The night I slapped Elise on the cheek

Elise has been extremely trying. I’ve read that this is the time preschoolers start acting up and pushing boundaries. She’s been terribly “defiant”, “aggressive”, “rude” and “ill-behaved”, as adults would put it. I’ve been telling her to use her words to communicate her intention to the other party, but it falls on deaf ears. Monster Elise doesn’t show up all the time, but when she does, it’s as if she’s the Devil Incarnate.

The object of contention yesterday was an innocent laundry basket with a ladybug design that Elise upturned and wore over her head. Emmett wanted to have a turn and instead of using her words, she used her hands to signal her dissatisfaction. Picture two neighbourhood strays fighting. That’s similar to how the two fought, except their fingernails aren’t as sharp as claws.

I intervened, because it was a long day and I didn’t want to rush either or two kids to the emergency room in my pajamas. Removing the laundry basket and keeping it high up, I chided the both of them that if they didn’t know how to take turns, then nobody could play.

I dragged both of them to the bathroom and Elise was not having any of it. Unleashing all the pain techniques in her limited repertoire, she pinched, scratched, attempted to bite and even spat at me. My immediate reaction was to brandish a prompt smack on her cheek. Neither respectful nor classy and frowned upon in the entire Western parenting world.

More tears and yelling.

The second step involved Words of Hurt, where she threw out lines like “I don’t like friends. I don’t need friends. I don’t like you. I’ll beat you and then you’ll die. I don’t like Emmett!”.

These words don’t reach deep into my heart because 1. I know she doesn’t actually mean it and 2. I am stone cold inside. =| Restraining her arms by her side, I explained that she has to use her words to communicate her intentions and that if she uses violence, the other party will likely react violently. That’s why I don’t fancy corporal punishment as a method to correct “misbehavior”, even with explanations before and after. There’s just no logical reason to explain why they aren’t allowed to hit other people who misbehave.

The thing about young children is that they rarely bear grudges. She was laughing over a joke with Emmett soon after I released her from my long lecture.

A book that I’m currently reading at a snail’s pace talks about reframing the idea of discipline and focusing on the connection with the child rather than piling on consequences and negative reinforcements. That’s not to say that the children turn out to be spoiled brats.

Rather, it’s to learn how to consistently set limits and address the root cause that’s causing the behaviour (e.g. attention-seeking, over-tiredness etc.) instead of reacting to the “symptom” (e.g. throwing tantrums, slapping, hitting etc.). Respectful parenting is not permissive parenting. My style of parenting is far from respectful, and there’s a steep learning curve. Lots to learn.

Tonight, Elise cried herself to sleep over an ice-cream that she didn’t get to eat. Oh, to be a child, where not getting an ice-cream is that devastating.

Finding Peace

After receiving calls about Emmett’s biting for the past two days, I was bracing myself to hear how his next victim got attacked when it turned out to be another teacher instead. “Hello Elise’s mummy, Elise’s contact lens fell out, could you come down to put it back in? We don’t know how to put it back. Please come down now.”

Elise has been using her prosthetic eye for about 2.5 years now.

She is unable to see through that eye and it is to make her appear as if she has two eyes like everyone else. It isn’t immediately noticeable, but as the prosthetic eye is merely a cover, the pupil does not move when her natural eye does. It does not need to be removed daily, but it can be taken out for cleaning. Sometimes, when she rubs on her eye too hard, it may fall out, which is what happened today.

It brought my mind back to the first time it happened when I was alone with her. One moment, she was playing around, and the other moment, she was staring at me with an empty socket. I freaked out and immediately called the prosthetic doctor while alerting my closer friends on WhatsApp “OMG ELISE’S EYE JUST DROPPED OUT WHAT DO I DO”. I was ready to bring her to the hospital so that the doctor could insert it back for her (and me). The doctor encouraged me to try it myself first, instructing me over the phone.

Back then, she was much younger and she would not stay still because she was traumatised by her experience of being held down forcibly for tests, eye dressing changes and her wound was possibly tender and healing. It was like pinning down a squealing piglet destined for slaughter. My feelings were a mish-mash of guilt, fear, shock and pity. Eventually, I slot it in without going to the hospital.

Emotionally, it was saddening for us to come to terms with the fact. Up till now, I don’t think my husband has seen her eye socket yet.

Back to today. The same situation occurred and I saw how shocked her teachers were. They managed to cover Elise’s eye and move her to the office before other children took notice. Her form teacher told me that she couldn’t bear to look. It’s completely natural for them to have that response and I don’t blame them. After all, it’s not something they encounter often and most people can’t deal with seeing something like that. If you’re curious, her eye socket has healed and it is neither bloody or has dangling veins. It appears as pink hollow flesh.

