Last weekend we attended our last playdate before we go for summer holidays. It was a playdate straight out from a United Colours of Benetton catalogue. We had delegations from Poland, Germany and of course the Philippines. You think that with the cultural diversity of Dubai we’d have more of these mixed nationality playdates, but we don’t. Firstly I think it’s because we Filipinos tend to stick together like “white on rice“. And with over 450,000 Filipinos living in Dubai alone we tend socialize and make friends with our own kind (most of the time). Secondly, and I think this is the main reason why…is because Arnie and I are not really sociable people (SHOCKER!). We like socializing with friends that we already have but to make the effort and go out of our way to make new friends…well (I can’t comment).
But with Adrian being 1 out of 3 Filipinos in his school, a diverse playdate was inevitable. I had to suck up and face any insecurities I have and take my child to any playdate he gets invited to. I’d like Adrian (and Aden) to grow up without any reservations on making new friends with people of different backgrounds. I’d consider it a personal failure if they don’t at least try.
We were asked to bring “whatever” we wanted and I thought what would the boys like to eat. Viola! Chocolate cake! Our table spread turned out great. Mommy A, or shall I say Daddy A made pizzas for the kids and mommy B brought a whole assortment of mezzes that she said we could eat for a week! She even brought a bottle of wine (shhhhh!) for all us to enjoy. While the kids enjoyed playing by themselves (Thank God Adrian can somehow swim) The adults were feasting on our “lavish” spread and socializing with each other. I’m sorry I have no pics, I’m so rusty with my social skills but I’m pretty sure checking on your iPhone every minute is not on the list so I kept mine hidden in my bag.
The kids adjusted well to each other since they go to school together but the more interesting and fun to watch dynamic were the adults easing in to each other. Aside from the polite smiles and good mornings while doing the school run everyday we actually don’t know each other so trying to find the right conversation topics took awhile to warm up. Nevertheless we made it work. Mommy A was such a gracious host I don’t think anybody felt left out. By early evening we had to cut it short since it was time for bed for our little ones. The boys didn’t want to go home, of course mine was extra vocal about his feelings even suggesting we continue this “party” in our house! We left the get together with such high spirits and positive energy (with a bit of a buzz) from the fun and relaxing afternoon. We made plans of doing this again next weekend but sadly we are leaving this week which made me regret it for two seconds 😉.
I do hope Adrian gets to see his nursery friends once again but the fact remains that they will all go to different schools come September. But if this get together has taught me anything it’s to always say YES to new experiences and open my doors to new possibilities and friends. Looks like in this scenario, my Adrian has taught me some important life lessons for a change.
Driving home from Sharjah airport where we just dropped off our family to go back home to the Philippines, my eldest was extremely sad. He wanted to go with them and play with them some more. He was so upset that instead of his normal reaction of kicking and screaming he had his head bowed down (chin to chest) and was silently crying. I asked him if he wanted to sit in front with me and he nodded his head sadly. I know it’s not safe for a child to sit at the passenger’s seat – I already got a lecture from the husband so please spare me.
I wanted him upfront because I wanted to try to explain to him why we cannot go home with them today and I wanted to do it being able to look into his eyes.
At first he had all sorts of arguments and excuses and I was trying my best to stay calm and not lose my temper and ask him to “shut up!”. Then I won via a technicality, I said we forgot our passports back home and would have to go back to the airport next time. This appeased him a little but he was still very sad. Winning the argument was bittersweet, on one side I was happy, I got him to stop arguing with me but on the other, I know he was still feeling very upset with the situation.
As a mother, I felt for my child I wanted to protect him from the pain he was feeling but what can I do? This was the reality of our situation living abroad – people visit to come and play with them but they have to go back home eventually. Maybe a bit more visitors and he’ll get used to the routine (ahem ahem).
I tried to console him by saying his cousins will be waiting back home in the Philippines when we come over and that we can always call them up via FaceTime. He accepted these reasons but still kept his head down. Then uncharacteristically, he asked if he can hold my hand. I was surprised by his request but obliged reluctantly because I was driving the stick shift. We drove in silence for a bit and he eventually fell asleep and I got my hand back just in time to shift gears.
I shed a tear for my boy that afternoon and prayed to God to give me strength and the wisdom to help him deal with this pain.
I know Holding Hands While Driving was very irresponsible of me but at that moment knowing that by just holding my hand was easing my son’s pain, I felt like I was doing a great job as his mother.
When choosing an extra curricular for my son I was overwhelmed with my choices. It seemed that every child here in Dubai plays an instrument, plays a sport or is trying to learn a second, third or fourth language. Sometimes all three. But before anything else, I know I wanted my son to learn how to swim. After all it is a sport that may save his life. If he does decide to follow this through and start swimming competitively then I will be his no. 1 fan. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet! One thing at a time, baby steps.
We’ve put off getting him lessons because they have a swimming activity in school and well, the optimistic side of me thought they could at least teach him the basics. Not until the husband asked Adrian to swim at the pool and all he did was bob his head in the water that we realised he MAY need extra help. Going online, which is our usual source of information, we stumbled upon Sports Life Swimming Club. It caught our attention because they have classes at the Hamdan Sports Complex which is very close to our place. But we ended up going to Raffles because we were going to take the beginners class.
Last weekend was Adrian’s first session (classes started last 3 May, we were one week late). The coach was very impressed with his learning ability, something that made me very proud. She also said that she wouldn’t be surprised if Adrian moves up to the next class before this whole session ends. Again, music to my ears, this time I could feel my head growing a little! haha. Adrian had so much fun during the lesson. He kept calling our attention during to watch him swim that he was disrupting the class. I realised this was the first time we could actually stay and watch him for any of his activities that he was really super excited. We on the other hand was happy to watch him too, if only it wasn’t too damn HOT!!! but I survived.
