Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Superhuman Mom

A couple weeks ago, Gooly was down with a fever. That night, I was armed with a wet cloth to cool down the temperature. He said groggily, "Thanks, Mama for wiping me." That was really sweet, and I noticed strangely that he calls me Mama when he feels down and needs to be manja-ed and sayang-ed. Papah James being his usual kancheong self suggested that we might need to bring him to the doctor's if he didn't get better any soon.

"It's ok, Papah. No need. Mama is my doctor." Wuiyoooh! I remember thinking, "This mahmee got no lesen one.."

But it's a norm, aint it? That mothers know best (fathers also-lah!) and mothers can do everything to fix anything! I used to think that, and at present still believe in that at times. Say, if there's something I don't know pertaining to nothing scientific, I'd ask my ahbu.

Today while in the taxi, I was explaining about some safety measures for passengers, i.e. always fasten the seat belts

Gooly: What will happen if we don't?
Me: When there is an accident, we will get flung out, if we did not have the seat belt fasten.
Gooly: And then who will come rescue us?
Me: The paramedics, I suppose.
Gooly: You must come rescue me.

On another occasion, we spoke about holding hands to prevent him from being kidnapped.

Gooly: Who will rescue me from the bad people?
Me: The police.
Gooly: You must come rescue me.

Sometimes I don't get what he means. "Who will rescue me?", he asked. Not "Will I be rescued?" or some other easier questions like, "What is 2 + 1?" When the flow of conversation is not what I expected, I'd usually go silent. I want to understand my boy. And therefore, I think. I think, I think, I think.. and therefore this is what I think:

He trusts that he will be rescued, and has such faiths that Mahmee will 'kaotim' everything, even mega catastrophes such as a kidnap or an accident, where he is wounded. Maybe his definition of 'rescue' is somewhat more complicating. Mahmee must rescue means Mahmee must be there, to comfort and to sayang when he is in trouble?

And so after 10 seconds of silence, I reassured him that Mahmee will rescue him from all mishaps. Doncha worry, son! Mama is SUPER WOMAN!

I need to sew a costume. I think body-hugging catsuit suits me. Gargies, pinjam mesin jahit! :P

Monday, September 29, 2008


Have you ever been thru a series of unfortunate events and ended up being adamant about something which you wouldn't on another day? Here's an example: When you see an unwashed cup in the sink, you would have washed it on any other day. But on one of those damn day, the small cup irks you so much that you yell, and insist stubbornly that the cup be washed there and then by the culprit. With strong urgency and bull stubbornness you want the job done!

A while ago, Gooly woke and wanted his basketball pumped. We don't have a pump and so we had to cross over to the friendly neighbour's porch to use theirs. Every evening we passed by the house before reaching the park, and the old lady will call out Gooly's name. And does he reciprocate the friendliness? Nope.He hides behind me. And for months, I have been trying to coax him to at least smile. But to no avail.

So today.. I launched my DARE TO DISCIPLINE operation. "You want it, you go ask for it," I insisted. He wouldn't budge. "I won't do it for you!" I challenged. He was just as stubborn. "Go and ask it yourself!" I hollered. He started crying.

The sobs turned into wails turned into bawls. What did I achieved? Nothing. What did he get? Still a deflated ball.

It's one of those 'chimakan' days. Forgive us (while I go bang my head against the wall, and him, wallow in self-pity)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Numero Uno

If someone were to ask me about my earliest childhood memories, I think I can retrieve many events from my ROM. Papah James is undeniably amazed at my data-retrieval system as he can't, much to his chagrin, recall what he had for dinner just a while ago. He remembers little about ANYTHING. And I am the sort to remember EVERYTHING.

I remember my Chim kindergarten uniform; puffy white sleeves with maroon cross-back pinafore. I remember feeling proud of my number 9 position in class. And sadly, I also remember being daunted by my evil, sinister aunt who claimed, number 9 is 'sapsapsui'; her unborn child will be No.1. This must be kiasuness at its prime.

Three years later, the prophesied number came true. And it was I who claimed it. Whether the forecasted child ever achieved numero uno, neither my mom nor I was interested, not in the least.

Was I motivated due to her brutal words? Did I want to prove her wrong? I don't think so. I remember thinking that she was a bully, and that I should not be affected. My ahbu must have parted some wisdom at that very moment of distress. Ah...my wise ahbu, who if could speak English, would probably say, "Up your arse!" Heee heee hee.. Her cantonese version is of course less harsh but synonymous; "Wa chi hui..!!" (don't be bothered).

