SFE Coordinator, Voice Talent
1) What’s a typical day like in the life of Francyn Tan?
I’m an SFE Coordinator in a secondary school – SFE stands for School Family Education – and I organise Parenting Talks and Workshops for the school. I work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am – 12noon, and on days when we have talks/workshops (usually Saturdays) I go into school 45 minutes earlier to put up directional signs, meet the speaker and get their refreshments ready.
After I’m done in school, I have to feed the hungry hoard, so I run back, pick up the husband (who works from home) and maybe the younger son, and go for lunch at a nearby hawker centre or coffeeshop. Then it’s back home, do work on the laptop, go on Facebook *grin* and maybe take a much needed nap because I don’t get to sleep till 2am – my creative juices kick in only at night when it’s quieter and nobody demands my time.
Then I cook dinner because the maid sucks at cooking. It’s usually chicken, chicken and more chicken because I’m only ever good at chicken – I make pretty good chicken rice, Boon Tong Kee Style, and my kids love the turbo-broiled roast chicken (I almost typed in roast children! AARRGH!) or fake teriyaki chicken. I’m not so great at pork though. On days Wesley is not home for dinner, we have fish, because he’s allergic to fish.
Once dinner is done, then I can get at the work I’m supposed to complete.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are free days, but I’m not “free” – there’s grocery-shopping to be done (I have hungry boys, maid and mother-in-law), medical appointments for old folks (Mother-in-law, Mother, and occasionally husband) and cooking to be done almost everyday, since the family hates the maid’s cooking. *grin*
Nights are the only times I get to do my own thing – there’s line dancing class on Monday nights, the occasional voice overs (I’m a voice talent too) which can only be done at night as there is less noise, and of course, Facebooking … I keep in contact with my friends from secondary school, my days as a flight stewardess with SQ, overseas friends I’ve made through Facebook ….
2) It seems your personal motto to “live your life with arms wide open”. What inspired that?
That line is from the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. I first heard it while my husband and I were in America for 2 months, and it hit me hard because I was thinking of my children who had been left in Singapore because of studies … I love the line because it’s reminding me that life is what the individual makes it out to be – my life is this way because I made choices that caused me to be in this position in life. Right or wrong, they’re MY choices and to blame others or the circumstances I’m in is just giving excuses for not doing the right thing, or the things I want to do.
So if I wanted to do something, like say, ride the Segway – as Nike says, “Just DO it”. It has come to Singapore and it doesn’t cost thousands of dollars to ride it … for $130 the whole family can get to enjoy riding the Segway for half an hour … and I’ve had the joy of knowing that I’m a natural at it, and keeping the memories of family bonding to treasure.
So I live my life with arms wide open, taking whatever life has to throw at me, good or bad … and make the best of it. There are SO many things I want to do and there’s so little time to do it! The old cliche “if life throws your lemons … MAKE LEMONADE” holds true for me. I might whimper for a while, but I’ll eventually get up, roll up my sleeves and say, “Now, just HOW am I going to solve this?” *wide grin* If I can’t do it, I’ll LOOK for someone who CAN. Then I learn from them till I can do it myself.
Oh, and I positively LOATHE nay-sayers … and worse, “You can’t do this because you’re a girl”. I hate gender profiling. *grin* I’ll NEVER tell a child “You can’t do this” unless its dangerous (like jumping off the building in a single bound – they ain’t Superman and I’ll reason with them). I’ll always say, “Let’s give it a shot. Now, tell me first HOW you’re going to do it.” (I was a childcare teacher for a while – an extension after teaching my own 2 boys – because I love children. They’re a lot LESS complicated than adults!)
3) Why the passion for linedancing and painting?
I’ve always loved dancing and drawing … I just had to put it on the back burner when I had my family, but I managed to find creative outlets by first teaching my 2 boys – I was quite the mad mother who would dance with my babies in shopping centres when Christmas Songs were playing, or run through the sprinklers, screaming with my boys while the other mothers looked on disapprovingly. I like to think that we had a fun childhood together.
