True story: Friend received a call from her bank's Relationship Manager saying she needed to update her particulars.
Then the RM proceeded to ask her if she had changed HER. DATE. OF. BIRTH.
And yes, my friend called the bank to ensure it wasn't a scam artist calling. It really was a call from their staff.
Maybe she needs to change her bank.
Other readers added their stories after I shared that on Facebook.
Eunice shared, "This tele-marketer from a formula milk brand actually asked if my baby saw a Paedophile, she actually meant Pediatrician."
Rathika M said, "A bank asked me if there was any change in my race…"
Joanna Cockle said, "That doesn't beat the time the pharmacist asked if my cat had an NRIC number."
Joanna, who was picking up her cat's asthma prescription, said that the pharmacist deadpanned, "Does your cat have an NRIC number."
[Bonus photo above by @jnaina]
On the back of Facebook launching Live Video for all users, an interesting statistic has emerged. According to reports, sharing on the site is still strong, but sharing personal stuff, the bedrock of Facebook, has gone down.
So much so that there is a term for it: Context Collapse.
Why are people posting less about themselves? My two cents:
I’m also not sure if Live Video will make people wanna share personal stuff again. So far, the live video tools on Facebook are primitive compared to what Snapchat does.
Since I mentioned Snapchat, here is a recent video I shared on Snapchat Stories that never made it to Facebook.
Why didn’t I share it on Facebook? I don’t really know. My Snapchat followers had a blast watching it in the 24 hours it was up there though.
Maybe there is something fun about sharing something ephemeral like this (I know, I have just made more permanent sharing it on YouTube). It is shared, and then it is gone. If you came by my Snapchat a day later, you wouldn’t experience that semi-live moment. I don’t know if anyone liked it a lot or hated it, as there isn’t any hardcore commenting tool available, and strangely, that is great too.
And before you get your panties in a twist, yes, it is a vertical video. Hey, it is Snapchat, vertical videos ARE the default view in that space. Get over it.
Facebook wants our content, it wants our undivided attention But as it gets bigger and bigger, with more and more of your friends, family and semi-friends on it, and corporate media companies on the same bed, I am not sure it is the intimate kampong it once was.
This post first appeared on my Medium blog.
Faith has a growing list of songs that she likes. She can’t sing the words, being non-verbal and severely autistic, but like any other teen, she has her favorites and we only find out when she starts to vocalize or hum the tunes.
Faith’s latest jam is Fight Song by Rachel Platten. She’s been humming the tune over the weekend.
I thought the lyrics were very interesting for a non-verbal autistic 15-year-old girl, even if she may or may not understand the words.
“This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
’Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.”
As her parents, I wonder if the song is also a reminder for us to always keep fighting for her. God knows there are days we don’t feel like we have any fight left in us.
But Faith is our Fight Song.
[Top photo is Faith running to the living room to wear her shoes and accompany Mommy to pick Joy up from tuition. She was a little annoyed that Mommy wouldn't let her have the iPhone. But yet keen to wear her shoes to go out. Just like a teenager.]
A Sent Email Poem written in celebration of World Poetry Day.
My First Email to my Son, age 12
-Lee Kin Mun, 2015
This Word Sonnet originally appeared on my Medium blog.
I am usually the one who writes about Faith on her birthday. But this year, my wife wrote something on her own Facebook account which expressed our feelings more beautifully. So I am going to share her thoughts about being the mother of our firstborn, who has autism.
Today is Faith‘s 15th birthday. It‘s been a long journey. Like all 15s, they have their growing pains. There are much angst, emotions and other issues. It makes it sadder when any 15 year old have to brace more than they should. Some have to deal with broken family issues, loss of loved ones, physical disabilities and so much more.
You‘ll be surprised how resilient some of our kids are. Sometimes they carry more than us adults think we are bearing. Sometimes they even have to be stronger than us so that we can feel better.
I admire my little Faith. She has to be stronger than any normal teenager. She has to brace herself every day just to overcome the small normal things we make her do everyday. It takes so much from her, to force herself to overcome the overwhelming sensory experience just to get a normal task completed, things we take for granted for, things we complain and gripe about.
For reaching 15, I celebrate with Faith on this special day.
She has done so well and I know she will do better with so much love her school teachers and my families have given her. I am forever grateful for the love, patience and time spent on her.
My Faith is strong. My Faith is beautiful. Happy birthday my little girl! You will always be my little girl and a very resilient one. We are so proud of you!
(See more photographs at brown.exposure.co or view the embedded version below.)
We used to celebrate Valentine’s Day, the wife and I, but eventually it got too expensive, so we stuck to our wedding anniversary instead, which is not very far away, in March.
