@ 5-something am

So I’ve been up since 4+. Next to me, Rockstar has been crawling about vigorously and gabbling in his sleep, the result of a busy previous day:

10am:  Leisurely walk to Wisekids Playroom at Cyberport, pointing out butterflies, bees, birds, fire hydrants, ants and dog poop along the way

10.30am – 12noon:  Wisekids Playroom session (the place has never ceased to amaze me since I quit my job for good about 6 weeks ago and we’ve been coming every day barring weekends and the 3 trips we made to Singapore to visit friends and Sentosa. The kids have several elaborate play areas, redecorated every month, and in the last 15 mins they start an optional singing session.  But what really impresses me is the ingenuity of the 30-second “goodye song” everyone is encouraged to join in on, signifying the end of the session as a means of clearing us all out of there – every semi-regular toddler visitor has a Pavlovian reaction to this song and in my dozen or so visits I have never seen a single refusal to leave. They all know, or perhaps pick up from the others, that tantrums are futile, eviction inevitable – their play session is over)

11.50am:  Giant tantrum.  I’m often not quite sure how it starts because Rockstar is extremely sensitive to body language and tone of voice, and takes himself very seriously – he hates mistakes.  He hates when the pretend-sushi isn’t stacked just so.  He hates when our trained border collie doesn’t take instructions from him.  I swing daily between “that’s my boy” and “he gets it from his father”.

Sushi Chef before the storm hits– note the Japanese-hairdo hats in the background

Like Avalanche of Rage Syndrome in Cocker Spaniels, pretend-Sushi goes flying and I see it all in slow motion – even as I tell him we will leave immediately if he yells, the most blood curdling holler cuts thru the loud music and as I scoop up my savage little beast and head for the exit I’m aware of worried looks from staff and fellow parents we’ve befriended (this is Rockstar’s first meltdown at WP) – they always say they’ve heard it all, and then they meet “that Rockstar”.  I’m aware as we exit the play area that Rockstar has stopped screaming. Then he politely says to me with his best manners “Starbucks please”.

“Why didn’t you just say you wanted to leave early?”  Starbucks is our daily post-playroom ritual and Rockstar loves playing Grown-up with Real Grown-up drink (Starbucks hot chocolate in a Starbucks cup – it must be a Starbucks cup) sometimes more than playroom.  He’s asked to leave early before.

11.52am:  Rockstar politely says goodbye to all the playroom staff (who are avoiding my eye), puts on his Pumas carefully, and without a word maneuvers like a well-mannered robot down an escalator, out the general Wisekids exit, and up two more double-story escalators with me trailing behind wondering which side of the family has Cocker Spaniel.

11.55am:  As I continue to watch him for traces of tantrum, Rockstar, perfectly polite, asks for his usual hot chocolate from me as well as the Starbucks staff (who all know him), settles in the armchair with a theatrical “mmmm I love Stah-buks” followed by a long swig, then with a bland chocolate-mustached smile, raises his paper cup to mine and says “cheers”.  And he’s actually waiting for me to “clink” paper cups with him. Stah-buks endorsement.

2.30pm:  Lunch (fried noodles with cabbage and egg, some crackers)

1.30pm:  Nap

4pm:  Putonghua play session (ok, we advertised online for school kids with perfect spoken English and Putonghua to come hang out with Rockstar at home during the first of the Swine Flu scares, but at some point one of the respondents morphed into an actual playschool teacher.)

6pm:  Snack

6.30pm:  Demands to join JD (our Border Collie)’s walk and kicks her ball for her in the park

7.10pm:  Gets obsessed with another Border Collie who looks like JD

7.30pm:   Dinner

8.30pm:   Bath

9.30pm:   Snack

10.00pm:  Re-arranges my costume jewelry organizer (including all the little drawers).  This should actually be story time.

11.30pm:  Parent intervention because he’s not falling asleep

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Lunch at Petrus

I’m listening to a conversation on the Cantonese radio station my cabbie is tuned in to, on my way to lunch at Petrus in the Shangri-La hotel.  It’s not every day I get a treat in such a swanky restaurant with an old girlfriend so I actually planned what to wear today. From dropping Rockstar off after playgroup (an activity I absolutely refuse to miss every Mon-Fri morning, having missed so many precious months while I still worked), and a quick change and freshening up of makeup that has been thru a 28-degree Celsius toddler walk outdoors (sans stroller – Rockstar has dismissed strollers and baby chairs as being, well, for toddlers and babies) to the play activity center plus the actual playgroup session, I have to be Petrus-ready in 10 minutes, because that is all the waiting cabbie will give me. This is Hong Kong, where time is money, and more than 10 minutes with the meter running is almost more than the base fee if I hop into a fresh cab so no cabbie will believe I’m coming back after 10 minutes’ waiting time, when it would be cheaper for me to run off without paying and get a fresh cab (yes, a rare polite cabbie on a previous occasion had pointed this out – he nonetheless insisted on being paid the HKD 18 (about USD 2.30) first before I dropped Rockstar off “just in case”.)

