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Love language

(Self) Examination Becks Kao Love language Milestones and growing up What to Expect... As a Mother

The day she asked for polished nails: a sober lesson in motherhood

December 12, 2014

When I was expecting a girl, I laid a few rules (for her) I was determined not to break.

She is to wear no makeup before she turns 16; she will not be allowed in high heels until her growth is complete; and there must be no nail polish found on her nails – both toes and fingers – at least before 16 years of age.

Why so strict, you ask.

Because there’s a saying in Chinese 早熟早烂.

In English, loosely translated: soon to ripen, soon to rot.

I’ve always believed that the moment a girl takes her first step towards vanity is that moment she begins to grow up.

I don’t want my little girl to grow up so fast, and I wish to bubble wrap her at least till she’s 12. Can I at least do that? She’s my only girl.

I don’t want my little girl to grow up so fast. I think I did – a little too early, in my opinion – and I lost time. Time to explore in complete childhood innocence the fun to be had and the purity in being totally girl-like. I lived every day as a child wanting to grow up and be like my mom, and now with the bi**h of hindsight, I so wished I had totally enjoyed myself running around barefoot, playing rough with my cousins and learning a sport instead of rummaging my mother’s wardrobe to apply lipstick and blush, wearing her clothes and high heels and hoping for a miracle that I would be a woman tomorrow.

I know it’s a journey for every girl, but as a mother, it is my deepest wish to delay that as much as possible.

I don’t do my fingernails at all (only my toenails when I need help with ingrown) and I don’t put on makeup in front of Becks. Still, my little girl sees her friends going to kindergarten in lipstick (some of them perpetually take out lip gloss to apply) and colourfully varnished nails. And since then, every day, she’s been longing for painted nails.

To the point that she takes my markers and paints them herself, and adds stickers for some good nail art measure.

No matter how I’ve encouraged her to play with her brothers, get involved with learning board games and play pretend to imagine a whole new world, she would naturally gravitate towards the path of vanity. I lost my blusher brush for months and found it hidden in her closet. She wanted to keep long hair and would badger me to buy her hair accessories. She also took my pearl strings and bracelets from my jewellery box and declared them hers. She started wanting to wear dresses and pretty shoes (she hasn’t asked for heels yet, thank God) and braided hair.

And this is the same girl, who at two years of age, refuses to put on anything that’s remotely a dress or skirt.

I have been saying no for many months to nail polish now, but today I decided to make her feel special, and to make her realise that Mama’s not that big an a**. And so I painted her nails, much to her surprise, delight and elation.

Why the sudden change of mind, you ask.

Because I understand that in motherhood I must be flexible. Because it is better me than anyone else to gratify that desire. Because it is more about the relationship I build with my daughter that will withstand the challenges down the road of vanity than the rules that I’ve made.

Because I intend to keep my daughter close to me for as long as I can, and to only let go when she is ready, and I need to do that with her feeling loved and not controlled.

And so she gets purple nails today.

Becks Kao and her purple nails 2

Becks Kao and her purple nails 1

Becks Kao Happy days Love language Milestones and growing up

You, me and our special time

February 6, 2013

The biggest challenge of parenting, in my opinion, is to always make sure that our children’s emotional love tanks are full. When we see a kid act up a lot, that’s a sure sign that his love tank is depleting and needs replenishing. A child misbehaving with a problem that calls for discipline is usually an empty love tank problem. This is when we would remember the good advice of a wise someone.

Long before we became parents, someone wise once told us that apart from spending quality time together as a family, we need to make time for alone-time with our children, one on one. The parent is to give the individual child unreserved affection, and lots of eye contact and focused attention during these parent-child dates.

For us, this means that we get six possible variations with three kids – Mama and Ben, Dad and Ben; Mama and Becks, Dad and Becks; Mama and Nat, Dad and Nat – just so all kids get alone time with both parents.

This also means I wish I had more than 24 hours a day. While it is impossible to work out the six permutations every day, we try to schedule in time alone with each child when we can, and if we need to.

