Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lions, Tigers and Bears

Right before a new schoolyear was due to start, my mum scheduled a family trip to Singapore. Her mum had just turned 85, and Little A and his cousins hadn't spent much together over the summer. With one niece starting college, and another, high school, it seemed a family outing was in order.

Little A had never been to the Lion City, so I was looking forward to showing him the sights. Big A, once again, was swamped with work, so he was the only family member not in attendance. Fifteen of us boarded a plane and headed off.

Planning outings with a group ranging in age from 4 to 85 is no easy task. My sisters and their families had been to Singapore before, so their kids had seen most of the sights and only wanted to shop. Little A and I had no interest in the various shopping malls, impressive though their offerings might be, and wanted to see the animals. I also hoped to see a museum exhibit while we were in the city.

Despite the punishing heat, Little A loved Singapore. He jumped for joy at the pianist, violinist and flautist who were playing in the hotel lobby as we checked in, and spent an inordinate amount of time in the bathtub, splashing away. Theday after we arrived, he found a Lego-type farm set in a toy store and refused to let it go. His grandmother happily bought it for him, and he spent the afternoon playing with it in our hotel room while I snuck out and left him with his grandfather and took one niece and one nephew to H&M.

We did the famous Night Safari, which Little A loved possibly more than anything he'd ever experienced before. Seeing animals while riding an open-sided train for an hour was his idea of heaven. He wanted to go again, and had to be dragged away. The next day, the group split up, with the older cousins going to Universal Studios and Little A, myself, my parents and grandmother to the Underwater World aquarium. This wasn't anywhere near as good as the Night Safari, but Little A loved seeing the dolphins in their pool, coming up for air and swimming round and round.

I did manage to see that museum exhibit, with Little A clinging to me crying the entire time as it frightened the heck out of him. He did enjoy an interactive display in the Warhol gallery though, very much. The next morning, I snuck out again quickly after breakfast to pick up his educational toys while he played with my dad in the hotel room, and then we were off to the airport and home.

We didn't get to see the Zoo, nor the Bird Park, both of which I am sure Little A would love, but that leaves more for next time - and something to enjoy with his dad on our next trip to this city. For now, it's back to reality, and school the next day. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

One Hand Clapping

There was a time when Little A would clap to say he was sorry, as well as when he was happy. Lately though, and we have no idea why, he can't tolerate any form of applause at all.

When there is cheering on tv for a sports event, he changes the channel. When anyone in his immediate vicinity claps for whatever reason - to call attention, to show approval - he rushes up to them, takes their hands, brings them together quietly, and then proceeds to throw an almighty tantrum. Kicking, screaming, banging his head on the floor, throwing things, hitting and slapping anyone who tries to restrain him.

As anyone can imagine, this makes things quite hard. I'm not sure if being home all summer gave him the sense that he could control his environment, but this sudden development has meant everything is fraught with peril - trips to the supermarket or the high street included. During our recent trip to the farm, there were a number of outbursts - at the farmhouse, in the garden, in a park and at the airport, to name a few. And with school starting soon and his teachers constantly clapping to get the kids' attention, oh boy are we in trouble.

I've spoken to his teachers and we're trying to work on the issue. Thankfully, after the worst of it in late May, Little A seems to be getting used to the fact that there will be applause in the world that he cannot control. His father sat him down and made him watch the American Idol finals show, and lately he's stopped with the wild tantrums and been content with just approaching the clapper and bringing their hands together several times, silently, before he walks away.

Repeated applause though, from someone he's already "chastised," will eventually trigger another outburst, as we witnessed recently at my grandmother's 85th birthday party. Still, we're working on it, and hopefully soon this irrational fear will be gone altogether. When it does, we will cheer with our hands together.