The Painter and The Canvas, The Parent and the Child
Friday, December 13, 2013 ( 10:54 pm )

Recently I had attended a Special Educators as Learners and Leaders(SELL) Conference at Sunway Medical Centre and an International Education and Islamic Parenting Conference at Putrajaya International Convention Centre(PICC). Both had given me so much input on how to manage a child, be it normal or disabled.

The SELL conference, organised by the Vijayaratnam Foundation in collaboration with the Department of Education and Child Development of the South Australian Ministry of Education has been a much much of a wake up call to what is lacking(very much) in Malaysia. There were a lot of things that they(the presenters from SA) had touched on and that included all the different techniques that they used for for teaching the children with disabilities, the application of the latest technologies made for adaption of learning for these children and many more. It would probably take me days to write a full review of the conference.

Nevertheless, there is one thing in particular that I really like to point out. And it is rather close to us. JUDGEMENT. Yes, our judgement skills. You see, you can't ever treat a child with disability like how you would treat a child without a disability. There would have probably been one time where you walked into a store seeing this "spoiled brat" wailing and screaming on the floor, yelling about what he wants, spelling "tantrum" all over the place, which by the way just adds on embarrassment to the clueless mother right next to him. And there you are thinking, "can't she keep her child under control?" or "the mother must have spoiled him really bad. If I were her I would've done better". What if, just.. WHAT IF, this child has.. a hyperactivity problem? Impulsive problem? ADHD? Autism? Or any other disorders affecting the behaviour of a child? Because maybe they have a sensory problem? Where they become overly sensitive to the environment? Or under sensitive? Hence, causing them to behave in such a way? Yes? I get it I get it. Some people really go for the typical hypothesis of anything and/or everything they see. I wouldn't deny that. I've been there and done that. I'm pretty sure we all are blessed with frontal lobes. But maybe, just.. MAYBE, if we could all practice a more out-of-the-box thinking, wiser decision-making and actually try to observe and understand the situation before we put a LABEL on it, we could probably help a person who is in need. How do I help you ask? By simply not judging them in a way you wouldn't want to be judged. Because each and everyone of us have our own imperfections. And if we don't want people to judge, then we shouldn't judge people. The least you could do is TRY to put on their shoes, even if its a tad bit bigger or smaller than your usual size.

"O you who believe, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one's] faith. And whoever does not repent - then it is those who are the wrongdoers." (Quran 49:11)

Then came along another day where I had attended the Islamic Parenting conference, organised by Brainy Bunch International Montessori. Montessori education is "an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori and characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development". This day is another day that gave me a wake-up call on how important it is to be close with your child, and how your parents raised you is not necessarily the way you should raise your child. True, I don't have a child yet. And it was rather awkward being one of the only few who weren't parents carrying their toddler on their lap in the conference hall. But if it means helping me to be a better parent to my children in the future insyaAllah, then so be it!

The most important thing is indeed introducing Islam to your children and raising them with the Quran. In whatever we do, however we treat them, whatever we say to them, remember this, they are always learning from it. So the wisest is to treat everyday as if it were a lesson at school. A parent should not only teach, but should guide them and help them grow in the best way possible. Kids are innocent. What we do, what we say, how we treat them are what makes up a part of who they are. Each child is like a clean sheet of white cloth. It is up the parent to draw patterns on it, colour it and cut it in any way they want. Punishment is not always the best option. In fact, in this era especially, where children are becoming more and more intelligent than their parents, always seeming to know what to say and what to ask, I don't think punishment is much of an option. Rather show him/her the right way to do things and let mistakes be the best lesson he/she has. But don't only teach and guide them, rather supervise them too as it is also important. Have faith in them, and let them blossom like a beautiful sunflower(as it is my favourite flower. You can replace this with whatever flower you like. I'm ok with it). Punishment encourages doing a deed behind your back. Maybe once when your child was younger you had punished him when he had done something wrong. And probably that method never worn off. And the next thing you know, he never even dared to do good in front of you. So is that what you really want for your child? To think if I had a child, it might probably be very difficult for me to let him/her be independent, including the simplest thing like walking to the mart nearby or cycling with the other kids in the neighbourhood. Its a dangerous world. But is it ever going to get safer? And if by doing that would he/she ever grow to become confident have good social character? Would he/she ever grow without feeling doubted and not trusted?