The coach did point out that he is a bit late in trying to learn how to swim. She said that children should start learning how to swim when they turn 3, 2 1/2 if the child is not scared of the water.
So if you have children who are 5 years old and have not had formal lessons as of yet YOU ARE TOO LATE!!!! hahahaha I’m kidding!!! It’s never too late, Dubai schools are just obsessed with age and appoint every activity to a child depending on how old they are. (i.e. “he’s 5?! oh he should be driving by now!!” haha I exaggerate but that’s how we feel!). They do have adult swimming lessons, I’ve linked their website above, Check it out if you are interested.
For three days straight now my son has asked me to drop him off at the gate of their nursery. He would go through the gate with us and stop to face us and say “Go back to the car mommy I can go to the room all by myself!” . The first time I heard this I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to do with myself. But after some thought I decided to follow his request but stay by the gate to watch him disappear into the building without even looking back at me. Because he is only in FS1 (4 years old) us parents are still allowed to take them to their rooms every morning. Something which I actually enjoy because he gives me a mini tour guide in his building every time we walk pass the small halls. But on this occasion he wanted to be independent. Some parents that pass me by at the gate think it’s great with comments like “very independent boy” “he’s very brave” “what a treat!” and “he loves school doesn’t he?“.
I otherwise have mixed emotions.
On one hand it is very convenient for me to just leave him at the gate because this means I don’t have to haul the little one out and back in again on his car seat which sometimes triggers his long crying sessions on the way home. On the other hand, I will miss our morning walks to the building and up the stairs to his room where he shows off his art and updates me on what’s being done in certain parts of the nursery “we played drums here mommy!” “the library is close” “we need to keep the toys here!” are some of the small anecdotes he has shared. I will miss watching him interact with his friends as they arrive one by one at the door and sometimes even greets the mommies and daddies.
I knew it from the beginning that my son was special. He is sweet, smart, kind and now independent. He is growing up so fast that it makes me realise more that I need to cherish every moment with him. He still does depend on us in many ways like eating and using the potty. So maybe I should NOT push too hard on him to grow up any faster than he should…
Next thing we know it he’d be borrowing the keys to the car!
Here are some of the pictures of Adrian @school “borrowed” from the school’s FB page.
Today was World Book Day at school and as always JINS thought of a creative way to celebrate it. They asked the children to come to school in their pyjamas. They also asked us to bring their favourite book and bring a teddy to cuddle during their story telling activity. Even the staff came in their pyjamas and night slippers, the school felt like they were in one big sleep over.
We were very excited for this day (yes I said we) that we left the teddy bear behind. I thought I had the frog stuff toy in the car (that’ll do, right?) but the frog was nowhere in sight. So now I was facing a dilemma. 1/2 of me, the practical side said “nah! It’s ok! He won’t even notice it, it’s fine” and the other 1/2, the emotional sensitive and kind person in me (deep within me) thought “My boy would be so sad when reading time comes because he’s the only one without a teddy to hold“. So I let the kind sensitive woman in me win (mind you she’s not always there! Haha). We ran to the store-bought a bear and went back to school. Adrian was surprised to see us back but also more surprised at the bear we were holding out to him (he didn’t know where the bear came from). But he ran towards us, got the bear and went back to class.
I left the school feeling like I did a good thing even though at the back of my head that bear was way overpriced for a one time thing. But heck! That’s just money right? (Don’t tell my husband I said that!)
Come pick up time I wasn’t expecting anything really. I’m guessing in his 4-year-old mind he had a teddy to hold come story time and that was that. As soon as we settled in the car, Adrian asked me if I bought the teddy just for him. Naturally I said “Yes of course baby!” not thinking about it really and then he said …
“Thanks mommy! I love you!“
Awwwwwww sweetest words from the sweetest boy. I think I teared up a little on the drive home but I’m tearing up now writing this post. My heart melted in the desert highway on the way home and I silently thanked God because now I know that my boy is going to be a kind, sensitive and loving man when he grows up.
This trip has proven to me that my first baby is truly growing up. Never did I need him to stand up more than these past two weeks and he definitely did not disappoint. He would help me with my bags, open doors for me and even step up when Aden is acting up. He really truly is wise beyond his years. Never have I been truly proud and thankful.
Just today an elderly woman came up to us while we were having lunch and told me how well behave my children were. I was so proud! But I really can’t take all the credit Arnie’s genes must be kicking in! haha BTW, I love this foreign concept of complimenting strangers – it almost never happens in my culture.
I have a major challenge coming up after the weekend, we’d be traveling alone without Arnie and I’m really dreading this but with Adrian showing so much signs of maturity, I’m sure we’d be fine. But just in case, say a little prayer for us too.
In Arnie’s attempt to teach Adrian the value of a dollar, or in our case a dirham he gave Adrian a coin bank and told Adrian that if he saved his coins he can buy any toy he wanted on his birthday. The prospect of buying any toy he wanted excited Adrian to no end that his eyes light up every time we give him a coin for his coin bank. He was so much into saving his coins he even got a coin bank for Aden and was teaching his little brother to save his coins to buy toys too. Which the little one was more interested in putting the coins in his mouth and not putting it in the can haaaaay!.
On his birthday we opened his coin bank and counted his money. He was so excited he even exclaimed that he can buy Toys R Us with our simple savings (ahhhh the innocence of youth).
In the end he got a marble toy and a Play doh fun factory. After the festivities of his birthday Arnie got Adrian to start saving for Christmas too. I hope that this simple exercise could start Adrian to appreciate the value of saving.