Having googled the restaurant dress code the previous day I’m in the same black cargos from Victoriassecret.com that I wore to playgroup, but instead of a t-shirt and flats I now have on a cream jeweled top from some contemporary designer (Kara wore the same in teal during one of the American Idol 2010 vetting days) and gold snakeskin Prada heels bought years ago from Space, the Prada outlet store in Ap Lei Chau. (I occasionally decompressed from higher-stress mornings of yore in the Hong Kong stock market by scarfing a lunchtime sandwich in the back of a cab during the 20-minute ride from the dealing room where I worked in the International Finance Center in Central to the outlet stores.  I would have time to try on just one or two items before heading back to work – needless to say my mild success at outlet shopping is more a function of the many days I needed decompressing at work.)

So here I am in the cab, 9 minutes after arriving back at our apartment, a costume and identity change later, pretending to be a lady-who-lunches who secretly counts as her biggest achievement for the morning her 28-month old nicely settled to his favorite Wheels on the Bus dvd (didn’t they say no tv before 24 months? Hah!), baked fillet of sole breaded with cornflakes, served on rice with broccoli, baby corn and mushrooms, watched by our helper.  He will soon nap for 2-3 hours, waking conveniently around when I get back

From when he was younger, but the sentiment remains the same – Yippee!

I am lady-who-lunches. I am Glam Mum off some tabloid, effortlessly seeing to my Asian child’s needs while looking fabulous in her gold Prada. Where are the paparazzi when you need them? They should make the little trophies with the gold men on them for mums. But have gold babies of course.  In my acceptance speech I would thank Rockstar – I wouldn’t be here without him today (tiny tear). “Mum” is born when baby is born – without him I wouldn’t even be Mum (misting up).  Just Sometimes-Glam.

Savor the moment… he’s in a good mood…

If he didn’t spare me a tantrum I wouldn’t be able to swan back into my waiting cab (aka Glam Mum-mobile) and be Glam-Mum Who Pretends at Petrus while idly tuning in to Cantonese DJ telling her listeners about a married couple who broke up because of a mum in-law and thinking “I would never be that mum inlaw!” (appropriate fanfare music please).  Does SPACE (that’s what they call the Prada warehouse) stock big capes with giant “GM”s on them? After all they did have turbans.  Do capes fit the Petrus’ “smart casual at lunchtime” dresscode

I drink from the keg of glory in this moment because it is so rare – yet it is the rarity and difficulty in achieving such things that make them so much more valuable.  Rockstar is very much NOT an easygoing child – here’s what we had to work with:

The pediatrician:  “That’s a very grumpy baby” (at 2.30am, after our 2nd panicked drive to the Hong Kong Sanatorium); “there’s nothing wrong with him except that temper.  If you don’t fix that he will be unbearable as he grows older.” Rockstar was not quite 3 months old at the time.

A confinement nanny with 6-month waiting list:  “May I have a piece of jade?  I’ve tried everything else.” (Apparently this stems from the belief jade will protect the baby from and scare away evil spirits. We didn’t oblige).

His playgroup teacher (the first day he was dropped off):  “He screamed for an hour.” (Wuss. Ok fine, it was a 90 minute class. At home his personal best as an infant was almost 5 hours with very short breaks in between, before he finally passed out from exhaustion.  I sobbed by his bedside with my fingernails digging into the edge of his crib just so I wouldn’t cave and pick him up. He slept quietly for like, a day. Then he resumed his scream schedule like nothing happened. Strike off Cry It Out method, there was no way I was going thru that ever again.)

School supervisor (whose office is nowhere near his class):  “Oh, you’re his mum. Healthy set of lungs, I must say.”

Shock! Horror! Had Hong Kong Sanatorium switched babies on us?

It was after all the end of the Pig year – many parents wanted children born this year because of the old saying that Pigs will never go hungry, so the hospital staff were horrendously swamped with caterwauling newborns – the baby ward was like an audition for American Idol minus the crazy costumes (something we hadn’t thought of before God blessed us with our own little pig sans any clever planning on our part – I got pregnant after 5 years on the pill and what was meant as a detox/ pep-up period because I was so run-down from work I had barely 100lbs on my just under 5ft 7inch frame.)

Both sets of grandparents have declared neither parent was “such a difficult baby” thereby implying certain personality traits are from (uppity sniff) “other” genes.

Smug look shortly after he discovered walking, jumping, smug looks.

I’m Sometimes-GlaMum because it makes me feel good about myself. And that makes me work harder at raising Rockstar. It gets my game on. When he spits out on a nice clean white shirt for the umpteenth time GlaMum doesn’t lose it – she thinks of a clever way to get him eating again. Especially his vegetables.

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