Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Isaac served his first mass as altar-boy at the 6.30am mass two Saturdays ago. KH and I got up early just to attend mass to watch him make his debut. We were not alone. There was another eager-beaver parent there armed with video cam and camera to capture the moment for his son too. KH initially wanted to do the same except that I managed to persuade him that being ‘subtle’ was more important to his son’s very fragile ego. Yet despite the ‘subtle’ use of the iPhone camera, Isaac later muttered that he could see us grinning and snapping away – “so much for being ‘subtle’ mom and dad!”

But honestly, he was just too cute in his white cassock and red vestments, hands folded demurely in prayerful position. Too angelic! I was seized with the really unholy urge to burst into loud laughter when he first came out from the sacristy with the priests and the other altar-boys. After that I have to say that I didn’t really concentrate on mass, but just watching him with an eagle eye for any boo-boos. But God was with him that morning and it all went without a hitch – except from the occasional nudges and meaningful looks from the senior altar-boy serving alongside!

He’s served a couple more times since then and he seems to enjoy it. I’m happy for him that he’s found something meaningful where he can contribute in church. And being the oldest ‘trainee’ altar-boy there, he has somewhat got a sense of being the ‘older brother’ there that the kiddies look up to.

He’s growing up to be a little man. I find that I depend on him more and more these days.

Last week was Owain’s birthday. Because I was too ill with a bad viral infection to go to his school to distribute the goody-bags, Isaac went instead. There’s something very heart-warming and sweet about this as the big ‘kor-kor’ plays birthday santa to his little brother’s P1 classmates. I could just imagine the two brothers happily giving out the goody-bags!

When his father was not around last week and I was sick, it was Isaac who volunteered to put the eye-drops in for me – something KH had done. It was also Isaac who gave feedback on Owain’s goody-bags, offering ideas on how to improve the bag’s contents and brainstorming with me on how best to get this done. And it was he who offered to stay with Cait until her class started when I could not. And when Cait was acting like the diva, it was he who offered his opinion and bluntly told her off.

Things like these help to build responsibility, and a sense of usefulness, belonging and commitment to the family and the community. When he contributes like this, he grows as a young man too. The appreciation he gets from me, his younger siblings, fellow and senior altar-boys contributes to his self-esteem and peels away the layers of self-centredness and self-absorption. It will not happen overnight of course and in many ways, having Aspergers Syndrome makes it harder for him, than the average kid out there, to appreciate the social payback. But we’ll get there and these little things are the building blocks that will pave the way.

Cait too, is adjusting to the hectic training in the national squad and she’s finding that hard work pays off.

On Friday she came home with the two leotards worn by the girls in the national training squad – one dark blue with sparkles and another the red leotard with the Singapore flag on the front. This is the crown jewel that she has been eyeing since she got into the selection trials for the training squad. On certain days, the other gymnasts all wear national colours to train. For her and the others whose places in the team have not been confirmed, they wear their own leotards. So she has always looked upon these leotards with a certain sense of longing. Seems like her dream came true when she came home on Friday with the two 'national' leotards. We wondered if this means she has made the final cut to be part of the squad? Or not? Seems like a bit of a fait accompli to me.

On Sunday she took part in the 2nd Singapore National Individual Championships. She came away with silver medals in the floor exercise, uneven bars and vault events in her category. She was 4th in the balance beam event. Her total scores gave her the bronze medal in the Individual All-Around category. While there were competitors from other schools and other gym clubs, Cait and her group-mates in the national training squad were the ones constantly on the podium, hogging the top three places in every event.

The first time her name was announced, KH and I thought we heard wrongly and so there was some fumbling for the camera to get a picture of her on the podium. We both thought that was the first and the last and never expected her name to be called so often. It was really something to see her going up the podium to be garlanded with medal after medal. She was grinning from ear to ear with delight. And for me, I thought my heart was going to stop from sheer pride! We are so very proud of her.

I think all this has given her a boost in terms of self-esteem, in her determination to keep on training no matter how tough, how boring the drills may be. Hopefully in the days and months to come, as training gets tougher and the hours longer, she will look back on this day and find the willpower and inspiration to keep going. As she told me jubilantly after the competition, “This makes the hard work all worthwhile!” Let’s hope it lasts.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Isaac is growing up.
Did you shed tears of joy when you see Cait going up the podium?


santhi said...

Bottoms up, Pat! ;D Awesome isnt it to see them grow and bestow such proud moments upon you and KH

Karmeleon said...


Cory said...

very heartwarming post :)

Rita said...


Lovely post - I'm glad to see Cait doing so well in gymnastic and Isaac seems to be maturing well :-)

Me - I am counting down to Gillian's PSLE (23 days to be exact !) Her sailing hasn't wound down yet. We will have one last regatta this weekend and then she will hang up her sailing gloves until after PSLE. She spent 5 days out of the 7 days in the september hols out at sea (for a 5 day regatta) instead of with her books.

This is what you get at national level sports for kids :-( You will get a taste of this mad balancing game when Cait hits P6.

Momto5 said...

Thanks guys. I'm just glad they are finding their footing. Cait esply. Really disliked the diva tantrums!

Anonymous said...

so happy for you. barbs


Happy Birthday!!!