I know my kindergarten kids all enjoyed lessons with Miss Francyn – we wouldn’t do sit down lessons – I’d take the lessons OUTDOORS and we’d have fun. Running downhill like Jack and Jill (it’s all grass and if they fell – oops, let’s get up again and DO IT again!) or hunting in the jungle for lions, tigers and bears, oh MY (it was only a small grove of trees in the hill, but the kids had fun with their imagination and I was encouraging them to describe what they saw in their minds).
I’d bang away on the old piano in school and teach the kids to sing and dance to nursery rhymes … but they weren’t the ordinary ones – they were the ones I sang to my kids when they were babies – American Nursery rhymes like “Take me out to the Ball Game” or sing in French “Frere Jacques” *grin*
When my boys were in P3 and P4, I taught the classes simple line dances – instead of making them do worksheets during Contact Time (I wasn’t a teacher, just a parent volunteer who minded the kids while the teachers had weekly meetings) – I got permission from the Principal, by the way. The children LOVED it.
So by doing all these, I kept my love for the arts alive, until my children were in Secondary School and I could do my own “THANG”.
Anyway, I need the exercise, both for the body and the brain – it isn’t easy remembering the steps to the songs but it’s SO GOOD when you actually CAN dance and not look too much of a fat unwieldy hippo in a cowboy hat and boots. And NO, I DON’T wear those at all. I refuse to stand out from the crowd with artificial means and would prefer to let my joy of dancing set me apart from the rest.
Painting was somewhat of an accident – one of my best friends asked if I wanted to do oil painting and I practically jumped at the chance … I didn’t THINK anyone else would be interested. I’m not painting in the style of my Lao Shi (Instructor) because he does his painting the Impressionist’s Style – which to me, is for people who are BLIND and can only see vague outlines, but if you stand 15 feet away, the painting practically jumps out at you. I found out much later at the BodyWorld’s exhibit that yeah, them Old Masters REALLY had poor eyesight and that’s why they paint they way they do – think Monet and the blurred images – cross your eyes and you’d get the same result!
Anyway, I paint what I see … and if I don’t see wrinkles, they’re not painted in. I like people, so I guess it’s natural that I prefer to paint people. I was told that painting people is one of the hardest things to do … but I loathe painting scenery and find THAT hard to do. Oh, Lao Shi HATES the way I paint. I just think his Style and Mine just don’t gel.
My husband always asks me why I still go for lessons when I’m constantly driven crazy by LaoShi’s comments … I tell him it’s because going to the CC is a DISCIPLINE and a HAVEN … I don’t have time to paint at home, and besides, there’ll be CONSTANT interruptions and I don’t want to snap at my family. I don’t really like to talk when I’m painting. I can only listen to my music and paint at the same time – talking is beyond me when I paint … it’s like I’m using a different part of my brain and I can’t find the words to describe anything or form coherent sentences.
Hmmm … I haven’t answered why the passion – just the satisfaction of knowing I CAN. I CAN dance … I CAN paint and passably well. I CAN ice-skate, I CAN sing, I CAN connect with little kids … I CAN, CAN, CAN. That’s all. Perhaps one day I might find something else that I want to do and make it into a CAN.
4) What are some of Life’s lessons you’d share with your children as they are growing up?
Oh boy. PLENTY. But the top of the list has to be:
1) YOU can DO ANYTHING if you tell yourself you CAN.
2) If you have a dream, don’t just SIT on it. THINK how you CAN make it a reality.
3) Don’t you let ANYBODY tell you it’s IMPOSSIBLE. Making it possible is only a dream away. Don’t give up.
4) You can’t change the whole world, but you can change the corner you live in. If you can make someone’s life BETTER by just lifting a FINGER to help, DO IT.
5) Smiling isn’t going to kill you. Making Friends is a LOT tougher than Making Enemies.
6) Life isn’t fair, so stop whining. You are ALLOWED to whimper for a while (everyone’s entitled to feel sorry for himself for 5 minutes) but after crying, wipe your tears, get up and GET ON WITH LIFE. Nobody ever said life is easy.
7) Behave yourself when your parents aren’t around. You are representing the teachings your mother gave you when you were young – and if you behave inappropriately, you’re telling ME your mother forgot to teach you how to behave WELL. So BEHAVE. (Same tone as Austin Powers – absolutely mad character but he cracks me up). This works for Primary School kids. It doesn’t always work for teens. IF their parents had a hand in raising their children, THEN the kids behave. If not, well … you just get a lot of rolling eyes as they roll away from you.
