She exclaims, a violent flick of her wrist sending her hand into a slapping motion, while wearing an annoyed expression on her face. “Why do you keeping calling me an Auntie?!”
Auntie in Singaporean colloquial terms has different meanings – general respect for any older female who need not be related to us, or a female who is anxious in a frenzied situation (like snatching up good buys at a sale, rushing to be in front of the queue, or demanding much attention by asking many questions). These behaviours are often viewed negatively, but perhaps they are merely outward displays of what lies in the core of the Auntie – a deep love for her family, and wanting to get the best (or first) for them.
To the Man and I, Auntie is an apt endearment for our 7yo. This little Singaporean girl who has artfully mastered the local (unofficial) language with flair. She accurately punctuates her sentences with “lah” and “lor”, and does it so naturally she fits right in.
She also has lots of love for people around her. She reads emotions pretty accurately, and has learnt to give in to others who are more insistent than her (read: the Man and her Gor Gor) because she loves them.
“It’s okay lah, you eat (it). I can don’t eat.” Flicks her wrist and stares earnestly with a truthful smile on her face.
“Nevermind lah, let Gor Gor have it.” Gestures towards her brother, who promptly accepts her offer without missing a beat.
“I can carry, it’s not heavy. I can, I can!” Staggers under the weight of the shopping basket (because her brother wasn’t fast enough to help).
“MaMa, you take the Hello Kitty pouch with Daniel and Hello Kitty, because it’s like you and PaPa together. I will just take the other one.” How she rationalised her choice when asked to choose her preferred pouch design first.
Yet she thinks we are saying she is old when we tell her she is “very Auntie”, and gets annoyed at us because she is “not old”.
To the little girl who demonstrates her love with action – considering other first, drawing cards and writing sincere notes of concern and gratitude , you make it so easy for us to love you. And we do very much, Auntie Megan …
“MaMa, what is the Pinata Party today?” is a question I get asked every evening, by a 7yo boy with an excellent memory. Unlike his MaMa, who struggles to even remember what she ate for lunch the same day.
Every evening, I roll my eyes skyward, sifting through my cluttered mind to try to reconstruct the battle visually, so I could describe it to Matthew. “Have you gotten Mista Saturday yet? What Slugs did you use?” Again, I reply him. Satisfied, he would let me off, only to quiz me again the next evening.
If my eyes remain in the unnatural position a tad too long, with a scrunched up face for trying too hard to remember, he would say matter-of-factly “It’s okay if you don’t remember, MaMa. It’s okay.” Yup, I have a very cool, it’s-okay-no-biggie-chill son.
That is the start of my daily conversation with my fast-growing up boy. My boy who is into Plants vs Zombies 2, Slugterra, Skylanders, and Minecraft. In fact, he and his friends share stories, tips and books about these electronic games every day in school.
Unlike his friends, Matthew only gets to play games on the Ipad once a week. So he relies heavily on his friends’ stories, and my limited playing to feed his thirst for knowledge about these games. And yes, I play the games as well. Well, at least the free ones, which are limited to PVZ2 and Slugterra. And I play them not because I like playing electronic games, but to have a common topic with Matthew. And I’m glad I do. I just wish I have more time to engage him in conversations and share common interests. I shall endeavour to allocate a little more time to do that, for he is growing up too fast. He is already displaying signs of what is to come in about 3 years when he reaches his tweens. Independent, able to engage in his reading or playing (alone!), and spending long periods of time not talking to anyone.
How much time does MaMa have before I lose you, Matthew? MaMa is starting to get worried …
January is fast coming to an end and Matthew has settled rather comfortably in his school.
Having a schedule to follow suits Matthew’s pesonality. He revels in knowing what activity is scheduled at what time, and is able to recount most of the activities at the end of the day. Given that the students spend 6.5 hours in school, the timetable has scheduled 2 10-minute breaks and a recess of half an hour in between lessons. Matthew has swiftly learnt how to make good use of these breaks. And I’ll like to call him a bookworm, athlete and foodie rolled into one.
He tells us he spends the 10-minute breaks either in the library reading books, or joining his friends in a short game of soccer. While he has not brought any school library book home, I have forgotten how his once-white shoes look like. His shoes are now scruffy looking and grey from all the kicking of the footballs.
I suspect his favourite time in school is during recess though. And it is amazing to hear how much he can do in 30 minutes. He is able to squeeze in the buying and consumption of food, filling of water bottle, visiting the washroom and playing soccer all in 30 minutes. And he has bought from all the canteen stalls to date. Now that the novelty has worn off, he is back to his usual pattern of repeatedly eating what he likes. He has also become apt with monetary transactions, and making choices with the money he has, after one disastrous incident.
He has also settled into a new routine back home, completing his homework and revising his English and Chinese spellings at PoPo’s house. The Man will go through his work and spellings again when home. Matthew is also capable of packing his schoolbag for the next, though he forgets minor things once in a while.
As for me, I am still getting used to the new routine the Man and Matthew seem to have settled very comfortably in. Apart from the housework I do when we get home at night, I am also in charge of making sure Megan is not neglected. Because she is not an intrinsically motivated reader like Matthew, I go through sight words with her while Matthew and the Man are engaged. I have to try really hard to either quickly completing the necessary tasks for the night, or force myself to leave them till the kids go to bed in order to spend some time with Megan. Too much attention is focused on Matthew, and Megan has been sidelined. I need to restore some balance soon.