086: Should I Bring A Baby With Disabilities To This World?

To Keep The Child Or Not?

If someone is struggling with the painful decision of keeping a baby who is likely to be born with disabilities, what would you say to her?

Two days ago, a pregnant woman sought advice in a parenting group in the social media. She wrote about her dilemma,

“I am at the 13th week of my second pregnancy. A recent Down Syndrome test revealed an absence of nasal bone in the foetus, which caused alarm. I just did a further blood screening test, which will reveal the result in two week’s time. I am worried sick. What if the baby is inflicted with Down Syndrome? If the risk is high, should I keep the baby? Should I bring the poor child to suffer in this world.”

I was mulling over her words till the wee hours of morning. I felt compelled to share with her my thoughts, hoping that it would help the poor mother in her decision-making. Here’s my heartfelt sharing with her, which, to my surprise, garnered a lot of positive reaction from other parents.

Cherish The Opportunity To Make A Deliberate Decision

“I have a child with special needs. And I have not met any parent who deliberately CHOSE to be parenting a child with special needs. So, you have a precious opportunity to make a deliberate decision now.

I can tell you unequivocally that raising a child with special needs is a rewarding gift of love, humility and empathy. Raising my son has taught me what unconditional love and absolute patience mean. The journey so far might have been fraught with difficult moments, but I believe I have emerged a better person.

Weekend runs with my children (Photography by William WK Tan)

You can do even better. But that is only if you and your husband are willing to accept, love and support not only the child, but also each other unconditionally.

The Onus Is Solely On Parents

My son brings me much joy with his innocent smiles and every small step of progress he made. Life itself is a gift, disabilities not withstanding. It is not a suffering to any child if they are adequately loved and cared for. I am of the opinion that the argument children with disabilities will surely lead a life of hardship is flawed.

The real question is whether you and your husband are willing to accept that the child is not the problem. The real issue is whether parents are prepared to:

(1) accept the child fully;

(2) take up their responsibilities;

(3) learn about their child; and

(4) allocate time and resources wisely

Consider your family’s circumstances and the things you need to do to receive the child. If the more you know, the less scared you become, then you are ready to go on the journey.

A Journey (Photography by William WK Tan)

Let’s pray for the best and be prepared for the worst. Hopefully, it is a mistake. Meanwhile, please do serious research by watching video documentaries on raising children with Down Syndrome and read up everything you can find. If possible, visit some happy kids at the Down Syndrome Association. Better still, speak to parents of these kids.

In the end, after u have done all your research and had heart-to-heart discussion with your spouse, whatever decision you arrive is not for others to judge. You would know in your heart if you have made the right decision.”

From the heart (Photography by William WK Tan)

I hope my words have helped someone out there.

William W K Tan

24 October 2020, Saturday

083 A Touching Love Story- I Love You

It’s late at night. A young man was waiting patiently for a lady who was ascending the steps hurriedly. The lady said, “I’m late.”

Hiding a ring box behind his back, the man nervously told the lady, “You know, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things…”

That was his prelude to a marriage proposal.

But before he could finish his sentence, the lady said, “Let’s go separate ways.”

Taken aback, the man exclaimed, “What?!”

“Let’s end our relationship.” She said resolutely.

Just when It seemed that a love story had abruptly ended, it did not. 

One day, the man unexpectedly received a parcel from his lost loved one. Opening the parcel, he found a sketchbook with these words written on the first page— “It’s quiz time!”. 

Flipping to the second page, the first question emerged,

“Q1 How did we get to know each other? (Time limit: 3 minutes)”

The man’s mind drifted into the memory lane. His memories were mostly sweet. But some became sour, and even turned bitter. Then, as if the lady could read his mind, she wrote her second question, 

“Q2 Recall the happy memories we had together. Multiple answers allowed. (Time limit: 10 minutes)”

This is the love story of Takaya and Yumiki, the man and the lady in the music video— “I Love You”. Why did Yukimi break up with Takaya? And why did she pose those questions to Takaya? My curiosity was aroused. But more than anything, I had a sense of foreboding when Yukimi said, “I think a life like fireworks would be nice. Fireworks make people happy in a burst and then scatter away without a trace.” 