Anyways, while walking on the stage to receive the 'buku cerita' award, I remember thinking, "No. 9 is indeed 'sapsapsui'. No. 1 isn't that hard either.." If only I had hung on to the philosophy a little longer. Being a Gemini, I lose interest easily. Teehee..

No.1? Been there, done that.. let's move on. That's Geminis' way of life. Bad or good, huh?

Of sex and death

There are two inevitable topics which I fear, dread and hate whilst bringing up Gooly:
a. sex
b. death

I must think I am not equipped enough for such heavy topics. To date, I have managed to skim through topic (a) rather uneventfully. The chapter on reproduction in THE HUMAN BODY book is always delivered as a matter-of-factly, albeit slightly faster than the other chapters. And of course, the text is read with much trepidations. He may or may not have noticed. I definitely hope it's the latter.

I believe that it makes a difference that I have given him an early exposure on the human anatomy. Every body parts are labeled and named accordingly; the penis, the breasts, the brain, the rectum, etc. I reckon dicks and boobs and arses will be added into his vocabulary with or without my aide, sooner or later. So let's begin with the 'proper' ones. Without embarrassment. (At least try-lah)

Thus, he thinks it's most natural that babies are fed with breasts milk. He doesn't giggle childishly like the other older boys when he saw baby Izella suckles her mummy's breasts. In fact, he feels rather comforted that he was fed and loved that way before.

Along with this preliminary round of sex education, I have also taught him about respecting privacy, his and others. No flashing, and yelling STOP when inappropriate touches are administered. *Sweat sweat* So many things to cover..Oh boy, I'll need CPR when the time comes to talk about condoms and more. *Deodorant please, my armpits are sweating profusely*

Now, the topic on death. Let's see.. he has seen plants wither and die.. His pet fish also died. But he has not shown much emotions. I suppose he has accepted death less morbidly. To put it simply, he has thought death as a part of life. I have left it as it is, without complicating matters for him and me. That is until today..

As usual, one question leads to another.. It all began with a Scientific fact about how the heart pumps blood and then he wanted to know what happens when it stops pumping?

"We die," I said nonchalantly. I seriously do not think deaths are a biggie. I don't get it when people threaten, "You want to die, is it?" or "Can die one, you know?" It's only natural to die, correct?

Prior to this, he has been satisfied with, "We die.. It died (referring to his pet fish)" Lo and behold! Today he wanted to know what happens after that.. *sweat sweat* I was thinking internally, "We die means die lah!" but what kind of mother would give such retorts? (Yeah, yeah, not even me..:P)

"We go to heaven." (Don't challenge me on this.)

"What do we do there?" (Aiyo.. why ask so much?)

"We'll be with GOD, and everything we do there, we'll be happy, I suppose."

"Will you be there?" (Sei forrrrr!)

"I hope so." (Son, it won't matter then.. when you are with HIM *-^)

"You must be there....!" my boy pleaded.

And so, I will be there! Mahmee will be good. You be good too. And we'll jam there. Haha!

This reminds me of Last Kiss by Pearl Jam. It's an oldie but given a new breath by Eddie Vedder, circa 1997.

Oh where oh where can my baby be?
The lord took her away from me
She's gone to heaven, so I've got to be good
So I can see her when I leave this world

Corny as it may seem..but really may I ask, what other better and simpler formula is there? Be good, and you spend your eternal life with loved ones and HIM.

This, I learn from Gooly. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008


As soon as Gooly could understand Mahmee's words, and before he started demanding requesting for things, the word PLEASE has been carved in his membrane. Much to everyone's delight, the mini Gooly would walk around, with clasped hands (as though begging), with head slightly bowed, saying "piss" or "pish".

"Pish" when he wanted your bread.

"Piss" when he wanted the toy you were holding.

I think it is common to have parents insisting on, "Say please first" before passing the object in hand to a child. Some have even resorted to dubbing it THE MAGIC WORD, meaning:

1. if the child doesn't say the magic word, he/she will not get what he/she wants
2. as long as he/she says the magic word, he/she will get whatever he/she wants, including the last precious luncheon meat on the table Mahmee has been saving for her precious tea-sandwich

Sacre bleu! Is life so simple? Say please and you get the precious luncheon meat everything, anything you want? Nei jiau siong! (If only so simple/ You wish lah/Where got so easy?)

Thus not much later, I have to cruelly impart another life lesson to Gooly; say 'piss' all you want, you still MIGHT not get the luncheon meat it.

It's all rather confusing, I admit. And cruel. If Gooly spoke Cantonese, and has a nature like mine, he'd probably say, "Wan yeh ah?" (Is this a game?)

