If you tune in to Kiss92, you’d be familiar with Shan Wee’s dulcet voice on The Drive Home show in the evenings. The 37-year-old radio presenter/media personality ― offspring of a Chinese dad and an Irish mum ― is a doting dad to Ruan, 4, and Ciaran, 6, both “rough and tumble boys”.
Not surprisingly, swimming and playing football are typical high-octane boycentric activities Shan loves indulging with his boys. The fired-up father recently also filmed a YouTube series with his kids, called Daddy Diaries, for ClickNetwork.
“The 8 minutes of edited footage that you see does not show you the 80 minutes I spent frantically battling to keep their attention, off camera!”
Of course, what you see is the result of sheer hard slog on Shan’s part. Indeed, filming each ep, Shan says, was “absolutely maddening.” The biggest challenge, he notes, was fighting to keep the boys focused on the tasks at hand.
“[I’d to] stop them from punching each other, stop them from ripping their clip-on microphones off their T-shirts... The 8 minutes of edited footage that you see does not show you the 80 minutes I spent frantically battling to keep their attention, off camera!”
Even so, the hands-on dad is glad that his radio gig gives him the luxury of spending more time with his kids. And boys being boys, Shan’s time with his offspring goes hand in hand with handling his sons’ amped-up energy levels and conquering chaos.
Along the way, he has also developed the necessary patience to play with Lego, fight battles with Marvel figurines, as well as work on jigsaw puzzles for extended periods. In 2017, Shan even found time to pen and publish a book, 99 Rules for New Dads.
Adrenaline-high antics with his boys aside, what else does Shan look forward to as a parent? He laughs, “I look forward to the day when I see my sons play in a sports team.”
Shan gives details to SmartParents about parenting his two energetic sons.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I drive Ciaran to school at around 8am, and I’ll try to do spelling practice with him outside his classroom. Some days, I’ll swim with Ruan before taking him to preschool at 11am, then I’ll run errands or go to the gym for an hour. I’ll be in my radio office at 3pm and go on air from 4 to 8pm. When I arrive home, the boys would do their bath routine and we read three storybooks before bedtime.
How are the Wee brothers coping with school?
Ciaran attends an international school and is now in year two. He is the youngest child in his class and I never thought about this concept of “young for his age” when I was a school kid but suddenly, as a parent, it matters a great deal! For the past few years, Ciaran has been “behind” his peers for reading and writing especially. We try to help him as much as we can at home. More importantly, I always make it a point to check that he doesn't feel inferior because he's not reading at a high level. He's only 6 and I don't want him feeling angsty because of schoolwork at this point in his life. I am also glad that he seems happy to go to school every day.
What is their second language ― and how are they doing?
Both boys have been around Chinese lessons since they were very young. However, they are always reluctant to put it into practice. Unfortunately, I have zero understanding of Chinese, so there is nothing much I can do to help or even get a sense of their fluency.
What are Ciaran and Ruan’s personalities like?
They are very alike in the sense that they are both rough-and-tumble BOYS, always wrestling and fighting. My elder, Ciaran, has always been a bit more clingy, demanding and self-centred, while the younger, Ruan, is more generous and thoughtful to others. This is a trend that I’ve seen in quite a few of our social circle with an elder and a younger sibling.
As a radio DJ, writer and YouTuber, do you hope that your children will follow in your footsteps?
I certainly hope that they grow up with a love for music and reading. And I will be thrilled if one of them wants to pursue a job “because of his dad”. When I meet people who followed in their father's footsteps, I always find it heart-warming because I presume that “their dad was their hero”, and of course, that's what every man hopes for.
Has Ciaran or Ruan shown interest in these areas?
Ciaran is more at ease in front of the camera. There have also been times when he becomes very obsessed with one song, and we have to listen to it ON REPEAT in the car. Most recently, it was A Million Dreams from the musical, The Greatest Showman.
“I hope the both of them have sufficient self-confidence going into their teenage years to weather any bullying that may come their way, and that they know their self-worth is not based on what their peers say about them.”
Any sibling rivalry between the Wee brothers?
Sometimes, they can be very sweet to one another ― the older one will carry the younger brother like he's a baby, or they will hold hands to keep each other safe in a crowded place. However, a huge portion of the day is filled with them bickering with each other, especially because they want what the other has. They are both obsessed with getting the same amount of benefits, for example, if I pick Ruan up for a 30-second carry, Ciaran will insist that he also gets a 30-secondscarry, even though he was not tired or hurt in any way. 🤦♂️️🙄
How do you divide your attention between your two boys?
Since the two boys are fixated on getting what's “fair and even”, if I am playing with them at home, I have to be careful to allocate time evenly between them. For example, we play 20 minutes of Monopoly because that's what Ciaran likes, but after that we will play 20 minutes of MagnaTiles because that's Ruan’s favourite. If I buy food or toys, I’ll always buy two of everything ― otherwise “that’s not fair!”
