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 …
Sunday was Natalie’s 1st Birthday bash, and the kids had a field day, catching up with their first cousin (which they do every week day), and their second cousins (only when schedules coincide). PoPo’s flat and corridor was jam packed with people!
Matthew, displaying his first-born tendency to shoulder responsibility, was enthusiastically yet shyly serving up cake to almost everyone present because we asked for his help. Later, when the crowd thinned, and we sat down for a second round of hi-tea, he again busied himself by getting us food and drinks. He was in love with the custard cream puffs with a wedge of strawberry on the top, and kept helping himself to more.
He returned from one of his custard cream puffs-only trips and exclaimed while proudly displaying his plate, “Look! I’ve got a bug!”. He sure knew how to get our immediate attention.
There, sticking out of his custard puff were 2 curved strands of deep-fried vermicilli. The puff did resemble a beetle. He grinned his wry smile, and added “These are the bug’s tentacles.” The Man, displaying his must-be-accurate tendency, corrected Matthew who prompted chuckled and said, “Oh hur hur, ya, antennae.” Then he happily proceeded to fit the entire puff into his small mouth.
Having eaten his fill of custard cream puffs, he got hold of Megan’s light-up ring from Smiggle and started spinning it on the table. “Look! A ballerina! And she’s break dancing too!” Encouraged by our smiles, he wore his wide grin while spinning the ring repeatedly on the table. He, the funny guy who prefers the company of his parents and PoPo.
Megan only has the pink ring. Photo taken from http://www.pinterest.com/89lilmiszwog/smiggle/
While we were enjoying Matthew’s funny antics and company, it suddenly dawned on me that my younger daughter was nowhere in sight. I was then told she was busy socialising with Ah Yi’s friends along the corridor, taking selfie after selfie. She also catwalked with first her pink shades, and then her hairclips or something. Throughout the party, she preferred the company of others. It was with others that she could have the attention she wanted, and be the star attraction. She, the social butterfly who prefers friends to family.
It also gave me a glimpse of the lifestyle she would most likely adopt in about 10 years’ time – out with lots of friends most of the time. Quick, shut out that image! Will worry about it later.
PoPo. I followed my mum to bring extra food to her good friend living in the next block of flats after the party, carrying my niece Natalie along. As the sun was still too bright for my light-sensitive eyes, I wore my sunglasses. At the lift lobby, we met a friendly auntie whom I initially thought my mum knew . The first thing she said to us after my mum said “hi” was, “Wah, your daughter looks so much like you!”
I was taken aback at auntie’s penetrative eyes, since my sunglassess covered about half my face. How was she able to tell my mum and I looked alike? Anyway, as we entered the lift, the auntie confirmed with my mum that the baby I was carrying was her grandchild.
In the lift, the auntie would not stop sweeping her glance between Natalie and me. Once, twice, thrice. I could hear the questions in auntie’s head. Trying to look for similarities to confirm Natalie was my daughter.
“She (jutting my jaw at Natalie since my arms were full) is her (jutting my jaw at my mum) grandchild. But she is not my daughter.”
Auntie was stunned; she tried to recover her wits while figuring out what I said. She looked at my mum questioningly.
My mum took pity on auntie, after what I did to confuse her terribly. She launched into her grandmother story (literally and figuratively). Within a few seconds however, my mum managed to un-confuse auntie, patiently explaining that Natalie is my younger sister’s daughter, whereas my kids are older. For the confusion I purposely caused auntie, she was very nice to compliment that I looked very young, like I was still unmarried. You have got to hand it to aunties for their diplomatic skills! I have much to learn from these veterans.
As Natalie is quickly developing her own personality, it should not be long before I will be able to add one more grandchild’s story to PoPo’s credit. Wonderful, capable, self-sacrificing PoPo who is raising 3 grandchildren. I count my blessings everyday…