Saturday, March 29, 2014


No, the heading isn't a typo. It's my son's way of spelling "coughing," which is something he's doing now after a low grade fever the other morning.

Summer is upon us, and temperatures have gone from pleasant to torrid in the span on one or two afternoons. Then there were a couple of days of rain. Not surprisingly, everyone is now coming down with what we call "change in the weather flu."

Big A had it last week. He spent a morning in bed, and within two days every tissue in our flat disappeared. Then a couple of mornings ago, Little A came into our bed and cuddled next to me. He was unusually warm, so I kept him at home. He went to school the next day, but the fever returned, slightly higher, that evening.

The next day he stayed home, and typed the word "coffe" repeatedly. I was about to ask if he'd read the coffee labels in the kitchen when he pointed to his chest and coughed, and then typed the word again.

He's becoming aware of synonyms and homonyms because he often points to my wrist and asks for my watch. And then he points to the tv, and waits for me to ask if he wants to watch. As "coffe" and "coughing" sound alike, this is his own version of a synonym.

At any rate, I'm now suffering from the congestion that only comes with sinus pain and a head cold. What a way to spend my birthday weekend. Let's hope this doesn't turn into full blown flu and "coffe".

Saturday, March 15, 2014

New Smile

A little over a month after it first started wiggling, Little A's first tooth fell out while I sat in the last workshop of a dozen that took place in the course of a three day seminar.

Now that things are slower at work, and it's nearly tax season, Big A decided my brain may as well get back in shape (and help us earn more money for Little A's breathtaking school tuition rates) by taking the Philippine Stockbrokers' Licensing Exam. We did meet in this industry, after all, so he figures I know the clients, the software, and everything but the actual nitty gritty of the stock market. Never mind that's been over a decade since I left and entered the exhausting world of retail.

Nothing a three-day workshop can't fix! This seminar is the prerequisite to an exam we sit in a month's time. Passing (70% of higher) means I have a broker's license for three years or longer, depending on whether or not I keep it active.

Near the end of three mind-numbing days of lectures in a hall that looked like a bomb shelter (the ceiling was falling in and the windows were covered in black paper for reasons I could not fathom and did not dare ask), I got a text from Little A's teacher informing me that he lost his tooth that day. As any typical parent who missed a child's milestone would, I bombarded her with questions - When and where exactly did it happen? Did he cry? Was the tooth sent safely home?

She replied in the way any mother of a toddler would - completely and without hesitating. He was working in small group when he approached her, tapped her on the arm, and held something out. When she took it, she saw it was his tooth, which had been wobbling precariously the couple of days prior. He opened his mouth and showed her that his gum was bleeding.

They iced the area for ten counts, all Little A would tolerate, and then showed him how to apply pressure with a hand towel. After that he would periodically walk up to them and show them the gap where his tooth used to be, but remained calm the rest of the day.

As I was stuck in the seminar, the Au Pair picked him up from school. She also sent a report - Little A held his tooth carefully in the car all the way home, and that I should expect a call from the other teacher because Little A also bit a younger classmate who stuck his finger in my son's mouth because he was curious about the missing tooth.

Since the biting was a reflex action and not intentional, this was quickly forgiven. As Big A and I had dinner out that evening, I saw my gap-toothed son very briefly, in which time I put his tooth carefully in an envelope. The Au Pair helped him put it under his pillow at bedtime.

When Big A and I got home that evening, I did the first of what will be many furtive exchanges any parent does when they take on the new role of Tooth Fairy. Next morning, I asked Little A where his tooth was, and he checked under the pillow and then promptly waved his money in the air.

One down, nineteen to go! My hope is that the rest come out as painlessly, and the new ones grow in straight. I suffered two painful years of braces after eight of my teeth were extracted from my too-small jaw. I pray my son doesn't need to go through the same. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Zoo, Glorious Zoo

For weeks now, Little A has been begging to return to the Zoo. I first took him last year, on a day when there was no school, and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. We returned, with Big A, in January, but it was pollen season and itchy caterpillar weather, so Little A took home a bad rash on his face that lasted nearly two weeks as a souvenir. Still, that didn't deter him from wanting to go back.

The City Zoo has an elephant, two zorses (cross between zebras and horses), and a pair of hippos. This is the total of their wild animal collection.  Not very impressive, but clearly enough to delight a six year old with no expectations.

Given the distance though, and the traffic on a weekend, I opted to take him this time to the petting zoo, which he'd also visited once before, many years ago. We went on a Sunday, right before lunch.

At this children's zoo, little had changed since our last visit. Thankfully, they added some animals - two Humboldt penguins in an air-conditioned enclosure with a shallow paddling pond. Little A loved watching them. He was barely interested in the pair of tigers, the sleeping leopard, the jackals, and the lioness, but the colourful parrot delighted him as well. And when the tortoise was allowed to roam free, he spent a few moments trying to help it move faster by pushing, deciding if it could be ridden, and trying it out as a step stool to better view the penguins.

This visit made me realise how this children's zoo is really not designed for their enjoyment. Apart from the rock-hard concrete floors, the glass-fronted enclosures are designed in such a way that the very visitors for which this place was designed - young children - could not see into them properly. The large fake wood barrier was exactly at their head height. Terribly poor design. We weren't the only visitors who had to take turns holding up our 6.5 year old so he could see into the enclosures.

On the second level are the farm animals - sheep, goats, pygmy pigs, a Shetland pony, and rabbits and guinea pigs. A family of meerkats slept in one enclosure, huddled together. Best of all, as we sat for a snack, and Little A's lunch, a tiny black lamb trip-trapped up to him and made friends.

This morning, when he got dressed, Little A handed me the word card printed "zoo." I told him he had to go to school today, but that I'd speak to the teachers about organising a field trip, and that it would very likely be to the zoo.