What indoor and outdoor family activities do you enjoy on days off/weekends?
Simply kicking a football at our local park is one of our favourite things to do. Spending a day at Tanjong Beach digging in the sand is always a winner, too.
Do you have any house rules on gadget use?
My general inclination is to reduce the use of screens as much as possible, but I'm also pragmatic and recognise that they have a use to me. There are simply certain times during a long Sunday playing with the boys that I need a 20 minute-time-out. During those windows of time, I am happy that Mr iPad is there as my co-parent. When it comes time to stop the iPads, I do find that it's important to give fair warning like, “okay, you've got three more minutes”. When it's time to end it, I allow them to scroll forward to the last minute of the video they are watching. When the YouTube video comes to its own end, I find it's easier for them to accept that “time's up”.
What’s the most important value you wish to impart to your kids?
Self-esteem. I hope the both of them have sufficient self-confidence going into their teenage years to weather any bullying that may come their way, and that they know their self-worth is not based on what their peers say about them.
As a dad, do you have any fears?
I would say I have the same “disaster” fears that any dad would have ― afraid that kid will get knocked down by a car, fall from a building etc. I also have a real sorrow that my boys will grow up in a hot, global warming world that the generation before them created, and that there’s nothing much they can do about it.
What do you enjoy most about being a parent?
The nicest moments are when the boys are playing contentedly by themselves, or with each other. I also like seeing them grow and improve at something ― that could mean getting better at swimming, riding a bike, kicking a football or reading.
On the flipside, what do you miss most about your life before your kids?
It's very hard for me to remember what life was like before kids! I think about 28-year-old Shan and think "you had so much free time!! How did you fill your days, you slacker!!”
“Being a parent has probably made me a more tolerant person… I am more accepting that ‘everyone has their own path in life’ ― some people choose to have kids, some choose not to, some do co-sleeping, some breastfeed till very late, and all of these are valid and not up for my judgement.”
What has being a parent taught you?
I think being a parent has probably made me a more tolerant person. When I see a bratty kid throwing a tantrum on the street, now I would never shake my head and tut and grumble that “this kid is naughty” or “that parent is weak”. Similarly, I am more accepting that ‘everyone has their own path in life’ ― some people choose to have kids, some choose not to, some do co-sleeping, some breastfeed till very late, and all of these are valid and not up for my judgement.
The best parenting advice you’ve received?
I read a book called The Rules of Parenting ― it has lots of good tips on family life. I remember taking note of “parents who yell have kids who yell” and I try to adopt this in my life. I try very hard to keep my voice to a minimum as much as possible, and I think it has helped reduce a lot of stress in our lives.
Any plans to pen more parenting books?
I am pleased with 99 Rules for New Dads but I don't have plans to try that genre again. It has always been an ambition of mine to complete a work of fiction, but fiction writing is a hundred times harder! I mean to spend my free time writing this crime mystery novel I came up with, but I am a terrible procrastinator, so who knows when it will be finished?
Why crime and how was it sparked?
Writing crime is completely not in my character ― I have hardly read any crime novels, though I liked John Grisham a lot when I was a teenager. I just happened to have a cool plot idea which is based on crime and I want to try that. I deliberately went out and bought a Lee Child novel to try and learn what’s expected of a successful crime thriller.
The next milestone you’re looking forward to as a parent?
I would love to find a sport, skill or talent that the boys enjoy and are good at. And devote more time to them excelling at one thing, whether it's golf, piano, chess or the Rubik’s Cube! I also look forward to the day when I see my sons play in a sports team.
Please fill in the blanks:
The one thing I wish I had known about parenting before I became a parent is… All other new parents are just as clueless as you. They are probably making all the same mistakes, so you shouldn't feel guilty and inferior.
My most embarrassing parenting moment was… In a crowded elevator when my 3-year-old pointed at a woman and said, “is there a baby inside there?”
Our favourite country to travel to is… Gold Coast ― we had a great time playing on the beaches and engaging with animals on the Aussie farms.
My favourite kid’s book/show/song is… This rhyming book called Oi Frog! For kid’s TV show, it’s Teen Titans. Recently, I introduced the boys to a Carpenters’ song, Yesterday Once More, which we all love to sing along in the car ― every sha-la-la-la-la…
My parenting role model is… Phil Dunphy from Modern Family.
My guiltiest pleasure is… Early 2000s high-school comedies like Mean Girls and Bring It On.
The kids’ toy or game I’ll never understand is… SLIME. It's messy and benefits the human race in no way.
If I had a superpower, it would be… To eat pizza with no weight gain.
The future parenting moment I fear the most is… “Hey dad, I Googled your name, can you explain this...!”
Photos: Shan Wee, Instagram/@dadleycooper
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