the Mission Impossible theme song as he and the girls trail after their cousin Liyen,
laughing their heads off.
playing Scramble on his phone, Liyen’s mum (KK’s sister) is absorbed in her
phone, I’m reading a newspaper.
are in charge of the baby. The baby remains fine.
Lu avoids Liyen’s drool like its sulphuric acid but the trio are rather good, especially
Jo who does things like hold on to a piece of tissue to gently mop the sweat
off Liyen’s head and break off bits of cheese to feed her.
the most kampong things Day does is to go downstairs with water bottle and ball
in arm to the nearby green in the evenings, for a spot of soccer with the neighbourhood boys.
loose informal motley gathering of boys who really have nothing in common apart
from soccer. All it took was for one of them to say he’ll be there every day at
a particular time, and even though the originator is no longer there, whoever
is there will kick the ball around.
young ones, old ones, fat ones, thin ones, brown ones, blonde ones, black ones,
Singaporean ones and foreign ones. Day is usually the goal keeper or defender.
no one brings a ball and they yell to the boy who lives in the old flats next
to the green to come down NOW with his soccer ball.
two to three times a week and returns dripping after 30-45 minutes, smelly
and ravenous. He loves his kampong soccer and only misses if he has must-do
I ask Day
about the boys: Who did you play with today? What’s his name? How old is he?
huffy: Mummy I don’t know. Boys don’t talk, we just play, OK? (It's exactly the same when I ask KK about his friends)
I do so
much exercise. Without the car, I am moving, perspiring and exerting like never
of this is ‘fake’ exercise, which is exercise for the sake of exercise (the
kind you pay for or have to make time for). This exercise is necessary and
compulsory. This, truly, is the way to lose weight and get fit because you have no choice.
everywhere, carrying loads.
importantly, I cycle with the relevant kid. The problem with our daily commutes
is that while all the bus routes run horizontal on a map, we usually move vertical.
There are no relevant buses. Most times it’s too far to walk. A 30-minute walk
(with kid) is a 10-minute bike ride.
* With child, child's seat cushion, child's bag and brown bag of chicken, pork, vegetables and fruit. I am utterly defeated
I cycle, I heave the bike up the 36 steps of our lift-less walk-up apartment. Today I went up and down six
times. School, tuition, whatnot.
car-less silver linings:
how to become even more patient because trying to hail a taxi on the occasion I need to go far makes me even
more pissed off than giving 听写
to plan a lot better because there can be no last-minute scrambling to get to
places on time or buy things.
family mother is Friend, while father is Bad Cop.
typical pre-bedtime scenario the other night, KK gets pissed off with everybody
and banishes them from sleeping in the only air-con room – ours. (chasing them from our room is his favourite form of punishment)
is this? The toilet light is on, the kitchen light is on, the fan in on. Nobody
switched it off? Do you know who is paying the bills? I don’t care. All of you
cannot sleep in my room tonight. Get out.
marches to the back toilet leaving the kids and I in the living room. They start muttering after a minute)
* The Pity Party
Stupid papa. Papa is a fat slob. He is always like this.
Stupid papa. I switch off the lights sometimes, right? Why can’t I sleep in his
is prone to dramatic monologues these days): Stupid papa. He always says ‘Get
out you cannot sleep in my room. If I hear any noise, you get out. If you don’t
behave, you get out.'
Just take a knife and kill me now. Life is horrible. I want to die.
to me) Why did you marry this man, mama, WHY?
Once upon a time I asked if a maid or a car were more important if one can only afford
don’t really know because we’ve never had the maid, but for sure, no maid and
the sudden loss of a car can be a tad challenging.
Lancer dies on me (I do realize that someone once left a comment when we purchased the Lancer that it's a crap car).
grand old age of eight years, it went silent at a traffic junction as I was merrily
ferrying Jo home from school today.
been rattling and wheezing in a most alarming manner for several weeks. Its
asthma, which seemed to rise and fall in concert with the strength of the
aircon, was loud enough for the entire estate to hear when I woke the car up in
But I was hoping to save a few bucks and put my faith in divine
car healing. And not turning on the aircon. It didn’t work.
was towed to our usual workshop where we were told it required a $4,000
typical meek manner, I said OH and got ready to accept every Tom Dick and Harry
job that gets thrown my way. To try and earn back the amount, see. (I'm so easy to bully it's absurd)
Taurus man turned bullish. Smoke rising from his nostrils, he leveled his
firepower at the workshop which he accused of not doing a good job at our last
service check, and got another tow truck to tow Lancer to another workshop
where we will pay the cheaper sum of $2,800.
