Babyland – Episode 4

Entertaining children especially babies, is a very demanding and challenging job. It is one job that has to be done with extreme care, loads of creativity and disregard of self-consciousness, at least in my mind that is. Before our son entered our lives, my wife and I never imagined that entertaining a child would be as complex and intimidating as it turned out to be initially. Now, we have done our share of entertaining babies and children of our friends and relatives, in the past. During those stints, we pretty much figured out what we had to do, depending on the situation and we never felt that it was difficult or taxing. Afterall, we always had the benefit of return to sender, as I had mentioned in an earlier post (Babyland – Episode 2).

Reality of course, has a way of hitting in a manner that you least expect, right when you are already reeling from one revelation after another on what being a parent is about (see series of older posts from Episode 1 to 3 on Babyland). It became clear that we had to be cautious while entertaining our baby and be as creative as possible to keep him engaged. Through this all, we had to be ready to do embarrassing things at any time to entertain him successfully.

Source: Pexels

Now, many months ago a friend gave my son an electronic book of nursery rhymes. My son liked it very much as it played out various nursery rhymes as he turned the pages of that plastic book. The book had a light that lit up when pages are turned and colourful buttons that played certain tunes or called out the colour of the button. From the description of the toy, it seems to be a perfectly safe, entertaining and more importantly, educational toy. What could possibly go wrong when baby plays with that colourful musical book of nursery rhymes?

One night, I found out the dangers such an innocent looking toy could pose to a baby that plays intently with it. My son was sitting on the floor beside me when he picked up the book of nursery rhyme and laid it in front of him. He then knelt and flipped through the pages randomly one at a time, not really waiting for any rhyme to end. As this was norma, I continued with whatever it was that I was doing. All of a sudden, he cried out loud in pain. I quickly turned to see what happened and could not see anything out of the ordinary. He was still kneeling with his hands on the book. It took a few more seconds of him wailing out loudly before I realised that he had his finger pinned between the pages of the book, while he was kneeling on top of the book.

That is when I learned a lesson that even the most safe looking toy, is a potential hazard to the baby if not properly used. Of course, I can’t protect baby from everything that may come by him but I learned to analyse toys from all angles and assess how best to keep the toy safe, both, for and from the baby. As for the book of nursery rhymes, I taught him to always sit down and place the book in front of him. Whenever he forgets and starts kneeling, I gently remind him to sit down and keep his book in front of him. That works for now, at least with books.

Source: Pexels

Caution aside, baby’s meal time made us realise the importance of being creative. Before the presence of our baby, I never understood why among some couples, one tries to avoid being the one who had to feed the child. Some would volunteer to do diaper changing duties instead, just to avoid being the one to feed the child. Then I realised, when it comes to his meal time, keeping him entertained and occupied long enough to finish his food, was very important, which is where creativity played a vital role.

In the early days, feeding him was as simple as having him lie on our thighs while we fed him but it became challenging as he grew up. My wife and I wanted to avoid using gadgets to keep him occupied while he was being fed, as we didn’t want him getting hooked up to gadgets until it was really necessary. So, we had to be creative. I re-acquainted myself with nursery rhymes that I had mostly forgotten and learned up new ones.

More often than not though, I ended up inserting my own lyrics or created new ones. For instance, my version of “Old McDonald had a farm”, has all sorts of fowls in it besides the usual chicken and duck. Along the way, the same farm, added some wild animals in it, such as a monkey, an elephant, a wolf and a lion. The easily adjustable list of animals in the farm helped me keep him seated long enough, with manageable tantrums, in order to complete his meals. That aside, due to my extreme creativity with nursery rhymes, my wife decided that I will not be the one helping him with nursery rhymes when he goes to the nursery or kindergarten. I have chosen to not argue with that decision.

Source: Pexels

Besides all that, we also had to get used to being ready to do embarrassing things in the name of entertaining the baby. Things, that we would normally avoid, especially in public. For starters, talking gibberish or any non-understandable language, in public would be something one would avoid. However, in the presence of a baby, that is totally acceptable and nobody would look at you as if you have lost your marbles. Rather, most would give the look that says, “Ah, so cute”.

Then there is the singing or humming, especially of nursery rhymes in public. Without the presence of the baby, I am pretty certain, that someone would have kindly told me to just stick to being a bathroom singer. If it was a talent show, baby’s presence alone might earn me a reprieve to stay, at least for another episode. I am pretty certain that having baby around us, is a “Get out of jail card” to do anything embarrassing in the name of entertaining a baby. The same action I believe, would have rewarded me with at least a stinking egg, at any other time.

