights nor the sound of applause, but the use of my body to express what words could never adequately convey.

Since giving up professional dance, I've been asked countless times to open a school or teach young children. I don't know that I want to do that yet. Perhaps there's still enough in these tired limbs to get the blood flowing again. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future I can put my shoes on, get back into shape and once more move to beautiful music. Who knows?