My princes and I

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY - By EDDY SAW HUCK LOON star2@thes­tar.com.my

THIS di­a­per brand is much cheaper ... change the milk pow­der if it’s not suit­able but mother’s milk is al­ways the best....” Do these state­ments sound fa­mil­iar? Ut­tered by moth­ers?

Well, wel­come to the new mil­len­nium, where modern fathers are also fre­quently say­ing all this. I am one of them – a 33-year-old fa­ther of two boys. Life as a fa­ther nowa­days is to­tally dif­fer­ent from my fa­ther’s and grand­fa­ther’s time. Less com­mon are the ba­bies who are be­ing tended solely by their moth­ers, or grand­par­ents who live with the fam­ily to care for their grand­chil­dren.

Hav­ing re­lo­cated from my home­town in Taip­ing, Perak, and started my ca­reer and fam­ily in Se­lan­gor, I am find­ing life as a fa­ther very dif­fer­ent and not easy as com­pared to those days. In these more chal­leng­ing times, both my wife and I go to work and the re­spon­si­bil­ity to jaga anak (mind the child) lies not only with her.

To be fair to my wife, she has al­ready done the most won­der­ful thing for me – giv­ing birth to my two princes, Shen Jie and Shen Hao, who are three years apart. The first few months af­ter they were born was such a joy­ful and ex­cit­ing time that every­thing re­volved around them.

When we first be­came par­ents in 2007, we were so not used to the changes in our lives and tried our best to cope with them. We nei­ther had the lux­ury of our par­ents liv­ing with us and guid­ing us nor a live-in maid to help out.

The first six months was quite a breeze for me as my wife breast­fed the kids. I did, how­ever, hung around to as­sist her in chang­ing their nap­pies and bathing them.

My chal­leng­ing father­hood ac­tu­ally be­gan when the six months were over and the ba­bies Here’s a guy who em­braces modern father­hood with all his heart. were switched from breast to bot­tle. That was when I had to wake for my “part-time bar­tend­ing” ev­ery three hours at night. To get up at some un­earthly hour to pre­pare milk was tough. But in no time I got used to the rou­tine.

Once when my grand­mother saw me feed­ing my son she was star­tled. To her, it should have been a wife’s duty. I had to ex­plain that the kids be­long to both of us and I am obliged to share our parenting tasks.

It was fun see­ing my first­born, Shen Jie, grow although as he grew, he also be­came more cheeky and mis­chievous.

Soon, he was pick­ing up words, habits, lan­guages and stunts from peo­ple around him. When we first sent him to the nurs­ery, he could only speak Hokkien and a lit­tle English. Now, not only does he still know his Hokkien, he has mas­tered English, loves Chi­nese and started to learn Ba­hasa Malaysia.

Our big­gest chal­lenge is to teach him to be po­lite and re­spect­ful of the el­ders. While he obe­di­ently greeted peo­ple when he was two years old, now he is a feisty and independent-minded four-year-old who’ll beat his younger brother when jeal­ousy gets the bet­ter of him.

The chal­lenge gets tougher when I have to con­front both of them at home af­ter work. I must ad­mit that the pres­sure at work does some­times cloud my de­ci­sions to­wards the kids. For­tu­nately, my wife is around to keep the sit­u­a­tion un­der con­trol.

De­spite my anger to­wards Shen Jie, I never for­get that it is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to guide, ed­u­cate, nur­ture, love and take care of him. When he fell sick and ap­peared un­com­fort­able and weak, I’d wish that he was his ac­tive self.

It would be very in­ter­est­ing next to see how I am go­ing to cope with two Hokkien-speak­ing kids by the time his brother Shen Hao is three years old!

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