Source: Pexels

Fortunately, being cautious, extremely creative and prepared to do embarrassing things in public, generally results in a happy and content baby or at least as happy and content as a baby can be. As taxing and challenging a job it might be, to entertain baby that is, my wife and I are pretty sure that it brings about its own set of rewards. A happily well-fed, laughing and smiling baby, at any time of the day is definitely reward enough to keep being cautious, insanely creative and ever-ready to do embarrassing things anywhere.

P.S.: Featured image was sourced from Pexels

Of bullies and the bullied

One of the biggest topic of discussion in Malaysia, unrelated to politics, over the past fortnight, has been about bullying. Ever since news broke out early last week about Nhaveen’s assault and his subsequent death, there has been no end to talk and news on bullying, both in mainstream and social media. This comes on the heels of an earlier incident, resulting in the death of navy cadet Zulfarhan. These are recent incidents related to bullying, which sadly resulted in the deaths of the respective victims. There might be more incidents of intimidated people, that went unreported or did not gain as much attention as the recent incidents have.

Indeed, it is hard to make any sense of these brutal acts and if one happens to be a parent, especially of school going children or those attending tertiary level education, one can’t help but be concerned for the well-being of the child. Though my son has some years left in him before he goes to the nursery or kindergarten, my wife and I can’t help but feel anxious for him, in light of what transpired over the past few weeks. We want to protect him from being bullied and more importantly from becoming a bully himself. I am certain that my wife and I are not the only ones feeling like this. I know that my close friends and many others are on the same page here. We want to protect and equip our children with what is needed so they do not end up being a victim of bullying or the bully.

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Source: Pexels

A bully, in the context of this post, is defined as “A person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. – Source: Oxford Dictionary[1]. This word most likely originated from the Middle Dutch word “boele”, back in the 16th century.  It was originally used “As a term of endearment applied to either sex; it later became a familiar form of address to a male friend. – Source: Oxford Dictionary[1]“. Ironically, another definition or use for the word bully is “Very good or excellent. Source: Oxford Dictionary[1]” and this is used in the context of expressing admiration or approval.

Now, bullying happens in various forms such as physical, verbal, social (also known as relational) and cyberspace[2][3][4]. Being aware of the many forms of bullying and the associated signs or symptoms shown by the victims, gives us the awareness that something is not right. This awareness can help us provide timely assistance and guidance to the victims, helping them deal with the situation in a better manner. Although it may not be possible to prevent bullying, there are some individuals who may be at a higher risk of being bullied. Those who have low self-esteem, behave differently and appear to be unconventional[5][6][7] among others, are at a higher risk of being bullied. It must be noted that not all those who show such traits will be victims of bullying.

On the other side of the coin, bullies don’t just appear out of nowhere. There are some common signs that bullies or potential bullies exhibit, which can be detected very early on. Among the common signs are, being overly aggressive with others, not accepting responsibility for their actions and getting into physical or verbal fights[8][9]. Again, it does not mean that if someone exhibits these signs, they are definitely bullies. Being aware of these signs allows us as parents to nip it in the bud and work with the child to address these bad behaviours. After all, regardless of whether the child is a bully or not, such bad behaviour in a child should not be condoned and left unchecked.

Source: Pexels

Looking back at my own journey in life, I recognise some incidents in which I could have been categorised as a victim of bullying. Of course, back then I had no inkling that I was being bullied. However, I was aware that the situation did not feel right and I had to do something about it as I was not comfortable with that situation. In hindsight, I was fortunate enough to have come out of those incidents with nary a scratch.


One such incident during my teenage years, occurred over an intense period of a few weeks. I was ostracised or left out from my usual social circle and targeted during games. All these happened due to a misunderstanding in which it was assumed that I was a snitch. Initially, I was not aware that I was being cast out. When someone was being aggressive towards me while playing, I took it as part and parcel of the game. When I was hardly involved in the game, I assumed that it was due to the way the game flowed, not realising that I was being left out intentionally. When very few spoke with me or kept themselves away from me, I thought it was because everybody was busy with their own studies and preparation for the exams.

