one reason why i never really wanted kids was because i was afraid i’d turn out like my mum, all possessive and manipulative and irrational. i mean, there’s not much hope of that happening, because i grew up remembering everything i hated about my parents, intentionally remembering (not really as a grudge but more of a counter-example type of model) so that i would not repeat their (many) mistakes.
the other day mingsee (always the peace-loving mediator) said my family was pretty cool in its own right, and today i shall strive to.. provide concrete examples for her argument. you have to root for the opponent to cement your own views sometimes.
1. my mum likes Chapin’s Cats in the cradle. Fine it’s a bit sappy but the fact that my parents even have a preference for some kind of music is a big achievement, to me. and at least it’s not something embarrassing like, i don’t know, doctor bombay. My dad listens to simon and garfunkel, bread, the beegees, and the beatles. it’s something like a daddy-staple i think since almost all of my friends’ dads listen to those.
2. my dad likes quitting things. almost on whim. he does the bare minimum necessary to get by. like when i got out of RJ and my bro and i were entering university the same year he quit his job. (his proper one, anyway), because he figured he wouldn’t have to pay tuition anymore (i’m supposed to get a scholarship and my brother can get a loan). other parents feel obliged to pay for their children’s school fees, but oh no, not mine. they’d only pay off my brother’s loan if he did okay in school coz he’s not the most studious person around and i’m not sure how much they really saw him and law going together. so all my dad had to do was to pay for things like the electric and water, and there really was no point working as a draughtsman anymore so he quit! just like that. he was the one who first taught me trigonometry when he took me with him on a job one day to measure the height of a church near his house. i did the math and he paid me for it :P it was his own little take your child to work day.
3. they don’t embarrass easy. at least, my dad doesn’t embarrass easy. perhaps that’s where i got a bit of it from. whenever they go for any award ceremony/college day type things, they make no secret of the fact that they’re only there for the food. once in order to skip all the boring speeches in the middle he drove me and my mum there, snuck off somewhere to doze or to read the papers, and then came back at the end when people were starting to attack the buffet on the pretense of fetching us. and then they’d hang out with rebecca’s parents in a corner (who were equally shameless but more skillful at hiding it) stuffing their faces and gossiping about all the kids they knew who got awards “wah hong quan not bad ah?? so cute ar, that boy, see him in primary school and see him now like no change like that” can’t really remember the rgs ones but i may not have been there myself. i vaguely remember calling up mingsee and telling her to get my money for me cause i was too lazy to leave my house in the end. hahaha. sounds like -just- the sort of thing i would do.
4. they took us to cool places when we were young. i think the coolest was the drain behind some big tropical fish store where they released the sickly looking specimens of fish and we’d go longkang fishing with nets and get really cool fish instead of the usual grey, skittery guppies. also tadpoling at reservoirs, and the zoo. some people have never even seen tadpoles in singapore in their life. amazing. this was actually useful, since now i can scan a canal and point out fish camouflaged among all the muck pretty easily and all my rgs friends will be like “where? where? cannot see leh!”
5. they always remind me of how expensive i am. ze doesn’t seem to approve (coz his parents are, quite literally, perfect, and love him unconditionally and all) but i think that’s a v. cool trait. sounds like something i’ll remind my children of constantly. especially if they make buckets of money i’ll start reminiscing about how i could have bought a yacht with the money i used to send them to school. it has to be done just the right way, a half-joke half-serious thing :P
6. they never cared about my academic results. this can be good and bad, as i’m sure i’ve said before. but if i were a delinquent i think i would love this about them. “you can get ungradeds for everything and we will still love you.” in other words “i can’t be bothered to keep up with how you’re doing in school just make sure your teacher doesn’t bother me can already.” true to form, not a single PTM on their record. my parents are like mythological creatures to all my teachers.
7. they, to borrow one of hq’s expressions, “act damn cool” about good results. “mummy, i got an A for such and such.” “oh good.” “mummy, i topped my class again” “orh.” “daddy, i topped the school for psle.” “oh well done. i give you 10 cents for every mark you got okay?” while other people like hwee were busy negotiating up to $50 for every A* she got. gosh. she probably got $250 while i got a measly twenty-eight dollars and twenty cents – even less than the amount he bribed me with in kindergarten to take part in a story telling contest! i must have been dropped on the head as a child. throughout my life i always felt like i was trying to do well just so they could go and kope the free food at the awards ceremony. i.e. no point doing that well in cornell since they are not likely to attend my grad anyway coz ithaca is so out of the way.
8. my mum is awesome in the kitchen. she has acquired worldwide (or at least, churchwide) fame for certain things, like her lasagna, her shepherd’s pie, her pizza, her apple pie, etc. the same way gabriel’s mum is famed for her chocolate cheesecake and jayne’s mum is famed for her brownies :P i swear church aunties secretly love to have adolescent boys go up to them and ask them “so aunty ______, when are you making your ______ again?” they get a huge ego boost and will immediately prepare the food in question the very next youth gathering, thus winning the boy’s love and affection forever. seriously. doesn’t seem to work if adolescent girls ask the same thing. by consequence my mum has a bunch of wonderful cooking implements to whom i’ve been introduced to from young, and i have been taught how to replicate many of her signature dishes.
there are of course lots of uncool things about them too, but sometimes it’s nicer to just think about the nice bits. just two tiny complaints.
1. i wish my dad did the crossword.
2. i wish they had a higher quality book collection. it’s almost solely christian lit and cooking stuff, and not even high quality christian lit.
sometimes i wonder if they took me to the library when i was young to cultivate a love for reading or because they were too cheapskate to buy kid’s books for me that i would soon outgrow. it could be called either way, really. one can’t be over idealistic about such things.