Daddee Yah!

A working Daddee learning to cope in a big big world

This, and last week, were quite significant for me.

My parents are moving to a new gated community along with my two older brothers. What is significant; I guess not just for me, is that our parents have been living in this house since 1984, when it was renovated, and since 1975 on that same plot of land.

Yes, a lot of memories surrounding this house.

  • I learned how to cycle there
  • I chilled at the kitchen’s breakfast counter watching the A-Team/Airwolf when mum was teaching yoga upstairs
  • The same breakfast counter I had cereals before school
  • The same house where our beloved Alsation grew up and grew old and died
  • All the kids had their wedding ceremonies there
  • All the Chinese new years
  • Nieces and nephews’ first steps
  • I had a birthday party there where my high school crush came
  • It was home when I returned for holidays whilst studying in Australia
  • It was home.

Anyway

I was there last weekend helping pack my accumulated junk since teenage years. Caitlin came along too; Caleb didn’t because of the impending mess that comes with moving. Naturally she questioned EVERYTHING she saw. She saw the birthday cards from high school girl-friends. She saw some of my obsolete computer hardware. She saw some of my cassettes of 80’s pop music (to avoid embarrassment I wont cite who they were!)

Today I wasn’t there for the “official” move (according to the Chinese lunar calendar today is a good day). But this weekend will likely be the last time i get to set foot in that house when the trucks ferry off the last remaining personal items.

I took this shot of Caitlin helping remove and sort out some really old photos from a 50+ years old album, of my parents’ dating days, and also baby pics of my older siblings!

I wouldn’t call it expert handling, but Caitlin’s been managing to get most of her food into her mouth with chopsticks these days.

She can’t open-close the sticks yet, but she makes enough of a fork-like position with them that she is able to get ‘em into her mouth. She is able to make the occasional grasp of the morsel; that will just be a matter of time before she will be able to grip all foodstuff, I reckon.

Caitlin with adult chopsticks

But the more remarkable thing for me is that she had worked out how to use my Macbook Pro’s trackpad!

Remarkable in that, since this is my precious, I very rarely let her out of my sight when she is “using” it for watching Sesame St podcasts. And since I haven’t yet invested in a good bluetooth mouse, I don’t let her use it at all, assuming she wouldn’t be able to work the trackpad- this kid has not been experiencing the human-computer interface as much as other kids her age. But I think she’s seen me use the trackpad enough to abstract-think my finger movement in the square of the pad and corresponding arrow on the screen.

Today I loaded the Playhouse Disney website and watched her interact with the instructions. Like a typical kid, she was “short-cutting” through the various screens not waiting for the kiddie voice to finish explaining how to proceed.

I think if and when I do get a mouse, I won’t be able to use my own computer much anymore… Just like how Hot Mummee’s already been monopolising the other time-waster: The tv remote.

Sigh…

Caitlin knows her Mandarin counting from 1 – 10, audibly. As in, she can cite it. But give her a break, thus far it’s only in ascending order :)

She also knows her roman numbers already (or do I mean gregorian?? You know- the numbers on your keyboard); proved herself repeatedly in the lift and (since then) any other places now.

Come time to teach her the Chinese calligraphy of 1 – 10, we stumble.

She can point from 1 – 10 and cite them. Jump in randomly pointing at any calligraphy-number with “What’s this?” and she stumbles.

If they are written in ascending order, and if she knows that they are, she can sometimes get by.

How? She cheats.

It’s quite funny watching a 4 year old citing something in their head, and visually counting without fingers, matching the citing and jump/skipping eye-counting!

At least she thought of that herself!

It was a successful affair! We had achieved the desired outcome!

My parents had invited close relatives and friends, and had wanted to keep the affair not-to-big. So naturally the guest list was crafted by them. Seatings were also generally determined by them, as sometimes one has to try and please as many as possible and diplomatically seat various folks together or apart. :)

So anyway, whatever brought about the inspiration, my niece took it upon herself to add more activities and significance to the event- she had wanted to give her grandparents a surprise gift. She thought to create a photo album, chronicling from the days my parents dated, to their wedding, to when the kids (us) were born, and to when their generation was born. So there were lots of baby photos that still bring laughters today! She then got everyone of us to write a greeting / message of whatever we wanted to say to my parents.

Me and my siblings usually communicate via emails; like a mailing list, when we have something to collectively discuss. Here was no different, only that the nieces and nephews were also roped in; in discussing this, the program for the evening, and also all the planning leading up to it.

This latter phase largely revolved around what to get as doorgift for the guests. The criteria was that it had to be something that the guests won’t be throwing away very easily, not something that is left at the bottom of the drawer, something that can serve as a reminder of the event later on, and of course meaningful. So, that ruled out chocolates of even the best quality; cakes, for the same reason; Chinese tea; photoframes, cos, well it just didn’t jive well with anyone.

