ESF Kindergarten Sports Day

Firstly, lemme say this post will not do Rockstar's school sports day justice... Something to do with approaching 8 months pregnant and trying to still follow your child everywhere on a hot (because it was rescheduled weeks later after a lightning and rainstorm warning) day as he does the various stations making it a little harder than usual to pay attention...

They're all winners on Sports Day!

As "hot" days  go, it wasn't too sunny (just occasionally) and in fact, the weather forecast was for a light drizzle. But that did not stop me from feeling like I would pass out early on when I suddenly caught a case of the hormones - while I was still sitting in the stands waiting for the darn event to start.

"He-ead and shoulders knees and toes..." Randomly snapped pic of the beginning of a big mass dance of all the classes at the start of warmup. It's actually lotsa classes in different colored tees but I ended up taking only Rockstar's class...

Where there's a will, there's a way, I always say <mock pleased with self>. Had our driver drop by (his daughter, he tells me, works nearby so he was hanging at her office not two mins away anyway) so I could sit in the air conditioned car til the worst of it was over. Twice. Where there's a will, and someone to drive the car to pick you up right outside so you can sit in air-conditioned luxury to cool down, there's a way, I always say. Honestly, I don't know if I would have made it through the whole event otherwise without embarrassing myself by maybe passing out or throwing up - and I was determined to.

(What? I've had working mums tell me they keep plastic bags in their desks for when overwork makes them throw up. I'm an SAHM who doesn't have to follow office timings (albeit Rockstar is running circles round me), I thought the least I could do is push myself for a Sports Day (and vow to absolve the school of all responsibility if I pass out and scare the crap out of someone)).

"Cheat" picture - Rockstar does like, 5 hops and then stops (note different color t-shirted classes in background)

There are a couple events like the sack race, that Rockstar attempts, but doesn't quite complete. Partly because he's last in line and other kids have already finished everything, partly well, he doesn't want to. It's one of those times when I'm reminded Rockstar isn't an "easy" child. People keep marveling that he can sit and do wildly un-age-appropriate Lego, spit half-eaten sweets in tissue if he thinks he's had too much sugar, choose to switch the tv off if he thinks the program is "mindless" - he's chosen Lego and I Wonder Why or National Geographic books over tv for weeks unless it's something really educational like Nina and the Neurons discovering how things work..... But the flip side is he's dropped out of external Putonghua classes or swimming lessons after deliberately (and politely - he learned early on that he wouldn't be taken seriously if he threw a tantrum) frustrating tutors.

It was partly why I didn't bring him to Sports Day last year - ahead of school interview season, I didn't want him to have a chance to form any impression that "school" might not be fun. (Partly my mistake - I was afraid it was too competitive and my son too tiny, thereby being discouraging (for him, because he takes himself wayy too seriously as is); it is none of this, the kids all have a really good time). But well, Rockstar is often one of two extremes - he either does really well or not at all - I'm never completely sure safe isn't better than sorry, with him.

(In case you're wondering why I don't just "cane him into compliance," it's because I got much better results from the Lego and Artjamming etc by nudging him into deciding he wanted to do it. And I do often still get comments from other mums urging me to cane... Obviously my confidence gets shaken and I constantly check myself and Rockstar that he's actually doing better than the kids getting caned - and is happy about it to boot...)

So yes that's partly why I was pushing myself to be there at Sports Day despite being due in a little over a month. I wanted to see what Rockstar'd be like. (I'm finally eye-ing ESF Sports Camp this year - I don't know any ESF mummy friends who have any complaints, interview season is over, and I will have to get my talking to Rockstar about activities done before the baby comes out. And yes we are having the same conversations about music because his ABC Music at school will also be winding up. Time to consider an instrument. If at all.)

Misleading pic - this is actually one of Rockstar's favorite events - I think he was blinking or something...

So the classes move around in very organized fashion to each of 8 stations, collecting a stamp on their certificate of participation for each. "Track and field" is basically What's The Time Mr Wolf where the kids practice counting steps and then of course all run from the wolf. Rockstar....... doesn't want to stop running (wolf incidental) and ends up almost into the home straight before we yell him back.