Needless to say, the biggest draw of the music video was the soulful voice of an American black man, Chris Hart who successfully broke into the Japanese music scene in recent years. I could hear the authenticity in his emotions and a tinge of melancholic tenderness in his voice. No wonder the song has amassed more than 30 million views on YouTube. For days, I watched the music video repeatedly and learnt to sing the song. 

 

Chris’s music and the beautifully-made music video got to reach more people outside Japan! I searched high and low for a version that comes with English translation of the lyric and the drama, but to no avail. I know I can deliver a good translation, but it would take time and effort. Still, the idea did not go away. I have long known that learning language from songs is one of the best ways to learn a new language. 


I have always been keen to impart language skills to others as a part-time hustle.  As a matter of fact, before I started working from home three months ago, a friend JO had been receiving one-on-one Japanese-lesson coaching from me for several months. Another friend SK from Malaysia picks up new English phrases from every blogpost I wrote and expanded her vocabulary by guessing the meaning of those phrases. And most recently, I started giving pointers to a new friend from Myanmar, RM who shared her self-constructed Chinese sentences on the Facebook. Thanks to these friends, a teacher thrives on in my heart.  


Convinced that this music video will make a good lesson material for Japanese learners, I made a recording of the video and was about to input the subtitles. But I do not have the permission to use the video. It will be an infringement of copyright even though I have no motive for personal monetary profit.  In the end, I decided to transcribe, translate and write a review instead. For those who are keen to enjoy the entire music video, please go to its official YouTube channel with the link below:

https://youtu.be/k7D6CguCXqc


Don’t worry if you do not understand a word of Japanese. For the benefit of Japanese language learners, I am providing my translation for free below.


If you find it useful, I’ll make time to write another review for the sequel, “Still Loving You”, where you’ll get to know the full story of Takaya and Yukimi.
It’s a tear-jerker and makes a great stress relief if you still believe in love stories.


William WK Tan

14 June 2020

Document1 : Drama Transcript

Translation by William WK Tan

Title: I LOVE YOU 我爱你

Artist: クリス・ハート Chris Hart 克里斯 哈特 Album: Song for You 唱给你的歌

Lyricist: H.U.B.・坂詰美紗子 Misako Sakazume Composer: 坂詰美紗子 Misako Sakazume

< Scene 1>

女: 遅くなっちやたね。

On’na: Osoku natchiyata ne. Woman: I’m late.

女: 我来迟了。

男: あのさ、俺、色々考えたんだけど。

Otoko: Ano sa, ore, iroiro kangaetan dakedo.

Man: You know, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things.

男:知道吗,我想了好多好多。

女: 別れよ。

On’na: Wakare yo.

Woman: Let’s go separate ways.

女:分手吧。

男: ええ?!

Otoko: Ē? !

Man: What?! 男:什么?!

女: 私たち、もう終わりにしよう。

On’na: Watashitachi, mō owari ni shiyou. Woman: We’re done.

女:我们,就这么结束吧。

< Scene 2>

男:はい

Otoko: Hai.

Man: Yes

男:是的。

配達人: こんばんは、鈴木孝也様宛てに届き物があります。ここにサインをお願いします。

Haitatsunin: Kobanwa. Suzuki Takaya-sama-ate ni todoki-mono ga arimasu. Koko ni sain o onegaishimasu.

Delivery man: Good evening. There is a delivery for Mr. Takaya Suzuki. Please sign here.

送货员: 晚上好。给铃木孝也先生的东西到了。请在这里签收。

(箱に書いてあることー受取人:鈴木孝也 ご依頼主:須藤幸美)

(Hako ni kaite aru koto. Uketori hito: Suzuki Takaya, Go irai-nushi: Sudō Yukimi)

(Written on the boxーAddressee: Suzuki Takaya. Sender: Sudo Yukimi Takaya: Dōmo gokurōsandesu.)