Anyway, when you have three kids, ages 10, 12 and 14, you don't really have time for the trappings of commercialized romance.
Our Valentine’s Day consisted of me taking Joy to church while the wife took Faith and Isaac to see the doctor on a Sunday morning.
The flu bug is not fun at all, especially if it hits two kids at once, and especially if your firstborn daughter has autism and can’t tell you where her discomfort is.
Then the afternoon was a blur. I vaguely remember driving one kid to maths tuition, fixing a broken wardrobe door, and buying a rose at the wet market for the wife, with Faith in tow.
Oh, wait. I managed to catch a power nap too. That was pretty awesome.
Faith had a small meltdown at the mall after dinner because she wanted to go home already and insisted on going down an escalator that was going up. It took both Isaac and me to pull her back and guide the very cranky and strong 14-year-old girl out of the mall and to the car.
At home, I played with my new camera and took selfies with Faith. "Smile at the camera, Faithie!"
Faith didn't smile for the camera but she did give me a surprise kiss. And because of muscle memory, I pressed the shutter button.
Now that is a Valentine's Day moment to remember.
I'm not sure if Faith will ever find her Valentine, her condition being so severe. But she will always have us, her family, to love and cherish her for as long as we live.
On the second day of Chinese New Year, when most eateries were closed, I was queuing at the crowded McD's with the son and whispering under my breath, "Please, may the person in front not be ordering 10 Big Breakfasts. Please, may the person in front not be ordering 10 Big Breakfasts. Please, may the person in front not be ordering 10 Big Breakfasts."
She ordered 10 Big Breakfasts.
Then the next fella ordered two Happy Meals to dine in. And six meals to go. Wah lau eh.
Good thing I had that lovely satay waiting for me at my 大姨's place.
Speaking of eating too much during CNY, my friend Jeff sent me this:
To all feasting this CNY, there will be lots of eating and drinking. A friend introduced me a type of weight loss plaster. Just need to paste it. Very effective. The whole treatment is 7 days. Can lose up to 10kg weight!!! And it is not expensive.
So I asked him, "Where should I paste the plaster?"
He said, "On the mouth."
Yesterday, after I read the heartbreaking open letter from the father of the 14-year-old boy who committed suicide after being questioned by the police without his parents or legal counsel present, I felt an overwhelming need to send this SMS to my 12-year-old son.
"Love you, son. Have a good day at school."
He probably didn't understand why I suddenly sent him that message in the midst of his school hours, but it's ok.
I made a mental note to remind my kids that no matter what trouble they find themselves in in future, they must always feel comfortable telling us, their parents.
Much later, he replied, "Don't forget to fill up the money box. I checked the box already."
And minutes later, "Hello?"
I replied, "Ok."
May the biggest problems we ever have to talk about, be mundane things like the family petty cash box running out of money. Or sticking to the 30-minute limit of computer time. Or clearing his Legos after playing with them.
This article originally appeared on my Medium blog.
So they really named a new JC, Eunoia Junior College. It comes from the Ancient Greek word εὔνοια, meaning “beautiful thinking”.
It is also a rarely used medical term referring to a state of normal mental health. I suppose you could say it's a school of the mentally sound.
According to the MOE, it's pronounced "yoo-noh-iea".
I think it was thought up by TriedTooHardia.
At least they didn’t try to rojak Singapore history with Greek etymology and name the school Sang Nila Eunoia Junior College.
Maybe the fifth uni will be called Eunoiaversity of Singapore. Opening next door, Paranoia Primary School and Pneumonia Secondary.
Taxi drivers will probably keep sending EJC teachers and students to Eunos by mistake.
Pop Quiz: What is the favorite football team of Eunoia JC? Juventus.
I am sure new condo projects will sprout around EJC. They will given names like Le Eunoia, Eunoiaville and Eunoiasia. If someone managed to get away with selling a condo near RI called Rafflesia even though it’s the name of a huge smelly flower, then you can get away with any condo name.
A new town centre will probably open nearby. It will be called Eunoiapolis and Eunoiahub.
They should have taken a leaf from the old Compass Point that was renamed to the super hip "1 Sengkang Mall". Can call it 1 Eunoia JC. Everything is cooler with a "1" in front. Better yet, do a "one north" and call it "one eunoia". Atas siol.
According to news reports, the first batch of Eunoia JC students will come from Catholic High School, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School and Singapore Chinese Girls' School (SCGS). Wah, the Catholic High boys must be very happy.
Kimgeks from SCGS will be happy in this JC. Because you nonya mah.
One day, I hope to see more local-sounding school names. Instead of Greek, why not Malay, Hokkien or Singlish names? Why not Bagus JC (because every school is a bagus school), Simisai JC (because they simisai also good) or One Kind of JC (because they one kind of smart sia).
