Monday, November 26, 2007

Away From Home

Today I leave for Johor on business. It'll be a 3-day trip. And in about 2 weeks, I'll have to go again - for 5 days.

I used to look forward to getting out of the office but these days I just hate the idea of being apart from family. That, if anything, is a sign of growing up. Or growing old. Ugh!

This morning, I explain to the kid that I would be gone for a few days. And like I always do before I leave, I impart a little fatherly advice and instruction."You take care of Mommy, okay?" I told the boy. "Okay, Daddy" he answered sincerelt, and added, "Jesse play with Mommy"

Hah. At least I know Mae will be entertained while I'm away.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Musical Adventure

On Friday, I got a couple of passes to Yamaha's Asia Pacific Junior Original Concert. The APJOC is a showcase of talents borne out of Yamaha Music's Education System, and boy, what a showcase.

Every year some 35,000 compositions are submitted from all over the world. The best from Asia Pacific perform at the annual APJOC all around the region. This year, however, the concert is hosted here in Malaysia. The last one was in 2001, and the one before, I attended in 1996.

We took Jesse there, since its probably the only concert he'll be allowed in at his age. Besides, we were curious to see how he'd take to such a show. He was so into it that he sat quietly for most of the 2-hour concert.

The music was amazing, ranging from charming little numbers on the piano to complex symphonies played out on the Electone. With the quality of the compositions on show, it's easy to forget that these kids are actually performing there very own original compositions.

Halfway through this 8-year old's riveting piece, Jesse starts bouncing on my lap excitedly. "Daddy, I wanna learn this," he says, pointing at the handsome Electone on stage. I smile weakly at my son, while, in my mind, I'm working out monthly repayments, interest rates, and stuff from home I can bring to the pawnshop.

So yeah, if anything, the APJOC is a great big propaganda to get you to enrol your kids at Yamaha. Next year, Jesse will be learning music with the school's Junior Music Course. And Daddy will be eating cheap instant noodles for lunch everyday.

NOTE: Go read Dustyhawk's review of the concert.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yamaha APJOC


The Yamaha Asia Pacific Junior Original Concert is an annual event held in countries around Asia Pacific. This year is Malaysia's turn to host. The last one in Malaysia was held in 2000. It features kids, from 7-15 years of age, performing their own original composition. However, if you think that this is a kiddie affair, you would be shocked. These kids write stuff far beyond their years.

I have 4 pairs of press invites to this sold out concert. However, these are reserved for bloggers only. The concert is tomorrow (16 Nov 2007, Fri) at 8:00pm at the Dewan Sivik Petaling Jaya in PJ State. If you would like to experience the APJOC, do mail me at thatjames[at]gmail[dot]com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Showtime That Almost Never Was

This is gonna be a long one. Hopefully the headers make it more readable.

Children like routines. That's what most parenting books will tell you. Because in routine is consistency and stability - all the things a child need to feel secure. Jesse is a textbook example of this. And quite unfortunately so.

Sunday was a big day for the boy. It was his kindie's year end concert and he was going as Prince Charming. But it would also be a day that breaks all conventions with him.

First, he was going to school at 6:30pm. And he wasn't in uniform. And the "school" is also at our spanking new church building where the concert was being held. It was all too much for the poor boy to take in.

I had dropped Mae and Jesse off to park my car. When I called to find out where she was, I heard a child crying in the background. "Oh God, please don't let that be my child," I thought to myself. But God likes to mess with me every now and then. *sigh*

By the time he was ushered away to the kiddie seats in the hall, and we were seated amongst other parents he was still sobbing away - presumably because he thought we had abandoned him. And for the next two hours as show went on to entertain parents and kids alike, Jesse was okay one minute, and pining for his parents the next. I was miserable. Mae was miserable. And poor Jesse was probably the most miserable of all.

Throughout the course of that time, I was two minds about what I should do. Do I spare him the misery by whisking him away, and also deprive him the opportunity to appear up onstage as he had so longed to do? (My boy lives for attention, I swear!) Or do I let him be and hope he's all okay by showtime? It was the simplest of decisions, yet this one tore me apart.

