It's the school holidays and I am still getting used to the kids banging on my door in the morning as I try to get a little more sleep after the late nights at work.
My first remarks in the morning go something like, "Yes, children, Jóu Sàhn (早晨 in Cantonese)." followed by "Why are you guys still in pajamas and why is the tv on this early?".
A scurry of feet follow and the tv is switched off, then Isaac and Joy scramble to do their morning chores and sit down to finish their assigned school work. Which lasts for about 5 minutes before I have to separate them into different rooms or the school work will never get done.
I tell Isaac, who is now in Primary Three and facing his latest life obstacle in a month's time — end-of-year exams — that he must study hard and not flunk. He tells me, occasionally tearfully, that sometimes he finds studying so hard, that he fears failing.
I find myself saying to him, "You must try. There is no shame in failing. Only in not trying, only in not working hard." Even though I know sometimes, to a 9-year-old boy, a Primary Three exam can be as daunting as building a spaceship. And only half as fun.
Faith is delighted to see me in the morning because she needs someone to play her Wiggles DVDs and I am handed a random Wiggles disc every time. She has even learned to make the same request of her siblings, which is a good sign. It means she accepts them as part of her trusted world.
I still need to intervene from time to time, because the two younger ones sometimes interrupt Faith's Wiggles viewings to swop out their own DVDs and I scold them for it.
"姐姐's Wiggles DVD is NOT to be changed when she is allowed to view her show. Don't you dare bully her. You guys have to wait your turn," I say.
In fairness, we also say "No" to Faith when she wants to watch another DVD after she's had her turn. The younger ones then get to watch their current favorites (it's currently The Lorax and The Avengers ad nauseum).
I took this photo of Faith last Sunday morning. She was in a giggly mood. That's her idea of smiling for the camera. She is growing up so fast.
Jim Walters, father of an autistic daughter, Lily, wrote this story about how he discovered that the cashier who served him in a Target store in Ross Township, Pennsylvania, was on the autism spectrum. Jim praised Target for hiring the fellow. His Facebook post went viral and he received many comments, some bad, mostly good.
In his blog post about the incident, Jim wrote about some "random asshats that were dismissive" of the autistic cashier's role with the company, who said things like "Great, so they gave him a minimum wage job… some victory".
Then Jim wrote something that totally resonated with me. He said that looking at where his Lily is right now, and that minimum wage job, it may as well be rocket science.
I agree. What I wouldn't give to see my Faith grow up functionally able to look after herself and score a "minimum wage job" from an understanding company. If Faith can do that, it would be like she made it to the moon or Mars. It would be a worthy goal to strive for.
For now, our goals with our 11-year-old girl include some form of communication (speech is still far away) and the ability to go to the toilet herself (XXXL diapers are hard to find and really, really expensive).
It is a timely reminder to my wife and myself to have realistic expectations of all our kids, but yet never give up the hope that they can achieve far beyond what we can imagine.
It may suck to flunk an exam, but it would be worse to flunk at Life itself.