Thursday was the last day of May and a sense of panic flooded over me. I realised I had a hundred pressing things to do and the year was almost half over. When I trained as a diver I remember my instructor told me in situations of panic, “stop, think, and don’t forget to breathe”. Hence I drew a hard line and declined meetings to spend quality time with three special groups of kids.
1. SPEAKING WITH STUDENTS ABOUT SURVIVAL.
The organisers of the National Healthcare Medical Symposium invited me to give a talk to aspiring healthcare professionals. I was glad to do this at my alma mater, NUS Medical School, now known as the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. The theme of the three day event was “Fortitude: Courage in the face of pain or adversity”. I thought this was brilliant because it would allow me to be brutally honest about life as an ER doctor.
My initial worry that the young audience would prefer something more sugar-coated was unfounded. They remained attentive throughout, firing questions about shift work, being a working mom & the challenges of working in such an emotionally taxing job. I was grateful for the honest engagement and opportunity to share some coping mechanisms.
Maybe some of these kids will go on to do medicine and perhaps even manage my ailments when I’m old. Maybe they’ll do something completely different from medicine. Either way, I hope they’ll remember what I said about being resilient.
2. YELLING AT KIDS TO GET OUT OF TREES!
From NUS, I catapulted over to the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden where M4 & M5 were being babysat by my mother-in-law who had to hurry off for choir practice. When I arrived to take over the baton from Granny, the kids were somewhere in the middle of a big tree. Part of me (the part that had adored Enid Blyton’s tales of similarly wild children at one with nature) rejoiced at their free-spiritedness. The other part (which deals with broken bones and traumatic brain injury at work) started nagging. Days with these cheeky kids are full Of Fear And Courage aka #momlife.
Would you believe it? The louder I yelled, the further they pulled away from me. They bustled boldly over branches, rustling & rummaging through leaves, for the clearest path towards the sun. Finally, after banal threats I’m too embarrassed to repeat, I managed to corral them to the carpark.
In the car, I attempted pontificate, cautioning them against being too reckless vis-a-vis tree-climbing. Their counter argument was in essence, “Don’t worry, Mama. We know what we are doing.” A vision of countless encounters through their academic, social, professional & family lives where this phrase would repeat flashed past. I thought it best to hold my tongue. I’m learning that not all conversations have to end with moms having the last word (even if we’re mostly right).
3. TO BE CONTINUED…
After dinner with the kids, I attended the opening party of the Straits Clan, along with other founding members of this private club. I wanted to support old friends who have worked hard to realise their vision of a modern day clan whose purpose is clear in its strong programming. When we walked in, we were invited to stand in a bowl and a sounding bell vibrated around us to reset our energies. I didn’t think we would hear it over the DJ’s music but I was wrong and it was quite lovely. Immediately after that though, we stepped over the threshold into the chaos of a fabulous party.
Endless champagne, good friends at every turn and various floors of mahjong, massages & music. My favorite floor was the very chic & calm 3rd floor where resident creative, Elyn Wong, currently has her atelier & boutique. There, you can watch a recording of her presentation “Concur”. No ordinary fashion show, it was thought-provoking performance art. Elyn & I were neighbours for several years. I’m a huge fan of her brand http://stolenstolen.com so you can understand why it was such a pleasure to spend the evening catching up and toasting to her success. Besides Elyn, other charismatic personalities working their floors included Petrina Kow, the Mahjong Mistress. Super sexy Becca D’Bus had the attic properly pimped out for anyone ready to play.
Thanks for the awesome welcome, Straits Clan. I don’t know if every evening will be just as riotous, but I’m sure the companionship and conversations will continue long after the parties end. Club kids for life!