Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's that time of the year again.

Next week is Emily's final year exam. So it's stress for me & DOUBLE stress for her. I have asked her to stay home this whole week so I can study with her. Coz if she goes to school, she will be dead tired by the time she come back from school and revision is just not possible anymore. So she only went to school today to take her violin exam.

Realistically, I am not expecting any extraordinary result. She has put more effort this year. But she has a looongg way to go. Picture a 10yo calculating with her fingers to figure out 10 minus 1 is 9. Or struggling to figure out 2,600 comes after 2,599. Or memorizing excretion means "removal of waste product from your body".Too many big words. Too abstract. It's painful. To both of us. But it's a real struggle for her. Not to mention most of the stuffs she learnt today and finally get it, she will most likely forget them tomorrow. And after all the effort that she put in, she will most likely fail almost all the subjects. And I will tell her again and again, it's OK...u will get there eventually...u just have to work harder. And I honestly don't know how long the verbatim will work. For her. And for me.

The past 2 days have not been easy. There were tears and frustration. In moments like this I wish it is easier for her. I wish she doesn't have to go through the pain. I can continue wishing and wallowing in self pity. But nothing will change. So I keep reminding myself of Stephen Covey's story of the Chinese bamboo tree.
"After the seed for this amazing tree is planted, you see nothing, absolutely nothing, for four years except for a tiny shoot coming out of a bulb. During these four years, all the growth is underground in a massive, fibrous root structure that spreads deep and wide in the earth. But then in the fifth year the Chinese bamboo tree grows up to eighty feet! Many things in family life are like the Chinese bamboo tree. You work and you invest time and effort, and you do everything you can possible to nurture growth, and sometimes you don't see anything for weeks, months and even years. But if you're patient and keep working and nurturing, that "fifth year" will come, and you will be astonished at the growth and change you see taking place."

I honestly had no idea when is Emily's 5th year coming. But I pray hard both of us will have the strength to persevere until it comes. And once it comes, we probably can do the silly victory dance together oh yeahhh....hahaha...sorry...I just need some humor.
I have been toying with the idea of homeschooling her for a few years. Bcoz I have been reminded again and again that she probably learn best from me. Parents are the best teacher because we know our children best. One good example is her quest to learn reading. After few years in kindergarten, 6 months in a government school and 6 months in a dyslexic school the most Emily can read is "A fat cat sit on the mat". It took me a while to figure out that she simply didn't understand phonics. So I spent 30 minutes every night teaching her how to read using the phonographix method.
I followed every single step. Step by step. And wallaaaa....after 3 months she's reading. Independently. She finally reads at 8yo. Same story with her struggle with the multiplication table. Took me a while to find what works. But it finally works.

The truth is the main reason I put her in school is for her to learn how to beat the system. I am hoping that by coaching her closely, she will eventually get the hang of how to work around her weakness and thrive academically. I don't know whether I am right but I hope I am.

And to learn how to socialize. Being a social misfit, that is a gigantic task for her. I still stalk her FB wall...just to make sure she didn't "borrow" somebody's money and didn't pay back..OR took somebody's stuffs without telling and think she "borrow" it...OR say something inappropriate in her chat wall....sorry for being nosy, but a mommy just got to do what she needs to do :(

I discussed this issue with her headmaster last year. And the school counselor. And her teachers. Most of them think she should stay in school. Despite her issues. Coz they think that's how she will learn to be better. Keeping her at home will probably gives me less headache and heartache in the short term but do more harm to her in the long term. This morning I came across Gever Tulley, founder of Tinkering School talking about 5 dangerous things we should let kids do. He talked about how protected the kids are nowadays. How the parents "bubble wrapped" the kids. I do hope I am not bubble wrapping my kids. Especially Emily. So let's just pray I am doing the right thing.

Let's just pray tomorrow will be easier. Let's pray that we will do our silly victory dance s-o-o-n. Amen.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fitting in

To me, the biggest challenge raising a dyslexic kid is the emotional part of it. To begin with, in comparison to their peers, they are a few years behind in term of maturity. That makes it really hard for them to fit in. Emily is getting better. But she still struggles a lot to get along with her friends. And her older siblings. Emily always find it more comfortable with younger friends. Sometimes way younger. She just clicked effortlessly.
Emily & Charmaine. Charmaine is 6yo.