(箱子上写着 —收信人:铃木孝也,寄信人:须藤幸美)

孝也:どうもご苦労さんです。

Takaya: Dōmo gokurōsandesu

Takaya: Thank you for your hard work. 孝也:谢谢。辛苦您了。

配達人: はい。ありがとうございました。Haitatsunin: Hai. Arigatou gozaimasushita. Delivery man: Yes, thank you.

送货员:好的,谢谢您了。

<Scene 3>

クイズです!”

“It’s quiz time!”

问答时间!”

Q1 2 人の出会いを答えよ。(制限時間 3 分)

Q 1 futari no deai o kotaeyo. (Seigen jikan 3-bu)

Q1 Please answer, “How did we get to know each other?” (Time limit 3 minutes)

Q1 我们是如何相遇的?请作答。(限时 3 分钟)

<Scene 4>

幸美:ちょっと、君、何をしているの?

Yukimi: Chotto,-kun, nani o shite iru no? Yukimi: Hey, you, what are you doing?

幸美:喂,你在干嘛?

孝也:あー、すみません。

Takaya: A, gomen’nasai

Takaya: Oh, I’m sorry.

孝也:啊,对不起。

幸美:えー、ここ、私の場所だから。 Yukimi: E ̄ , koko, watashi no bashodakara.

Yukimi: Um, because this place is mine.

幸美: 嗯,这可是我的地方哦。

孝也:好きです!

Takaya: suki desu!

Takaya: I like you!

孝也:我喜欢你!

<Scene 5>

幸美:暖かい!

Yukimi: attakai! Yukimi: It’s warm!

幸美:好温暖!

幸美: 私、花火みたいな人生がいいなあ。ぱぁっと人を楽しませて、潔く散る。

Yukimi: Watashi, hanabi mitaina jinsei ga ī nā. Pa~atto hito o tanoshima sete, isagiyoku chiru.

Yukimi: I think a life like fireworks would be nice. Fireworks make people happy in a burst and then scatter away without a trace.

幸美: 我想人生像烟花该多好。啪的一声令人快乐,然后干干净净地 散去。

<Scene 6>

孝也:何で用事があって、何でいつも連絡を取れないの?男?

Takaya: Nande yōji ga atte, nande itsumo renraku o torenai no? Otoko?

Takata: Why are you always so busy? Why is it always so hard to reach you? Is there another man?

孝也:为什么你总是有事,总是联络不上人?你有别的男人吗?

幸美:は?

Yukimi: ha?

Yukimi: What?

幸美:什么?

孝也:ふざけんなよ!ふざけんなよ!

Takaya: Fuzaken na yo! Fuzaken na yo!

Takaya: Stop your prank! Stop your prank!

孝也:别闹了!别闹了!

<Scene 7>

Q2 楽しかった思い出を答えよ。複数回答可。(制限時間 10 分)

Q2 Recall those happy memories we had together. Multiple answers allowed. (Time limit: 10 minutes)

Q2 我们过去的快乐回忆,请作答。接受复数的答案。(限时 10 分钟)

To Be Continued

故事待续

xxxxxxxx

Document 2: Song Transcript

Translation by William W K Tan Title: I LOVE YOU 我爱你

Artist: クリス・ハート Chris Hart 克里斯 哈特 Album: Song for You 唱给你的歌Lyricist: H.U.B.・坂詰美紗子 Misako Sakazume

Composer: 坂詰美紗子 Misako Sakazume

<歌詞 Lyric>

ねぇ 君はなぜ 哀しそうに うつむくの?

nee kimi wa naze kanashi sou ni utsumuku no?

Hey, why are you looking down so sadly? 欸,你为什么这样难过的低着头呢?

まぶしいほど 青い空 なのに

mabushii hodo aoi sora na no ni It’s such a bright blue sky. 明明这样耀眼的蓝天,

いつからだろう? 君と手を つないでも

itsu kara darou? kimi to te wo tsunaide mo

ギュッと握り返してはくれないんだね

gyutto nigirikaeshite wa kurenai n da ne

When did it all happen? Even when I held your hand, you did not hold on to my hand back tightly.

