Yaya still has few stuffed animal from her childhood. One of which is a Furby.

It was about 6 months after we arrived in Vancouver, we were living in a 2 bedroom basement suite, I had no job and the money that I brought with me from Malaysia was fast disappearing and I had 4 more years to go through before I could get Canadian citizenship.

Prior to coming to Vancouver, my children never knew the word ‘suffering’. That is not the right word, but in this context it is. The clinic I used to do locum was in a shopping mall and there was a toys r us outlet inside. Every evening after work, I went to toys r us and bought new toys. Most evenings we went out for dinner and I remember taking my children to Midvalley mall in KL every Sunday because only they had a Barney ride on toy ( you pay a dollar and sit inside and the machine moves while singing a song !)

And moving to Vancouver and all of a sudden find ourselves with no money was a huge shock to my children and me.

And then my neighbour’s children got a Furby as a gift. They would come to my house with the Furby and play and every time my children asked if they could have a go, they wouldn’t let them. One night, Yaya came to me with her siblings and asked ” Mom, Can you please get us a Furby?” ( This is the same child who walked to school with wet shoes and didn’t tell me because she knew I couldn’t afford new shoes) I didn’t say “no, you can’t have one because we can’t afford” and I didn’t say yes either.

That night as I went to bed, I remembered the amount of toys, I have thrown away before we moved to Vancouver. I did wonder if my current state was  some sort of Karma returning the favor?

The next day, after school, children and I went to Canadian superstore. It was a long walk and  we went to the toys section. There on the shelf was the ugliest toy I have ever seen, Furby, grey colour body with humongous eyes. It was 37$. I explained to my children that I know how much they wanted to own one. But buying this means, we will have to reduce our grocery shopping. They nodded their head. After buying the Furby, I walked back home with three happy kids, who took turns to hold the Furby. I told them, they look like the three wise men holding the gold, frankincense and Myrr.

Neighbour’s kids stopped coming to my house with their Furby, the moment they saw that my kids too have a Furby. And my own kids stopped playing with the Furby, two days after we got it. And every chance I got, I sang “there goes my 37 dollars” in the tune of there goes my baby..and my kids knew why I was singing it. But after that, they never asked me for something because someone else had it. Because for one, they know I will sing ‘there goes my 37 $’ and I guess it is also because they know that I always came though solid when they needed me the most.


Sometime ago, Yaya heard from one of her classmates that a restaurant near our home is hiring wait staff. She printed her resume and asked me if I could drive her to the place, which I did.

“Aren’t you coming with me?” She asked.

“Nope” I replied. “You will have to do this on your own”.

“But, Mom, I don’t know what to do” She replied.

“Well, it is not a big deal. All you are going to do is to walk in to the restaurant, find the manager, introduce yourself and tell him/her that you are interested in working there and hand in your resume. I know you can do this”

I felt end of next year she will be in Uni and will have to do this by herself and it is better that she learns to do all this herself.

She looked stressed and I was tempted to go with her, but I didn’t. Eventually she got out of the car and went to the restaurant and handed in her resume. Few days later I got a frantic call from Yaya telling me that she received a txt from the restaurant and they want a trial that day from 5 to 8 pm. Yaya had afterschool work that day and wouldn’t have made it to work on time if she was going to take the public transport. So I offered to pick her up from the school and drive her to work. I  bought a box of chocolate for her, knowing very well that she is stressed, hungry and tired and the best remedy  is a box of chocolates. She ate all the chocolates. I also took a scrunchie for her hair because I know wait staff must tie their hair. She thanked me for remembering the scrunchie. As she got out of the car she said “Mom, I am scared”

And I replied “that is a natural feeling. Remember the worst that can happen is you don’t get the job, but it is still not the end of the world. You give your best shot and I am proud of you”

She got the job !

Deer in the headlight

While I was doing second year Pre-degree, I had to apply to various medical college to do MBBS. I have no idea what I had to write in those application forms, because I didn’t fill them myself. My sister was working in Trivandrum at that time and my mother send me to her with all those forms, which she filled and I returned home in the evening. The irony is that if I was going to do Medicine, 5 years from that day, I would have been working as a doctor, yet I wasn’t considered matured enough to fill in the application by myself to become a doctor. And the worst is, I was so ill prepared for my interview and sat like a deer in the headlight in front of the college Principal while my sister and my uncle answered all the questions on my behalf. Instead of filling the application for me, which I could have done by myself, I wished my family had prepared me for the interview.

Yaya is in Mexico right now. She packed her bag, did the online check in and all I had to do was to drop her at the airport. She didn’t want me to wait till she cleared the immigration and shooed me away.

She didn’t send an email or a txt to let me know she arrived in Mexico. I would have love to know about her host family or her new school.