An example of her immaturity that drives me up the wall. This afternoon, in between unloading their school bags from the car, she saw Luqman got few candies. (BTW she and candy is a life long love affair...yikesss) And predictably, she asked for the candy. And predictably Luqman ignored her. It's his annoying way of saying I'll consider about it but let's just wait until we get inside the house. But that's not how she interpreted the brother's curt response. To her, it means NO. And a NO is just not acceptable to her. So she started stomping her feet and throwing tantrum. After sulking near the swimming pool for a while and realizing that nobody gives her any attention, she came up and continued the tantrum inside the house. By this time, I was already in the kitchen and I could hear her crying and wailing got annoyingly louder and LOUDERRR. If u r my neighbour, u would probably think I have abused her or she has just had a very traumatic experience. Ironically, "Don't cry me Argentina" start playing in my head in auto rewind mode and I no longer found the wailing annoying. It suddenly became quite hilarious. Anyway, pardon my sick sense of humor. I need it badly to stay sober.

The thing is this crying and throwing tantrum is very frequent. More frequent than the 4yo little sister, who at times seem much wiser in handling her emotions. Watch this and you will get the drift.
She can cries anywhere. Over anything. As long as things don't go her way. That makes it more difficult for her to fit in. And the siblings don't like it either. Which I can't blame them. Coz it can be really embarassing to have your sister throwing tantrum in front of your friends in school. And I really need gazillion of patience to deal with this soberly. Unfortunately I don't have that much patience. In moment of desperation, I will resort to THE one thing that work effectively. Always. Better than Harry Potter's magic wand. Just the mention of it will stop the sobbing and the wailing. Not a sound. Zilch.
Yeah. I know. This make me sound like Cinderella's stepmother. But seriously, it is so difficult to deal with the bouts of tantrums soberly. And I ain't Mother Theresa.

The real problem with her is she has problem with her emotions. Expressing, identifying and dealing with them. I noticed that when she's angry, she doesn't know it's anger. She doesn't know there is a source to the anger that she's feeling. It could be because she is nervous, or disappointed or millions of other reasons. She doesn't know how to express it correctly. So she throws tantrum. Coz that's the only way she knows how to get the attention. She has problem expressing herself verbally. If u ask her opinion about anything, she will struggle to put it in words. But she's improving. S-l-o-w-l-y. Once in a while, Medina will asked her to stop crying and remind her tantrum doesn't work. I need to work with her identifying those emotions and dealing with them positively. And it's not easy. But hopefully, one day she will stop throwing tantrum and my "magic wand" is strictly for hanging clothes only :-P

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The bankrupt ones.

Every morning from 7am-8am Tanyalah Ustaz will be on TV9. The topic discussed yesterday and today is about the hadith on the bankrupt ones. Ustaz Norhisham was discussing the following hadith;

Abu Hurayra (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) once asked his companions: “Do you know who is the bankrupt one?”
The companions replied: “A bankrupt person amongst us is the one who neither has a dirham nor any possessions.”
The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said: “Rather, the bankrupt person from my Ummah is the one who will come on the Day of Resurrection with a good record of Salah (Prayers), Sawm (Fasts) and Zakah (Obligatory Charity); but he would have offended a person, slandered another, unlawfully consumed the wealth of another person, murdered someone and hit someone. Each one of these people would be given some of the wrong-doer’s good deeds. If his good deeds fall short of settling the account, then their sins will be taken from their account and entered into the wrong-doer’s account and he would be thrown in the Hell Fire. {Sahih Muslim, Book 32, Hadith Number 6251} 

In between laundry, I might have missed some points but I thought I would just share some that I captured. For the benefit of those who is interested and don't have the luxury of time to watch the show, here u go :)

He elaborated on each of the 5 liabilities.

