Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Messy is as messy does

"A messy desk is a sign of genius" or "A messy desk is a sign of a messy mind". Pick the saying you prefer.

This is Lesley-Anne's desk (or what you can see of it):

It's like this 95% of the year, except after forced clean-ups, like during Chinese New Year and before visitors are expected.

In contrast, this is Andre's desk:

I think there is a more likely explanation. For Andre, the desk is about work (something unpleasant). So he almost never does anything here, apart from homework. Whereas for Lesley-Anne, her desk is a platform for work and creativity (poster paints and bead making kits amidst dictionaries and files).

For the record, I'm like Lesley-Anne. When I was an employee, my desk would strewn with files, piles of paper and design mockups, looking like it had been ransacked. So much so that my secretary, when she's finally unable to tolerate the mess, would attempt to restore order by cleaning it up for me.. without my knowledge. Upon finding out, I would grip my hair in horror and wail, "Now I don't know where anything is!!"

Whereas on Kenneth's office desk sits a computer, a single notepad, a pen holder with all working writing implements and a photo frame (of me!!) You can even admire the shiny wood polish on the desk.

So it's like mother like daughter, like father like son. Call it what you will, just nobody touch my desk.


Anonymous said...

Btw, my desk is like L-A's & my hubby's desk is like Andre's. :-)


Alcovelet said...

We're all like L-A! We all survive in piles here!

petite fleur said...

Hi Monica

Been following your blog but only just commenting for the first time. Didn't realise you know Lilian as well.

Then how do you explain my case where I'm really neat at work but a total mess at home ?

bACk in GERMANY said...

Hey.... what's that fax machine doing on L-A's desk?
Let's free up more space for her to spill more mess lah... ;)

I guess it's ok to be messy as long as you can still find your things. It will be a different story if it's messy and you can't find your things anymore - as in my case :o)

monlim said...

Cindy: the fax machine is mine! It's on her desk because the phone socket is there. Noooo... don't encourage her anymore!

Petit fleur: Thanks for reading! My guess is at work, you scared your boss see messy desk, at home you don't care cos only family what!! Hehe... guess only...

Alcovelet said...

Cindy, you have sharp eyes! But the space that it vacates will be swallowed up in a minute by L-A's other piles, says a seasoned piler.

eunice said...

I have to admit I'm like Andre. I LOVE putting my stuff in order (anal retentive in that way). Occasionally it'll get messy and then I'll happily spend time stacking etc.

Lilian said...

Of course a messy desk is a sign of genius.

And whenever pp make snide comments about the state of my office desk, I remind them that there is indeed order amongst the chaos, cos I know exactly where that stapler is under all that pile of paper.

Eddie is totally neat. What's wrong with these men?

Can't tell about Brian and Sean cos they don't really have proper desks. Brian works on our mahjong table *blush* and he's pretty messy. His school locker is an abomination. Sean doesn't have a desk, he works on the dining table, but he's definitely neater than Brian is.

There is the other saying I like and totally agree with: A neat desk is a sign of a sick mind.

monlim said...

Lilian, I love the way you think!

Eunice, you're welcome to clean up my house :D

Anonymous said...

My erstwhile work-desk was very neat too, but my home-study desk is messy.

My living-room & family-room are neat, but I allow my 'personal space'--area around my desk, my closet, around my bed--to go to seed!

In my case I think it's perfectionism at work. When I neaten it must be 'perfect', I just can't do a half-past-six neatening job. So to survive the drain on me I compartmentalize spaces.

Those areas which are more 'worthwhile' keeping neat i.e. those that more people get to see, I keep them freakishly neat. Those areas which only I see everyday, not worth the effort and so I just space out.

Hubby can 'neaten' in 10% of the time I take to do the same areas. But then he just arranges things into neat stacks without agonizing about where is the most appropriate or logical place to put each item. Things that are remotely not useful anymore he chucks into the trash. But when visitors are coming, I can 'force' myself to do it the way he does it. But that in itself is stressful!


breve1970 said...

My desk is like L-A's and KC's (my hubby) is like Andre's. Realised most of us women have messy desks at work but we are amazing teachers/people when it comes to coaching our kids! Haha.

Hannah (my elder daughter who is 7 this year), the more focused one, is like me. Her room and study table are perpetually messy.

Hayley (5 and the precocious one) who doesn't like anything too academic, is the neat freak. She would even arrange her sister's pencil case after Hannah has completed her homework or keeps Hannah's toothbrush back in the toothbrush holder when she spots it lying around the basis.

