Daddies dish out advice

DJ Shan Wee (above) wrote 99 Rules For New Dads, while Straits Times Life entertainment editor Andy Chen penned The Swing Of Things.
DJ Shan Wee (above) wrote 99 Rules For New Dads, while Straits Times Life entertainment editor Andy Chen penned The Swing Of Things.PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
DJ Shan Wee wrote 99 Rules For New Dads, while Straits Times Life entertainment editor Andy Chen (above) penned The Swing Of Things.
DJ Shan Wee wrote 99 Rules For New Dads, while Straits Times Life entertainment editor Andy Chen (above) penned The Swing Of Things.PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

DJ Shan Wee had a hard time finding helpful books for new dads, so he wrote one, while journalist Andy Chen pens a story on two little girls and their swing

Two dads write about the joys and pitfalls of fathering young children in new books published by Straits Times Press.

Radio host Shan Wee dishes out advice to new fathers in the tonguein-cheek guide 99 Rules For New Dads, while Straits Times Life entertainment editor Andy Chen has penned a poignant picture book about a swing for his two daughters.

In The Swing Of Things, which is illustrated by artist Ye Ruoshi, two little girls adore playing on the swing in their backyard. As they grow up, they begin to neglect it even as it waits for them faithfully.

Chen, 46, recalls seeing a swing hanging untouched on his neighbour's porch. His neighbour's children are now grown up and recently, the swing was taken down.

His daughters Faith, 10, and Sarah, seven, whom the girls in the book are named after, love swings - at least for now.

"Children outgrow things very quickly," says Chen, who drew inspiration from books such as Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, as well as Pixar animated short film Red's Dream (1987), about a unicycle which nobody rides any more. His wife, 41, is a primary school teacher.

He did not intend for the swing to become a metaphor for parenthood, but admits that subconsciously, he worries about the day his daughters will no longer need him.

DJ Shan Wee wrote 99 Rules For New Dads (above), while Straits Times Life entertainment editor Andy Chen penned The Swing Of Things.
DJ Shan Wee wrote 99 Rules For New Dads (above), while Straits Times Life entertainment editor Andy Chen penned The Swing Of Things. PHOTO: STRAITS TIMES PRESS

"It will be very hard for me to let go," he says. "But as parents, we will always be there in some way, even if our kids don't need us any more."

Wee, a DJ at One FM 91.3, hopes to fill a gap in the market with his "blokey" guide to fatherhood.

As a new father, he had trouble finding helpful literature as most of the books he read were aimed at mothers.

The 35-year-old, who is half-Irish and half-Chinese, grew up in Northern Ireland and is a permanent resident in Singapore, where he has lived for close to 12 years.

He has two sons - Ciaran, five, and Ruan, 21/2 - with his wedding planner wife, also 35.

The book's tone is set by its cover, for which Wee dressed up as action hero Rambo with milk bottle grenades, a toy gun and a baby in a carrier. The baby in the photograph is his friend's as his children are now too big for a baby carrier.

In its pages, Wee dishes out advice, from the nitty-gritty to the philosophical.

Do not shell out for the 3D ultrasound picture of your unborn child, he warns, because it is a lot of money for "what looks like a monkey covered in cabbage leaves".

Also, newborns are incapable of smiling until they are about three months old, so there is no point killing yourself trying to cheer them up.

Above all, be prepared to surrender the trappings of your unshackled life, such as eating out and watching the movies you like.

"I remember watching the Oscars ceremony some years ago," he says, "and realised the only nominated film I had caught was Frozen (2013)."

Ironically, his book is not wife-approved.

  • VIEW IT / MEET THE AUTHOR: ANDY CHEN

  • WHERE: Books Ahoy!, 02-03 Forum The Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Road

    WHEN: Saturday, 4.30pm

    ADMISSION: Free

    INFO: www.facebook.com/hellobooksahoy

    VIEW IT / MEET THE AUTHOR: SHAN WEE

    WHERE: Books Kinokuniya, 04-20 Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Road

    WHEN: June 17, 2pm

    ADMISSION: Free

He is, as of now, unsure how she will react to chapters about "pregnancy brain", a medical phenomenon in which mothers-to-be are affected by bouts of forgetfulness or confusion. He describes how, when pregnant, she once spent close to 20 minutes trying to pronounce "hippopotamus".

In such situations, he says, fathers-to-be have to be extremely supportive. "Always remember that your wife is your No. 1 priority."

•The Swing Of Things ($16) and 99 Rules For New Dads ($24.08) are sold at major bookstores.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2017, with the headline 'Daddies dish out advice'. Print Edition | Subscribe