Other activities were a soccer goal-scoring station, obstacle courses along the track and in the field, parachute games, duck-duck goose... All fun, all very encouraging, no crazy competition, with the added advantage that when it's all over before noon your child will probably pass out for a couple hours, leaving you some blissfully peaceful alone time. Yippee. (Though it would take several more hours and a back rub to get Rockstar to nap).

I sneak away with Rockstar when the kiddie events are over and parents are doing an egg-and-spoon race. We're hot and uncomfortable (me very regrettably so - I'm otherwise a hot weather person), Rockstar btw does better in cooler weather (won't stop about going back to Thredbo or other ski resort; the beach is a consolation prize) like the father. And dog. How very "un-Malaysian" of them. Kings used to leave his window open to sleep in the dead of London winter - and wake to a frost-covered desk. Chee freaking seen.

Is That A Sport? Rockstar on the last of several breaks throughout the morning... Yes totally drenched and very red by now...

Not for the first time, after watching the erm, strapping young men Rockstar has for classmates (one of whom, possibly second youngest in class after Rockstar, is just 3 weeks older - and maybe a good 12 inches taller), I tell Kings: "Your son's a nerd." No surprises, Kings is fine with that. "I was a nerd too...." Funny I grew up with jocks on a boys' taekwondo team and even in uni I somehow ended up in the "Sports Hall" at NTU. (And anyway "Singapore Army Boys" are in general all super fit). I lived above varsity star athletes, one of whom was also an underwear model for (if I recall correctly) Calvin Klein. Getting back to my dorm room was often to the background clink of iron being pumped. I'm still alumni. I still go for bookish nerds. How strange is that? 

Idly, I remark to another mum friend that it would be quite funny if the two males in our household are bookish nerds (no one can study like Kings can seriously study for an exam when he wants to, when he is not inhaling potato chips and watching Stephen Chow), albeit with really hot tempers, and then I go back to my wakeboarding, border collie- training, punching bag-ing former ways with the baby girl along (well one can dream). 

So nice right? Rockstar loves it!

Though... When I try to praise him for at least completing the day, Rockstar will say rather reproachfully, "Everyone got one, Mum." Not if you didn't show up or finish, I say. Rockstar still not totally convinced.

<mild exasperation - there people are worried he will feel left behind, there he wants to go this way> "Well then you understand how much better it feels to one day win a medal not everyone can get - ok?" Solemn nod. "The harder it is to achieve, the more special it feels when you get it. And that's why you work hard to do well in stuff." Another nod.

Humph. I wasn't going for that lesson. But sigh. He started it. So may as well.

"And I suppose you know why cheating to win makes the win not special? Because cheaters don't believe they're good enough to win without cheating....."


I don't like over-competitiveness. Winning is nothing if you don't "win clean."

Ps: And if you wanted to know what Rockstar's response to that was, he said, "I know, Mu-um. We read the (Lightning Mcqueen)* story already..."

*If your child likes Disney Cars, several stories deal with cheating and how no one respects cheaters... And then one of the stories mentions when Lightning Mcqueen is warned that his opponent is going to try to cheat to win the race, he responds that she can't have much confidence in her own abilities if she has to cheat, but he has confidence in his... I thought those were pretty useful lessons.....

(Honestly, even if you don't buy the moral argument, there's the fact that if you are caught cheating, it's really no fun. May as well save the effort in trying to cheat and use the energy to get to a point you can seriously kick butt without it.....)

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About Aileen

I blog about living and raising my son in Hong Kong - where toddlers have entrance interviews, parents keep test score spreadsheets, private school debentures can trade for more than half a million USD. Raising Rockstar's the most important thing I'll ever do. We show our true colors by the choices we make in bringing up our children. My blog is a message to my toddler son, about what the world and his parents are like today - for when he becomes a teenager and knows everything.
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  • CA

    I’d like to echo zmun2’s suggestion that you too should get a medal for attending a blisteringly hot sports day surrounded by lots of other little kids running around whilst being in your 3rd trimester of your pregnancy!