At her preschool, Hayley is the one who puts the stationery back for everyone in the class or pushes back their chairs after the lesson. But she drifts when the teacher is teaching... Sigh... Don't think she is suffering from ADD if she pays attention to details that she likes hor?

monlim said...

No lah, doesn't sound like ADHD... it's probably just a personality quirk! How many 5 year olds can pay attention to teachers? Perfectly normal!! And yes, see, messy mums are creative mums :D

breve1970 said...

I beg your pardon, yes, Monica, I meant ADHD. Anyway, Ad knows that I am going to get Hayley assessed by a psychologist called Chan Yee Pei in December this year.

You see, Monica, Hayley is.... er hmmmm not at all focused, still can't read despite the fact that she has learnt phonics in school, not able to do simple arithmetic like 1+2=3.

Ad has given me alot of advice as how to make the lessons more stimulating for my daughter. Am also reading up all possible parenting guides on how to read to her or make her read better, etc.

To make matters worse, the teachers in each preschool that she has attended (3rd one since August this year) claimed that she is not able to focus, lags behind when it comes to completing her work as well as the understanding of concepts, drifts during lessons, etc etc. All these have given me the jitters though KC thinks that she is still young. But not young anymore, I reckon, she will in K2 next year. But I am also quite reassured with the fact that Adeline has told me some kids would have a knowledge spurt or peak at 6 years of age. The psychologist, Yee Pei, has also mentioned it to me earlier this week too. We will just have a cognitive test done first followed by the more comprehensive ones next year if they are necessary.

Aiyah... thanks for listening. I find your blogs about GEP, school, your kids, muffins recipes so inspiring and informative.

Monica, kudos to you, for being such a supermum, able to juggle with your work and spending time with L-A and Andre.:) I can only teach one kid at a time :(

monlim said...

Ann (it's Ann, right?): thanks for sharing. I know it's worrying when our kids don't seem to match up. Good that you're seeking an assessment - do keep an open mind but also remember that kids develop at different paces, that's also perfectly normal.

When Andre was nearly 3, he still hadn't talked - we thot he might be autistic as he had many of the symptoms. Now he can't stop talking!!

My kids were also late readers (cos I didn't really bother!!) L-A read at K1/2, Andre only at K2. I remember being so frustrated with Andre at K2 cos he just couldn't understand the concept of simple addition. Now his maths is above average in school.

Many of the kids of mums here are not the "norm" as they are gifted or highly intelligent. Don't let that scare you into thinking that because Hayley can't do these things, she must be suffering from some condition. I've spoken to other mums from Andre's classmates, many of them complain about issues like not focusing, etc.

I'm not dismissing Hayley's case as nothing, but I hope I can reassure you not to worry too prematurely... it might just work itself out yet :)

breve1970 said...

Hi Monica

Thank you very much for your reassurance and advice. There is HOPE afterall.

Yes and it could also be because Hannah started reading at 4 and that has unconsciously and unwittingly set a benchmark for Hayley to be able to read at that age as well. When it didn't happen and is still not happening now, I am all flustered.

Just to share with you, I also got a little agitated when her teacher in her present preschool mentioned that she is not able to do rearrangement of sentences. For eg:-

Q:rice/Alice/for lunch/to have/likes

A:Alice likes to have rice for lunch.

Gosh, how do you expect a 5 year old child who doesn't know how to read, do that????

I told the teacher, "Thank you very much. Its ok. I will try to help her at home. Whatever improvement she has made in her lessons, is good enough for me." :)

Glad to know that L-A and Andre have turned out so well! :) Was following your blogs on them... they are well nurtured children besides being gifted and well above average.


monlim said...

Hi Ann, I think pre-school teachers in SG are a bit siao. Like in k1, many kids have not yet learnt to read, yet they insist on having spelling! What's the point? It's just memory work with no relation to reading - it's forgotten the day after the spelling is taken.

I brought up my concerns with Andre's childcare back then but was told that if they don't give spelling and homework, parents COMPLAIN. Aiyoh, mad one. Anyway, I realised I couldn't rely on the school so taught him to read on my own. He never did very well in the writing, spelling etc but guess what? At the end of the year, they gave an English test and Andre was one of the vere few who could do the comprehension and scored practically the highest in the class!! It's not that he's brilliant - it's just that if you follow patiently the order of reading before writing, the comprehension comes naturally. All the kids that just memorised spelling words couldn't understand a thing they were reading.

I'm sure Hayley will one day surprise you!

breve1970 said...

I can't agree more... the order of reading before writing. Will keep trying and not give up.

