Daddee Yah!

A working Daddee learning to cope in a big big world

At one stage I did want to try sporting a crew cut.

Call it chicken, call it because-my-hair-is-thinning. It’s because the shape of my head will only make me look (more) silly.

But my son sports it well- the second time proves it wasn’t a fluke :)

I cant see the tv!

Hmm?
Do u think I'm sexy?

Sigh… Yes- That is drool on his chin…

My dad’s talked about this since the early 90’s: Of bringing the whole extended family for a visit to his hometown (more like village).

Not that we minded the idea. Back then we only loathed about what the likely quality of basic amenities would be like. After all, there were stories of toilets with no doors, toilets with no toilets but a hole in the ground. Somehow it never eventuated.

Through the years, the kids (my nephews and nieces) grew, and my parents have also continued keeping in contact with his relatives (well, they are mine too). They too have made visit(s?) here (but I was away studying/living in Adelaide at the time). A recent idea my dad had was to contribute toward a memorial of his ancestors, to keep the roots alive.

Recently, that idea came to fruition. And what better timing to also time the visit to the completed site with bringing the family there as well.

We had spent the week leading to, and including Christmas Day 2009, in Xiamen China. Xiamen city is only about 2-3 hours bus ride to the village, so it isn’t like a real trek too deep into China (please mind my poor knowledge of Chinese geography). That has worked out quite well all this time for my parents, making it easy for them to visit our relatives all these years.

My dad organised a tour group for this visit- which was actually just us, the whole 29 of us! It was a fun time for all as there were no outsiders and we were as our usual silly-carefree selves :)

I can’t say there was a sense of belonging, personally. After all, we were all born in and grew up in Malaysia. As a father I reckon my dad feels some form of achievement in finally bringing his own children together to see his birthplace, to see where we are from, his and our roots, connect with some distant blood relatives, and his contribution back to the community when he left with his father to seek, and found, a better life in distant shores. He had done well for himself with very humble beginnings, and by extension my generation (and later) are now a lot better off comparatively.

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Take away the brick houses beside and behind this structure, and you have the house in which my father was born.

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My grandfather built this house in the ’60’s apparently after the ethnic unrest in Indonesia, fearing the same for Malaya/Malaysia, with intention to bring everyone back to China to live in this bigger house.

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This is (almost) everyone, infront of the “shrine” cum community hall that my dad funded and built

For Caitlin, at 5 years old I don’t think this will be a lasting impression. Ideologies of family ties is too mature for her. She will remember the some of the places we visited, and the fun with the cousins. She probably won’t remember how cold it was; she may remember what she wore; but she’s worn that same jacket before elsewhere.

One thing I’ve been saying to people who asked what I thought about my first visit to China is: “We were on the bus, driving through very long tunnels, to emerge to drive on long bridges.” I was rather awed by the landscape- it’s one thing to read about it and watch it on tv, but it’s another to see the natural landscape: mountains and valleys. Also, the technology deployed in this developing country is actually also more advanced than Malaysia. Tunnels bored through these mountains; long tunnels, and impressive world class bridges to carry you further. The highways are also multi-tiered, criss-crossing each other at higher and higher levels.

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It is a big big country, there are uneven developments everywhere. I personally only saw 3 beggars on the street, only in Xiamen city; 2 of whom are disabled, the 3rd looked able-bodied but with a toddler probably 2-3 years old.

More pictures here:

Caitlin said something the other night and we shared a good laugh.

I mean a good laugh, you know the type that makes you laugh heartily, not the I am only entertaining or humoring you laugh.

It was in the evening, after dinner but before bedtime- I can still see it in my head. I was seated across her, she was in her blue short sleeved jammies, somewhat looking up at me, from her schoolbook homework; pretty sure she had a pencil in her hand.

She said the punchline. I found it really funny, and laughed longer and harder than usual.

She wasn’t conscious of herself like I thought she would, now that I think about it in retrospect. In the past she’d get somewhat self-conscious and demanded “Why you funny at me??” to which I often try to explain to her the difference between laughing at you, and laughing with you. I think she got this idea from possibly being teased at school, but not something or at a level that we should be concerned about.

So she laughed along. I think it was initially because she too thought it was a funny punchline, not going the “Why you funny at me” path; and then I think she kinda realised that Daddee was enjoying the joke, and joined in the hearty laugh.

I can still see it: In her blue jammies, the all teeth squinty eyed giggly hee-hee and occasionally mouth agape haha laugh.

Don’t ask me what it was that made us both laugh. I honestly cannot remember! The next morning I asked her, in the car on the way to school, and she too cannot remember!

But it was something else for me. It signaled that she is growing, that it wasn’t just simple things that made her laugh anymore; no, indeed it wasn’t what made her laugh but what she had said that made me laugh like I did.

Friday morning we were getting ready for work and school respectively. Fridays are when Caitlin’s school has a wading session in their small pool. Since she’s always loved the pool it was always a welcomed day; that as well as an early-age adoption of the adult TGIF concept (she doesn’t seem to like school as much this year).

She’s still got some audible phlegm in her throat, though she isn’t coughing anymore, it’s still there. Apparently she had also promised Teacher Rachel a show-and-tell of her collection of fridge magnets from home. She told me of this on Thursday night when I was tucking her in.

That morning I made the mistake of reminding her that it’s swimming day. All psyched up, she had been carrying her plastic bag of swim gear all morning wherever she was whilst getting ready. HM reminded me of her still-present phlegm, that we should wait for another week before she is allowed back in the pool (the last time I forgot, her cough came back in full force after a swim with Daddee; and we know how easily she pukes when she gets into a coughing fit).