And yet the game continues. For instance, a while ago, I brought a plate of 6 butter cookies, and carefully explained about sharing and being fair; he gets 3, I get 3. Hey, be happy with 3. If it's luncheon meat, there's none for you.

Gooly munched, swallowed and char char dai dai came nearer to me.

"Who are these for?" pointing at MY cookies. "Mine," I roared.

"But.. but.. but... puhleeeese..."

I stuffed the cookie into my mouth. Bwahahahahah.

Welcome to the real world, Gooly. (Ish, after that I ganti balik with another type of cookie lar..Blek!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My siblings and I

Drink hot coffee
Drink hot tea
Burn your lips
And remember me

Do you remember that poetry? If you were an 80s kid, I bet on my last dollah that someone wrote those lines in your standard 6 autograph book, along with 'forget me not' and other hopeful messages.

On some quiet afternoons, sipping my usual cup of 3 in 1 Nescafe, I don't burn my lips but do remember certain things and people. Of late, I have been thinking about my siblings.

There are 5 of us; 3 boys, 2 girls. Below are snippets of memories I have of them. Snippets.. they are like a 5 second film-reel playing over and over again. Sometimes I close my eyes, hoping to remember more, the before and after, perhaps..

My eldest brother was born 7 years earlier. So while I was eager to play 'masak-masak', he was already at a stage where he copied Duran Duran's awful fashion sense. And that also means, we were the least close. There were (and are) not many conversations. But one particular event stuck in my head. We were then staying in this huge bungalow where my Ah Ma, Ah Ku, Ah Kim, cousins and us stay under one roof. On my fifth birthday, this brother has climbed over the gate to cross over to the Indian Everything-Also-Got shop to buy me a yellow squeaky ducky. And for reasons unknown, he lost his nerve, and couldn't climb back in. My Ah Ma was a rather strict and grumpy old woman, who thought he was being naughty for going out without permission, and decided he ought to be punished. And so he stood out in the sun for hours? Minutes? I don't know because I didn't tell the time then. Yeah.. I look at rubber duckies differently now, with a pinch of guilt and a whiff of nostalgia.

My sis and I are the closest, but not when we were younger though. We shared a room, and she couldn't stand my snoring. At one stage, I was totally freaked out by the noise of airplanes flying by at night. I don't know how I related those sounds to Hantu Kum Kum coming to get me, but I would get really terrified and cry. And she would wake and hold, and pat my hand until I drift off to sleep again. The more recent bed encounter was when I was pregnant with Gooly. We were goofing on my bed, using a measuring tape and measured every parts of our body; the boobs, the ass, the fingers, the nose, the nostrils, the eyes.. and laughed ourselves silly until Papah James came back and we composed ourselves. Now we remain composed as we are both mothers who behave like all mothers do. Most unfortunately. :(

My 2nd bro is the smartest. He learns everything on his own. He plays the guitar, the keyboard without any lessons. Because he is so smart, he expects everyone to be too. Oh well, maybe not expect.. but I feel that way because of one thing he said to me, "C'mon, you must be more singmuk!' I was probably 10 then, and with those words, I am observant, vigilant and of course, singmuk today. There is a softer side of him, in which he walked 30 minutes to Fajar Supermarket to buy a 36-pieces colour pencil set in the rain for my 10th birthday, and fell into the monsoon drain, and broke an arm, and had to be in a cast for weeks. I hope I didn't say, "Taisei, veli good." Hahah.. I know I would now. But I was thoroughly touched, though slightly disappointed that he has chosen a box with a sports car image, and not the one with pretty flowers and beautiful butterflies. Ewww... now I am glad he didn't.

Lastly, my memories of my 3rd brother. My sweet sweet brother.. the most thoughtful one. One event will etch in my heart for life. Because of my poor memory, I cannot recall the details. But on that fateful day, he took the cane for me. Koosh! Koosh! My Ah Pa didn't cane any of us, but him, because of me. It may or may not have been my fault, neither of us can remember. But as a sister, I felt and feel sad whenever flashes of the scene come to mind. And of late, I have images of the one time when he piggy-back ride me upstairs to sleep. I was in my green pyjamas. I had the coconut hairstyle. And I was not small. Strange how I remember such mundane details and forget the other important ones.