The major overhaul involves the engine and some such technical gibberish. We will be car-less in the coming week. Lancer's rotten insides, I have no idea what I'm seeing:
tell KK that I think we are ready to live without a car. It is a drain on resources.
With good planning and some shifting of schedules, we can do what the Government
wants us to do, be eco-friendly, live a simpler life, and rely on public
heartily disagrees. We need a car for the next 10 years, he says. I reckon its just very hard to let go of things you are already used to enjoying.
dirty with odd brown stains, but I scrubbed it clean with washing detergent and
a rusty hole on it with jagged rusty edges like shark's teeth, but I hammered down the sharp
points and plugged it up with epoxy putty (it's like Play Doh which hardens until its like cement).
it is dislodged, but I can live with it.
welcome addition to the home.
piece of furniture which I had been dreaming of because it’s so cooling,
easy-to-clean and light (I don't even know what these plastic string chairs are officially called), but which I could never locate until it materialized
before my eyes.
what it says of me as a mum that I only seem to slap the eldest child.
second moment of horror – two too many in Day’s short lifetime – I slap him.
The last time, as helpfully surfaced from this blog’s search function ("slap"), was in 2006. I have never slapped the girls.
As I help
to pre-test him on his 听写 (Chinese spelling) tomorrow, and as I mark his work, the
dismal his performance is, at how flippant and flagrantly dismissive he is, at
how fundamentals learnt in Primary 1 and 2 are forgotten, at how when I gently
remind him that there is 听写 he throws down the book he is reading and
gives me a dirty look, at how promises made months before are forgotten.
is not about his Chinese. (After all, the above describes any other normal
It was my
response. The despair, the disappointment, the anger, reaches boiling point. I
take his worksheet and fling it over his head, but it’s not enough. I reach
over and slap him hard.
crumples. I broke him.
like I needed to break him. To yank off the mantle of intellectual superiority
which makes him assume that he can breeze through everything with minimal
effort. Yes, life has been easy and enjoyable and I have always strived to make
it that way for the kids, but reality is tolling (at least, the Singapore reality).
Like before, I am broken up after I slap him.
only so much one can do, believing and trying hard to realize the rhetoric about
enjoyable learning, before one hits a wall.
realize how much I expect – perhaps unfairly - of my first-born. My unconscious mantra is that I can largely ignore him because he can do it on his own. That's not right.
comes out of his room where he has retreated, mumbling about a lizard on the
ceiling. I pull him to me and he stops mumbling. His shoulders heave and I feel his tears on my chest.
said he wanted to build up a collection of nano-block structures to display at
the office, Day and I cheered.
it means he is forking out money for us to play.
I, we’re instruction manual people. Give us an Ikea flat pack and the first
thing we’ll head for is the instruction sheet. There’s something so calming
about mindlessly following a list of sequential instructions.
lovely nano blocks are full of instructions. One mis-count and everything is
lovelier thing is that KK just wants us to deliver the finished product. He
sits there and watches us work, giving the occasional grunt of approval, as we
fight over whose turn it is.
history-making because I don’t think the library has ever gotten into such big
trouble, not that I can remember.
three children’s books portraying alternative families off the shelves, after a
member of a anti-gay group protested against it, and then said it would pulp
the books. It got caught right in the middle of what appears to be an increasingly inflammatory flash point in this country.
of eloquent discourse have flowed in the last few days, from a very vested
community of writers, artists and intellectuals, some of whom live alternative
lifestyles themselves. I don’t even dare to add to the discourse (because I’m
But I do
have random thoughts.
library was one of my happiest haunts as a child and as an adult. It is a kind,
open, inclusive place of learning where worlds were open to me. It can claim much
credit for my choice of profession today.
* At the news, I was
furious and then I felt betrayed. The library pulling out and pulping good-quality
books I would borrow for my children is like seeing a sweet kindly old lady I loved and thought I knew, pulling out a knife to stab someone’s heart.
* My first
job for 1 ½ years was spent at the library where I took minutes for management
and Board meetings. The librarians and the senior management - many of whom are
still there – are truly passionate about their jobs, including the lady who got
most of the initial fire. They love and revere books. They love what they do.
They have been there for decades. They are not bureaucrats who are just there
to collect a pay cheque or who would unthinkingly apply the rules. So I cannot reconcile what I know of them, with how
the library has come across in the past week.
I wish I knew what was happening behind the scenes.