One is faced with such dilemma when working with a child with some sort of disability. At some point, the line is blurred between attitude and disability. Is what the child doing, an action of someone without the capacity to manage himself, or a choice to deviate from what’s expected?

One of my students came late to class today. Dragging himself to school, he said that he felt dizzy on the MTR and in his state of dizziness, he somehow managed to work his way to school. His helper sent him off at the MTR near his home because she didn’t have enough change of cash to go in and out of the station with him. This 11 year old child, diagnosed with ADHD and dizzy from his medication, traveled alone on the MTR (with one change of station) for more than 30 minutes on his own. I don’t want to imagine what would happen if something would have happened to him on the ride to school.

Slightly worried, I sent an email to the mother. I wanted to understand the context of his condition and the medication that he is taking. His medication seems to be making him more tired than he usually is and he probably spends more time fighting off his dizziness than focusing in class. So it’s not really helping when it comes to increasing his attention span.

The mother replied saying that she would be glad to meet with me. She also said that she is tired from the child’s behaviour to lose things all the time (hence she wanted him to take the prescribed medication).

If I didn’t know any better, I might have been appalled by her reply. The idea of medicating a child for a condition which in my opinion, can be worked around (not worked away) with good strategies and gentle discipline, once sounded like an excuse. An easy way out to a complicated situation of a child.

Instead, I found myself empathising with her situation. It is not easy for me to work with him in class, with the different strategies that I am trying. What more a mother, who sees him in all of his good and bad days. What sounded like a ‘condition’ to me, is probably a ‘bad behaviour’ to her, because she has seen his better days when he has made good choices for himself.

I am not sure what I would have done in her situation. What else could I have done? Was it the child’s choice to be careless and lose his belongings ever so often, even after countless strategies and days of practising the same skill of keeping one’s belonging? Or perhaps he simply couldn’t do the very simple task of making sure his wallet is in his bag, so that his Octopus card is safe and he can go home on the MTR every day?

I honestly don’t know.




Reading about the first Parliament sitting of a new Malaysia reminds me of my love for the nation in a geographical location.

When will it be my turn to #jombalik?

Oh Lord, I pray for patience and guidance as I wait upon my next steps beyond Hong Kong.

The same road

The road of childhood gives a different feel when walked a decade past childhood. 

Where once there has been heightened insecurity, now the fear of walking later into the night has lessen. Boldness comes as one grows in the strength of the muscles. 

Where once the houses have looked big and overwhelmingly adult, now they look smaller and more manageable. Sizes are perspectives and they change when one stands taller and straighter to be able to look things in the eye.

Where once there has been unwillingness to travel a few steps beyond what was the usual boundary, now there is only curiosity and audacity to walk further. Once, the length of walks were limited to the last house at the end of the road. Now, the last house is wherever your heart and the willingness to sweat take your steps. 

The road is the same. The length of the road, the tar on the road, even the landscape of the roadside grass.

But I. I have grown.

Bolder. Stronger. Tougher.

Uncertainty gets me jittery.  Correction.  Idleness and unemployment gets me jittery.  Waiting, waiting and more waiting for something to happen gets me jittery.

When one is unemployed, time seems to stop for a while. One doesn’t age, because there isn’t a progression of something.  No progression of moving up the ranks, of going places, of actively learning something new for a purpose.

Nor does one grow younger.  One is just..there.  It’s an interesting period of life to be in – if one lets go of the actively searching for jobs and just BE unemployed.  Let whatever that comes, comes. Let people approach you.  Let opportunities come to meet different people.

Right now, I’m just here.

A presence, a human collection of characteristics, experiences, ideas and relationships…with not a job title.

When shoes face outward.

It is then when you realize you’re probably afraid of being inside for too long.

Shoes face outward to ensure that leaving is as easy as slip and go.

Which also means that you don’t want to stay inside for longer than you need to be.

Whatever is going on inside is probably failing to pique your interests, unimportant for you to attend to, or should be attended by someone else…not you.

Or maybe that’s just how you are.

You don’t care about what is going on inside, but are made to be inside.

Or you actually care.  But you want to live a touch-n-go life, having a breadth of experiences.  Never mind the depth.

That is why you always go in, but also always leaving your shoes facing outward.