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The Power of Hugs

In the society where I grow up, we do not usually hug each other on a daily basis. I still remember my first hug when a friend was going overseas to further her studies. My hands were “frozen” half way in the air as she happily hugged me. I feel awkward; maybe hugs are not for me.

Time passes by quickly and now I have a child. Thus, I have been reading a lot on parenting. There is one that catches my attention: “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth”, as quoted from a respected family therapist, Virginia Satir.

How do we count a hug? How long should a hug last? How do I hug my child when I am not used to being hugged?

More research is done. As it turns out, physical contact that lasts at least 20 seconds has the same effect as hugs, for example, patting and touching. Now, it is something that I can do.

On one particular night, my toddler was having a nightmare. Remembering the benefits of hugs, I patted her lightly. In under a minute, she became quiet and fell asleep peacefully again.

Wow, that’s amazing! I am going to hug pat and hold my child more.

Note: The healthiest hugs must come from someone you trust. Strangers, please do not simply hug anyone.

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The Things We Treasure

What? I just mentioned that I do not write a very long post and the twist for Day 20 is longform writing? Also, I cannot finish reading word-by-word for long posts, even if they include pictures. This is going to be the most difficult assignment for me. Luckily, it is the last.

If I write in Chinese language, I should be able to write a long story, a lot of ideas and different vocabulary at my disposal. English language? I am not sure. As the assignment suggests, choose my longest post thus far in the Writing Challenge and raise the bar. As you can see from the table below, the maximum words are only 636. Thus, the target is set at 700 words or more.

(There are two poems and a short letter which are excluded in the list below.)


Word count for Writing Challenge thus far

I am still pondering about the title. The Things We Treasure, how do you define a thing? I love to keep things, a lot of them, stamps, bus tickets, bookmarks, books, etc, and I can keep them for years. If you ask me to choose a single thing that I treasure most, I do not know which to choose. Finally, I decide to write about my family.

First of all, I must emphasize that my family is not a thing. For me, my family consists of my immediate family members, my car and my future family.

My immediate family members are my father, my mother and my two younger brothers. When I was younger, I always thought that I was important to my family. I was the one who read the manual of every electronic appliance, I was the one who read my parents’ letters and I was the one who translated their letters. I am the eldest; I contribute a lot to the family. Without me, I wondered if the family would fall apart.

Then, I went to a university at a place where it is far away from my home. The travel time by car is 4 hours. I always told myself, there was a “distance” of 4 hours between me and my family. I missed my family. I wished I could reduce the “distance” to zero hour. At that time, I realize that my family is important to me, not the other way round.

Nonetheless, the “distance” did not become shorter after I started working. I worked hard from morning to night. I grabbed every chance to earn more money. I lived with my family, but there was little communication. Until one day, my father was hospitalized and died after a few days. Then, I ask myself, are you happy to be with the money? Or are you rather to be with your family?

I cannot turn back time. I can only live at present and cherish my relationship with my mother and my two younger brothers. I do not want to lose anyone of them, they are part of me.

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Why do I call my car my family? It is because I call her my daughter. Men like to call their cars their wives, but I do not want my car to be my spouse. A spouse is a person from another family which you do not share the same culture and environment. But my car lives with me, walks with me and accompanies me everywhere, just like a daughter.

The instalment that I pay monthly for the car is as much as the cost for a nanny. Thus, it is appropriate to call her my daughter. She has beautiful eyes (the front lights). You know what? I love her shape too.

Once, I accidentally knocked my car on the wall when I was turning into an indoor car park. As a knee jerk reaction, I said sorry to my car. (It was only me and my car.) Later, I told one of my male friends about the knee jerk reaction. He called me crazy. He said the car is not a human, why should I say sorry to it? But… but… I treat her as my daughter, I whispered. He did not need to know that.



Until now my daughter is still with me. She is 12 this year, some parts of the paint are coming off but the engine is still in good condition. She will always be my precious daughter.

