March 05, 2012

Of Flowers - Al Ain and Baguio

We played guide to our friends on their first drive from Dubai to Al Ain Zoo and Al Ain Paradise. Below so far are the efficient routes we took to minimise the traffic and missing on the many roundabouts of Al Ain’s town center:
Easiest Route from Dubai to Al Ain Zoo
-  Take the Dubai - Al Ain Road (E66)
-  Reaching Al Ain, steer right towards the Airport
-  On your left, find the way to 130th St, or Zayed Al Awal Street. (There are detours as of this writing, with the road under construction)
-  Drive straight past roundabouts and the end of it is Al Ain Zoo
Easiest Route to Al Ain Paradise from Al Ain Zoo
-  From Al Ain Zoo, exit to the first roundabout, take left
-  At the next roundabout, take left again
-  Enter to the first right, then another quick right to the parking


AL AIN PARADISE
One’s appreciation of Al Ain Paradise is subjective but the common denominator is that one gets to step on a Guinness Book of World Records site (world's largest display of hanging baskets).


We first roamed Al Ain's zoo under the scorching heat last Friday that drained us before heading to the flower park. The heat dampened our energy, that drained us to appreciate the flowers. The park is now wider since our April 2011 visit , but I felt that the compressed ‘architecture’ last year gave a more ‘flowery’ feel. Also, the many staffs manning the area could be distracting with their whistles as they prevent people to step on grasses or touch the flowers. I thought it could have helped if sign-ages were installed for do's and dont's and that the staffs at least smile.


BAGUIO’S FLOWER FESTIVAL
On flowers still, I missed (again!) joining this year’s flower festival back home. Baguio’s (Philippines) Panagbenga Festival this year reportedly gathered 1.5 million spectators during the opening floats and street dancing parade. Baguio’s cool climate encouraged the flower industry, most of which are distributed at Manila’s Dimasalang area. What makes the event spectacular is the mix of ‘flower arts’ and ‘cultural accents’.
Panagbenga 2012. Photo Credit: Ompong Tan
Panagbenga 2012. Photo Credit: Ompong Tan
Panagbenga 2012. Photo Credit: Ompong Tan
Panagbenga 2012. Photo Credit: Ompong Tan

Panagbenga 2012 Street Dancing. Photo Credit: Rhodyl Ambloza. More of his photos HERE

March 01, 2012

A Gremlin @ the Social Scene


My used-to-be ‘unsocial’ son is hatching out of his shell and starts catching up on his self-imposed social deprivation.He scribbled below paper and inserted it on our neighbor’s (apartment) door.

And he approached his aunt Aggie to dance with him in a recent event below:



He wasn't anthrophobiac (afraid of people), nor a social menace, but imagine a kid growing with mainly his parents as his only playmates. I tell you, we felt it was good -- until he started school. He was not exposed to bullying so he remained nice and sweet. He’d laugh when being pushed by a nasty kid, but mom and dad are always around to pull him away so nothing goes beyond that.

But he eventually attends school away from mom and dad's guards. This environment change shocked the Boy as much as we his parents found ourselves unguarded.  School and social play was new to him that he didn't know what these meant. He found himself constantly crying, and he had difficulty focusing in school.

His Kindergarten 2 at four years old did not pose much concern to us. His Teacher Ailene refers to him a baby, and hugs him during his frustrations or when he cries. There was Tita Ping and Tita Joan as teacher assistants to guide him as well. Benjie is a hands-on bus assistant too. While he is physically active and a blabbermouth outside school, it came as a surprise that his teacher noted he is a quiet kid in the classroom. He even got the Most Behaved award.

Then came Grade 1, no teacher assistant/s and probably no classroom hugs.

He started school with his “un-social” mark, keeping alone by himself. And his Teacher would later let me know that he bit Gian’s (not his real name) arm after Gian’s teasing did not stand well with him -- let alone a boy who scowls when being laughed or talked bad about at. This greatly surprised us and we put this on record as the first physical assault he'd done. Is it something he saw on television, or from his classmates that he imitated?

Then once, he came home with scissor cuts on his polo, trousers and shoe-string so I rang his teacher on what his classmate Adrian (not his real name) had done. His teacher seemed un-aware but told us - “kaya pala nasa under the table sya umiiyak, pero when I asked him why, wala namang sinasabi”.

On another case, his notebooks got torn one after the other. He named Simon (not his real name) doing this as I asked him one day after another. Again, a ring to Teacher who said “Pasensya na po kayo Mommy, Simon is a special child kasi. Ewan ko po, pero tuwang tuwa sya na nakikitang umiiiyak si Kalel.”

Our school boy also later witnessed Adrian bang Simon’s head onto the wall as Simon’s face quietly cried in pain.

And the used-to-be sweet and nice physically active Boy turned nasty. He shriekingly cry to insist what he wants, wont budge on his fears and cannot be pacified to trust on his parents’ presence; he shouts at kids who displeases him; he doesn’t want to share his toys. Let me say it bluntly -- he was selfish.

At this time, Husband relocated in Muscat and seeing us only on weekends. I was also on the peak of my early pregnancy discomforts. I was so irritable that this was the worst time for the Son. I didn’t spare the rod on him. My monstrosity  further moulded him into a little ‘monster’.

This attitude and my stress on overlooking his studies (frustrations, another story), took a toll on me that Husband had to resign and eventually rejoined us home. We would discuss for days how to deal with our son -- get him out of his selfishness, get him to fit socially, get him back to being nice.

Husband and I agreed to guide him by starting with ourselves. Weeks later, there’s none of or just isolated raising of voice to the Boy. Comments on his behaviour are cautiously done constructively. We entertain his chatters as he engages us in discussions. He get praises  at consistently speaking  ‘sweetly’. We surrendered to not force our expectations on him. We bring him to social gatherings. And guess how he is now? He's starting to get out of his un-social shadow. It's a long way but he started. And how about us his mom and dad? We're learning that some kindness and patience to our kid pays a lot -- we are less stressed; and we constantly smile and laugh at our Boy's progress.



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