I decided to leave him be. Mae and I even stayed hidden as the toddler troupe passed up by to get up onstage. By then, his love for showbiz had surpassed his melancholy, and our boy proudly galloped onstage in full royal regalia.

I beamed with pride as I saw my little boy up on stage with his classmates, waving to the crowd. And like every idiotic parent, I was up there snapping photos of my boy with Jesse's Uncle Jeff in tow. That was when he spotted us.

"Teacher Lavender," he called out excitedly, loud enough for me to hear, "it's Daddy and Uncle Jeff!" But the discovery of his long lost Daddy was too much for him to bear, and there in front of the audience, I saw his composure slowly cracking. "Daddy is proud of you!" I cried out to encourage him. I probably would have made a fool of myself if weren't for the commotion of the crowd drowning me out, but I didn't give a shit. My boy needed to hear something encouraging.

He sucked it all in for as long as he could, until they led his group offstage. I made may way through the crowd in the most dramatic fashion, like one of those old Chinese movies where a father and son are reunited amidst a madding crowd. I knelt down and he ran towards me, jumped up on me, put his arms around my neck and cried buckets and buckets of tears.

"I wanna go home, Daddy," he sobbed. I told his teacher, then whisked him off to his legion of adoring grandparents, uncles and aunties who had come to see him. It didn't take him long to be a happy child once again.

Jesse is a little highly strung, and Mae and I have come to acknowledge this. Even so, this was a little puzzling to Mae. But it was all familiar to me. "I chickened out on my kindergarten concert as a kid," I told Mae. "Really?" she replied, and added, "shit." Or so I imagine.

But Jesse is way ahead of me. I never got onstage all those years back. But that, I will tell you more in another post.

That night, or poor little boy tossed and turned. "I wanna go home," he cried in his sleep, a few times over. Not even his nasty fall and the surgery had such an impact on him. I can only imagine what he must have gone through that night at his concert. :(

Friday, November 9, 2007

Princely Raiment


the artist formerly known as prince

Come Sunday, Jesse's kindie is putting up some sort of a year-end concert for parents and all. For the juniors, it's more of a fancy dress gig than a concert.

"The theme is Snow White & The Seven Dwarves," Mae tells me. Which pretty much means Jesse and his classmates will have to dress up like any of the characters in that show. *sigh* And I had all this hope of dressing up my boy as Darth Vader or something. But no, it was gonna be Snow White.

"My son must be the Prince," Mae asserted, every bit like the soccer mom that she is. "And you," she commanded, "You will make your son the best costume in the class." If it was a mother and son thing, Mae can easily pass of as the Evil Queen. Heh.

The tunic and cuffs are made of some stiff felt-like material finished off with some curtain trims. I used the same stuff for the fake boots and belt. Basically I wanted material that didn't fray at the edges, so I wouldn't have the terrible task of sewing seams (It's called cheating). The belt buckle is mine. The pants and shirt are Jesse's nightclothes. The cape is some cheap fake satin which tends to fray at the edges, but I cleverly used a lighter to melt the "seams". Everything is fastened with velcro, except the cape which is held by two ornamental buttons. And I stitched it all on this portable little sewing machine my MIL gave me.

Okay, so I'm not ready to quit my day job yet, but I think I did a pretty good job here. :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007



feelin' fine

Jesse came back from his little surgery bandaged, with the instruction to remove after 48 hours. I was a little apprehensive, but I took to the task.

"What is inside, Daddy?" Jesse enquired. I explained to him in a way that he would understand, "You broke your head and the doctor fixed it."

"Doctor fixed Jesse's head?"

"Uh-huh," I proceeded to describe the procedure, "Doctor used strings to fix Jesse's head." I then went on to prepare him for what I was about to do, and when he was adequately prepped, I did the deed.

