Back From Camp (Or, Conquering The “Real” Fear Factor)

Partially influenced by Hamster Ninja not allowing me to tell some stories 😀

She allowed me to put this up after some persuasion though...

(Don't get me wrong, they totally yank each others' chains, and have a gadzillion long-unfolding dramas going at any one time...)

...but they spent their "last evening before camp" sitting like this for the better part of 2 hours. HN shampoo-ed and shampoo-ed Rockstar's hair, convinced he would reek when he got home (we were all surprised he didn't) 😀

After he left, HN committed to immersing herself in what she dubbed "The Only Child Experience". As in, Rockstar got to experience being an only child for 4.5 years before she came along and she never got the chance to do that, so she would like to try it, thank you very much. (Well for that matter neither one has jumped out a plane either, but anyways <shrugs>.)

So Rockstar came back from Y6 camp last Friday. As previously agreed between us, we said our goodbyes at drop-off on Tuesday, and would see each other again after camp on Friday after he took the school bus home.

He didn't even come back really skinny, he says they gave him like, 7 eggs a day (loves)

Lemme back up a bit - a year ago I was very upset when Rockstar went for Y5 camp because, among others, it hadn't occurred to me to do a little erm, "emotional vulnerability check" before he left... and so as the days wore on and I mostly couldn't see nor hear hide nor hair of him for something like 5 days and 4 nights, my head started to fill with... thoughts. (Not..... of physical injuries - I grew up with parents who were there for every taekwondo grading, but walked out of the room if I was getting pummelled, just so they didn't chew their fingers off  😀 I am an only child not by any of our choices, and willingly pushed myself, trying to fill what I felt were unspoken aspirations for the otherwise 3 children my mum had always hoped to raise (so no, I'm not naturally "competitive" for the "regular" reasons, more on that later).

Anyway, not actively separating the paranoia from the legit worries was becoming a huge... "weakness" - on my part.

Y'know, like when you get a new job in an old building in Wan Chai and the first time you're going to be working alone late in there you discover colleagues who derive enjoyment out of telling you who died violently nearby.

Epiphany I: The people who tell you there are body parts in the walls don't want to be friends <shot of the blindingly obvious> and once you get that (which is very, very important because you really need to prioritise who you spend your relatively scarce resources on and that should always be your real friends) -

Epiphany II: You will be so determined not to be afraid of zombies in the walls that they will nonetheless help you more than your real friends could. The sincerely well-meaning ones who come up to you and go, "Is it my imagination or did we never see Rockstar in any camp pictures? Hope he's ok..." (OMG! My friends think there might be a problem?! Should I be freaking out more??)

When your 8yr old has had periods of lying awake at night worrying about life expectancy and genetic history of those near and dear (I fairly frequently follow because she has an older child who, besides reading at an astounding level for her age (but having low muscle tone she needs to work on), at one point was checking weather apps every 15 mins thereabouts - and yes HK public health system has psyche evaluations during some annual checkups, that I recall - one year everyone had a very long questionnaire and thorough interview - and it's all practically free!)..... and then you have a second child who proverbially thinks bungee-jumping is for babies (why do you need elastic?), you realise that it's very hard for someone whose child doesn't lie awake to understand someone whose child does.

If I had had only a "Hamster Ninja" child, I would've thought someone who had only a "Rockstar" child was a total fruitcake. But that is how utterly different kids' personalities can be, and so a lot of misunderstandings and miscommunications among parents, education and healthcare professionals, I believe tend to be because of how different kids simply are. The "margin of error" is just naturally so wide, and I don't think it can easily be fixed anytime soon.. When I compare what Rockstar was like at that age and what HN is like, it's sometimes hard to believe they're even the same species. (Of course if you ask them, they will tell you they are not :D)

Regardless however, we all have our demons, and if they get to creep up on you, they will eat you alive and very slowly. Sometimes, they have to take a bite and start chewing before you realise that; I believe the biggest obstacle to your parenting the way you aspire to will always be what's going on in your own head. (Including caring what's going on in other people's 🙂 )

Oh look, I found a comic book adaptation imagery of "Fear" - this is from Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern movie, where burning ambition to harness more power** leads to a well-meaning Elder Of The Universe being consumed by fear - pic from

But get this - you will never have as much motivation to chop the infected arm off than if you don't want the proverbial Office Zombie People to continue preying on your fear. (Not... that I ever understood the concept of bullying - if you're insecure, doesn't the additional having to look over your shoulder in case you pissed someone off make you even more insecure? <demon alert!> Doesn't fear of/preoccupation with possible retaliation rob you of energy you could better spend running at full steam to achieve your goals? This is a paradox of "competitiveness" - if a person truly wanted to win more than anything, surely there is a point where they must realise that to spend energy on say, cheating or intimidating a competitor is energy taken away from purely raising their own abilities.)

But back from the tangent: Then we heard Y6 Camp would be an Outward Bound Camp and we were all Yeah!! (OBS is rather comfortingly familiar - there is similar in Singapore, and in Malaysia we even met a large camp of primary schoolers from Beijing doing "Adventure Camp" in Penang last CNY. The big difference however is the Beijing kids didn't sleep in tents, they were slumming it at The Hard Rock Cafe Penang 😀 (but that might also be due to safety).. Another mum asked me how Rockstar was, and I said "He's on camp and I'm sure it's fine cos there's OB and he will be jumping off a jetty!" 

For real though, like everything else from computer education to 4m OB Jetty Jumps, kids seem to do these much younger, nowadays. During our time it was at university orientation and when HR ships the entire dealing room off to Pulau Ubin for simulated parachute jumps et al.

And then in a flash, he was home again.

Rockstar didn't have enough money to get two bandanas, so he got the hot pink one for HN. Anyone who knows Rockstar personally will attest to how much he hates the colour pink.

And therein lies the bit I have to tread carefully with. HN...... appreciates (other) gestures by her brother to be sure, but when it comes to OB bandanas, she is also fiercely determined to earn her own someday. This is a little kid who shrieks in frustration at not being able to keep up with the older kids at Ryze trampoline or Verm City climb park. Crumpling in a muscle-trembling, angry teary pile is not uncommon. S-o... that exchange did not end well and I'm not allowed to say more 😀



*Besides going to Katherine Sellery's Effective Parenting Course through the school (it was like, 30 classroom hours plus homework), I went, "Every One Dies!! It's not just older people! D'you know how many people die on the road every day? But you're not going to stop using roads, are you? (Seatbelts. Speed limits). Lemme show you this statistic on how many people die from vending machines falling on them. 150 people killed by coconuts. 24 killed by champagne corks. 100 people died from being scalded by hot tap water. 450 people die in the United States alone from falling out of beds." 

However, ultimately, the belief that there is a God who sees all and plans all is incredibly comforting and liberating for anxieties.

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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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