Grumpy Old Man

Patience is overrated.

As a father, I’m expected to be patient and nurturing to my son. Well, that was the plan. I have been patient and nurturing from the day my son was born as far as I remember. But days go by, the years pile on and some things don’t go as planned. That’s not to say that I am no longer patient nor nurturing to my son. It’s just more difficult to be patient nowadays than a few years ago.

Parents should know what it’s like. One minute you are talking leisurely with your kid and the next you are wrangling each other by the neck. Okay, we have not gone that extreme yet. But I think we’re close. What I don’t get is why we have to go through the same menial argument over and over again. Seriously, how many times do you have to ask someone to clean their mess up or to finish their dinner?

Grumpy Old Man
Grumpy Old Man

I know I would sound like I’m ranting (and maybe I am), but just imagine the following situations:

You prepare warm oatmeal in the morning and tidy up the kitchen before calling your kid in to eat his breakfast. And he first thing he does is scoop powdered milk to spread on top of his oatmeal only the milk spreads on the table top instead.

You wake your son up early in the morning to take a bath (and get ready for school). He asks for five minutes at every interval that you try and wake him up from and ends up going out late for school. And he blames you for being late.

You ask your son if he has any homework from school and he says no. So you fool around with him and stay up late. The next morning, he panics saying that he actually has homework. And it’s mathematics.

Your son asks you to buy this really cool (but relatively expensive) new toy that you are actually also interested in. So you buy it telling him to promise to take good care of it (so that you can play with it when he’s not looking). The next day, the toy is missing a leg, or a wheel or whatever important part that he “accidentally” lost.

You give your son that new book that he has been asking for since the last time you went to a bookstore. He happily reads the book throughout the night. The next morning, you find that precious book neglected in the bathroom face down on a page that he wanted to bookmark.


We all love our children and deep inside we know that our children love us as well. We would probably think to ourselves that children are just being children. Heck, we might even have a recollection or two of how we were back when we were their age. But in my ageing years, patience has taken a back seat and I grow tired really quickly. It’s difficult to see where “kids are being kids” and “kids being downright obnoxiously irritating” is at times. I really admire parents who have more patience than me because I know how difficult it can be. Maybe they have a better coping mechanism than I do, or maybe they have better skills in teaching their kids how to follow them or maybe they just have less hyper kids than my son. Whatever it is, I salute you.

I may end up becoming a grumpy old man by the time I have grandkids. But that doesn’t mean the memories that I have of my son isn’t anything less to treasure. Every day is a day to cherish. Good days give us happy memories, bad days give us lessons to learn. Let us not let a day go by without taking something away from it and being thankful.


Yayoi Kusama in Singapore

It was packed and you need to queue up in order to see some (actually, most) of the exhibition. Seriously, this is not how you are supposed to appreciate the art of Yayoi Kusama.

Tulip Obliterated
Tulip Obliterated

Apart from the annoying bit that everybody just seems to want to take a selfie (or wefie), there is a lot to appreciate in the Life is the Heart of a Rainbow exhibit recently concluded at the National Gallery Singapore.

For the longest time since I have read about it, I wanted to go and see this exhibition. However, due to commitments both at work and at school (for Matthew), we found it difficult to set a date that was not a weekend. And so we braved the National Gallery one Saturday afternoon to visit the Yayoi Kusama exhibition.


But who is Yayoi Kusama?

If you were one of the few who came to the exhibition to actually experience the art and not just to take your Instagram feed to the next level, then you would have taken a bit of time to actually read up on her. It would have been told then that Yayoi’s childhood experiences had been the primary force in her art. Having lived through WWII despite the hallucinations she had been having in her head, it was easy to understand why her art is, well, classified as avant-garde. She would describe her hallucinations as “flashes of light, auras and dense field of dots”. At some point in my personal life, I’ve had those visions. I have not thought of them as hallucinations but rather, I thought it was normal happenings in my head since I wanted to be alone most of the time. She even managed to give it a name, “infinity nets” and “self-obliteration”. Big and apt words (and quite frankly, I wish I had thought of them).

She also had hallucinations of flowers that spoke to her and patterns that came to life. I didn’t have flowers speaking to me, although my dog often did. And I often spoke to my dog. Again, I thought that was normal. But Yayoi did something amazing with her hallucinations. She conquered them and used them as a means to an end. As such, you have these various art mediums that can only be described as distinctly Yayoi Kusama. I may never understand some lumps of it, but of those that I did, it made me see dots in my head again.


Stay behind the line.
Stay behind the line.


We squeezed our way through the crowd and queued up however which way to get into the galleries. Each of which were suffocating due to the number of people. Whether or not they were there for the art or for whatever personal reason, it made the whole experience somewhat less personal. Admittedly, I tried getting photos of my family and myself to have a reminder that I had been to the exhibition. The rest of the photos were to remind me of the art that I enjoyed and had good conversations with my son while we were there. Surely, Yayoi Kusama would have flinched at the discussion my wife and I were having with our son regarding her work. Sure, it’s been viewed and appreciated by legends and critiques the world over, but I don’t think she’s ever been critiqued by an eleven-year old boy who saw tadpoles in her art.

"Tadpoles on purple water" - Matthew
“Tadpoles on purple water” – Matthew


"Circular Zebra" - Matthew
“Circular Zebra” – Matthew


We would love to see her work again, but not like it was in the National Gallery. Perhaps a trip to her own museum in Japan would be a better way (and more complete) to live and appreciate the art of Yayoi Kusama.

"How many parking lot mirrors did she steal for this?" - Matthew
“How many parking lot mirrors did she steal for this?” – Matthew

Interestingly, I read piece in the Straits Times with whom I share the same sentiment with. The link to the article is here, and as of this writing, is still a live link.