Lately, Becks has been throwing a lot more tantrums than usual and clamming up, grunting and whining more than she talks. Her teachers at daycare have also been commenting that she’s been crying for no reason during meal times and after her nap, and she’s been wailing “I want Mama” every day when she’s at school. At home, whenever I spoke to her, she would refuse to reply me or smile.

Red light alert. It’s time for some time together, just me and her.

So I picked her up alone after her nap at childcare last Friday. She was shocked to see me and searched around for her father and brother.

“Becks, would you like to have ‘special time’ with Mama, just me and you?” I asked.

“Where’s Dada?” was her reply.

“No Dada. We’re going out alone, ok?”

It took some time for her to change from grumpy to happy but as we walked out of school, there was a skip in her steps.

I took her by bus to one of the ice cream joints along Upper Thomson. It was her first time on a public bus. We sat together, looking out of the window and holding hands all the way. I think she was very glad to be given all the attention that afternoon.

We went to Neli’s Ice Cream and had waffles with sea salt chocolate and vanilla ice cream. She ate happily and we took some happy pictures together.

Becks @ Neli's Ice Cream

Becks eating ice cream @ Neli's

Mama and Becks @ Special Time

We then took a long walk to Thomson Plaza. Along the way, she kept talking and asking me questions. I haven’t heard her yak so much in a while so it was refreshing to hear her as she spoke randomly. We did some shopping together and enjoyed each other’s company; well, at least I did!

I think her love tank was filled up that day with a bus ride, an ice cream, a long walk and some new clothes. Yay!

Happy Becks

Ben Kao Getting all sentimental now Love language Milestones and growing up

“Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you”

December 21, 2012

Maybe because he’s been to a couple of weddings and is beginning to understand the concept of a family. He’s seen and heard a few of our close friends exchange vows and knows a wedding takes place with someone you love and want to be with forever.

At bedtime tonight…

Ben: Mama, next time I’m going to marry you.

Me: You can’t, my dear. I’m married.

Ben: (tears welling up his eyes) But I want to be with you. I want to marry you.

Me: I’m married to Dada. That’s how you, Becks and Nat came about! So I’m so sorry, son, I can’t marry you.

Ben: (starting to cry) *sob*

Me: Someday, you’ll find someone whom you love, and who loves God and loves you. And you will marry her.

Ben: Then I’m not getting married.

He said that with such a tone of finality. Well, if he ever remembers this conversation thirty years later.

Today, I saw a little more through the eyes of my firstborn, the one who came and changed my world forever. He’s thinking ahead of himself, and wondering if we can still be as close and as tight as he grows older. And he’s made me the centre of his universe.

Ben at two years old

Ben at two years old

(Self) Examination Love language Parenting 101 Re: learning and child training The Kao Kids

Understanding the five love languages [Part 3] – When saying sorry isn’t enough

October 5, 2012

A complete and genuine apology isn’t just saying “I’m sorry“.

There are five basic languages of apology: Expressing Regret, Accepting Responsibility, Making Restitution, Genuinely Repenting, and Requesting Forgiveness. To restore a relationship and sustain it, you need to deliver an apology when it’s due, and needed, in a way the other person recognises — and accepts — as an apology.

Some people don’t want to hear how sorry you are when you blow it; or have you explain the regret you feel – they want to know if you are making plans to right that wrong. “To make an effort to love ten times more to make up for the wrong you did is better than saying you’re sorry ten times”, and so says my spouse whose apology language is Making Restitution. Others like me, would be contented if you’d just tell me you regret hurting me and promise to never do it again. To hear the other person express regret, is my apology language.

It’s really interesting to find out how we’d like to be apologised to. When the kids are older, I’ll have them sit through the Online Assessment for their Apology Language Profile. I’m gonna be making mistakes as their fussy, neurotic mother along the way, and it’s important that I learn this so we can grow in this beautiful parent-child relationship together.