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Source: Pexels

After a while, I realised that the situation was far from normal and something fishy was afoot. It was a difficult time indeed for me. Very few spoke to me during that time. Most avoided me unless it was necessary to communicate with me. I was very upset and angry with the situation and myself. I became agitated easily and took it out on my family. My momentum took a dip for a few days. I did not understand why I was in such a situation until someone from that social circle, who was willing to speak with me, told me what was going on.

There were a few things that kept me going at that time. I think the most important of them all was my faith in God. I was fortunate that my parents took the trouble to deeply implant in me, to have faith in God. As I had mentioned in prior articles (God and I – Part 1 & Part 2), speaking with God, pouring out my problems and concerns helped. I did not find resolutions to my problem immediately but it helped me find much-needed strength and patience. I calmed down slowly. My pent-up anger and frustration dissipated at a snail’s pace but dissipate it did.

Source: Pexels

I was also lucky enough that I had someone whom I trusted and could confide with, to talk to about my problems. Although this person did not resolve the problem for me, having someone listening to my situation and being available to talk to when needed, was helpful in itself. It provided me with the physical proof that I am not alone and someone has my back. Again, I was fortunate enough that my parents had encouraged me to reach out to this person as an alternative, in case I needed help with anything.

The other thing that kept me going was that I was good at something. I was very confident of my ability in accomplishing those tasks that I had to do. The end result showed me that I was still good at completing those tasks. Though my performance dipped initially, it recovered as quick as it had dipped. This, to a certain extent took my mind away from the situation. Now, although I had bouts of low self-esteem during this period of time, the confidence in being able to focus and complete those tasks, helped keep my self-esteem up. It gave me the assurance in dealing with all the other aspects of my daily life.

Source: Pexels

Eventually, someone else admitted to be the person who had provided the information that I was being held responsible for. This person also spoke to a wise man who then got the circle of friends together, spoke to us using a tale as an analogy to the situation that we were all in and at the end of it, asked us to reflect upon it. Both these actions eventually ended that situation and things returned to normal. We went on to make peace with each other and moved on from there.

I suppose that I could be considered to be lucky enough to walk away with a happy ending. However, luck was not the only thing that helped me. Someone courageous enough took the effort to overcome their own fears, to stand up to the group and admit for something that I was being blamed for. This started the end of the bullying episode. The intervention of an outsider, in the form of the wise man, also helped end the bullying episode. More importantly, his timely intervention helped in healing the whole lot of us at an emotional level. We all took something out of that incident, as lessons for life.

Source: Pexels

Personally, I felt that my deep-rooted faith in God, having someone to speak with and having something that I was really good at, helped me tide over that difficult period of time. Without these three things, it would have been absolutely challenging to continue with life as usual. I also understood that in my situation, those who bullied me, did so with the notion that they were right and I was wrong. Since, I was guilty from their perspective, there is no harm in teaching me a lesson so I do not repeat it again. Although it might be unacceptable to others, to them it was the right thing to do. Only the intervention from an outsider made them realise that their actions, no matter how well intended it might be, is simply not the right one.

As for my son, I am going to teach him what I know of his religion. I would like him to discover and learn to have faith in God, just as how my parents did for me. Faith in God is a very strong root, for the tree of life on Earth. I am going to encourage him to talk to my wife and myself about anything and everything. We will have to be there for him, setting aside time for him to talk with us and try very hard to not be his parents during that time.Of course, as he grows up, he may not feel comfortable doing so but therein lies the challenge of how we convince him that we would still be there for him no matter what, or provide him with suitable alternatives. Surely, this is way better that worrying and doing nothing.

I don’t know for sure if my wife and I would be successful in protecting and equipping our son from being bullied or becoming a bully himself.  In the unfortunate event that he ends up being bullied or become a bully, as parents we will have to be alert to his behaviour and work towards addressing them, just as how this mother responded upon discovering that her daughter was being bullied. Afterall, doing something is way better than nothing.

P.S.: Featured image was sourced from Pexels.

Babyland – Episode 3

I believe that being a parent is a taxing job, if not the toughest and challenging job there is, in the whole wide world. In the weeks since we had our baby, my wife and I realised and learned a lot of things on the job. Being a parent involves being perpetually tired, endlessly worried and constantly thinking of the best way to bring up the child, all of which I had covered in detail in a previous post (Babyland – Episode 2). In the same breath though, I also believe that some of the perks and rewards that comes with being a parent, is something that can’t be matched by any other job in the world.