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A future family? That’s cheating! That’s mean I do not possess it, them, whatever it is. Yes, I can’t even find a pronoun for the future family. Still, my future family (my children) is part of my family. I have always wanted a younger sister, but my mother wanted a son, because of the Chinese tradition that the children of the son carry the surname of the family. Since there is not possible to have a biological younger sister, I change a younger sister to a daughter. Of course, the best picture of a future family is a couple with a son and a daughter. No matter what, I already have a daughter (my car).

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I may not define my family in a good way, it is not a thing, yet it is a combination of people and thing that I treasure. Without them, my life would be incomplete.

Note to myself

Time spent: A lot! I write section by section on different days.

Word count: 1041 words!

I wonder if longform writing is suitable for me. I can do it. Whether I want to do it or not is another question to ponder. It takes a lot of effort and time to complete a longform writing.

Hello? Do you read me?

Whenever there are people, there is miscommunication. Do you agree?

Scenario 1: There is a defective product found at the production department, the defect is minor, with minor rework, the issue can be settled and the product can be sent to the customer on time. But an employee does not communicate well, the minor defect is described as major, different departments start blaming each other and it affects the delivery.

Scenario 2: Your in-laws are visiting you but because of miscommunication between you and your spouse, both of you fail to pick them up at the train station. To make matter worse, it is a raining day and your in-laws fall sick because of nobody picking them up at the train station. How the story goes? I would imagine a disaster brewing.

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Last week was a busy week for me. My mum was staying with me for a week for the first time after I got married. The week before last week, my maternal grandmother was staying with my mum after my mum got married for so many years.

My relationship with my mum is not the intimate type as some mother-daughter relationships. Thus, the experience from last two weeks let me relook into mother-daughter relationship.

My grandmother is a quiet person. If you ask her what she would like for lunch, she will just say “anything will do”. Behind the “anything will do”, she does pick what she likes to eat and leave those that she does not like to eat. So, what my mum does is to observe what my grandmother eats and what she does not eat.

I am luckier than my mum. When I ask my mum the same question, she answers with specific answers so that I will not buy the wrong food. My mum provides me with direct answer, so I do not need to spend time observing. The observation method needs more time and you need to do trial and error too. (According to my mum, my grandmother has changed her taste over time.)

Two mother-daughter relationships, two different communication styles. My mum observes and I listen. There is no perfect way to communicate. We will adapt our communication skills depending on who we are communicating with. With our loved ones, we do our best to get the best results from communication, whether it is by listening or observation or both.


Are you really happy?

Miscommunication can happen anytime, anywhere. During communication, both parties, the speaker and the listener, play a part. The speaker speaks clearly and the listener listens carefully. Both parties need to look for non-verbal clues as well. Happy communicating!

Typical Singaporean Parents?

The 9 pm show {The Dream Makers} shows different types of typical Singaporean families (parents). Though there may be some exaggerations, but generally you will see similar patterns even at countries other than Singapore. The families and parents affect the children most, whether it is in a good or bad way.

Let’s discuss about different types of parents:

1. The working dad and mum

We need to be realistic: with Singapore high living standard, it is very difficult to have only one parent working and still able to support the whole family. With both parents working, the responsibility of taking care of the children is on the third-party; normally they are the grandparents, the maid and/or the eldest child.

You can see that children nowadays are pampered, the so-called spoilt children (spoiled children in American English). Why? It is because the third-party can only take care of the children. To teach them the basic virtues, children learn from their parents and the parents, out of guilt-driven, always give in to the children.

There is no “authority” to stop them from misbehaving; the spoilt children will not listen to grandparents, the maid and/or the eldest child. They always complaint, sometimes twist-and-turn the incident, to the parents when parents come back from work. The tired parents, who want to get a quick solution, often scold the third-party and the matter rest in favour of the spoilt children.

In the 9 pm show, although NaoNao is not considered a spoilt child, his lack of love from both parents has caused another problem. Luckily, his condition improves (Do we always have happy ending in real life?).

2. The single parent / divorcee

It is difficult enough to have both parents working, it is even more difficult with a single parent is trying to make ends meet and take care of a child. The single parent needs to work and he/she may not have the resources to find a third-party to take care of the child. The child is left on his/her own and the effect is more detrimental than category 1.

