Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Life as a Puff-Frog

See if you know this story.

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There was once a little child frog (just surpassed the tadpole stage) who wandered too far from her pond. She came to a field where cows were grazing. Now, the wee frog had never seen anything as big as a cow before. So astounded she was, her eyes popped out and never came back in. With a sound that could only be described as a croak, she hopped back home.

‘Amma, Amma!’ she called out to her mother. The mother was busy batting at flies but hearing the shrill in that croak and being the good mom that frogs always were, she stopped what she was doing and gave the kid full attention. Who said working mothers had no time for their kids?

‘What is it, child? Another princess refuses to kiss you?’
‘No, Amma! Nothing to do with princess. You wouldn’t believe this!’
‘What? The country rode up the graft index?’
To this, both mother and daughter broke into a fitful laugh and how they howled and rolled on the marsh!
‘No, hehehe, you are funny, Amma! I saw this huge … thing. It was so big that even you in comparison would be like comparing a flea to me. The moo-ing thing was like HUGE!’
‘Huge? As huge as this?’ the mother asked while sucking in air and making herself bloat twice her size.
‘No! No! Bigger!’
And the mother took a deeper breath, sucked in more air and bloated even bigger.
‘Bigger! Bigger!’ cried the child frog, excited at the possibility that her mom could swell to be as big as the cows in the field.
And the mother puffed herself into a bigger balloon.
‘Woohoooo! Bigger Amma! Bigger!’ the little one was by then jumping up and down in glee.
A mother would almost certainly attempt anything for their kids happiness. A frog was no exception. And so she tried harder. And so she strained herself, and bloated up even bigger and bigger.
And then she just went 'pop'. A modest bang to our standard (we have seen worst), I must confess. But a pop, a bang, being an explosion, still sent her bits everywhere. No dental record could help. Only a DNA test could positively confirm her identity.

Remember? Yes, I expect there would be a few different versions. Mine is the watered-down version for the general audience. No sex, no violence, no politics, no police, no analyst.

At times, I feel like a mother frog too. And I am not even referring to the part about being bloated and ugly. Or the part about how self-abusive we can be in trying to please our loved ones.

I am talking about being stretched thin. About not knowing your thresholds and not identifying your weaknesses.




Oh well, croak croak and puff puff.

I am writing this from Puteri Pacific hotel of JB. I may hail from Johor but I am a stranger here in this beautiful city of JB. Unlike most Johoreans, I refer to its capital city as Johor Bharu or JB. Johor to me would be Johor the state with Kluang, Muar, Kulai etc all in.

I am ignorant about most things JB. Once I actually asked a company based in Bandar Baru Uda (a town in JB, or is it not?) on why he had to buy his equipment from Masai if it could be fabricated in Johor or plain anywhere in Malaysia. Not the kind of question you would expect from someone with IC number code of 01. I didn’t know that you have a Masai in JB. Say Masai, and flashes of Africa would appear in my mind. And today, I learnt that there is a place here called Kong Kong too.

We had dinner at Singgah Selalu ('come often') where apparently people would always singgah again and again. Singgah Selalu was real busy. And I mean no-joke kind of busy. The food was honest and the service could only be rivalled by a fast-food outlet. Good presentation too, carved ginger and all. So busy that I would never want to be a waitress there. And my colleague told me that in Perak you would find a restaurant called Sabar Menanti ('wait patiently') or something like that and over there, the service is real slow even if you are the only customer for the week. You do a lot waiting patiently. Now, that will be the restaurant that I would happily wait tables for.

So who says, a name is just a name? A name can be everything.

A mother once told me how her four year old were banished from 3 kindergartens because he was too naughty. Kena buang sekolah at 4! Can you just believe it? Is that hilarious or alarming or what? And then she found out that the boy’s name actually meant ‘naughty, stubborn, hard’. She put as an alias a softer name, and the kid became somewhat more manageable too. Probably a coincidence, but still!

How would you explain a Kong Kong? Can someone tell me why I get images of forlorn love-struck King Kong prancing about on the roof of Komtar? That, or the shy kongkang – a type of, yes, primate again. I know kangkang too, a kind of standing position that primates and human alike can do. Not exactly polite under certain circumstances and necessary in some, like crossing a monsoon drain perhaps. But kong kong?

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Yes, I do a lot of seriously serious thinking when I am away from the family.

There will be three more companies to visit tomorrow. In Skudai, Parit Ra(d)ja of Batu Pahat and another one in Kluang. I hope to visit Mak even if for just a few minutes. And then I could head back to KL to Yamtuan, Sun and Dot.

‘Coolie, Coolie! Can you grow bigger?’ asked my Masters. My Pay Masters.

‘Sure can one’ and so that was how I ended up with more files and planned visit to Perak next. I am bloated alright.


Maybe I should just wait tables at Sabar Menanti.
It is either Perak or go pop.

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Kongkang - Loris

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Win Wean Situation

I don’t remember ever seeing my mother breastfeed my brother. She must have done it when I wasn’t watching, but no I cant recall in any of my childhood memory ever seeing her hold a baby to her breast.