    Attending your young son’s sports day isn’t being obsessive, you’re taking an active role in his life, building up collections of shared memories with your son.

    I have to disagree with zmun2’s comment “I think caning at home is the start of domestic violence later on when the child grows up into adulthood.” because it’s not always true. I was caned when I was younger but I haven’t grown up to bent on being aggressive and violent to others. In fact, it made me NOT support the use of caning. That’s of course, not to say that I don’t support the need for instilling discipline and setting boundaries to and for children but there are other methods which are as, if not more effective than hitting a child (as Aileen has mentioned when referencing herself and also the HK mums). I know I’m not the only one as plenty of people around my age who did grow up with corporal punishment haven’t gone on to be violent in the home. Of course, this isn’t to say that there aren’t people who have come from violent homes only to continue the cycle of abuse as adults.

    Corporal punishment is still visible in HK but it’s not as obvious or used as often as it used to be.

    • Aileen

      Your comment got me thinking a bit more (hence relatively late reply, sorry)… Last generation there certainly were more ppl being caned, it reflected the “best wisdom of the time” so to speak, however I got the idea Mun was referring to caning used in current generation of kids where it is less common or even “normal” as it used to be…

      More than that, your comment made me realize that there are many degrees to punishments and looking back at how I was sometimes punished for not performing in school exams when younger, I would have much preferred a simple flick or two of the cane on my hand, compared to being “shunned” or getting prolonged tongue lashings for weeks on end. Once, a teacher called the home right after results were released, to say my “C” grade had been a paperwork error but some in my family felt error or no, “a C was still a C” and so I continued to b punished. It even gave me nightmares at one point..

  • zmun2

    Hahaha, I like you “Chee freaking seen” phrase! Took me a while to figure it out though. 🙂

    Are there still mommies in HK advocating for caning children into compliance? I thought everyone is of the modern view of carrots and not sticks. In my personal opinion, I think caning at home is the start of domestic violence later on when the child grows up into adulthood. Even though I am not a mother, I do not believe in caning children even if they misbehave and are being a nuisance to other parents in public places.

    Caning children into compliance is also in my opinion, a case of bad parenting. Well enough said about that.

    Sports day seems fun for Rockstar. I don’t remember having sports day during my kindergarten years in KL.

    Lastly, well done to you and Rockstar for completing all stations for sports day. Especially to you (more than Rockstar) because you walk the talk and show that you are a very good parent by sacrificing your comfort and the risk of passing out in the heat to accompany Rockstar on his Sports day – to form a closer bond with him and to show him that you care and love him.

    I for one, can’t imagine being pregnant much less at 8 months  and running about in the heat with lots of children. Well done to you! They should have given you a medal too! 🙂

    • Aileen

      Very grateful for the encouragement, because sometimes I do wonder if I’m just being obsessive (this is still my first child n I’ve never handled any other children before him)… You asked a very interesting question about caning though – it hadn’t occurred to me before, but I haven’t actually heard a Hongkie mum say to me she canes. The two Hongkie mums I respect the most are 1) a former (now very senior) boss who left the workforce for 4yrs for her daughters – both of whom were top students in local Hk schools who are now attending Wharton and medical school in Hk respectively and 2) another senior who headed an entire small dealing room and had a (then) 10year old son whose exams she regularly maxed out her leave days helping him prepare for, perpetually gives up tv so as not to appear hypocritical about tv rules – and who is so no-nonsense she bins favorite toys for misdemeanors. Neither uses the cane (in fact the former is incredibly nurturing, fair, but very demanding – even as a boss 🙂

      Only after you asked did I realize the two mums i remember offhand who particularly always say things like “I would NEVER allow my child to do and seem to be quite proud of it when they tell me they cane their kids (sometimes even for crying) are both Malaysians living here. Their kids had interviews before Rockstar, being older, neither child has cleared any yet, that I know of.

      I do yell at Rockstar though frankly more out of my own lack of control on occasion than because it’s particularly effective (it isn’t) but mostly misdemeanors cost him toys, books, freedom or outing privileges..