02 August 2017

Saying goodbye to my 20s: the years I took to come to terms with an improper past

Well.. I'm counting down the days until I get on a plane. About 9 days to go.

I'm also turning 20 soon. But I feel I just want my life to be over and done with. There's a point in it where I'm just too tired.
- an excerpt from Stark Corner, 10 years ago, August 2007

Time between my blog posts seem to be growing longer. But it seems that I still come back to blogging again as a way of bringing my head back down to the ground. I am also turning 30 soon. Do I still wish my life to be over and done with?

Let's just say that I didn't think I'd live to say goodbye to my 20s.
10 years almost passed and somewhere in between since then I have...
  • learned a new language
  • migrated to a new country, to which many have forbidden me
  • fallen in love and gotten married
  • said goodbye to a troubled past
  • found my spiritual belonging; the foundation on which I stand
  • made a hell of a lot of mistakes
  • gone back to school in a new education system to sit for some serious exams
  • undergone a four-year study and training in social pedagogy (more info) for which many have laughed at me for being one of the oldest students in class
  • accepted a position as an early childhood educator in a bilingual school in Germany
  • therefore become financially independent
  • travelled to Sweden, Scotland, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Malaysia, Indonesia, many other places in Germany and of course made my frequent visits to good ol' Singapore
  • gotten promoted to vice/assistant principal
If there are lists out there of things that people say you should be doing in your 20s.... don't even think about following them. Because your heart is what fuels your journey and what leads you to your destination(s). I am amazed at what I have achieved in such a period of time that feels so short. But ten years is not such a short time for a human being. I am glad that things like "gotten pregnant" or "bought a car" weren't on my list of things I have done in my 20s. 

Looking back at my 20-year-old self makes me see a 'me' that was very disoriented, hurt and tired. Nothing much had worked out during my teenage years: with my father's passing, not having a proper education let alone graduation, being thrown into society but being a 'ghost' with nothing to be good enough with. I was still growing up, still trying to figure out what life was all about. I was still asking myself what is right and what is wrong. I was still so afraid to think outside of the box. I felt like a flame deprived of air, getting weaker by the days. Until a door opened and the moment I saw the chance, I went for it without even knowing what was going to happen. And I realized that hitting rock bottom was the moment that allowed me to stand back up again. I didn't care about failing anymore, I was already at the bottom of the barrel. The only way left to go was back up.

So I basically spent my 20s coming to terms with the decisions my parents have made in the past, coming to terms with all its consequences and drudgery, coming to terms with all the things that have been cemented into my head which I painstakingly had to overcome in order to regain sanity, and coming to terms with taking charge of my own decisions. From then onwards.

So what have I planned for the next ten years when I live through my 30s?

Well, aren't plans nice to look at? I have never really been a person who plans. I have ideas. I have dreams. I have -  now that my career has just begun - little time for nonsense and drama.
My skin have grown many inches thick that I feel like now the meaning of becoming an adult unfolds. I no longer dwell on the past because I have made my peace with it. And I no longer fear the future because I have learned that the only time that exists is the moment we have now. It is what we do now that matters. 

I'm still not too keen on having children and the more I see what kind of a world we live in, the further away I see myself from even wanting to raise my own child. But that's another topic for another day.

I'm looking forward to travelling. A lot. It doesn't always have to involve planes, you know. Travelling on foot or bike is possible too. I just want to get out there and see places.

One day when I decide to invest in property, I might just be a lot smarter when it comes to building assets.

And improving my time management might help me to fit in not just time for leisure reading but also for research to generally become a lot more relaxed at home and more well prepared at work.

I'd love to see the next years be the years I strengthen the foundations I have built in the past ten years. I have a good feeling about it but as always, Ira had always walked into the unknown. There is a side of me that takes reckless risks and acts as if it doesn't hurt despite making wrong decisions. Honestly, I really despise such self-destructing behaviour, but I have somehow developed it in my childhood due to constantly being condemned for every little shit: rather not admit when making mistakes, rather try to find a solution (at any cost) instead of being punished or apologizing, rather defend my own dignity than integrity.
This is the rebellious side of me that tells me: "Don't bother. They're gonna rip your head off anyway. Try to outrun them instead and hope they don't notice. What's the worse that could happen?"

It's a broken part of me that still needs sorting out. So I feel that this will be the area I'll be consciously working on until it's fixed, and it's called: Letting my guard down. I think only then I will learn to recognize where am I acting out of past traumatic experiences and where am I acting to emphasize my boundaries, because these are two different things.

