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Esplanade PLAYtime! is an interactive theatre that not only entertains but Singapore's performing arts staged for younger audience, and promises to inspire creativity and learning!

The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights is another awesome "page to stage" performance adapted from the local children's book illustrated by Eeshaun. The author, Farah Bagharib-Kaltz, delightfully surprised the audience with her book signing at the end of show.



On Saturday and Sunday, 24 and 25 August, there were dedicated sensory-friendly performances. These provide a welcoming environment especially for those on the autism spectrum or with sensory sensitivities. Check out their thoughtfully done sensory-friendly features. During these performances, kids are encouraged to move, dance and make noise. Crying kids are welcome to stay and enjoy the show, or take refuge in calm-down corners. 

The story circles around Eddie, a mynah, which is a chirpy fowl commonly found in Singapore. Eddie lives behind an abandoned old house. He and his best friend, Matt the rat, enjoy playing around the mango tree everyday. But Eddie is afraid of heights and could not fly. 

Next, the big black crow captures Matt and threatens to swallow him. Eventually, the fearful mynah, Eddie musters just enough flutter and courage to take flight and rescue Matt. The audience cheered and clapped in jubilee when Eddie caught the falling rat literally - a huge stuffed toy rat dropped from ceiling.

Then it was subtly revealed to the audience that the two had conspired to help Eddie fly. I'm not sure if the younger audience caught that as it is pretty an adult concept. After the show, I could hear eager mothers reiterating to their kids to be brave like Eddie - and never give up! 


The play reminds me of Sesame Street where education, values, and entertainment are blended as one. PLAYtime! successfully created the feeling of looking through a kaleidoscope - always colourfully fascinating, always cheerfully surprising! Never a dull moment. 

During the performance, the audience were engaged to read the analogue clock, count, sing and dance along. In one segment, the actors even got the young audience to pick the fruits sprawled across the room and help sort the mangos, rambutans and chiku fruits, during which, I witnessed kids fighting over mangos. Lol! The story was a magical tapestry weaved together by colourful use of costumes, music, lighting and shadow puppetry!

Do not be dismayed if you have missed this (or others) PLAYtime! productions. Esplanade has especially dedicated the month of October to children art activities and fun performances. Be sure to get your tickets, click here Octoburst!













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You have the job experience and the professional qualifications. So how to increase your success rate in your next career move?

Before I became a stay-at-home-dad, I had been an HR practitioner for more than 15 years. To help you stand out from a sea of candidates, here are 5 quick tips. I call it “CHOPS”. It’s an acronym for:



CV       
Homework                 
Opportunity                 
Practise           
Self-image

Firstly, the CV (Curriculum Vitae) creates the first impression of who you are, and your value-add. Therefore, it is important to make it impactful. Here are 5 quick tips:

1.     KISS: Recruiters have plenty to do besides reading stacks of applications. So “KISS” it – keep it short and succinct!

2.     Describe your career experience first. This leads the recruiters to read that before the academic credentials. That’s good because experience sells.

3.     Writing a short descriptor about your employer and their website address. This help the recruiters to know the company you have worked for, and its relevance to theirs.

4.     Include your professional development to show that you are keen to learn and have kept yourself abreast with industry developments.

5.     Footer: Your footer should read “John Tan – Page 1 of 6”. This helps recruiters to quickly organize, and that would gain you some points.

Secondly, do your Homework. This means, read up on the industry that you are attempting to penetrate into, as well as your potential employer’s website. Know their players, competition, etc. If possible, your interviewer’s Linked, Facebook, etc. Knowing who they are and whom you will be meeting get you more prepared.

Thirdly, create Opportunity by putting yourself out there. Be bold. Tell your friends you are looking and be open. Whenever possible, go for meetups, social gatherings and professional networking. And when you do, get them to like you. You’ll be surprised people will eagerly recommend you, when they like you.