Or pander to the Singaporean colonial hangup and name it The Royal Junior College of St Cambridge of Oxford by Kent.
Wah lau eh, you know I'm just joking around.
Hey, that's a cool name: Wah Lau Eh JC. When people see their solid results, people will say, "Wah lau eh, your JC very tokong, man!"
This will be the school cheer for WLEJC
"Everywhere we go-oh!
People want to know-oh!
Who we are-ah!
Where we come from!
So we tell them!
We are from Wah Lau Eh!
Mighty mighty Wah Lau Eh!
Wah Lau Eeeeeeeeh… oooooosh!"
We don't have a Christmas tree this year (because the living room is filled with my bicycles and a new Doob beanbag) but we do have this Christmas decoration on our front door drawn by Joy. All three siblings are represented here.
To complete this decoration, the door bell tone has also been changed by the kids to Jingle Bells. It makes ringing the bell a lot longer than just Ding Dong but I'll let this one slide because it's Christmas.
Something struck me over the weekend when I took Faith and her younger siblings to a theme park.
It is very precious to see her smile and very hard to capture on camera because it comes and goes so quickly.
Faith’s autism means she spends a lot of time sucking her tongue. It’s her sensory thing, her way of coping with the world around her.
So when she smiles, it’s like a ray of sunshine. You know she must be very happy. Happy enough to forget sucking her tongue for a moment, happy enough to overcome her sensory problems, and just smile with delight.
It is such a raw and pure moment to me.
It’s even harder to photograph her in a family photo. She finds it hard to keep still. She doesn’t always look at the camera. “Close your mouth, Faith! Look at Papa’s camera! Haha!” we would say, in vain.
She hears us and tries to smile but it always comes out squinty. It’s very cute.
It is almost as if her brain cannot tell her mouth to smile. Her smile has to be unconscious.
We take smiling for granted. It comes so easily to us. We can even fake-smile when we are sad or angry inside.
But Faith smiles for real. She can’t fake it. She cannot consciously smile on cue. She has to work through so many roadblocks in her nervous system to get that smile out.
And then once in a while, in a family photo moment, she reaches out and touches your face. Another thing my non-verbal firstborn doesn’t do often.
And that’s when you feel her love and affection in that one awkward touch. And you smile too, covered in the warm rays of her sunshine.
This article originally appeared on my Medium blog.
It's the school holidays again, and those of you who are parents will be familiar with this:
Son, on school holiday: "Pa, I'm bored."
Me: "Oh! You're bored eh?"
Son: "… Never mind, never mind!"
You can hear the "Abort mission! Abort! Abort!" going off in his head.
My kids know better than to tell me they are bored during the school holidays. Because my reply would usually involve one of two words that start with "H" and end with "work".
Still, I try to take them somewhere in the course of the week, or they will drive whoever is at home with them (usually my mom and the helper) crazy.
We went down to Universal Studios Singapore to check out Santa’s All-Star Christmas at Universal Studios Singapore (USS). USS isn't a place I go often because A) it's kinda far (Sentosa leh, it's like another country) and B) it isn't the cheapest thing to do. But for the kids, it's a big treat. So, thank you for the tickets, USS.
You can see the big silly smile on Faith's face when she was there.
We took care to let her ride the kiddie attractions that won't frighten her autistic senses. I think she was okay with most of our choices except the flying dinosaurs one called Dino-Soarin', in Lost World. She held on to me a little when I pushed the button to make our Pteranodon "fly", and wanted me to put her seat belt back on even after the ride. I told her, "Finished already, Faith, haha! We can take off the belt now."
Faith enjoyed the sedate Treasure Hunters in Lost World, the Madagascar ride, the Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase, and King Julien's Beach Party-Go-Round.
The wife also took Faith to the Shrek 4-D Adventure, while the two younger ones took off for the Puss In Boots’ Giant Journey ride. The wife told me Faith kept taking off the 3D glasses, but she was generally okay with the show. Faith was probably trying to figure out why there were 3D objects in her face.
Fortunately, we covered a lot of ground in the morning and slightly after lunch, because, as it has been happening for the last few days, it poured buckets in the late afternoon.
Since we were under shelter near the New York zone, I let Isaac ride the Transformers ride three times, as a Single Rider. We didn't try the new Galactica ride though, because it was raining. That's the excuse I'm giving if anyone asks. Truth be told, this Uncle isn't that good with roller coasters anymore.
We didn't stay till late because of the heavy rain, and also Mommy had a Chinese concert to attend (I got dragged along too).
The wife and I went to the 黎费辉说唱演“自由发挥”音乐会 at the Esplanade at night. 黎费辉, or Li Fei Hui, is a veteran singer/songwriter of 28 years. The wife is a huge fan and let's just say, I have never seen that groupie side of her before.
