Parenting A Tween Boy

My elder boy is turning 12 in a couple of weeks. He now stands taller than me, wears bigger size shoes and could barely squeeze into my old jeans! My ex colleagues thought I had a new boyfriend when I brought him along for our annual gathering during Chinese New Year. It’s a give away of my age just having him next to me and calling me mom.

I find myself revisiting the parenting section in the library and I think I have read more parenting books in the last couple of months than I’ve read in the last decade since I became a mom. It suddenly dawned on me that parenting a tween boy requires more wisdom than teaching him how to treat his first zit.

The things you read about puberty, hormones change and mood swings are all real. I now have someone who wants to win me in everything, from swimming, cycling to climbing, which really isn’t all that bad, especially when winning includes beating mom at her PSLE scores. I certainly have no qualms about losing to him.

There are unspoken rules growing up as a tween boy. Apparently, hardly anyone reads in school and even if they do read, they are usually fiction and not some books that talk about the History of Mathematics. So no matter how much you love the present you received from last Christmas, you wouldn’t be caught dead reading it. Bottomline, it isn’t always cool to be geeky. You need to be with the right company to display your nerdy side.

I appreciate the fact that boys are more straightforward, less emotional and they don’t stay angry for long. They are nonchalant to most things but can be sensitive to the feelings of the people they love.

A couple of weeks ago when my husband was not in town to celebrate our wedding anniversary, my elder boy took over the kitchen and cooked us (me and his brother) a meal instead. He basically cooked what he likes to eat. French bread, ribs and spaghetti.

He already knew how to cook spaghetti so the only recipe he got from me was for the ribs. I gave him my recipe for making chicken wings. He had probably drizzled too much honey and caused the liquid to be burnt. He was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t any sauce left to dip his bread. The ribs were a bit charred but still tender inside.

I was surprised that he actually took the trouble to make the bread. He had used the recipe that came with the bread maker machine and it turned out beautifully and went perfectly well with olive oil, pepper and salt.

Of course the meal wouldn’t be possible without my trusty oven and bread maker machine. Still, his effort was commendable and I heaved a sigh of relief that he didn’t burn down the house.

I took a picture of what he cooked and sent it to his Dad and told him it was the best wedding anniversary present I’ve ever received, ironically it wasn’t from him but from our 12 year-old-to-be. I felt so loved and I told him I could get used to eating charred ribs.

It really isn’t all that bad parenting tween boy, if you look past the shopping part (or the lack of it). They only need half a luggage space when we travel because they only pack the bare minimum. They can live with 1 bar of soap because that’s all they need from head to toes. Mirrors are decorative because they don’t use them so you can hog them for all you want. They spend more time thinking about what to play than fretting over what to wear and how they look. They could put up a big fight one moment, kiss and say I love you the next and mean it.

Having grown up with sisters playing masak masak and dressing up, it is refreshing to be parenting a tween boy. The time we invested and the bonds we built over the years certainly helps. It really isn’t all that bad and scary and I am enjoying every bit of it.



Welcome Home Daddy

We ended the school holiday with everyone falling sick. The boys lost their usual appetite and they only asked for soupy food.

Thankfully I found this prepacked herbal soup ingredients from the supermarket. They were really tasty and I always have a few packets stocked up at home. It came in pretty handy on days like this.

I filled up my biggest stock pot with water, threw in a whole chicken and let it cooked with all the herbs for an hour or 2. The boys like theirs with multigrain noodles and it was great to see them lapped up every bit in their bowls. Simple, hassle free and healthy meals like this was a life saver.

The 2 days that we were home bound, my 6 year old got to learn some computer coding from his elder brother. They spent many hours in front of the computer making silly games and he was absolutely thrilled to make a cat go spinning with a light saber.

He figured out how to record his own sound and doodle on the computer. It’s amazing how fast they could pick up these things.

He was so excited to show this animation to his Dad when he came home during the weekend. It was a flying plane completed with sound effect recorded by him. (Click on the green flag to play)

Isn’t it cute?! I am such a sucker for kids doodle!



Bread Making

So my ingenious friends bought me a bread maker machine a few months back and I have been making really good use of it. My boys love the bread from the bread machine and they could easily finish a loaf within 2 days. I don’t really eat them because I am on a low gluten diet but the boys eat them for breakfast and they bring them to school for snacks.

Before this, I have been contemplating whether to get a bread maker but I was worried that it would be cumbersome to use and the bread wouldn’t turn out nice and I would end up with another white elephant in the kitchen.

I fret about what bread to buy. You know how being a mother (and aging) makes one conscious about what goes into her food. I read my food labels and I try to avoid food that contains ingredients that I can’t pronounce. You find plenty of those on the packaging of bread you get off-the-shelf.

The bread maker is one of my most frequently used kitchen appliances now and it’s good that I know exactly what goes into my bread. I wish someone told me earlier that every family who eats bread should own one, much like every family who eats rice should own a rice cooker!

To make your bread, load the ingredients, choose the type of bread you want, choose the size of bread, choose colour of your bread and press Start.

3 hours later … Voila!

The recipe book that came with the machine was great but I find the bread a little too dry. Apart from flour and yeast, the recipe called for water and vegetable oil. I talked to a friend who is experienced in bread making and she recommended Brioche which is essentially a French pastry made in the same way as bread.

The recipe for Brioche uses milk and butter in replacement of water and vegetable oil and the final product turns out to be richer and lighter. I love it so much that I now use it as my basic recipe for different bread.

I throw in chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, oat, nuts or seeds to vary the flavour. All it takes is a couple of minutes to gather the ingredients, press a few buttons and the machine will do the magic!

Here’s my friend’s recipe for the Brioche.
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
70g butter
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1.5 teaspoon yeast
2 cups 2 tablespoon high protein flour

For families with kids who are lactose intolerant, you can use 1 cup of water and 2.5 tablespoons of vegetable oil in replacement of butter and milk and 1 egg instead of 2 eggs.

If you use a bread maker, do share with me your recipe!