Fourthly, Practise, Practise, Practise. Do it with a friend, in front of the mirror or with your cat. From the phonecall, to the handshake, to answering questions, to asking appropriate questions. Practising builds your preparedness and confidence, and you will shine when you are naturally more confident.

Finally, pay attention to your Self-Image. In addition to sprucing up your appearance through appropriate grooming, you want to brand your self-image to create the right impression of who you are as a person professionally. Example, what should I do to build the image I am a hardworking and experienced IT engineer who understands the Japanese animation industry.
For more information, check out more career tips and courses with PHD Career, the preferred career consultant who leverages on a wide array of industry networks to connect you with your potential employers.

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Interestingly, many dads today are keenly involved in their children's development. However, with a poignant tone, one of the dads I met, Ken (not his real name), lamented that he struggled to bond with Meng, his son who has Austism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

He described Meng, 5, with limited speech, tends to play by himself and appears to be lost in an unknown world. When Meng is upset, his aggressive tantrums last for eternity. I get it. This spurred me to share a snippet on how I focus on the relationship. I call this posting, "Sleep Shave Shower" because literally this is what we do together. Again, I am no guru. Just an ordinary dad, of Kai who has ASD.

Sleep
Only in this year, when Kai is 14, he would voluntarily move into his own room. Even so, we continued our "cuddle time" nightly in his room. At times, we would read together. That is his least favourite thing to do. So I choose books he likes, and take turns to read aloud. For example, now we are plodding slowly through "Star Wars: Last of the Jedi".

Then Kai and I would also talk. It could be Star Wars, Marvel, Transformers, his teachers or friends.  Important principle is: follow his lead. After listening and talking about "his", then it "mine" turn. I would tell him I am proud of him. His physical growth, or his arts development, or how he had shared graciously with his friends. I would confess that I felt angry and disappointed about him hitting John, or his foul language towards his teachers, etc. I would apologise for hitting him or wronging him.  Thereafter, without fail, every night, with loads of hugs and kisses, I would recite my love pledge:

I love you Kai...
As wide as the sky
As deep as the ocean
As strong as the mountains
As blind as the bat

Lights off. Bed time. That's our precious time. It is the quiet. Only the two of us. Cherish it. Whilst some parents complained that their kids refused to sleep in their rooms, and feared that they would be slow in developing independence. To me, that is not a problem. It is a gift. I doubt Kai would want to sleep next to me when he is in his 20s. So now I would do it for as long as he wants.

Shave and Shower
Psychologically, I believe boys absorb their male identity and sculpt their perspective of men a lot from daily observation and interaction (or the lack of it) from their dads.

Men are assholes, or men are gentlemen. Men work hard, or men are sloths. Men are aggressive, or men are kind. As humanly broken and fallible as I am as a man, a husband, father, and a son. It begins with me. Within the walls of our home I would do my best to be an authentic model of being man. And it begins with "Shave and Shower".

Together with Kai, I would show him how I "shave and shower". It is being nakedly honest. In addition to showing him how I shave, wash and clean, we would even give each other back rubs. This is a prevalent social norm in Korea and Japan. It opens up sensitive personal matters and taboo social issues, which is especially critical now as he goes through puberty.

We talk about the our physiological changes, functions and responsibilities, e.g. body hair, pimples, personal hygiene, muscles, erection, masturbation, ejaculation, wet dreams, gender difference, pregnancy, LGBT, marriage, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. This include female puberty and how we must respect the female counterpart. The way I interact daily with my mother and my wife is the acid test.

The principle of this: we can talk about anything. With this principle well established, my hope is that he would come to me anytime. To talk about anything. There is no prohibition. No taboo. No judgement. Anything goes.

As our relationship strengthens, I gradually enter and make sense of his world. He visited my world, and over time both our worlds merged. Given time and intensity of this mutual exchange, our bond solidifies, leading to an increasing success in managing behaviours as well as expectations, his and mine included.

Hope you enjoy this post. Feel free to me or join my Facebook! Send me your comments and feedback! May the Force be with you!
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