COVID-19 may have disrupted our lives, but it has also given me a chance to focus on the most important thing in life.
Knock, knock, knock… "Papa, papa." My eldest son Tyler, who just turned two last month, greets me in the room where I'm resting, yearning for me to play with him.
Such exchanges were a regular occurrence during the circuit breaker. But now that we are in Phase 1 of reopening the economy, and with Phase 2 beginning on Friday, Tyler is now attending the Toddler classes at My First Skool. The silence in the house is conspicuous, especially during the daytime.
I'm happy that he's finally back in school in an environment where he can learn and interact with his friends, but at the same time, I'm a little sad that I won't be hearing that bubbly voice of his as often.
Prior to the circuit breaker, I'm usually tied up with work as a freelance sports writer. With most of the football matches in Singapore held in the evening, by the time I get home at night, Tyler would be asleep. it's only Sunday when I get to spend the full day with him. I never really had time to enjoy the day with my oldest child, who just turned two recently.
But circuit breaker gave me an opportunity to witness his small growth during this period and I'm thankful for that.
Like any parent, I was worried at the start of the circuit breaker. Moreover, we had just welcomed our second son, Travis, into the world only in February and we already had our hands full with him. How were we able to keep Tyler occupied at the same time?
My two sons, Tyler, who just turned two, and Travis, who was born in February.
Those initial fears proved to be unfounded, thankfully and I'm counting my blessings.
During this period, I was able to spend time with Tyler to do a host of activities such as playdough and colour painting. It usually ends up creating a huge mess, but it was great to see him being hands-on and ever keen to learn anything. More importantly, it was heartwarming to hear his laughter and see him having fun.
TikTok is also a great way to keep him engaged and he simply loves to dance to any type of music. My wife created an account to document the process of his growth and this period, it actually allowed me to capture more of such videos.
I know for a fact that he's never going to remain a toddler forever. So these TikTok videos would let me reminisce all the fun times I had with him when he was just a sweet, little innocent child. Oh, I know I'm not the only one who enjoys his videos too. Surprisingly, the account has almost 72,000 followers!
Of course there are bound to be times when he really yearns to leave the house, so we do allow him to play in the corridor. On a couple of occasions, we also brought him on simple car rides around the neighbourhood for a short while before going home – which makes him satisfied. As you know, kids are happy with little things.
As I spent more time together, I started to understand more about my son and his character. I also quickly learned how sensitive kids are. For instance, there are a few occasions when I'm using my phone to surf social media or catch up with work. He would often notice – pushing my phone away, saying "Papa, no", to ask for my full attention. It made me realise the importance of setting aside time to play and learn with him.
Hearing Tyler's laughter everyday warms my heart.
Apart from spending time with Tyler, the circuit breaker also allowed me to witness Travis' growth. Nothing beats the feeling of catching your own baby smile for the first time. I've had more time with him, far more than the usual paternity leave period allows, and I know how lucky I've been.
The ongoing COVID-19 situation is not ideal, but the circuit breaker, in retrospect, really gave us a great opportunity to bond as a family and spend more time together. And it reminded me of the fact that when I was young, I wasn't able to spend quality time with my father because he was busy running his business.
I know some parents who regretted not being able to be there often enough to see their child progress in their growing up years due to work commitments. As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. For me, it was to see my sons grow, and help me realise that I actually want to be there to see them grow.
This circuit breaker gave me the opportunity to focus on what's ultimately most important in life – family. And I'm really thankful for that.
PHOTOS CREDIT: KENNETH TAN
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