SingaporeMotherhood | Parenting

May 2014

SM Blogmums : Baby : P is for ‘ponteng’. P is for Play.

Real-life pregnancy and parenting stories set in Singapore, from mums in Singapore. Welcome to our SingaporeMotherhood blog series, where we get local bloggers to share their motherhood experiences – from the awesomeness of seeing that +ve, to the pitter-patter of first steps, to the joys and frustrations of bringing kiddo up in the little red dot. This month, June Yong of mamawearpapashirt muses about the importance of play.

I let my two older kids skip a class last week (thus the word “ponteng” which means to evade or play truant in Malay) and brought them to explore a new playground at Watten Estate Park.


I don’t mean to inculcate the habit of truancy, but I do see that childhood is fleeting and school takes up a good chunk of their free time. It’s also my way of spending time with the older kids, especially since I’m usually caught up with caring for baby Josh. (Plus, my maternity leave was running out!)

The playground was great. It had everything a kid would want.

There was a kiddy flying fox.

A pyramid rope structure for Spiderman-wannabes. (Complete with sand.) A pair of swings that allow little feet to reach the ground and pretty much swing themselves. And the usual slide and see-saw.

So the kids had their fair share of fun, and I managed to catch up with a friend who stayed in the area. But more significant than these was the fact that baby Javier, who had never ever sat on a swing on his own and who never ever gone anywhere near a flying fox, did both that morning.

I was pretty stoked (an informal American word meaning excited or euphoric), and a little stunned.

I had actually given up cajoling him onto the swing. I had decided to enjoy swinging on the swing myself, remembering the good ol’ days when my mother would swing me to nearly the top of the nearby tree. (Those days, swings were made for giants.)

We’d had a good half hour of play or so, when he left his spot at the sand play area, and stood near where I was happily swinging.

Want to sit with mummy? I asked.

He nodded yes. So we did for a bit. My older daughter Vera was also swinging beside us.

Then I asked, Javier, do you want to sit and swing by yourself? I will swing you gently.


To my surprise, he nodded. So I came down, helped him up, and pushed the swing gently and gradually built the momentum up. Two minutes later, the little guy was beaming to himself. You can imagine that proud mum look on my face too, at that point. First times rock!

After a few minutes he wanted to stop, so we did. And we all headed to the flying fox area, because Vera wanted to play some more.

We asked Javier (again) if he wanted to try. He shook his head, so we left it.

I think the turning point came when my friend, Kai, was game enough to go on it by herself. She was going fine, until she reached the low point of the ride and her butt scraped the sandy ground. This made us all — little Javier included — laugh.

The next thing I knew, he was asking to have a go at it himself. Of course Kai and I were making eyes at each other, like “Woah is he for real?”

Kai helped to lift him onto the wheel seat and said to him, “We’ll go slowly okay?” And we all moved along with him, like swing chaperones by his side. (It was funny and scary at the same time.)

Guess what? He enjoyed it and even went another round!

I was delirious with joy.

I learnt something new from our little trip to the playground: that all it takes for little children to step out of their comfort zone and to try something new (and seemingly scary) is first of all, time (to warm up, to touch and feel the new thing, to observe others) and second, a role model, someone they know and trust to go before them and show them that the “adventure” is safe and fun.

I didn’t need to cajole. I didn’t need to bribe. And I didn’t need to tease him for not daring to take the leap.

All I did was to let him take his time, while secretly doing my best to make it look fun.

It’s funny… The things we learn at the playground.

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SM Blogmums : Baby : P is for ‘ponteng’. P is for Play.