1. Offending a person;
This includes cursing and swearing. And vulgar words. To anybody. Even when it's considered fully justified eg somebody is cutting the queue, or messing with our FB wall or driving painfully slow on the highway etc etc etc. I am fully guilty of this coz my mouth do works faster than my brain. So note to self. Mind my language, and my middle finger :-P

2. Slandering;
There is a clear difference between backbiting (or we harmlessly called gossiping) and slandering. If it's true it's backbiting. If it's not true it's slandering. Both are great sins. He did discuss how gullible all of us to this 2 offences especially when everything is a click away. Be careful of what we share virtually. Coz the readers are limitless. We are totally accountable of spreading the message to more people. Sometime we feel that we can say whatever we want on our FB wall. And share whatever video clips or news. And voice out our opinion with total freedom. And the sharing leads to more comments from our friends. And more bashing.

Somebody asked about the issue of slandering the ulama'. This is quite common nowadays especially if the ulama' belongs to a different political party. And have different opinion from us. Ulama' need to be respected. There will be differences in opinions. Even among the ulama'. But we the commoners need to give them the due respect. He quote a hadith on the sin of slandering an ulama' but I can't remember the full hadith. But I remembered him saying talking bad about people is ONLY justified if it's going to benefit somebody. eg; If you have an experience being cheated by somebody, and if your friends are going to deal with the same person, then it becomes justified to tell your friends about your bad experience.

3. Unlawful consumption of wealth; He reminded the audience to be very careful of the source of the money we earned. Especially the money to raise the family. Every single tiny weeny things. eg; the time we are on FB when we are supposed to work, the harmless bribery that we get to push a business deal through...doesn't matter whether it's 1% or 10% or 50%, the "extra" claims that we submitted monthly etc etc etc. Sounds petty and harmless but nothing is too small on the day of judgement.

The last 2 offences, murder and hitting are pretty straight forward.

The greatest challenge with all these offences is it involves another person. So the only way to undo them is to deal with the person involve. Directly. e.g; If we slander somebody, we need to seek his/her forgiveness, and clear the matter with all the people that we have told the lies. Thinking about it makes me cringe, especially if we share the stuffs on FB :( It's up to the person to forgive us or not. If it's not resolved it will remain a liability to us till the Day of Judgement. Ustaz did mention no amount of istighfar, and zikir and sunat prayers and sadaqah can undo the offence. Coz Allah can only forgive those offences that involve us and HIM not us and another person.

One of the signs we are committing any of these offences is our prayers are not being answered. Sometime we wonder why our life is so difficult, or our kids so stubborn despite us being the obedient servant of God. Coz we might thought that we are not too bad coz at least we pray, and fast, and perform our Haj. His response is check out all these 5 offences. It could be a test from Allah, but it could also be the result of our own doing.

It is a real pity if we live our life in this world with wealth and abundance and being respected by many because of our status but return to the Creator with nothing. Worse if we return to Him with deficits. May Allah guide us all. Have a productive day people ;)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Are your doubts killing u?

I had a very deep conversation with Medina this morning. I was busy ironing everybody's clothes for a wedding ceremony while she occupied herself watching Toy Story for the millionth time on ipad. Out of the blue, she asked me.

M: Ummi, do you think my doubts are killing me?
Me: Hah?? Err..what?? What is doubt Ina??
M; Doubt is the hole in your heart. It makes your heart black ummi.
Me; Owhhh...okayyy
M; It also makes your feet red. And your skin green.
Me; it's like a monster??
M: It is.
Me; So what do you do when u have doubts??
M; U read ummi. Read a lot of Quran. (yeah...right...coming from a girl who has not been reading her quran for quite sometime coz she's been distracted playing games on godknowswhat on her ipad)
Me; OK.

Then after a while she told me.

M; Ummi, I don't think I am good at all
Me; Okay, then u r not. Coz Allah will give u what u want. That is doubt, Ina.
M; Okayyy. I think I am good.
Me; OK. Then u are.

And I continued ironing. And she continued watching Toy Story. Trust me. I don't make this up. That's the exact conversation we had this morning. And we had many of these conversation on other days too. And she just turned 4. Where and how she get all these stuffs just baffled me. Sometimes I do wish she talks more kiddo's stuff. Coz it's much simpler to respond. Less riskier. I seriously can't imagine the kind of conversation I will have when she is 14.

Are your doubts killing u? ;)

Friday, September 9, 2011

STOP being petty. It's freaking annoying!!