I told her “no, can’t go swimming; wait for another week”. She wouldn’t have it. Repeated Elmer Fudd vs Bugs Bunny of yes no yes no only aggravated the respective individual emotions of our positions. Of course being the Daddee I managed to almost wrestle the bag off her. Okay I did it as gently as I could.

We were already in the car, basement of our building. Every morning we’d be lugging not just our respective bags; there is also Caleb’s gear for the day, some washing to be done, and Caleb himself aided by our helper. Settled in, buckling our seatbelts, feeling pretty shitty about the whole ordeal already, and she says, between the teary jerks of breaths, “DADDEE WE FORGOT THE MAGNETS!!”

There were really 3 options to handle this: (1) Go upstairs alone. That would be the quickest. But that also means leaving them alone in the car in the basement- toddler, 14 month old, a foreigner; (2) All go up together. Safest option. But taking the longest, making us late for school and work. (3) Fuggedaboutit.

I declared option (3). Caitlin goes into a wailing fit. Feet kicking, top of voice crying protesting she wants to go back upstairs to get the magnets, why wasn’t I listening to her.

I respect that she wants to honour her promise to Teacher Rachel. She was even looking forward to this- I could tell. But either (1) or (2) would mean we’d both be late. I even twisted the argument back at her; not a very nice thing to practise on a toddler I admit; that she didn’t listen to me either that morning when we said no to swimming, that she didn’t listen to us.

I felt bad about her not able to indulge in a simple swimming activity. It didn’t rain that day and the swim session did go ahead. She would, like before, have to remain in class hearing all the cheers and splashes downstairs.

But I felt worse that I couldn’t let her carry out her simple request of going back upstairs to get the magnets. This wasn’t something bad at all. For the longest time I had been instilling in her to honour her word/promise, and this was one example- that she wanted to show the magnets as promised. I was consoling / coaching her to say to Teacher Rachel that she is sorry she forgot to bring the magnets, but that she would be late if she/we turned around to go get them, that she didn’t want to be late, and that she would bring them on Monday instead.

In some ways I was also just lazy.

But what would you have done?

So we had Caitlin first before we had Caleb. It’s a 3 year 2 months gap between them.

Boys mature slower than girls. This is quite evident; individual personalities and characters aside.

When Hot Mummee was pregnant the first time, I had quietly wished that our first one would a boy. This isn’t a tightly-held preference, just thought it’d be good to have a big brother to the rest of the brood. Of course when Caitlin was born, I love her just the same.

And as she grew, we’ve been enjoying her growing years and all the usual toddler antics that you know comes with children. A lot of fun and treasured memories there :)

Now that we have Caleb with us too, and with the 3 year gap, I find myself quite often comparing the kids. Not in bad ways of why-cant’-you-be-like-Caitlin complaints, just the wonders-of-human and how everyone is different types of observations.

Most recent of these are how when Caitlin was Caleb’s age now, she was already very independent. I had modified her cot so that she was already getting in and out of her “bed” by herself- how I enjoyed watching her little cute toddler body climb limb over one another in her mini pyjamas with the bed. She was also toilet trained very early. I remember giving her praises in the mornings when I changed her to find her diapers dry. These days I am still reprimanding Caleb when he pees in his pants. I do sing praises too when he urgently tells me he needs to pee, and, while on the toilet seat he would exclaim “No piak-piak right dad?” (No spanking right dad?)

So with Caitlin- girls, generally growing faster, I find myself noting that even with the 3 year gap that it is beyond that “measure” in terms of the gap between these 2 monkeys: That they are more than 3 years apart in terms of intellect, skills, maturity, etc. Though I correct myself in that Caleb is a lot more advanced even for his own age with his motor skills in the sports department. He’s still a happy-go-lucky kid while his jie-jie has already entered the age of moodiness. She is also starting to enjoy older things, sometimes citing “so booriiing” statements typical of older kids on younger ones.

So then I started wondering what things would be like if indeed we had a boy first, and then a girl. Would the “gap” be smaller than 3 years, in terms of their maturity? Would they actually get along better than present differences, because they are possibly closer in maturity levels?

Those of you invited, or know people who are invited, please don’t disclose this.

It is my parents’ 50th anniversary this year, and also a joint celebration for my mum’s birthday.

But my dad doesn’t want people to know these.

He is kinda shy about it, you see.

Also, both my parents just want friends and family to come empty handed. That’s right. No gifts, no ang pows.

They have insisted that the dinner event, some 18 tables I hear, to just be a sit-down happy joy joy dinner with close friends and relatives. No stage, no mics, no hoo-ha.

But the grandkids are up to something…..

Some parts of their grand-plan are finalised, others still need the Committee’s approval and budgetary sign-offs :)

Which ones to use?

* Photo courtesy of my brother’s Flickr site

To date, I already do these (not blowing my horn- please just read on):

  • Change his diapers
  • Wipe the poo, wash the bits
  • Wash her up after she does both numbers 1 and 2
  • Dress her, in her uniform or casual clothes after a shower
  • Shower her: shampoo hair and lather body
  • Make milk
  • Brush her teeth
  • Put her to bed: lie with her, chat with her, sneak out when she’s asleep
  • Brush and tie her hair in a simple ponytail
  • Wished I knew how to braid her hair

Huh? What the??

That last point: Knowing how to braid hair- Does it make me less of a man??