Again, in the 9 pm show, we see another happy ending that we may not see in real life.

3. The working father and stay-at-home mum

This seems to be the better version of a family structure. The responsibility of taking care and nurturing the children is on the shoulder of the mum. Nonetheless, the father should also try to spend time with the children so that the mum can rest sometimes.

Comparatively, the children from category 3 are more obedient and polite than the children from the other two categories. Though we cannot choose our family, parents are advised to spend more quality time with the children. Childhood is the most important time for children to learn, whether academically or non-academically. Thus, putting in effort in raising a child is worth the effort and is more important than any other things in this world.

Happy parenting!

My Family Part 2 我的家庭——第二部

This is the second part of My Family, you may want to read Part 1 here. Part 2 is written in Chinese Language, to cultivate a bilingual environment in my blog. 

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  1. 乐观–大弟总是无忧无虑地面对生活。上天拿走了他的语言能力,他就在其他方面寻找他的人生乐趣。他喜欢吃喝玩乐,他从不因为他有缺陷而放弃享受人生。
  2. 永不放弃–大弟总是有很多事情想说,但任凭他怎么说,其他人都听不懂。他只好一直重复,重复到别人听得懂为止。当然,常常要出动‘翻译员’才行。不然,恐怕大弟自得其乐地说个不停,别人却早已经跑得远远了。
  3. 亲情的重要–大弟很关心家人。不管是谁迟回家,他都会等那个人回来。即使小弟对他不理不睬,他还是一样对小弟好。父亲去世时,大家都以为他不懂,其实,他的伤心不比别人少,他也知道父亲不会回来了。
  4. 耐性–和大弟一起长大,我从小就很有耐心地和他沟通。他会用最简单的表达方式,而当‘翻译员’的我就要从简单的提示中讲出他要表达的事情。我的耐心就这样长年累月地训练起来。和大弟沟通,不多一点儿耐心都不行呢!
  5. 简单地过生活–现在的人总是匆匆忙忙地过生活,没有好好地对待自己。大弟则不一样,他累了就睡,饿了就吃,渴了就喝,完全活在当下,不会为过去烦恼,也不会为未来担忧。


My Family Part 1

Everyone has his/her family. We should always cherish our family because they are the closest to us, especially our parents. There is a saying in Chinese, 百善以孝为先, which means filial piety is the most important kindness act. If we cannot be kind to our parents, whom should we be kind to?

My father was an ordinary man, so ordinary that I do not know how to describe him. Nonetheless, he had taught me several important concepts in life (without actually telling me):

  • It was the first time I sent my dad a present for Father’s Day. He accepted the gift, but told me that the best present for him would be me getting good results in school. Since then, I had never sent him a single gift, but he had received the best present every year until I graduated from university. Though he never told me that he was proud of me, I know, he was happy whenever I brought my results to him.
  • Make my own decision. When I was in P6, there was an important decision for every student to make. I brought the form home and asked my dad to make the decision. He returned a signed form to me, without any decision. He told me, I should make my own decision because I was the one who knew the importance of the decision and how it would affect me. Of course, he would respect whatever decision I made. It ended up I made a good decision. Since then, I have learnt to make my own decision and take the responsibility to bear the consequences.
  • Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Whenever I was facing a dilemma, or a tough decision, my father always told me in his not-so-formal Chinese, do not fear, as long as you are prepared for the worst; always hope for the best to come. As his daughter, I translated his words into English so that I could always remind myself even when he was not here for me.
  • My dad always brought the whole family to visit our relatives on Chinese New Year. I have learnt that family is important and families should always keep in touch. Thus, Chinese New Year is a very important festival to me and I will visit my family and relatives regularly as long as I am fit and healthy to do so.

My father died a year before I get married. Sometimes, I really hope that he is still alive and can teach me how to survive marriage life. Although he was not a smart father, not a rich father, but he had wisdom, had the best father’s qualities that just suit his daughter. Don’t worry, father, whatever you have taught me, whether directly or indirectly, I will always remember.