究竟是什么时候开始的?就算牵着你的手

妳也不紧紧握回了呢?

何を言えたなら あの日に帰れるの?

nani wo ietanara ano hi ni kaereru no?

What can I say so that we can return to those days? 我要说什么才能回到那些日子呢?

胸を埋め尽くす不安だけが

mune wo umetsukusu fuan dake ga

My heart is wholly filled with anxiety.

深埋在胸口里的尽是不安

泣いても 泣いても 消えてくれないの

naite mo naite mo kiete kurenai no

No matter how much I cry, no matter how much I cry, it does not go away.

我再怎么哭,再怎么哭,也不会消逝。

I love you I love you I need you ずっと愛されたいあの頃のように

I love you I love you I need you zutto aisaretai ano koro no you ni

I love you I love you I need you. I want to be loved all the time, like those times back then.

我爱你 我爱你 我需要你 像过去一直你爱着我的那个时候

叶わない願いでも この気持ちはいつもそうその胸に届いています か?

kanawanai negai de mo kono kimochi wa itsu mo sou sono mune ni todoite imasu ka?

Even if it is a wish that does not come true, has my feeling reached your heart?

就算是无法实现的愿望,我的感受也一直传递到你心里吗?

I love you I love you I need you どうして 僕の心だけ奪ったまま

I love you I love you I need you dou shite boku no kokoro dake ubatta mama

I love you I love you I need you. Why did you still take away my heart?

我爱你 我爱你 我需要你 为什么你把我的心夺走?

叶わない願いなら さよならを告げて

kanawanai negai nara sayonara wo tsugete

Even if it is a wish that does not come true, can’t you just say goodbye? 就算是无法实现的愿望,也要向我说声再见呀。

ねぇ お揃いで着けていたあの時計は

nee wo soroide tsukete ita ano tokei wa Hey, that matching watch we used to wear

喂,那对曾经相衬戴着的手表

止まったまま 外しただけだよね?

tomatta mama hazushita dake da yo ne?

It had stopped moving. That’s why you had removed it, right?

就这么停下不动了,你是因为这样才不戴了吧?

確かめたい でも答えは 聞きたくないの

tashikametai de mo kotae wa kikitaku nai no

I want to ask you. But I do not want to hear your answer.

我想问你,但是不想听你的答案

しあわせな時間まで消えそうだから

shiawase na jikan made kie sou da kara

Because it feels like even those happy times are going to disappear.

因为感觉连幸福的时光也像要消失了

春は咲く花を見に行ったよね

haru wa saku hana wo mi ni itta yo ne

We went to see the blooming flowers in the spring

我们在春天的时候赏了花,

冬はぬくもりの部屋でキスをした

fuyu wa nukumori no heya de kisu wo shita And kissed in the cozy room in the winter.

在冬天里的温暖的小屋亲吻了对方

あの輝きさえ 忘れたと言うの?

ano kagayaki sae wasureta to iu no?

Are you telling me you have even forgotten all those sparkling moments? 这些光辉的时光,难道你说都忘了吗?

もう一度 思い出して どうか

mouō ichi do omoidashite dou ka Please, can you recall it one more time?

无论如何请你回想起好吗?

I love you I love you I need you ずっと愛されたいあの頃のように

I love you I love you I need you zutto aisaretai ano koro no you ni

I love you I love you I need you. I want to be loved all the time, like those times back then.

我爱你 我爱你 我需要你 像过去一直你爱着我的那个时候

叶わない願いでも この気持ちはいつもそうその胸に届いています か?

kanawanai negai de mo kono kimochi wa itsu mo sou sono mune ni todoite imasu ka?

Even if it is a wish that does not come true, has my feeling reached your heart?

就算是无法实现的愿望,我的感受也一直传递到你心里吗?

I love you I love you I need you どうして 僕の心だけ奪ったまま

I love you I love you I need you dou shite boku no kokoro dake ubatta mama

I love you I love you I need you. Why did you still take away my heart?

我爱你 我爱你 我需要你 为什么你把我的心夺走?