Which is PRECISELY what I want – for those annoying ones to GO AWAY.
And if they don’t go away, I tell them to GO AWAY.
I’m known to tell teens and adults off for eating on the train – stand far, far away from me if you get embarrassed *impish grin*
5) What do you think contributes to a successful marriage and successful parenting?
I’m not sure if I can be the authority on those.
My husband and I share the same values about what constitutes good behaviour … and he leaves the raising of the boys to me … so they’re HIS boys when they’re good, and mine to discipline when they’re bad. *grin* Having said that, he’s a good father and tries to reason things out with them. With me, after a number of WHYS, I end up being exasperated and tell them, BECAUSE I SAID SO.
We also have similar views when it comes to marriage and finances – I deal with the “people” part of life, while he deals with the finances. I don’t like dealing with money and like to tell people I’m Math Dyslexic (there IS this condition called Dyscalculia) so they won’t ask me difficult questions. I think I’d die without a calculator, or just be smart and marry one. *impish grin*
When it comes to romance, I’m definitely the more romantic one. He’ll go, “AH? Do this FOR WHAT?” but he’ll give in to me if I really want it bad enough. So I have to be zhi dong (the closest English translation would be … what, understanding, don’t ask for the cow and moon, be reasonable?) and not demand when he’s really busy.
We didn’t have much of a Valentine’s this year. Or every year, for that matter *grin* But I appreciate that our bills are paid on time, we have a decent roof over our heads, and I can buy whatever I want whenever I feel like it, within reason, of course. But William is LUCKY that I actually prefer grocery shopping to jewellery shopping (that just about BORES the hell out of me. Finding a cheap bargain thrills me more).
I think a good marriage needs a lot of give and take in equal proportions, not just one partner always giving and the other always taking. And giving the other partner room to breathe and do their own “thang”. Well, maybe not with the opposite sex *grin* That’s one of the reasons why I take up line dancing and not ballroom dancing … you’d need a partner for ballroom and William has 2 left feet, and if I were to dance with another man, that wouldn’t BE appropriate. Similarly, I’d get worried if he spent too much time in the company of other women … ok, in that case, let’s put it as having a healthy jealousy keeps partners not ever taking each other for granted.
And oh, having a sense of HUMOUR is so important too … you need to be able to laugh together, tease each other gently etc etc. I think what attracted me to William was that he thought I was funny … and I thought he was funny too. You know that song, Teenage Dream by Katie Perry (yes, yes, I know, I’m listening to songs of my kids’ generation, but they find it cool that Mum knows and can sing and dance to the songs – they let me listen to new songs and download them into my iPod for me) Well, I think some parts of the song reflect what I feel about William.
At the end of the day, you’ve got to be COMFORTABLE with your partner, because all those sparks, fireworks, those can get TIRING after a while … and if you can enjoy just being in the company of your partner without having to talk, that’s a partner for life. Sometimes, you just want peace and quiet and someone to hold on to.
Successful parenting is when your kids don’t end up in jail, don’t sponge off you till you’re dead and don’t make you a grandparent in your 40s.
Grace says: This is one of the most FUN interviews, since the one with Catherine Lim. This interview marks the start of a series with my friends (people you may not know, may not have seen on TV, but may end up liking anyway!) I’m glad I asked Francyn for this interview as now I know she once worked as an SQ girl (wow!) and her views on successful parenting! (I concur with her views, by the way) :D Her parting shot for this interview was “Extract what you will, dear, and if it’s not politically correct, tough. *grin*” What I admire about Francyn is exactly this self-assuredness. I remember being very impressed watching her put on her earphones and start dancing to the tunes in her iPod during breaktime at a course we attended. She is one confident lady who doesn’t display any self-consciousness around people, and yes, her love for dancing DOES set her apart from the rest.
When I become a mother, if I ever do, I’d like to be a mother like her!
Look out for: More interviews with my friends, each awesome in his or her own way.. and of course, the people you may know AND may have seen on TV or in cinemas!
Check back again soon in a day or two for more exciting updates!