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Our 1st staycation, with 2 sons, 3 lessons learnt

It’s been a long time since I last wrote something. When I started my 1 year leave, I told myself that I’d give myself the first term of school to relax. One quarter of my leave is already over! So I’ve been busy. Started learning, attending courses, reading stuff, learning new skills and it didn’t help that the US market started trading at 9.30pm again and the rotation away from technology sector created some dips to take up some positions in tech stocks. Ok, excuses aside.

Two weeks back, we decided to try a staycation with both our sons, R1 who is 3 years and 1 month, and R2 who is 7 months. We tried one night at Mandarin Oriental to see if it was going to be manageable.

Let me begin with the ending. Both boys were hysterical in the car. R1 didn’t want to go back home, he wanted to go MBS (he’s obsessed with this place, cos he really enjoyed our 2 day staycay there the last time) and he also wanted to stay on at Mandarin Oriental. So throughout the trip, he was screaming at meltdown level, kicking the car seat, etc…

R2 wasn’t any better. Usually my wife sits beside him and pacifies him (with a pacifier duh…) if he starts crying in the car, but this time she didn’t sit with him. So we couldn’t get access to him during the drive, he cried and screamed the whole trip to the point he gagged and puked phlegm 2 times. By the time we parked, he was in an absolute mess of slime in his car seat.

That night, my wife was emotionally drained and wondered if this whole staycay was a mistake. Regardless, we learnt 3 lessons out of it, making it worth at least these 3 lessons.

#1 It’s the journey not the destination

Cliche as it sounds, sometimes we just never learn the lesson. How it ended doesn’t determine if it was a disaster. Clouded by our frustrations, we blocked something out of memory. Something that was seared in our minds, but we chose to block it.

The night before, R1 woke up at 2am, sat upright, looked at mummy and gave her the most charming of smiles. Mummy was, of course awake, she’s always awake when any of the boys make a sound. She saw the smile that seemed to say “Thank you mummy for this staycay, I really love this!”. Then he glanced at the Singapore Flyer (we were at the top floor with an unblocked view of the Flyer) with wonderment and awe, marvelling at the lights on the flyer.

Then at 4am, he got up again, sat up, looked at the flyer and started reciting all the colours he saw “Yellow, purple, blue, red, green, black, white, so beautiful”, grinning to himself. That moment was etched in our minds and our hearts melted beyond repair.

And this was just one of the many heartmelt moments we had during the entire 24 hr window. Was it worth it? Definitely!

#2 Children will catch on to their parents’ interests

We decided to go to the Star Wars Identity Exhibition. R1’s exposure to Star Wars has been minimal, not none, but minimal. However, when he saw the excitement in me, he gathered my excitement and made it his. He ran around the exhibit, took on the Wookie race, fell in love with BB8, Chewbacca, sang a song about R2D2, went up to Darth Vader model and said “I am your father!” in Darth Vader style (this was one of those things I taught him), took photo with Yoda and more…

I marvelled at who I was seeing. Since when was he so excited? I was even worried, he would just run from beginning to the end and not give me the time to go through the exhibits. Well I didn’t have enough time for sure, but it was sufficient to make the money worth it.

I learnt that children catch on not by our telling, but by our being.

No amount of telling him about Star Wars would get him interested if he wasn’t interested. But the display of my interest alone was sufficient to light that fire of excitement in him.

#3 Both our boys are very fomo… can be reframed

During weekends, we rarely bring R2 out, cos we’re afraid of him catching a bug and the logistical inconvenience of bringing him out. This staycay, he was out in Marina Mandarin, Suntec and MBS with us, he hardly slept in the baby carrier! He usually sleeps well in the carrier, but this time he was just looking at everything with a stunned face, as though he’s never seen it before (he hasn’t).

R1 isn’t any different. Every time something catches his attention and he is SUPER observant, he can small things in the distance if it’s something that interests him. To the point that he has to point and direct us multiple times before we actually see what he sees.

And if we don’t bring him to see it, he will threaten to go into meltdown mode. My wife usually refuses to give in, I would usually take the easier way out because I know I’ll just need to attend to his curiousity and we can proceed on. So after reaching whichever object that has caught his attention, I’ll get him to say bye to it and he proceeds on with no resistance.

But here’s the thing, it isn’t really about FOMO. Our boys have a curiosity and an interest to learn and discover. As parents / adults, we may have lost that spark and that prevents us from appreciating the perspective that our children are coming from.

I believe that as we continue to ignite our curiosity and tie this in with point #2, we become better parents for our children.

Ok, next staycaytion, here we come. Getting ready to see if travelling is manageable with 2 boys.

Top image: Zairon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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