叶わない願いなら さよならを告げて

kanawanai negai nara sayonara wo tsugete

Even if it is a wish that does not come true, can’t you just say goodbye?

就算是无法实现的愿望,也要向我说声再见呀。

 

 

070 Practise Even More to Love and Feel Loved

NO Hugs, NO Kisses!

Last week, I spoke about teaching autistic children to be affectionate.  Many readers were touched by our family’s efforts to train our son to be warm and spontaneous. Some parents with autistic children, however, had their misgivings.

I was told of a story about a mother X who imposed strictly a “No hugs and no kisses” rule on her autistic son Y. She was concerned that the teenage boy would get into trouble someday if he displays affection inappropriately to strangers.  One day, the mother X even punished her boy Y by making him hug a tree for several hours after he had asked his mom for a hug.  The punishment was the mother’s way of protecting her son from getting into trouble.

Picture from WordPress Photo Library.

I felt troubled and told my wife about the story. She replied thoughtfully, “We’ve been through it ourselves. Let’s not be quick to judge others. She must have her reasons. Anyway, every family needs time to work their problems out.”

My wife is right.  There may be more than meets the eye to the story. Perhaps, the boy had gotten into some serious trouble. Or perhaps, the mom had done everything she could but failed to get the child to understand. We do not know the full story enough. But one thing I know for certain is, the suppression of the emotional needs may lead to dire consequences for the family.

Source: The Straits Times, 19 March 2016.

Three years ago, Singapore was shaken by the news of a mother, a primary caregiver of her seven year old autistic child, who threw the latter over the parapet to his death. The mother was depressed over her marital woes and physical exhaustion, which she believed was caused by her autistic son. And one could only imagine the desperation and pain the mother experienced for the murder to be committed one day before her 42nd birthday.

I trembled at the thought of seeing such tragedy recurring. For days, I thought hard about my family situation.  My family was nowhere near the brink of desperation, but the fatigue and stress had been mounting to a point where smiles and laughter at home had become scarce. I instinctively knew that more had to be done to bring happiness back. But I did not know how. 

Gleaning lessons from this tragedy, I became even more convinced that a spouse must share the burden of caregiving wholeheartedly. And parents must not suffer in silence or denial, hoping that their problems would just go away. I constantly reminded myself to learn and seek help from others whenever necessary. And most importantly, to stay hopeful always. Still, raising an autistic child remained a challenge as we had to cope with one problem after another.

Stop seeing the child as the problem

Finally one day, it dawned on me that parents must stop seeing their autistic child as the problem. Autism posed problems to the child and the family, but the child did not.  No child should be blamed for his or her medical condition.

If parents see their autistic child as a “problem”, there will be a limit to how much they can shoulder the lifelong heartache and grind of unremitting caregiving.  But if they can separate the child from the troubles they create, parents will be able to handle problems in their stride.  Over time, we have become more composed and skilful in dealing with all sorts of problems, from bizarre behaviour to severe meltdown that erupted at school and home.

The biggest encouragement came from the child himself. As we continued our efforts to train our boy to be affectionate, we began to experience more moments of joy. The son who was a constant worry becomes the wellspring of our family happiness.

Cherish joyous moments in daily life

Here is an episode of joyous moments that occured last Sunday. I found bouquets of beautiful flowers on sale in the supermarket.

Turning to my fifteen year old autistic son Kyan, I asked, “Do you want to buy flowers?”  

“Yes. I want to buy flowers.” Kyan replied.

I probed, “Who do you want to buy the flowers for?”

I was half-expecting his answer to be “Papa”.

Kyan replied without hesitation, “Mama!”  

I laughed and thought to myself, “Mom still comes first to the children no matter how hard I try.”

I knew my wife was not into flowers, but this was a not-to-be-missed opportunity for my boy to practise affection. I told Kyan, “Bring the flowers to mama and tell her!”

Picture taken at Fairprice Supermarket on 20 July 2019.

Kyan quickly grabbed a bouquet of flowers and ran to his mom who was preoccupied with buying grocery. Shoving the bouquet excitedly into his mom’s hands, Kyan remarked loudly, “I want to buy flowers for Mama!”