(Self) Examination Love language Parenting 101 Re: learning and child training The Kao Kids

Understanding the five love languages [Part 2]

October 3, 2012

According to Dr Gary Chapman, to be their best, children need to feel loved. But if you and your child speak different love languages, your affection might get lost in translation, affecting the child’s attitude, behavior, and development.

In order to make a more concerted effort to demonstrate affection that doesn’t get lost in translation, I got Ben to try the Love Languages Personal Profile Online Assessment for Children.

For a child to attempt the online test himself, he needs to be be able to read and understand the two sentences presented in each question and choose the one he prefers to have Mom and Dad say to him. Since Ben is only three-half, I sat him down and paraphrased the statements in a way he could understand. For example, instead of reading out loud “Let’s go to the movies”/ “I’m gonna race you”, I would say, “Ben, do you like Dada to say ‘I wanna play catching with you’ or do you like it when he says ‘Let’s watch Transformers together’? Which one makes you excited?” I contextualised every question for him so we can find out which of these speaks his primary love language: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

The darling patiently sat through 20 questions, and I was one happy mom. The verdict: his primary love language, as I have always known, actually, is Quality Time and Receiving Gifts. The two scores were almost similar.

I also intend to cull about ten questions from the online quiz and tailor it to even smaller bite-sized pieces for my two-year-old. I need to understand her and speak her love language. Wait, that’s an understatement. Make that I desperately need to demonstrate love towards her and yell her love language so she wouldn’t act up all the time to get my attention. I already had my heart broken last week when she wanted to leave home.

It’s not easy being mom. And wife. For the big and little ones that matter to you, you gotta figure out what makes them tick and what they will interpret as love, and that itself needs a lot of learning, unlearning and relearning. Plus you need to speak their love language and practise demonstrating affection that resonates on a daily basis. Hopefully, that will also be a whole lot more rewarding and meaningful. I’m just glad this online tool is available for me to revisit the five love languages and take a step forward to becoming a better mother and wife. You should try it to understand the people that matter in your life a little bit more!

(Self) Examination Love language Parenting 101 Re: learning and child training The Kao Kids

Understanding the five love languages [Part 1]

October 2, 2012

Is it ever possible to “love your children EQUALLY?”, and by equal, I mean, the same in degree and value?

I don’t think that it’s ever humanly possible; it’s not as if my love for my kid exists as one whole to be divided into three equal parts — one-third for Ben, one-third for Nat and one-third for Becks. I think those people who claim to love their kids equal are just saying that for the sake of making their kids (and themselves) feel good, but realistically it’s just not possible if you have more than one.

For one, I think it’s perfectly fine to love one or the other more on some days. Like when a little one falls ill. Or scrapes his knees. Or gets bullied by a friend. It’s inevitable that you’ll love one or the other a little bit more when he or she needs it more. That’s how God loves us, isn’t it? When you need it, when you’re especially down, He gets close and loves you just a little bit more. The sun shines for you. The rainbow appears for you. The gentle breeze kisses your face when you need that refreshing touch.

Above all, I think as parents, what’s of utmost importance is not sweating the issue of whether our children feel that our love towards them and their siblings is equal in parts, but more importantly that we’re speaking their love language and that whatever we do is translated into them FEELING they have been, and are loved.

You can love someone very dearly; but if you don’t speak that someone’s love language, it’ll never be felt and that can leave a great sense of disconnect. So if my love language is physical touch, and you come to me and pour me a nice cup of tea after a hard day’s work, I’d probably think ‘yea, nice gesture, how thoughtful’ but won’t go all mushed up inside as compared to you coming over to give me a big bear hug.

In other words, it’s not our job as parents to strive to love our children equally (it’s futile and frustrating to try to do that anyway); it’s learning the primary way of how our kids express and interpret love, and doing and saying the right thing according to their language of love. That will eliminate any sense of unfairness they perceive and help parents find their bearings as they find their way around a child’s web of emotions. 

To know more about the five love languages — Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch — check out Dr Gary Chapman’s website (