Don't forget about how you treat yourself too! Each parent should have discipline you'd want your child to have. If you don't have it, then how would you expect your child to have it? Like any organisation, a good organisation would need a strong foundation. A strong foundation would need disciplined leaders. With that, everything will go smoothly all the way, insyaAllah. With that, do not instill hypocrisy in your child. Because he might just lose faith in you.

It sounds rather simple doesn't it? But how easy is it to be implemented? Despite whatever your style of parenting is, you'd always want to raise your children right. So during the early years of his/her life, you had the most control. You'd choose what food he eats, you'd choose what toy he plays with, you'd choose what clothing he wears. While having that ability to do so, use it wisely. As eventually, this power of choosing will fade, and will eventually reach your child, and will eventually be all theirs. There will be a time where you will have no say in whatever they had decided, just like how there was the time where they had no say, but you had decided for them. If you had treated him good in the early years, they will insyaAllah end up alright. It does indeed fall back to how you treat them. Perhaps in the old days, during our parents' younger years, they had been brought up by fierce and strict parents. "Do your homework after school. Don't play outside. Don't ask too many questions. Don't waste my time I'm cooking here. Be a good student. Get straight A's. Go to university. Become a doctor.." and the list goes on. But if my parents had still treated me the same way, I would probably be very rebellious at this point. Alhamdulillah for being blessed with parents that support me in whatever I do. Though they probably had no idea what Occupational Therapy was, the most important thing is that now they are really happy that I'm doing it. And I may do a thing or two(or three or four) that they might not fancy, thinking it might harm my safety or I might fall sick from it or I might get distracted (like when I had first joined the school band, which by the way was one of the best experiences of my life!), decision is to be made and you are to make your own decisions eventually. Because that is what growing up is all about.

I had recently texted my good friend saying that "being an adult is hard" and "when I was younger I couldn't wait to grow up, but now I think to myself what was I thinking?!". But you know what, sacrifices, decisions, responsibilities come anyway even if you don't want them too. Its life. Its growing up. Its maturing. Its a husband/wife/father/mother in the making. And yeah, I would want that. Ofcourse I would! I understand better now that I'm 21. Hope to continue to become better in all these adulthood essentials :)

Both conferences have been such an eye opener and I really hope I get the chance to attend again. And hopefully you could too! Til then! May we all be a good parent to our children like how a good painter would paint beautifully on their canvas.

Not Justice League, but My Family
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 ( 11:40 pm )


It has been a while. And I wouldn't be here if it weren't important.

Say, you remember that time when you asked your dad for your first phone? When everyone else started to have theirs, it felt compulsory to have one because it would be "easier to communicate" with each other. Then do you remember when you asked your mum for that latest smartphone? Everyone started to use WhatsApp, Viber, BBM, and such, and communication became "much easier" and hence it felt compulsory to have one? And you just could not miss out on all those games to play and apps to use? And do you remember the time you asked (or at least hoped) for a car or a motorbike, because you felt that you needed it to ease your daily tasks? Oh you know what I mean, getting to class would be much easier than walking, grocery shopping would be much easier than to have to catch the bus, etc. Have you ever really thought of how much money it had cost for all of that to be made possible by your parents? Have you ever really thought about all the costs your parents had paid for you during your school years? Have you ever really thought about how much money had been spent when you first came into this world? All the milk bottles, the diapers, the clothing, and then you grow up so fast so more clothing, and then your first bed, and then your other 10,000 firsts.