If I could, I would capture these moments and erm.. I don't know, put them on TV so that I can watch them over and over again? Ah well, writing them down is another way to remember. I do, sometimes catch myself staring out the window, squeezing my brain juice, trying hard to recall every little details of the past. I carefully then deposit them in the memory bank and double click the 'save' button. I want to remember.. :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Childhood Love-story

I like love stories.. puppy- innocent- love kinda stories. I don't remember having a boyfriend in kindergarten. And I don't remember hating boys either. I was probably busy eating toafufah then, didn't care much about boys until much later (Yes, marderrr.. much much later, wokeh?) But it tickles my ribs when I hear about real encounters on childhood love. I remember a friend who was kissed on the slide, and felt soooo cheated.

Hang on.. ah.. I do have a love story to tell. But it happened much much later (Yes marderr.. much much later :P) This fella threw an ink pen and it landed on my uniform. And I ended up wearing a smeared blouse, and hating that guy. Of course, he would be my first boyfriend.

So yeah, once in a while I smile at past encounters as such. And very often I orchestrate Gooly's love story. Look at this pic..

Doesn't it tell a love story? This girl named Nong Bang is the rockest chick in the neighbourhood. Look at her cheeky smile. She is a samseng, ok? But I like her curls, and her samsengness also.. Weird, I know..

At least Gooly's inaugural love story will be more interesting than his mahmee's. Do you remember yours?

How kids play

"You don't come to my house again." *slams door* This is uttered by a four-year old to her friend who was invited to play at her house. The mom was shocked and asked me, "It was so embarrassing. What would you have done?"

I would not have let the situation spiral out of control. I would have intervened before the girl stomped upstairs and slammed the door. I would have helped the girls resolve whatever crisis they have before things turn ugly, and loud. Share.. take turns.. be nice, it's usually these few things.

Many parents have told me, "Let the kids solve their own problems.. or else when will they learn?" I often find parents who say this are the ones with obnoxious kids.

I do believe in giving opportunities for kids to be problem solvers, but we must remember that they are still learning. We don't throw them in a shituation and expect them to swim out of it.

Thus, whenever Gooly is with other company, I keep a watchful eye. Praise when he did something which deserves it, or give him the killer stare when he also deserves it. It is also through this context that we know our child inside out, because heheheh.. this is outrageously ironic.

A friend once told me, she was the most well-behaved student in kindergarten. The teachers only had praises of her.. praises, praises, praises. But at home, she whined, she complained, and she stole vitamin Cs to eat. And vice versa, an angel at home is very often the opposite.

Beware.. beware.. as Pooh Bear says. I think Gooly is the latter. :P

But don't you agree that kids behave differently in different situations? While we still can, we ought to monitor, correct and guide before it's too late. I hope the slamming door episodes will never be a part of our household activity. Yes, I may be optimistic, but at least I am..

Thursday, September 4, 2008

He did it his way...

If you haven't known me, please read the description about myself and be forewarned that self-contradictory is my daily struggle as a parent. There are mixed feelings all the time; sad and glad, proud and worried, etc, all at the same time on the same issue. Am I normal? (teehee.. I'm really asking for it, eh?)

Being the only child (for now), Gooly has the tendency to play games by his rules, tell stories his way, and do things according to his likings.

Mahmee says no good. Mahmee brings the rotan out patiently teaches him to be empathetic, and tells him to be more sensitive towards other people's needs.

"No! No! No! You eat the noodles, and then the chicken.." That's him talking to me, ok? I don't know why the insistence on the sequence. Of course this entails to me not following his order. I'll eat the noodle anyway I want while glaring at him and mumbling something about MYOB...

So again, what am I inculcating here? Respecting others... freedom... anti-monarchy, correct? If only one lesson guarantees success, huh?

Today he was colouring a picture of a whale. As usual, he used all the colours available, and I suggested that he tone down on the colours because it would be a misnomer for the sperm whale if it appeared all pinkish, blueish, purplish instead of the mandom colour of black and white, no? I was merely suggesting, not forcing...

"Don't force me, Mahmee. You let me do what I want to do, ok?"

First thought: Char toe. I felt like a cowboy being shot on the forehead with a sucker arrow, and the little red indian uwa-uwa-uwa-uwa away (for comical effect lar), looking jubilant.

And then I felt proud that he is more diplomatic and that he knows how to assert his rights.

And then annoyed again when he continued with, "I do it my way, you do it your way.."

This juxtaposition of confused feelings in a period of 5 seconds. Please tell me you have experienced that before.. the urge to smack your kid's head and give him a thumb-up sign simultaneously? While you are thinking.. would you say he is strong willed, or stubborn or assertive..?

I'm just too confused to describe.. (not label, ok?)

So at the end of the day, I wonder - did he learn about respecting others because he mimicked my speech (albeit more diplomatically) or he is manipulative in using my teaching to make things go his way.
There.. now we are all confused. :P


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