I send her a message on FB wishing her good luck on her first day of school. I wrote “Darling, good luck with your first day of school and here is hoping that you will get to meet  lots of hot guys”

What I really wanted to do was to scold her for not keeping me updated, but she is my child and I hate having to answer/explain to anyone. So I wrote what I hoped would elicit a response from her. True enough, she responded “Thanks Mom, I love you, I am so nervous” And I replied “All will be well and be good”

From now to the day she leaves Mexico, I don’t expect any more messages from her. Unless of course she runs out of money. I do worry about her. But what I know is that, she is smart and independent and that she won’t be like a deer in the headlights like her mother was.

Meet me half way !

As I wrote before, I don’t mind Yaya attending parties, what I do mind is her curfew, the time  she must leave the party and come home. I live pretty far from the city and have to drive through desolate country roads in the middle of the night when I have to fetch her at night. Besides, I also have to drag her siblings along, because I can’t leave them alone at home.

As most of her friends are turning 17 this year, she is invited to more parties that are practically all night long. Few weeks ago, she came to me and asked “Mom, I am invited for B’s 17th birthday party, can I please go?”

“Sure” I replied, while waiting for the next episode of war..where I have to tell her that she needs to be home by 10 pm and she will accuse me of being a horrible mom. ( she uses a lot more choice words than horrible mom)

And then she said ” I am planning to spend the night at S’s house, in that way her mom can fetch us after the party”

What a brilliantly executed plan ! Her friend S is the daughter of my colleague and we are very good friends. By getting my friend to fetch her and spend the night at my friend’s house, Yaya technically met me half way and solved the curfew issue very well. I trust my friend and I don’t have to drive in the middle of the night to fetch Yaya.

I told her, she did well, that I understood how well she planned it and I am proud of her. My friend told me later, she fetched them at 11 pm and they were so exhausted after dancing that many hours that they went to bed right away and didn’t get up till 10 am.

And that is that.

Exhausted :(

I get up at 4 AM every morning to study. When I say I get up, I mean, I have to will myself to get out of bed, when all I really want to do is to break my ipad in to tiny shards, so the alarm will stop ringing (permanently) and I can continue sleeping.

I haven’t gone for my long morning walks for weeks now. I haven’t read any novels, let alone the news paper for a while now. Every day when I go outside to water the plants, I see the messy pergola with leaves all over the floor and a part of me wants to clean it, but then that would mean I will have less time to study. Cooking has been rather sloppy and I have been relying on processed food and leftovers.

My children do help wherever they can. But there is only so much they can do.

And then there is Onam.. for the first time, it is a choice between cooking a feast or studying for the exams. I chose the latter.

Here is wishing you all an advanced onam greetings. I will not have time to blog till my exams are over. Back on 22 nd of Sep.

Before I forget, I am sure many would ask why struggle like this when I have already achieved so much.. the answer is simple. The best is yet to come.. and I tell myself always  “I am gonna make the rest of my life, the best of my life”


Blooming !

I know I wrote about Yaya’s grade 7 graduation speech. It was an  ill prepared speech with words all jumbled up and no continuation. I was mortified sitting among all the other parents and listening to my child screwing up what could have been the highlight of the evening. I was really annoyed with her because she could have asked me for help and together we could have written a better speech. But then I thought about it and realized, I am only upset because I was worried that other parents would judge me and actually for a 12 year old, her speech was not too bad and she needed to learn from her own mistakes. If I was going to write her speech, then she will never learn her own strength.

Today is election day at her school ( for next year) and Yaya is determined to win. I could hear her practicing her speech standing in front of the mirror in her room. I was so tempted to read her speech ( and of course minukkuffy a bit ) I didn’t because I as her mother must have faith in my child more than anything.

Just before dinner, she came out of her room, wearing red plaid jacket ( red not yellow, because she is Yaya not Iggy) and skirt, white knee high socks and asked me “mom, do you want to hear my speech?”

“of course” I replied.

“As there are a few of you who don’t know me, I’d like to start my speech off by telling you all a little about me. My name is…….

First thing first, I’m a realist” She sang that line

I am not going to spend this speech promising you the unachievable but I will however try my best to persuade you to vote for me as your ….. captain for next year.

I believe that I am qualified for this role because I really do enjoy the diversity of our school as well as interacting with other teachers and students. Because I enjoy helping and contributing to this school I have participated in numerous social and cultural events and projects such as UN day, open days and peer support.

One of my favourite things about this school its multiculturalism and I want to encourage this by initiating more opportunities in this area. Even something as simple as keeping the students informed of cultural events around our world or encouraging participation in events that celebrate our diversity such as UN day.

As …. captain I would like to make new students as this school feel as accepted as possible. Having lived in numerous places around the world, I know how hard being in a strange, new environment can be for some students. Being a new grade 8, on my second day of school, I remember how a  group of older students walked over and introduced themselves, talking to us in order to make us feel less nervous. I hope to be like those older students and foster this sense of acceptance that I first felt in grade 8 and continue to feel everyday, whether through more programs like peer support or by simply talking to students.