Yes, I am JUST SO DISILLUSIONED with the education system in Singapore. I was horrified when Hannah started her formal schooling this year at P1 and I guess being in RGPS didn't help much either. (Don't even try asking me why RGPS - thats another story that I can share with you over an email or something :)). Nobody told me that P1 work could be so DIFFICULT esp math. Gosh... I was utterly and totally shell-shocked! (I think you can probably deduce by now that I was such a hands-off mum when it came to preparing Hannah for P1). She pretty much worked on the assessments on her own after we have gone through a topic.

However, when I saw how complex her tests and exam questions were at P1 (Some other schools as well and St Hildas too! My friend showed me a P1 math question from St Hildas sometime ago), I was thinking to myself, "Hmmm.. how is Hayley ever going to do all these when her time comes...?" Sigh. That could have set off my panic button in a way.

eunice said...

Hi Ann,

Please don't let the teachers or school system in Sin get you down and your child. The schools there don't seem to realise that all children develop at different stages. I'm not brushing aside your concerns for Hayley but just don't stress yourself or her out.

I'm a Singaporean who is living away from Sin (and very glad) cos if my son who is 8 and in the Sin school system, he would have been called ADHD. He couldn't focus when he was young, chewed up books when I tried to read to him. I got stressed when some Sin mums here were horrified that as an infant he couldn't stay still while I read to him and they could read 15 (not kidding) of those baby books to their kids. After some time I told myself to stop it and let it be.

Sean is now able to read and write. Can he do it and score well in a Sin school exam? I doubt it but I'm just glad that the teachers and schools here are patient and it helps that the classes here are small.

Sin schools forget that a child is still a child and EQ is as important as IQ...

Monica, your posts always spark off such great debates!

breve1970 said...

Hi Eunice

Many thanks for sharing your experiences about Sean. Truly appreciate it. Gee... wish I knew you ladies sooner. Its very reassuring to hear all these bits of good advice from all of you.

Thanks, Adeline for linking me to all these wonderful mums through your blog:).

Eunice, I read somewhere that "people who are book-smart but lack EQ end up working for people who have lower IQs than them but who excel in EQ skills". Might or might not be true but like you, I still think EQ is as important as IQ:)

eunice said...

Ann, I believe EQ is as important as IQ.

Btw, I was horrified when I heard that parents prepare their children to go to P1. Er...what else is there for the child to look forward to and what is the school there for then?

breve1970 said...

Eunice... have lah! My daughter told me that some of the girls in her class have started doing P3 work at P1?!!!! Good grief.

Nowadays, kids go to school to socialize perhaps?! Some teachers are quite inspiring and committed so the kids could still learn from them.

Bear in mind that most of our kids have enrichment or tuition classes these days, so there is a tendency for parents or even teachers to think there's additional help even though the children are not able to grasp concepts while learning in school.

I realize that my P1 daughter, Hannah, has a weak understanding of Math concepts and I have to sit down with her and go through each topic after she has been taught in school. Initially, I thought it was because she was slower than the other girls in her class but found out from the other mums that their kids have the same problems too. It seems that the teachers tend to rush through a topic without much explanation. Its really demoralizing to know that but I guess thats why a lot of parents have also turned to homeschooling.

KC, my hubby, is horrified at how little has been taught at school and keeps condemning the education system. I do not have the courage nor am I prepared to homeschool my girls yet but will try to work around it:).

eunice said...

Seems like schools depend a lot on parents to tutor or tuition or enrichment classes rather than taking time to explain to children.

Wah! P1 doing P3 work! Talk about ambitious! I am glad if Sean can do P2 work! Alreayd his Chinese has major problems cos they don't teach it in schools here. He is waaay behind kids his age in Sin. So have a tutor (both TH and my Chinese are really bad).

I know of a few Sin parents who home school their kids but understand that MOE wants teaching plans for 6 years before they allow you to do it.

Again, there are MANY parents in your situation, so don't fret (I know, easier said than done)

monlim said...

Ann, I've heard of this phenomenon esp in the more prestigious schools. I think because the kids in these schools tend to come from better familities, the teachers gloss through topics assuming that the kids would have learnt them at home or at tuition centres. That's really awful.

I only know this through other parents' experience, so I don't know if it's better across the board at neighbourhood schools. But at St. Hilda's for example (which is still a neighbourhood school), the teachers do explain maths concepts very thoroughly because there are some kids who take longer to understand them. For this I'm grateful cos I've never had to go through concepts with both my kids, just revisions. They do get a good grounding in school.

breve1970 said...

Thanks, Monica!

Can't wait for Dec hols to come or Nov actually so that we can start doing more non-academic stuff at home:). Heehee!

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