Image sourced from Pexels

To start with, there is the benefit of watching the miracle that is a baby figuring out how to do things on his own and the joy etched on his face when he successfully does it. For the first few weeks, he slept and remained on his back obediently. He would remain lying on his back anywhere we chose to leave him, as he slept, cooed, gazed intently at anything that caught his fancy or simply getting to know his hands and feet. Those weeks gave us the false believe that it wasn’t that difficult be a parent. I mean, how difficult was it to take care of a stationary baby, right?

One fine day, we found him on his tummy, giving us a wide smile, with his hands stuck under him and his legs flailing behind him, excitement evident on his face. Days later, we found him on his tummy, smiling at us, with both his hands and legs flailing gently around him. He had figured out how to move his hand free from under his body. Then, he progressed to flipping from his back to his tummy and then back as he wanted. He was basically rolling around at will.

Image sourced from Pexels

Soon, he decided rolling around was boring and that it was time to crawl. He started off with failed attempts at raising his buttocks. After days of working on his muscles, he managed to raise his buttocks up and remained in that manner for a while without dropping down in exhaustion. Then, he got stuck in figuring out how to move his knees and hands in a coordinated manner and ended up dropping to his tummy in frustration and exhaustion.

Realising that he was getting nowhere, he decided he might have better luck with a combination of “swimming” and a military crawl. I was pretty certain then and still hope that in the future, he would give Michael Phelps or his contemporary at that time, a swim for his money. With the “swimming” and military crawl move, our baby was on the go, no longer stationary. Then one morning, we found him crawling towards us, at the speed of a speeding bullet. As he approached us, he gave us this wide smile of his, implying that he has accomplished something and was proud of himself for having pulled it off. A smile to warm the heart.


Then, there is the joy of teaching and watching the baby, learn and repeat what has been taught. To start with, it is not easy to teach a baby. Then, waiting for the baby to show what was learned, takes ages. Babies tend to have a mind of their own. They generally do the opposite of what you would like them to do. However, when they finally show you what they have learned, mimicking as close as can be expected of a baby, of what they observed from you, it is truly a wonderful sight and feeling.

I remember watching my wife teaching our baby the actions from a nursery rhyme. It was the “Wheels on the bus” song and she was trying to show him the actions for wheels going round and round as well as the wipers going swish, swish and swish. He would smile amusingly at my wife as she made those actions as she sang the song. At times he would laugh and only God and he knows if he was laughing at her or with her.

Being the teacher that she is, she persisted with it and one afternoon while coaxing him to eat by singing the nursery rhyme, he rewarded her persistency. He did the exact same actions according to the verse of the nursery rhyme. Now, that was a sight to see. My wife laughing away happily as he showed he had learned something, as well as that of our baby laughing at the sight of her laughing.

Image courtesy of Pexels

Lastly, there is the benefit of being beneficiaries in the transaction of unconditional love and unlimited adoration between parent and baby, that goes both ways. Having a baby brings out all the love in us and the ability to adore somebody. More importantly, both love and adoration, comes out unconditionally and in unlimited supply. The fact that we are exhibiting these emotions, puts our mind and body in a very positive state. When the same love and adoration is returned to us, both unconditionally and in unlimited supply, the positive state of our mind just multiplies.

Now, adults may show love and adoration through expensive gifts, flowery words and beautiful flowers. These tend to make us feel good. However, the feeling of love and adoration that one gets from a baby, can be exhilarating. A baby, with no means to show love and adoration through expensive gifts, flowery words and beautiful flowers, does it in a very simple yet powerful manner. One that we adults may have forgotten.

It is reflected in the eyes of the baby gazing at you, in the way the baby melts into your arms, in the silent words mouthed by the baby and the pure innocent smile the baby gives out to you. The baby achieves this by simply being there with you and only you, at that moment. Having experienced precious moments like this with our baby, I have to admit that it is truly a valuable and powerful feeling. It is one that only a baby can pull-off.


Being a parent, especially of a baby, might be a taxing and tough job. However, the benefit of watching a baby successfully figure out how to do things on his own, the joy of teaching and watching a baby, learn and repeat what was taught and being participants in the exchange of unconditional love and unlimited adoration, can be quite rewarding. More than anything else, being parents is an opportunity granted by God and that in itself should be rewarding enough, right?

P.S.: Featured image is sourced from Pexels.