I really love this school and what it has shaped me to be today and would be honoured and proud to be a school leader. Giving back to my school what it has given me these past 4 years is really all I want, so vote … as your … captain for 2015.

I am very happy with her speech.

Of course this speech is nowhere nearer to what I ‘could’ have written. But I am 43 and Yaya is 16. And when she is my age, she will be a better speech writer than me..That is what being a parent is all about.. watching your children take those tentative steps to adulthood and allowing them to find their own strength and capabilities and enjoying their achievements.



And so it happened.

Yesterday was library day. Younger two had other important things to do, so only Yaya and I went to the Library. As usual, we decided to go for iced coffee. Evenings are still cold and it is really not a good time for iced coffee, but both Yaya and I are creatures of habit and library day is not complete without drinking iced coffee. I was feeling a bit hungry, so I thought I might as well order something to eat and since Yaya is also a vegetarian, she might share the meal with me.  ( Yaya doesn’t like changes in her routine and will not order anything else)

Yaya went to find a spot to sit and I went to order. “Can I please have a slice of vegetarian Quiche and Iced coffee with cream and ice cream” I asked.

The guy at the counter looked at me, smiled and said ” you really should have the vegetarian lasagne, It is better than Quiche and I made it”

First of all I was stunned. No one here usually tells you what to eat, unless you ask them for suggestions. ( That was one thing that bothered me in India, when the waiter tells me other things I must order when I have already ordered what I wanted to eat) Before I could decide  he said ” Bellissima, a slice of the best Lasagne for you?”

I had to laugh ! and so I ordered Lasagne. When I was paying for the meal, he asked me “Have you got our rewards card?” I have long given up on individual store rewards card, mostly because I don’t want to carry the card around and partly because I understand how hard it is for small businesses to survive and don’t think they ought to give me a free meal to encourage me to go to their restaurant.

I shook my head and said “no”

“But you must have our card” He took a card and punched two holes instead of one and winked at me and wrote his mobile number on it and gave me the card.

I went and sat down next to Yaya and told her ” I think that guy is hitting on me”

She looked at the guy and at me and said disbelievingly “right, Mom, He is hot, no doubt, but he is old enough to be your son” Obviously she didn’t believe me. I thought of showing her the rewards card, but then I would never see the end of it.

Few minutes later, the guy came with our order. In front of all the patrons in the restaurant, he did a curtsey and with a royal flair put the plate in front of me and said  “Bellissima, a slice of our beautiful lasagne for you”

The look on Yaya’s face… Priceless.

Supporting my youngest.

Yaya is a lot like my oldest sister. She has one set of rules for herself and another one for the rest.

When my youngest went to Canberra on a school trip, I bought her a scarf and touque to take with her. ( Winter is a lot more colder in Canberra than Brisbane) Yaya has been using both since baby returned from Canberra and didn’t ask Baby once if she could use it. I think she assumes some sort of “superiority” over her sister and thinks that she doesn’t need to ask her before using her stuff.

Baby was sitting in the living room and doing her home work few days ago and her pencil nib broke. Instead of walking all the way to her room to get her sharpener, she stopped by Yaya’s room ( closest to the living room) and took Yaya’s sharpener. All hell broke loose with Yaya screaming at her sister asking her “how dare you take my stuff without asking me for permission”

I remember going through the exact same thing with my oldest sister. She used to take all my things and will not let me touch any of her stuff. And going to my mother was of no use. Her standard response was ” You know chechy doesn’t like anyone taking her stuff, then why do you take it?” and every time I replied ” but she always takes my stuff without even asking me”, my darling mother would reply ” She is your oldest sister Nah? it is your duty to be nice to her, don’t fight with her. after all, how long is she going to be home? And don’t forget, once she leaves home, you will be missing her and thinking if only I had been nice to my oldest sister”

I used to feel so angry with my sister and my mother for being unfair and today I can tell you honestly, I do not miss my oldest sister one bit and don’t wish to have anything to do with her. I am not going to let Baby go through what I went through.

And this time I was ready for Yaya. I had written down each time she took Baby’s stuff without asking her permission in my diary, with the date, time etc and showed Yaya and told her,” if you take anything that belongs to your siblings without asking their permission, they can take all your stuff without asking your permission”

And the problem is solved. Yaya now asks her sister before taking her stuff. ( We haven’t won the battle completely, Yesterday baby was in the shower and I saw Yaya knocking at the door and asking her “Can I please wear your Aeropostale  t-shirt” and Baby being the kindest child you will ever meet replied “sure”. Only thing is, Yaya was already wearing the t-shirt and asking the permission was done as a second thought 🙂