One of the issues being hotly debated (albeit freaking unnecesarily IMHO) at the moment is the Bukit Kepong issue. I have very limited knowledge of my own country's history. I am guilty. Will make some efforts to read up. Luqman's PMR History revision book will be a good starting point...hahahahaha

Anyway, as I read Suratul Kahfi today, I can't help thinking aloud.

They say they were three, the dog being the fourth among them; and they say they were five, the dog being the sixth, guessing at the unseen; and they say they were seven, and the dog being the eighth.Say: "My Lord knows best their number; none knows them but a few".So debate not except with the clear proof. And consult not any of them (about the people of the Cave). 

I ain't an ustazah. And different people interpret the Quran differently. As my interpretations and understanding matters, those verses remind us to stop being petty and focus on things that matter. And this issue cropped up many times in the Quran. The story of how the disbelievers belittled Moses with the cattle issues in Al Baqarah is another example where Allah is trying to tell us to stop making life difficult by being petty.

Then later on, Allah proceed saying:
Say: "Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds!" 

"Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their deeds." 

"They are those who deny the Ayat of their Lord and the meeting with Him. So their works are in vain, and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall assign no weight for them."

So who are the losers here??
With all my due respect to the freedom fighters (may their soul rest in peace), I can't see how the politicians can justify themselves bickering about their different interpretation of historical facts when there are more pressing issues to attend to.

Pressing issues like maybe...poverty??? People are struggling to survive. To have one decent meal a day. Right here in the city of Kuala Lumpur. A 10 year old boy and his 12year old brother stole a table from the school to sell the metal edges for a measly $3 to buy rice because they were hungry. A struggling single mom was accused of being "murtad", while the truth is she has been turned away again and again by the zakat people and ironically is being helped unconditionally by the church. And she accept the help to survive.

Don't u find the story sad? Pathetic? To the point of incomprehensible?? Especially right now as we the lucky people are being overwhelmed with food, joy and abundance especially during the Hari Raya Open House season??

Don't this kind of stories ever reached these politicians???? Maybe it does but they are just simply BUSY bickering over nothing.

Or maybe other issues like how screwed up people are nowadays?? Like those two idiotic moron from PetKnode who tortured the cats to death. Don't you think it's much better for the whole mankind that they stop bickering and address the root of the problem? The problem of a generation with no substance, no direction, no principle?? Aren't they entrusted with the responsibilities to work together to produce a generation that can contribute to the nation INSTEAD of screwing the nation??? Doesn't it bother them? Maybe they are just BUSY getting richer by being a politician.

SIGH. OK. Enough ranting. Maybe that's why I am just a house wife NOT a politician. Back to work. Happy weekend people.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Big Day

In less than a week, dearest Hajar will sit for her first big exam UPSR. In the middle of cleaning the house and packing the stuffs for the raya trip last week, I made this for her.
Coincidentally, it was before Emily's big day too. So I include her name too. And that apparently make Hajar felt less about vicious sibling rivalry ;(

Emily performed in the 2011 Malaysian Youth Music Festival. She & the group performed 2 songs.
Kingston Calypso

Shark Attack

We never expect she will win. So winning 3rd place was a HUGE bonus to us. She was beaming with pride. The first thing she packed for the raya trip to KB was the medal. To show tok ayah & nenek ;) And for the first time ever she told me she love the violin. I do hope it's a long mutual love affair my dear. Continue to work hard coz u r born for greatness.

It is interesting how many conflicting ideas Hajar has received regarding the exams. Teachers think 5As is the ultimate thing. Tok ayah thinks she should study to get 5As too. Ummi on the other hand doesn't think so. The question I always ask my kids is if u don't get 5As, then what??? Does your whole world crush and nothing means anything??

To Hajar (and her friendssss..who suprisingly read my blog :))

Life lesson #1.
UPSR is just an exam. Which u should work your ass off to prepare for it bcoz it helps u become a better student, and a better person. In life u should strive for the best. Nothing less than the BEST.

Life lesson #2.
The outcome on the other hand, is not in your control. So whatever you get, chin up and embrace it. And move on. Allah knows best. It's a journey.

So all the best girlsss. My prayers are with you. Break a leg ;)