His mom, looking pleasantly surprised, thanked him and immediately gave the jubilant boy a hug while quietly slipping the bouquet to me.

“Now that you have given flowers to mama, what do you give papa?” I teased. 

Just as I was wondering what he would say, Kyan thought for a moment and said, “Kiss!”

With that, Kyan leaned forward and planted a gentle kiss on my right cheek

I was overjoyed and felt blessed.

Make it a priority to help autistic children become affectionate

Contrary to the conventional belief that parental love is inexhaustible and unconditional, the agony of unrequited love from an autistic child does take a toll on caregivers. Make it a top priority to help your child become affectionate.

Do not let any concern that the child may display inappropriate affectionate behaviour with others get in the way between you with your child. Once your child feels loved and safe, it will be easier to teach him the boundaries.

For a start, practise often at home proper display of affection between you and your child. All it takes is just two persons to love and feel loved. It costs nothing and the reward is priceless.

William W K Tan (aka Uncle William)

26 July 2019, Friday

069: Autistic children can be warm and spontaneous!

Even if it’s just a smile, practise it!

Last Saturday, Conan remarked, “Kyan is so smiley nowadays. He always wears a smile on his face.”

His mom responded, “You used to be the more smiley one. Where has your smile gone?”

Conan shrugged his shoulder, and forced a big grin. Seeing that, Kyan responded with a warm smile. It was a beautiful smile. And it was a precious moment to me.

Picture from WordPress Photo Library.

Just a few days ago, Kyan was looking at me intently on the sofa. I was bemused when he returned every smile I made. We kept smiling at each other for umpteen times that day, until his smile turned somewhat stiff. I stopped and thought to myself, “I might have overdone it. Hopefully, it did not overkill his smile.”

At this moment, thankfully, Kyan’s smile was warm and spontaneous.

I am often driven by a simple idea. If there is a fleeting moment that the child can do it, create more opportunities for the child to become good at it. Even if it’s just a smile, practise it!

Even if it’s just a hug, practise it! 

I had nearly forgotten that Kyan used to be a boy who never smiled. Like many autistic children, Kyan avoided eye-contact with others, shunned away from physical touch and was inept in communication for many years.

For a long time, Kyan had a blank look as if he were lost in his own world. If he had a facial expression, it would be like a frightened mouse. All sorts of noises frightened him, such as the noise from a hands-dryer in a public toilet and the noise of a wailing child. Kyan never liked using hands-dryers but he eventually got used to using it. Till this day, Kyan has to cup his ears with both hands to shut out the cries of young kids.

Picture from WordPress Photo Library.

To make Kyan feel safe and loved, we hug him often. But we were initially taken aback when he would always turn his back and move away from every hug. Now, he gives me a good hug every night before bedtime. Hence, I was touched by the little hugging episode between the two brothers.

After lunch, Conan stood up and spread his outreached his arms in front of Kyan. Immediately, Kyan recognised that it was a gesture for hugs and moved forward to embrace his brother. Next, I heard Conan giving instructions to Kyan.

“You are taller than I am. You should place your arms over my shoulder,” Conan said as he moved Kyan’s arms to rest over his shoulders before continuing, “And I put my arms around your waist. Let’s do it again.”

Picture from WordPress Photo Library.

Kyan did as he was told. And the two brothers hugged for a second time before breaking into laughter.

It was a heart-warming sight to see the brothers getting along so well. Even if it’s just a hug, practise it!

Be enthusiastic in showering affection

It took me some serious reading of autism literature to appreciate that autistic children process sensory stimuli such as light, sound and touch very differently. The sensitivity towards these sensory stimuli impedes the autistic children’s ability to express affection. They need all the help they can get from others to adapt to new environment and people better.

Picture from WordPress Photo Library

But sadly, many people simply think that autistic children dislike going to new places, have a low tolerance for noise and hate to be touched. As a result, I observe that people who are unfamiliar with autistic children tend to keep a distance from them. Even caregivers become discouraged when they mistakenly believed that their years of efforts and love had gone wasted.

