You guys remember Petrina Kow, former DJ from Class 95 and 91.3? She left the morning show with Joe Augustin a couple of years back to stay home with her 2 kids and she’s now a full-time hands on mommy. These days, she’s also helping kids learn Mandarin with her series of Chinese books, but more on that later.
I recently had a chance to sit down with her over brunch at East Coast’s Carl’s Junior to talk secret mommy stuff.
I originally wanted to do a podcast, seeing how I used to love listening to her on the radio every morning so it would be like I’m hosting my own talk show with a proper DJ. Except that Carl’s Junior is a terrible place to have an interview and we had to TALK REALLY LOUDLY to drown out all that crazy ambient noise.
So instead, you’ll have to simulate your own audio as you read because I shan’t maul your ears with the recording.
Ok, let’s go easy. How about telling us a bit about yourself.
My name is Petrina, mother of 2 children, aged 8 and 4. I used to be a radio DJ on Class 95 as well as 91.3FM. In the last 5-6 years I have been helping my husband out in his animation business, to do the casting of the animation videos as well as act in them.
Has it been worth it leaving a job as a fulltime DJ to be a stay home mom?
Ooh, this is a hard one! And more so recently because Joe (Augustin) and I have been discussing a lot lately about coming back again. I do almost feel like, I might have made a wrong move leaving so early. Yet everyday, when I see how i get to be with my kids a little more, I know it was the right decision.
I’m glad to be with them at this stage at their life because as much as it may not sit so deeply into their memory who changed their diapers, feeds them, its important for bonding. It wasn’t so much I couldn’t do these before but I was just too tired – the quality gets compromised! (Laughs)
When they get really unmanageable, do you have the urge to yell “Mommy is a famous DJ, I really shouldn’t have to put up with this”?
Oh no, they do not give two hoots about that! The kids do follow me around on my voiceovers and all that, but the highlight for them is eating candy in the studios. It’s never a glamourous thing, I basically hide myself in a corner and speak into a microphone.
When I was doing the morning show my daughter hears me on radio, but her main concern was always, “Why isn’t mommy having breakfast with me?
We’re curious to know, as a celebrity, do you put on makeup wherever you leave the house? Like even to the market.
Haha, for my friends who know me, they are constantly chiding me that I’m such a useless “celebrity”, if you can even call me that! I do try to dress comfortably and suitably for the occasion but it’s not that important to me.
I don’t think I’m so famous that people will stop me in the streets and go all starstruck. I can pretty much get around my day unrecognized.
Have your kids had an epic meltdown in public before, and how did you deal with it?
My son has never had a massive meltdown. He only does the uncontrollable crying thing when he gets woken up or is having a nightmare.
On the other hand, my daughter has the most epic meltdowns. Never in public because to others she is such a wonderful, angelic, 懂事 (Mandarin for mature) kind of girl, but I’ll put this down on record – last year, at age 7, she ran out of the house. 离家出走, as it were. She got so angry that she did this massive high-pitched scream and just left!
I’m so glad it’s not happening anymore now and I’m able to get a handle on the two of them, they’re honestly such great kids.I don’t believe in the smack them in public philosophy and I’ve also learned especially with my daughter that I cannot add fuel to the fire.
You’re presently doing this Learn Chinese Books series. How did that happen?
I’m very ang moh pai (Hokkien for English-speaking) so Chinese was a struggle all my life until I decided to marry a Taiwanese husband. So he and his whole family are very pro-learning Mandarin but I was like “ok la if cannot learn never mind, not important right?”
But through the years, I started communicating more with my mother-in-law and as my Mandarin improved, I realized what a world it opened up for me.
My 2 kids have been quite bilingual since young because of the exposure to Grandma. The thing is, I read to them a fair bit, but when I tried to find Chinese books, they were either too hard to read – because I cannot read them, haha – or they just weren’t interesting books.
We thought, why don’t we turn Taoshu into a series of Learn Chinese Books? So the books are now available at Kinokuniya, online and selected Chinese book stores.
How old are these books suitable for?
We say ranging for 3-8, but it really depends on the level of their Chinese. We encourage parents to start reading to them at about 3.
Some readers on the blog are considering leaving their jobs to be a stay home mom, but they’re not sure if they should take the plunge. What sort of advice do you have for them?
I know women who are so clear on what they want, that even though they are the most dedicated and loving moms, they will never give up their job simply because they need to have that intellectual stimulation.
But I also know women who feel like no job in the world is as important as the role I play as a mother.
I’m just lucky enough to have a job where I can duck in and out and earn a semi-decent living without spending long hours away from the kids. It gives me the flexibility and time to decide where I want to be at what point.
So I guess I would say, follow your heart. Your kids are only young once. Whatever moments you have with them, make it count.
I’ve been wanting to step up the Mandarin education with my kids but my search for Chinese books have been equally frustrating. It was way too embarrassing to attempt to read a book filled with words I couldn’t identify. The kids were all like “mommy, what’s up with the dramatic pauses, get on with the story already…” so I just gave up and stuck to English books instead.
The past week, I’ve been on an intensive Chinese-reading program where I read them only Chinese books. At first Tru was like “what are you saying? I don’t like this” but then he got sold on the amazing artwork and started listing all the animals in English. Now, they’re able to identify animals in Mandarin and this momma is so proud. Also, I’m able to read an entire Chinese book for once so it’s like I’m totally kicking ass at Mandarin, which is a great success.
And now as a reward for getting through this long post, Petrina is giving away one set of her Learn Chinese Books to one reader. Head on here to pick one, they’re catered for different ages, so just leave a comment below on which set you’d like. Contest ends this Sunday 5 June and one reader will be selected randomly.
Learning Mandarin for the win!
Updated: Congrats to Pearlyn (comment #3), winner of the contest! I’ll be sending you an email shortly to arrange for delivery.