I washed it under running water before popping it back in. Over the years, both of us has gotten used to it. Elise has observed her appearance in the mirror without her prosthetic eye (I advised her not to, she insisted) and her reaction was not one of fear or disgust. It seems that she understands and is living without noticeable problems. She can run, kick a ball and balance on beams.Β  However, at 3 going on 4 years old, people around her are less likely to make snark remarks about appearance. We will cross that bridge when we get to it.

My Korean Mart Purchases

There is a Korean mart that I frequent that’s located at Basement 1 of Northpoint City, aptly named K-Market. I’ve found the items to be reasonably priced compared to other marts with a wider variety. They have a little slip of paper where you get a stamp for every $20 spent and with every 10 stamps, you get $5 off. I’m such a regular that I’ve redeemed at least $15.

Shopping there feels therapeutic and the store manager is so friendly. He resembles Yoo Min Sang, a Korean gagman and I’ve never seen him without a smile. He’s Korean so he can’t speak Chinese.

Every single time I visit, he passes us some items that are nearing expiry for free. It’s similar to the relationship between aunties at the wet market and their favourite fishmonger. We never fail to get Seolleim ice cream when we’re there. It’s this frozen ice cream in a pouch and tastes like heaven.

My purchases are more or less the same and most items are bought to alleviate my husband’s cravings for Korean food.

#1 Convenience Food

Rice Bowls
The two rice bowls were on 1+1 sale and seem to be a healthier alternative to ramyeon. They work the same way – pour boiling water to a level and pour the seasoning packets in.

Cold Noodles/Naengmyeon
The packet on the side is cold noodles/naengmyeon which come with buckwheat noodles, sauce packets and oil. This is nowhere near instant, but cuts out a huge amount of time compared to if you boiled the broth yourself. The noodles have to be boiled, rinsed a few times with running water, dunked in ice water while you mix in the sauce with ice or blended ice. You have to add in the ingredients like meat slices, cucumber and egg yourself.

Togi Spicy Beef Soup
Total cop-out frozen soup from Togi restaurant that I boil straight from frozen. Yes, I’m that lazy, I don’t even defrost it. This has all the ingredients necessary. This costs $12 each. There are other flavours too. The link is to Harinmart, which is a reliable online mart for Korean foodstuff and not under the same company as K-Market.

#2 Frozen Food

These three items were not purchased from K-Market, but are what I usually buy.

Busan Fishcake Slices
Vastly different from the type of fishcakes found in our local fishball noodles, these fishcakes are the type that are used in Korean fishcake soup, tteokbokki and side dishes. We just had some panfried and cut into strips for dinner. This is processed so it’s best not to gorge on it.

Rolled Seaweed Fritters
Kimmari are battered seaweed fritters with noodles inside. It sounds icky, but pop these into an air fryer and dip them in sauce or use them as a tteokbokki ingredient.

Dumplings
These go everywhere – in ramyeon, panfried, steamed… I make a quick sauce using soy sauce, chilli oil and vinegar to dip the fried dumplings in.

#3 Anchovies & Kelp

Now that you know my secret, I’ll have to silence you. This is one of the most commonly used broth bases in Korean cooking. Using broth instead of plain water gives your dishes more flavour.

The other seasoning that many Korean restaurants use is Dashida, or bouillon seasoning. The beef flavour is most commonly used but it’s not easily found locally. There’s clam, anchovy, seafood, mushroom but no beef.

#4 Mixes

Black Bean Powder
Jjajang base. Fry up some meat and chopped vegetables before adding this powder and water to form a sauce that can be poured over noodles or rice.

Frying Mix
I mainly use this to make kimchi or potato pancakes.

#5 Beverages

“Morning Rice” drink/Achimhaetsal
A rice milk drink made from three types of rice – black, white and brown. It tastes like almond milk.

Fruit Vinegars/Hongcho
I ever watched a Korean documentary programme which featured this old man who had fruit vinegar the first thing in the morning as a secret to his longevity. I am… not following his strategy, but I do like the taste of it mixed with iced water. It’s tangy and zingy. There’s a dispenser at K-Market for you to try it out before buying.

Barley Tea, Corn Tea
My husband doesn’t like the taste of plain water. In our household, we drink this in place of water. We boil a huge pot with one teabag which fills three 1L pitchers, an airpot and more. Each week, we boil about three pots or more. The taste is mild and not sweet with a light fragrance.

#6 Snacks

Freebies are called service. Yep. These were given free on my most recent trip where I hauled about 10kg of groceries back with two kids. Loved the macaron cookies. It’s a shame they were individually packed though. So much waste.

Next time, I’ll see if I can show the usual recipes I create at home with these.