And I don’t remember ever seeing the act of breastfeeding by anyone at all. But despite having never seen it, I always have the impression that a child is only a son/daughter to the person who nurses him/her. And it is a no-joke matter, that you become obligated to that woman as their child for every drop of milk you drink from her breast. Or something like that.

A story I remember well is about an auntie whose child was born sick. Something to do with his brain and nerve system. A beautiful baby but the mother refused to accept the son and by that refused him the breast milk. He was ignored and the father took over the role of nurturing him. The boy never did acquire the use of his limbs and when the boy was about 6, he fell down the stairs and went into spasm. As he was struggling through his last few breaths, the mother frantically tried to give him the breast. He didn’t get one drop at all.

That cousin of mine died many years ago. I was about his age when that happened. The story left a huge impression on my mind on the importance of breast milk and I don’t mean it in a biological way.

But then again, having never seen the act, I thought breastmilk is only something that you give babies in the first 44 days of their life.

My sister has 4 kids with the eldest being 14. But then again, I have never seen her breastfeed the kids either. Granted, I only go back Kluang occasionally so I must have missed it.

When I was pregnant with Dot, among the first few things that I bought were botol susu, thermos etc, you know the whole bottle feeding stuff including the bakul pasar too. It never occurred to me that I had a choice. You would think that I am internet-blind and as ignorant as a cavewoman for having never read anything about the wonders of breast milk! But whoa, wait a minute, cavewoman breastfed their babies! Plastic and glass were not invented yet.

And after more- than-12-hours-of-labor-pain-fully-dilated-push-breathe-push-breathe-induce-her-try-pushing-again-what-cannot-baby-distressed only to be offered a consent letter to sign so the baby could be delivered via c-section, I felt cheated of the experience. They showed me the baby and then tucked her away because I was too drugged. When I was sober enough to appreciate the pink bundle, I discovered to my dismay that I didn’t feel that instant click with her. There was no recognition. And I thought after the birth, I would hold her, me in my sweat and her all bloodied and we would greet each other knowingly. The trauma of giving birth and being born would be shared like true comrades and mother-daughter would immediately bond for life. Nope. Sorry. Bubble burst. Didn’t happen like that. I didn’t quite bond with her. She could be anyone’s baby.

I told the paediatrician and the obgyn,why didn’t I feel like what I thought new mothers should feel?

They suggested breastfeeding.

Not yet, I said. I was in too much pain to accommodate nursing a wriggling and impatient baby.

After I was discharged, Yamtuan packed us all in his little kancil and drove us down to Kluang.

By that time, I was very worried about this bonding thingy. Inspired by the serene pictures I have always seen of mothers nursing babies, I tried it. And I tell you, it was nothing like the pictures. More often than not, both me and Dot would be crying in frustration. We both didn’t quite know how to do it. Left right sit lie down upside down I tried everything. I surfed the internet and tried the guide for idiots, everything. And unashamedly, I asked all that came visiting how to do it. Half of the kampong makciks must have seen the whole splendor of my breast!

My mom or sister weren’t the best of coaches because they were not quite practitioners themselves. After about two weeks of hit-and-miss, I called up a friend and cried my eyes out. It was perhaps, my smartest move. She happened to be a staunch advocate of breastfeeding. A few days after the call, I received a parcel from her. It contained a few books, all about breastfeeding. Why it is impossible for mammals not being able to nurse their babies. Cool. I gained the confidence and finally, thank God, Dot and I both graduated. And true enough, it helped us bond.

And so convinced was I with the milk that I didn’t stop after 44 days. I continued on and at two months, I though, why not do it to 6 months and more months after that and I finally stop when I was strongly advised to. I was pregnant again with major placenta praevia.

Weaning her was not easy.

And then Sun arrived. For a while, I had both babies on my chest and felt every inch like a cat.

Sun will turn 2 soon and he was weaned off about a month ago. It was easier with him.

Let me share with you the things that I have tried to wean them off:-

Bitter Gourd juice.
Effective but only for a while as it dries easily. The bitterness is easy to get accustomed to and you have to keep a steady supply of the juice. When the baby wakes up in the middle of the night, you risk being arrested for using the lesung batu. Your neighbors will not appreciate it very much. Trust me.

Effective. A true baby deterrent. The mere smell is enough to make them avoid the area. But beware that the caffeine will keep the baby up and about. Expect a cranky hyper-bouncy baby. Smell of caffeine alone is enough to enlarge blood vessels and keep them awake. And you too. And probably the neighborhood as well.

And claim the red to be blood. The success of this will depend very much on the how much your kid cares about you. Dot was worried that my breast was bleeding. She avoided the breast totally after this. Sun didn’t care. Pain, pain lah, he wanted his sustenance. But at least i was given the choice, whether to forgive the kid or pinch his nose then and there. Oh, i let him live.

Dead cockroach.
Very effective to deter everyone including husbands, friends and foe. But, with the risk of stating the obvious - cockroaches dead or alive are not exactly clean to put on the body.

The best deterrent so far. Especially the extra mint type. It will be too hot for the baby and the tingling sensation it gives is absolutely out of this world.

There are still many things to experiment with. Crushed pil drakula? Ground pepper? Minyak gamat?