What to say to a Manchester United Fan

Manchester United lost their game last night.

This is the team that EJ calls ‘family’, and one that he is a diehard, get-on-your-knees-and-pray-at-the-89th-minute type of fan.

Manchester United haven’t had a good season in a while, and their recent loss means they are out of the Champions League – which is a big deal, apparently.

I’ve played sports for my school, and recreationally. But I don’t come close to understanding what this kind of loss feels like, and I don’t know how to comfort EJ, who is downcast, muttering to himself, shaking his head, not eating well, can’t concentrate on his work… basically, the symptoms of mild depression.

So, attempting to be more empathetic, I asked him what a person should say, or shouldn’t say to him, in moments like these. Here’s his suggestions.

Do NOT say…

“They will do better next time.”

“They’re still in the top 5.”

and especially do NOT say… “It’s good that you didn’t stay up to watch the game until 4am then.”

DO say…

“What do you think went wrong?”

“What can they do better next time?”

This gives him the chance to air his grievances, and also show his analytical skills and knowledge of the game and the players. And talking it out makes it seem like there are things that can be done about the situation, and satisfies his need to be a problem solver.

But, if everything else fails to bring him out of depression, a heavy dose of silence while watching Youtube videos of Manchester United’s best goals might do the trick!

 

Twin Stroller – My best investment

It was a Saturday, and EJ was working. His mum was at a retreat and his dad suddenly made plans to be out as well. So it was just me and the kids, going solo!

I used to think I could get by with a single stroller for Ethan and putting Elijah in a carrier. But that proved to be too difficult to manage when I needed to be fully hands on for Ethan – during diaper changes, tantrums and when he just wanted to be carried.

So, the number one thing that I’ve found useful in solo outings is the twin stroller. I’ve tried a few.

  1. Merricart ($399) (Similar to Kinderwagon $299)

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This was the first one I bought, and I used it for my nephews before Elijah came along. It is a tandem stroller, and weighs less than 10kg. The back seat reclines to about 160 degrees.

Pros:

  • Easily get through all doors, because it is very narrow
  • Large canopy
  • Lightweight
  • I liked that it was stadium seating, so both children get a nice view. (Although, it also led to some hair-pulling when the kid at the back started to get a little bored)
  • Zipper at the side of the storage basket. This was great for easy access.

Cons:

  • Only the back seat reclines. The front seat barely reclines so only one child can sleep properly.
  • The seat depth is quite shallow. This is ok for small infants, but even when Ethan was less than 2 years old, he would start to slip off if he wasn’t sitting completely upright.
  • The front bumper bar is not removable. With the shallow seat depth and bumper bar, it became quite a task to take Ethan out of the front seat

2. Seebaby double stroller

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Pros:

  • Very easy for the kid at the back to get in and out. And they seemed to enjoy the “freedom” of being less constrained
  • Compact
  • Lightweight (10.3kg)

Cons:

  • The folding mechanism is a little bit of a hassle, and requires both hands
  • When the front seat is fully reclined, the back passenger can’t even stand
  • The back seat is only usable if the front seat is fully upright. If the front seat is slightly reclined, the back passenger will need to stand

So finally, I’ve found a stroller that I LOVE.

3. Maclaren Twin Techno

I bought a second hand one a few weeks ago from Carousell. It is a side-by-side stroller, which initially was a turn off. But I found that it fits through narrow doors and HDB lifts, and the physics of it (just a single row of seats) makes it easier to turn as compared to the front/back strollers that I’ve tried before.

But the best thing is that both seats individually recline, so both kids can sleep (although it is rare to have both sleeping at the same time!). And, without the bumper bar, Ethan can get in and out by himself, which gives him more independence, and is easier for me because he is getting to be quite a weight!

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Both boys are asleep!

It’s a one hand folding mechanism, and collapses into a compact umbrella fold with a convenient carry handle. So, although it weighs in at 12.2kg, it is very manageable.

Cons:

  • The canopies are not big, so it doesn’t block the sun very well, which has caused the kids to wake up from their nap on a few occasions, especially with the recent heat wave we’ve been having
  • It’s difficult to access the storage baskets when the seats are reclined
  • An additional middle handle would be useful when one-handed steering is needed

Overall, it has been one of my best investments. I’ve gone on solo trips on the train, to Gardens by the Bay, to the library, and to Sentosa. I’m looking forward to expanding that list because there’s just something special about hanging out – just me and my boys.

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A Village of Mums

It takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a village to raise a mum.

On my first Mother’s Day a few years ago, I received text messages and greetings of “Happy Mother’s Day” and it made me cringe a little. It was almost unreal.

“Mother”? That’s a title belonging to my own mum, or grandmother, or some other strong and capable woman. Or Mother Theresa…Surely, not…me?

I felt so defeated. I often cried because breastfeeding was a painful, bloody experience. I mourned my loss of independence, freedom and being with friends. I resented becoming invisible to some, who wouldn’t even bother to look at me and immediately just took my baby out of my arms.

Then, I received a WhatsApp message from my mum, also wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day, and with the message, came a link to a video about Derek Redmond. It showed the semi-finals of the 400m race at the 1992 Olympic Games, where his hamstring snapped about halfway through the race. In his moment of pain and disappointment, his father barged past security, and, together with Derek, hobbled to the finish line and completed the race.

The video was meant to encourage me to be a like Derek’s dad – a parent who would pick their child up when they were down. But at that moment, I felt more like Derek – so discouraged, and the race ahead looked so difficult and painful. I needed the support of women like my mum and other mothers, who lived positive lives, breathing life and love into their children and husbands.

With the video (and Josh Groban’s ‘You Raised me Up’ playing in the background), it brought a sense of solidarity and strength. We’re in this together. It takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a village to raise a mum.

Happy Mother’s Day.