It would help tremendously if more people inject greater enthusiasm when they approach autistic children. Nearly all children respond positively to adult’s display of enthusiasm. Autistic children are no exception. They can feel the warmth and excitement in the person’s tone, facial expression and body language. They are very likely to respond positively too.

In case that they are unable to respond appropriately, do not judge immediately. Just accept that it’s alright for now. In time to come, you will be surprised that they can also learn to be warm and spontaneous.

Even if you are someone who claims not to be naturally enthusiastic, learn and practise it!

William W K Tan

18 July 2019, Thursday

 

066 The Boy Who Brings Sunshine

Last evening , a friend VK asked me, “How is your elder son doing?

VK is a kind man who is temporarily taking care of a child in neglect. Out of concern, he asked how I coped with the challenges of raising a child with special needs.

My elder son, Kyan, aged fifteen, is a boy inflicted with autism, a lifelong developmental disability that is characterised by difficulties with social interaction and communication, and limited by a fixation on repetitive activities.

Source: http://overthebrainbow.com/blog/

I told him, “I am thankful. He is doing great!” In fact, it gladdened me to hear others asking about him. Just last week, Kyan’s former school teacher, ST also told me, “I love to read about Kyan. It always brings sunshine to my heart just to see his name. ”

ST is so right. Kyan is a child who brings sunshine. Raising a child with special needs is challenging, but it also comes with rewarding moments.

My Reward: A Cup Of Sweet Corns

Last Saturday, I was engrossed in a novel while waiting for my children to finish their breakfasts at McDonald’s. All of a sudden, the reading spell on me was broken by the voice of my son.

“Papa, eat!” came a thunderous voice. It came from Kyan, who looked intently at me as he shoved me a half cupful of corn.

My heart was melted by his gesture to share his cup of corns with me. After all, it was uncommon for autistic children to show generosity and affection.

Excitedly, I sent a text to my wife, “Kyan just shared his cup corn with me on his own accord!”

“That’s just his habit,” came her reply.

I know my wife has always taught Kyan to split his cup of corns into two portions to share with his younger brother Conan, who gives him half a piece of hash brown in return. But that morning, Conan had bought his own cup of corns, so Kyan turned to me instead.

Even if it was just a habitual action, it made me feel good. At least he thought of me.

A Magic Moment

For a long time, I was worried that autism had incapacitated Kyan’s ability to think of others in their absence.  It seemed to me that when people are out of sight, they are out of his mind.

Over the last 15 years, four maids have come and gone. Some were close to him.  But he had never asked for anyone of them after they left. Even if he cared, he never showed. Or more rightly, he was unable to express how he felt.

Occasionally, when I was overseas, I would ask my wife, “Did Kyan ask for me?” Her answer was always a no. I stopped asking completely.

Then something happened in early March this year. I was on my way back home from airport when I received a text message from Conan. He wrote, “Dad, come back home quickly! Kyan has been asking for you.”

Accompanying the text message was a photograph that I would never forget.  My son was looking out for me behind the steel gate of the house.  It was the magic moment that I had been waiting for years.

Photo taken by Conan on 2 March 2019

Little Strokes Fell Great Oaks

Depending on the condition of the child, there is no telling how long it would take our child to give us these rewarding moments. But as the saying “little strokes fell great oaks’ goes, do not underestimate the power of persistent small efforts. Even dripping water can penetrate through rocks, it is just a matter of time that autistic children will show us that they can be as affectionate as any other children.

Perhaps, by now you can guess why I have been singing a self-composed song to Kyan all these years.  The lyrics go like this, “Papa loves you so. Papa loves you so. Papa loves you so much so.” 

I would always sing this part first, and my boy would always follow with, “Papa loves me so. Papa loves me so. Papa loves me so much so.”

One day I asked Kyan in front of his mom, “Who loves you most?”

He replied spontaneously, “Mama!”

Then on second thoughts, he quickly changed, “Papa loves me most!” to the chagrin of my wife.