The wife knew all the words to his songs (he has written songs for many big stars and himself in the course of his long and colourful career) and she rushed to the front of the autograph session line after the show (which ended after midnight!) just to get her CD signed and photo taken.
When we reached home, we realized we didn't have a CD player in the house anymore. All our music are digital files or streaming. Talk about retro tech, this CD stuff.
My job at the concert was to accompany her and take the photos. I did enjoy Li Fei Hui's banter, his stories and his music though. Eh, Limpeh also listen Chinese music one ok?
Yesterday, at home…
Me: "Joy, is that you pooping in my bedroom toilet?"
Youngest daughter (sings): "Hello from the other side…"
We then proceeded to sing the rest of the song, including a line that went "I'm sorry I have to pangsaaaaai".
I wonder where she gets that dorky sense of humour from.
In other news, last night I was texting the wife on the way home from work. I boarded the bus and there she was. We are, like, fated to be together. Hashtag Romance.
Signs I need a vacation: I drove to work last Friday because I had stuff to carry and several places to be.
After a long day, I knocked off work.
I walked out of the office.
And took my usual bus home.
Fortunately, on the bus, I took something out of my pocket and felt my car keys. Then it dawned on me. I quickly got off at the next bus stop and sheepishly walked back to the office car park.
A) It goes to show you how rarely I drive to work.
B) I think this is a reminder I need to slow down, and maybe find pleasure in the simpler things.
Like my nature and insect-loving youngest daughter, in the photo above. A photo I entitle "Joy, Insect Hunter, on a hill."
I wake up at 3.45am. Mom lands at 4.19am from Hangzhou.
I pick her up at the airport and we have breakfast at 5.30am.
At 6.30am, she is at the wet market buying supplies for tonight's dinner.
She is an Energizer Bunny, that one.
That's mom on the left. Looking for fish.
And since I was there with mom, I acted upon Marriage Pro Tip #65: "Thou shalt buy flowers at the wet market for the wife just because."
Ma: "Huangshan is very cold. Below zero."
Me: "Did you bring enough warm clothing?"
Five minutes later.
Ten minutes later.
I still haven't gotten an answer from her.
My son, age 12, is receiving his PSLE results today. This morning, he woke me up at 5 A.M. and said he will go down to check if the school bus was coming to pick him for school.
I said, “Son, the school bus isn’t coming. It is the school holiday period already. And your results are coming out at 11 A.M., not so early. I will take you to school later, and get your results with you.”
He is the first in our family to reach the Primary School Leaving Examination, despite being the middle child.
In another universe, his older sister, Faith, would be the one to do the exam first, but autism changed those plans when we discovered her developmental delay at age 1.
Like many parents, we worried for his PSLE results (although my wife is snoring rather peacefully now by my side, at 6:15 A.M., as I type this.)
You know in your heart of hearts that, in the grand scheme of things, his PSLE results will not be something he waves at his potential employer in a future job interview. But it is also naive to say there is no impact on the next step of his education journey.
Even though I told myself I wouldn’t be that hand-wringing parent, I couldn’t help myself.
But I am reminded by God that I should be happy to even witness Isaac reach this milestone. What I would give to see my firstborn take the PSLE. What I would give to see Faith be able to fail or pass this exam.
Her life is a daily exam. She is still learning to talk at 14, her repertoire of words include “Dorothy the Dinosaur” and “Auntie”, which we heard last week. The former is from her favorite show, The Wiggles, and the latter is what she calls our domestic helper.
Each song she hums is celebrated in our household as if she has gotten the top PSLE score in the land and is now the poster child for a chicken essence brand.
Each word she utters is celebrated as if she has gotten into the IB program in a top elite school that her father can barely afford to pay for.
Each time she goes to the toilet by herself without being prompted, thereby saving us one diaper, is celebrated as if she has won the Angus Ross Prize for Toilet Training.
So on the night before my son’s PSLE results, just before I succumbed to sleep, I wrote this poem to my eldest daughter.
to our firstborn, Faith, age 14
your mother said
maybe it was her fault
maybe it was
something she ate
something she drank
something she did
or didn’t do
some tail bone
that may have hurt you
as you pushed your way out
into a world not ready
for the likes of you
a world that didn’t always understand
just like you didn’t always understand
why your senses
gave you so much information
too much information
there is too much information
look at the fan turning round and round
shutting down now
too much information
rebooting in three
system restoring in three
wait she is back
back on earth
so much mars
but I said to your mother
it isn’t your fault
it isn’t my fault
it isn’t God’s fault
because you cannot
be a mistake
you are fearfully
and wonderfully made
and we fearfully
and wonderfully love