Tonight, our son, who hasn’t asked for one in ages, asks for a ‘goodnight song’ to put him to bed. I scramble because I haven’t sung in a while, and manage ‘Rockabye Baby’, hoping he’ll fall asleep fast if I sang mournfully.
After I sing it twice, he mumbles, ‘Papa I think that you are one of the best singers ever. Really. Really’, and falls asleep.
I’m thankful the first week and a half of work for the year is done.
More importantly, I am thankful for the many blessings I carry into this new year: my wife who does everything outside of my work for me, and who sometimes does my work. And our amazingly affectionate four and a half year old son who interrupts himself and everything else to say, “Papa/Mama, I love you” several times a day.
I’ve been packing to move office for a fortnight now, and it’d have been faster if it wasn’t for my office being a treasure trove of museum grade paraphernalia. Today alone I found my Dad’s old passports spanning three decades.
My parents had their offices in and around Raffles Place and Tanjong Pagar from 1966, the year after they got married. My father knew the streets like the back of his hand. To shake off his afternoon lethargy, he used to take long walks spanning the waterfront, then at Shenton Way, to Beach Road, to North Bridge Road, to Chinatown, Tanjong Pagar, and then back again to the office.
About a decade ago, before Parkinson’s got the better of him, I joined him on his walks. These walks were often dotted with stops for a drink or a meal. Restaurants at Purvis and Seah Streets, stalls at Amoy Street and Maxwell Road food centres were our ports of call.
He’d shuffle towards an available seat, sit, look up at a stallholder/waiter and make eye contact. A nod was exchanged, and his usual dish from the stall/restaurant would arrive at our table a few minutes later. Sometimes, it was a raising of a palm – a silent Hainanese greeting – that would signal the transaction.
Every crappy work day I’ve had at the office in recent months, I’ve had the respite of some similar walks, clearing my head, getting some air. Then one day last week, I stopped at Amoy Street food centre, and sat down at a table. I looked up and saw the chicken rice hawker and he saw me. We exchanged nods. A few minutes later, he served me a plate of chicken rice – drumstick with gizzards. My usual. My father’s too.
Sourcing for the most effective and safest home products has been especially important to us with Kai joining the family four years ago.
Since then, Naomi’s been a meticulous household shopper – as far as possible, we eat only organic produce at home. I can’t emphasize this often enough – you get enough trans-fat laden, preservative tainted, pesticide-laced food when you go out. We’ve also eradicated as many toxins as possible from our home – we only use castile soap, vinegar and water to clean most surfaces, zero insecticides.
And when it comes to household necessities, people tend to forget about the toilet quite a bit. Thankfully, there’s someone watching our toilet stock closely in our household. Yes.. It has come down to this, I am talking about toilet paper. Actually, it’s not that surprising. Early in the history of this blog/medium, I spoke with mrbrown on one of the first episodes ever of the mrbrownshow podcast, and we talked about toilet paper, and how one of our ACS schoolmates did not know the Mandarin term for it until on a fateful, diarrhea ridden trip to China in the days when China’s food safety was even more of an issue.
That classmate had to use the lavatory in a Chinese city, and he found it lacking in toilet paper of any kind. So he asked, in his best Mandarin translation of the Hokkien term for it, which was “Pung Sai Zhoa” (literally translates into English as “Shitting Paper”) if he could buy some.
Unbeknownst to him then, our schoolmate had been politely but urgently asking a bewildered Chinese native if he could buy some paper with shit on it.
Seriously though, toilet tissue is an important issue in our household. Thankfully, we’ve been using the Kleenex brand for many years. In our recent trip to the supermarket, we got their new range that’s enriched with Aloe Vera extract.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good toilet tissue. If you’re like me and get to use a public toilet often, you’d have had your fair share of waxy, single ply, crappy toilet paper. Sometimes, the quality of the wipe is less than optimal, and you end up taking half the roll to clean yourself after you’ve done your business.
And need we tell you that when it comes to toilet paper use, the term “breakthrough” is not a positive one.
We don’t have to teach Kai to be this discerning either. Toilet paper to him is either “just nice” or “too scratchy”. And when we’re using the “too scratchy” one, you can count on him being cranky the whole day after. Thank goodness we’ve always used Kleenex tissues at home, and now that there’s Kleenex Aloe Vera, we might just have to dabao some out when we leave the house.
I’ve also just found out recently that Kleenex is FSC certified – if you care about which companies use responsibly managed forests, you’ll be happy to know Kleenex does.
Details like these are small but significant if you care about running a proper household, and Naomi and I do.
A month ago, Naomi and I started a new bedtime routine of “chat time” with Kai, intending for it to be a chance for us to talk about our day. It started off really well, with Kai eager to come up with stuff to talk about, and listen to our stories of what we did during the day as well.
Tonight’s chat started off in mostly the same vein, except I should have heeded the past few nights’ warning signs of “Papa, I’m a bit tired, can you tell me what you did first?”
So I told him about my meeting with an ad company, and afternoon rehearsal with Uncle Kumar, Uncle George and Aunty Jasmine, and thought he’d be really interested in what Uncle Kumar had to do in the studio when he suddenly raised his index finger and thumb and said, “Papa, this is a bomb, it will explode in ten seconds… one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten… EXPLODE! BOOM! Hahahahahahaha!”
It feels really good to be in a new home, and one that is long term and free from the whims of landlords and ever-increasing rents.
Without actually giving away our address, we’re happy we’re in relative seclusion where night time temperatures are actually several degrees cooler than the rest of the island, and where WE HAVE MONKEYS!
From our kitchen window a couple of days ago, we saw a lone monkey – our security guard says he’s a lone ranger – climb into two terrace houses via open bathroom windows, roll around on sofas, carpets, and come out onto a balcony with a pack of cigarettes, sampling each one (chewing, not lighting up) before throwing them all over the place. The windows of all the houses were shut the next day. So were ours, because when I went to the bathroom the day before, that same monkey had startled me so much with his silhouette on the frosted bathroom window I had forgotten that I had needed to use the toilet.
There’s still some unpacking and figuring out storage to do, but from our new real home, Kai, Naomi and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and peace, love and happiness for the new year.
Naomi made the most ingenious plans ever hatched in trying to keep two active but sick with flu kids (one 3 year old and one 4 year old) entertained throughout the Easter weekend.
Because they’ve been sick for a whole week, they weren’t able to socialize (Kai’s birthday party was cancelled), and we had no choice but to make do.
And make do Naomi did. I would never have thought of:
1. The Easter Bunny not visiting a house with crying kids.
2. Having to distract the kids by making them put a carrot (must be organic) outside the front door, so the Easter Bunny will feel welcome.
3. The Easter Bunny usually leaving Easter Eggs in the Condo’s common areas – so that the kids go hunt downstairs for half an hour while Naomi hides the eggs in the apartment, so the kids come back upstairs disappointed, and then elated that the Easter Bunny had snuck in while they were out and deposited a shitload of chocolate eggs all over the apartment.
All this in between having to dispense six kinds of medication three times a day to the kids, in between having to break up fights which occur every ten minutes between them, in between me having to visit my dad in hospital daily, in between having to do long overdue work, I’d say we’ve done pretty well as parents and babysitters this long week and weekend.
What is probably the more amazing thing is that we’ve enjoyed every mad moment of it. But that probably boils down to my wife being the most capable mother on the planet.