My wife protested, ‘Conan, your dad has been brain-washing your brother!”

We all laughed heartily.

Raising a child is joyous as long as we never cease to look at the positives.

William W K Tan

25 May 2019, Saturday

061 What Does A Celebrity’s Marital Woes Remind Us About Marriage?

It’s no laughing matter to see somebody’s marriage in tatters

After the news broke out about how Hong Kong’s most beloved Cantonpop diva, Sammi Cheng (鄭秀文) was cheated by her husband Andy Hui (許志安), who was caught on video canoodling with another woman, it quickly became the gossip in the office’s pantry today.

Andy apologises for his indiscretion at a press conference. Photo: Screenshot from YouTube.

A colleague X was saying, “I had watched the video very closely. It was that woman who made advances to Andy. Twenty times! Alas, how many men can resist that kind of advances from an attractive woman?”

Y retorted, “That woman is not attractive at all! Any woman who seduces another person’s husband is ugly.”

I laughed before retreating quickly from the scene. It’s safer to steer clear when women start talking about men’s infidelity.

Photo: WordPress Picture Library

I have never quite understood people’s interest in the extramarital affairs of celebrities. It happens all the time. And what has it got to do with us? Out of curiosity, I ran through the news reports and online chatter about the scandal. The more I read, the more I felt sorry for Sammi Cheng. After all, it is no laughing matter to see the marriage of another person in tatters.

Marriage is about lifelong learning of being together

The outrage from women, especially Sammy’s diehard fans is understandable. Sammi and Andy’s marriage was described by Hong Kong’s most famous actor-comedian Dayo Wong (黃子華) as “the fairy tale of fairy tales” for good reasons.

The couple had experienced twists and turns, highs and lows in their relationship for 20 years before they finally tied the knot in 2013. That was supposed to be the perfect ending to their love story. But now, it has turned into a disappointing tale of broken vows and betrayals. That’s a big blow of confidence to many people who believe in the sanctity of marriage.

Photo: WordPress Picture Library

An attractive and plucky friend PY shared her indignation on Facebook by borrowing a comment she read online.

“Look at all these celebrities! No matter how pretty, capable, faithful or virtuous they are, their husbands still cheat on them.

That goes to prove that there is nothing women can do to stop men from going astray.

Women should love ourselves more, make ourselves prettier and better so that we can easily find a better man if husbands dare to cheat on us!”

An extract of her post on Facebook

PY’s exhortation to wives to love themselves more is also a stern warning to cheating husbands who do not cherish their marriage. But one question emerges: Is marriage all about commitment?

Marriage should not be construed as a mere lifelong commitment. Rather, it is a lifelong learning about being together.

Marriage is continuous education

Marriage is continuous education. It educates people in ways that we never even notice. My eighty-two-year old mother has noticed positive changes in me since my marriage. She believes that the credits should all go to my wife.

My mom had always worried about my lack of prudence in the use of money.  When I was a school boy, she would be irked to find out that I had spend every cent of my pocket money without knowing where the money went. In contrast, my elder brother came home from school every day with a clear account of what he had spent on.

It was only until a couple of weeks ago that she was delighted when I did a double take on the restaurant bill and asked for a refund on the unused wet wipes. Mom laughed heartily, “Lucky for you, your wife succeeded where I had failed. It looks like you’re now the most prudent with money among your siblings.”

Come to think of it, that was indeed one of the many things I have learnt from my marriage. Like most married couples, we had our highs and lows in our marriage. Many difficulties were only revealed to us years later as precious learning in disguise.

In retrospect, it was the ability to keep learning in the most difficult circumstances that kept the marriage going. Marriage is a learning journey about love.

An extract of her post on Instagram

Sammi Cheng rightly called the incident “an important lesson in our marriage”. She penned her thoughts about marriage after two days of silence,

“Marriage is not just about having joy and company. It is also about learning to embrace and forgive each other’s mistakes.”

Love, kindness and forgiveness are vital in a marriage. It’s Good Friday. Let’s take a leaf out from the Bible:

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance”

William W K Tan

19 April 2019