It must have been a little painful as I saw him wince a couple of times, but he laid there quietly as gingerly peeled the plaster and gauze away from his wound. And then I gave him a mirror to see what all the fuss was about. And the most unexpected thing happened.

He sat there, stared at the horrifying scar on his head and it struck him, probably for the first time - the aftermath of his terrible accident. And he cried buckets of tears. It was such a heartbreaking sight.

"Daddy, my strings," he sobbed. I hadn't expected him to be so affected by it and I wasn't quite prepared to deal with this. So I decided to just wing it. "Doctor said you look like Harry Potter," I assured the boy. As I did, I hollered at Mae to bring a Harry Potter DVD.

"Look, darling," Mae consoled him, "Harry Potter's got a mark on his head too!" It didn't help.

Then, my clever wife picked up an eyeliner pencil and drew a lighting mark on her head. "Look at Mommy," she cooed. I saw his little lips curl into a smile and I decided to play along. "Look," I called, "Daddy's got one just like yours!"

And just like that, we were a happy family once again. Even if it meant that Mae and I had to wear the "mark" out for our dinner and jalan-jalan that night.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Head Wound

"Jesse fell and cut his head!" Mae's voice quivered over the phone on Friday. My mother-in-law had tried to send him to the neighbourhood pediatrician but it was closed. I called MIL. Over the phone I could hear the boy screaming.

"Clean the wound, and apply pressure to stop the bleeding," I snapped orders through the chaos, remembering what little first aid I learnt at school. "It stopped bleeding," MIL advised and added, "Drive safely"

I can only guess what a traumatic experience it must have been to see her grandson bleeding profusely. I stepped on it.

I got there about 10 minutes later and it was an alarming sight. Both MIL and Anie, our maid, was covered in blood. My boy had cried himself to sleep in his kakak's arm. When I walked over and saw the wound in his forehead, I recoiled in shock and tears welled up in my eyes. It was a deep cut, 40mm long and about 6mm deep. I was dumbstrucked.

"Mae is on her way back," MIL said, "she said to wait."

I snapped out of whatever stupor I was in, and got up to leave. "I don't want Mae to see this," I explained. I doubt it she would be able to handle it.

The drive took forever with the lunch hour jam. On one hand I was thankful that Jesse was asleep and not crying and screaming. And yet, on the other hand, there was my precious little boy laying silently in his Kakak's arms with a gaping wound in his head. I didn't know what to think.

When we got to the hospital, Jesse awoke. Despite the pain he must have been going through, he didn't cry. "Are you okay, boy?" I asked. "Yes," he said in a sad little voice. It pained me.

The doctor was out for lunch and so the nurse covered the wound with a wet dressing. And all the nurses at Megah Medical Specialist Centre consoled the boy and told him what a brave boy he was. He was.

Mae arrived shortly after with a bag of goodies for the boy and it cheered him up plenty.

The doctor examined the wound. Apparently, it was so bad that it his muscle was cut. Mae saw it for the first time and her eyes went red.

The nurses restraint him and the doctor administered a local anesthetic jab into the wound. He struggled and cried a little. I almost did as I saw his forehead swell before my eyes from the injection. "He won't feel a thing when I stitch him up," Doc explained, "but he will probably cry out of fear."

By then Jesse was in good spirits again. By the time we were ushered into the operation theatre, he called out cheerfully, "See you later, Mommy," much to the nurses' amusement. He was thrilled with the little robe they let him wear, oblivious to the cut in his forehead.


In the theatre, they strapped him tight on the gurney. He started crying and begging me to let him loose. I had never felt so helpless in my life. The doctor went as quickly as he could, to spare the boy the agony. After two layers of sutures, some 11 stitches in all, I unstrapped him and hugged him close, and everything felt alright again. I guess I needed it as much as he did.

By the time we left the hospital, he was all happy as if nothing had happened. And over the weekend, it had been all good. No nightmares, no fevers and no crying.

But for Mae and I, and my Mother-In-Law, things may never be the same again.