Last of all...

If you've always wondered if those "List of things to do before you turn 20 or 30 or whatever" make sense, let me tell you: they won't. If you're thinking about following them, don't. I have been glad about these things, and they are the most important things:

  • Smoking is not cool and it is disgusting (don't do that and your body will thank you later)
  • Alcohol is still a drug (even if your friends say you're no fun without alcohol, don't get hooked and your body will thank you later)
  • Eat healthy
  • Watch your sugar intake
  • Take care of your teeth from the day they grow (and don't just trust one dentist, go get a second opinion)
  • Walk. A lot.
  • Water is your best friend. Drink it. A lot.
  • Leave your comfort zone (you can always come back).
I think you get it: make your own list of things YOU are going to achieve. They're not going to laugh at you the moment they realize all the things they have no idea you are capable of.

My 30s can come. I'm ready. :)

01 February 2017

Way too much stress (Day one as lead teacher solo)

Might be selfish to say I'm going solo when the school's principal is jumping in as a so-called assistant in my class ever since my colleague resigned. But not knowing how long your superior is going to be 'assisting' in your class can most of the time just creep you out.
Day one and I already had pain in my abdomen for ten hours straight.

25 January 2017

Worries of a teacher in early childhood education

This entry was drafted around the same time on the previous day. I just don't know why I saved it as a draft instead of publishing it.

Source: Speech Language Therapy, Delayed Speech (link)

I can't sleep tonight researching about a possible developmental delay a child I am teaching in my class could be having. Based on his medical and biological history, there were aspects that may have lead to his current condition but every clue I follow seem to lead me back to square one.
I feel quite frustrated especially after discussing it with colleagues resulted in, well, hardly any results.

The boy is turning three in two months and hardly uses two words in a sentence. That's alarming.
Observing him during playtime shows that he hardly chooses one activity to immerse himself in. He starts something, gets distracted by something else, doesn't continue or come back to whatever he was doing, and that's what it's like. Like a little fruit fly hopping from one spot to the next. But subtle in a way that you would hardly notice if you weren't paying attention.

He tests his boundaries just like any normal two-year-old would, and displays signs of narcissistic behaviour, for example not being able to wait his turn unless with great effort with an adult, not being distractable by an adult when he finds something he enjoys doing - and it's always something strange like pulling out tissues out of the boxes or flipping every damned switch on the wall until we have disco lights going. Contact with his peers has been so far only with one other boy around his age. They push each other on their carts, hold hands, and seem to have found something in common even though he hardly verbally communicates. Tensions often result when his friend shows signs of frustration, rejection or lack of interest, all of which he does not seem to be able to accordingly interpret or respond to.
I have observed his friend so frustrated to the point of a screaming breakdown yet he is still trying to hold hands with him even though his friend said, for the 20th time: No. Go away.

His spoken vocabulary is by far according to my observations less than 50 words, which is a massive red flag considering that he's turning three in a couple of weeks.

I have looked for signs of autism and observed mild to no signs at all... like rocking himself on the teacher's chair, noticing a crumb drop onto the floor by another sitting all the way on the other side of the table (and wanting to pick it up and not being able to sit still until he picks it up), the tendency to just bolt and escape, responding with high sensitivity towards unusual sensations on his skin like having his sleeves rolled up to his elbows during lunch time.
But at the end of the day, he is making eye-contact, asking for help when he has to, pointing at named persons and items, looking at the direction I am pointing, immitating certain behaviours of his peers and making contact with them.
It just doesn't add up.

He has no interest whatsoever in books, whether I read it out loud without showing the pictures (story telling) or read it out loud and showing the pictures. Because he doesn't speak yet except by non-verbal means (which is fine, but for his age he needs to be more advanced than that), he doesn't tell us things or describe what he has experienced.

It's very hard for me to know what's going on inside this boy's head.

One alarming sign that I have noticed is how this all adds up to just one thing: inconsistency.
One day he is showing signs of deficiency and another day he isn't.
So it's pretty much fruitless to pin-point where the problem seems to be.

I know that it's only been a few months since his hearing has improved after the nasal polyps have been medically removed. But if he doesn't catch up rapidly in his speech development by his 3rd birthday then I have to suggest intervention to the parents (which should have been done by the teachers before me a lot earlier) because this means the child has a 50% chance that it's going to need special education for a very long time.