Now take off your shoes and put on another's.
What do you think a non-verbal, mentally challenged or person with developmental disabilities would ask(or say to) their parents?
"Dad, I need this gadget so that I can tell you what I like."
"Dad, I need a wheelchair so I can move about in the house."
"Dad, I need a different wheelchair for playing outside."
"Mum, I don't like this food. I don't want this. I hate it."
"Mum, I want to go out now. Why won't you let me?"
"Mum, I don't understand you.'
"Mum, Dad, why won't you understand me?"

Many years ago I couldn't understand why this type of person couldn't understand me. But now I get it. This person has been asking me why I don't understand him... but he couldn't say it. But only show.

My eldest brother is an adult with Autism (ASD). He is non-verbal, and highly dependent in his daily activities. He can has very few basic activity of daily living skills, however there still is a need of supervision and an attendant to help him out with his care. He is home-bound. And unfortunately there isn't much for him to do. Well, this country hasn't much to offer him. And I hope I can change that. He loves playing with straws or anything small enough for him to "twirl" with his fingers. He enjoys music (the Beatles, to be specific. ehem)and loves to make "singing" sounds. He is rather cute, I would say. Like the sunshine of our family. Though caring for him isn't the simplest task.

He had recently undergone surgery on his right eye, as he had a total retina detachment. His left eye is developing a cataract, and again, an operation must be done in another few months time. When mum had said his vision might not be the same again, and when dad had said "Bapak rasa macam nak nangis", I had felt like I had just been hit by a bus.. again, and again, and again. My heart was broken. And only broken to know I could not be there with him, with my mother, who was caring for him at the hospital. Truth to be told, I had no idea what to do, or what to say. I refuse to talk about it to anyone thinking NO ONE would understand. So why waste my time chit chatting about it? When no one would probably know what to say to me? I strayed away from people, and at times I even refused to talk. I had felt so helpless, and the saddest I could be. I could not stop myself from becoming teary and the heart ached so bad. At a time where so much work had to be done, yet there I was trying to pick myself up, pushing myself to be strong, at least for my parents and family members. I had felt like I was punching myself to get through it. And you might wonder, "why are you taking it so hard on yourself?". Because my thoughts had gone to the extent of all the "what ifs". If my mum wasn't around, what would I do? Who would take care of him? Where would he live? What can I give? Where will I find the money to care for him? How do I become such a superwoman like my mother?

Now why am I sharing this with you, if I had thought no one would understand me? After careful consideration, I had decided to write this post anyway. I may have felt that no one had understood me, but with this post, I can tell someone that "I understand you". It has never been the easiest for me to really "share" my feelings. But alhamdulillah, after slowly opening up, I had good support and wishes from the people I know. Many have said, "focus pada pelajaran. Jangan terlalu difikirkan." Well, easier said than done. From that day, I had never felt so much determination to be as independent as possible. I want to be able to take care of myself. And hope that I can be as strong of a woman as my mother. But Alhamdulillah, my brother's eyesight is getting better. Mum says he seems much happier now. And if he's happy, if mum is happy, if dad is happy, and all of my other family members are happy, then I am happy insyaAllah.

This family of mine is no average family. Challenges come our way in the most unusual way. But Allah had bless my family with this special man. SubhanAllah, this man is with no sins. He is the man who was destined to be in our family. And this man is a gift. He is my brother. And I love him. And I am happy to be where I am today. I hope to continue to do good to him as much as I can. And hope I can be much of a stronger lady than before. Please keep him in your du'as. And keep me in there somewhere too.

This photo had really gotten to me. Taken by my sister after his surgery, it had made me teary, but with a little smile on my face. He may not understand what we say, but I'm pretty sure he can feel a mother's love. I love my family. They are indeed the strongest people I know who fight hardship in the most brilliant ways. No matter how far away they are, they will always be dear to my heart.

Til then, May Allah shower you with his blessings. Amin!

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