What we eventually settled was a pair of chopsticks, and Chinese teacup set.

doorgift

In this pic, the gift looked like it does above with the chopsticks tied to the box, which contains the teacup.

After the party / the next morning, while recapping all the fun that was had by all, mum was looking at this doorgift. No, she / they didn’t know anything about this surprise either!

She shared a useful comment for the ethnic Chinese among us.

It would have been more meaningful if it were a rice bowl, instead of the cup, because a chopsticks+rice bowl combo is a more complete symbol for such an occasion. Since the occasion was to celebrate their 50th anniversary, as well as an early 70th birthday for my mum (it’s actually in the middle of the year), the combo would be symbolic of the hosts also wishing that their guests would also eat-well into their later age.

While mum’s birthday is later in the year, their anniversary apparently is spot on the date! It was also good that we did it early ‘cos some of these nieces and nephews have to leave for / go back to uni pretty soon.

The dinner party program also included a surprise slideshow presentation. In preparing for the photo album, my brother made copies (more like photographed the photos) of the nostalgic moments in their lives, and put together a slideshow with a similar chronicle theme to the album, but for all the guests to see.

That was a big feature of the evening, everyone’s eyes were glued to the screens! Friends who knew my parents even more than a decade ago were keenly watching the slideshow of my parents in their early 20’s and 30’s. Relatives relived the old days, my nieces and nephews laughing their heads off at kid photos of their parents.

But most importantly, my parents too were saying “Hey, that was when… ” and “Oh dear! Where did you get that from!?” They had a good time watching the whole 35min slideshow.

The nieces and nephews too had a series of speeches all planned out. In all, all of the grandkids present did something. Well wishes, toasts, and a presentation of 2 calligraphy scrolls handwritten by this organiser-niece, no less. The last of the grandkids’ surprise was this photo album mentioned earlier; a few of them slaved over it about 2 weeks before the event.

cal_doze

All the grandkids had a great time, too. All helped out in one way or another; even Caitlin accompanied me on stage when the hosts’ sons were up there welcoming the guests and other speaking ocassions.

Dr Pixie, being the oldest and de facto leader of my generation, summed it up nicely in her email today:

On a final note – the parents are very very very happy with the effort put into the Feb 14th dinner. Thats what parents live for – the time and effort by their children & grandchildren. The evidently wonderful camaderie enjoyed by the grandkids captured so well in the photos is so heart-warming; they have never ever quarrelled, with love and humility all round ; there isnt the slightest feeling of envy, jealousy, anger nor one-upmanship amongst this lot – this can teach us adults so many lessons.

Kudos, guys, for a job well done! All except Caleb, who was gladly snoozing through the whole event. He had to be taken out of his stroller / woken for these family shots, which while he thought it was very rude of the adults to disturb his sleep, we couldnt’ help but laugh at him though, trying to either stay awake or stay asleep, and stay balanced!

Oh yeah, much later that night, I thought I was the last to go to bed (we crashed at my parent’s place) I caught my father enjoying the photo album, in his fave seat, slowly flipping the pages and reading every single word…. :) Hear that, Mdm Organiser?

I started this blog about 2 years ago now. Caitlin would have been about 2.5 years old then.

If memory serves me right, I would have already done this memorable (at least to me) routine with her already: HM was always working late, so it was up to me to tuck Caitlin into bed. At her bedtime, when we are both all cleaned up and lying on our bed, I’d whip out my Windoze PDA and run the slideshow of the mugshots of relatives I have saved as their respective caller ID.

We’d be lying in bed on our backs, and I’d run them for Caitlin to identify who they are.

“Yeh yeh..” (Paternal Grandpa)
“Nai nai…” (Paternal Grandma)
“Gong gong..” (Maternal Grandpa)
“Po po..” (Maternal Grandma)
.. and so on, on both HM and my side of the family.

Till today I still think that was a “nice” exercise. Our culture practises calling / addressing / greeting our elders upon meeting them. And this exercise familiarised Caitlin associating the “titles” to the respective relatives.

Caleb is 1.5 years old now. He has started calling the ones he sees everday.

“Gong gnng…. Po po….”

And yes, even “Dad-dee…” these days :) But alas, it wasn’t his first words.

So I reckon I’d soon start him on this exercise too. Only that I’d have to find a conducive environment; Caitlin had the luxury of being the only child at that time; now with Caleb, Caitlin being her usual cheeky self will actually be a nuisance for this…. I’d have to find a compromise somehow.

Anyway.

I see this view, and it never ceases to amuse / amaze me how the little human man can have such a “large” head on such slender necks :)

And again, it’s not Daddee.

He’s been pronouncing; more like uttering, “words” beginning with “D”. Such as “duh duh duh duh…” or “den den den…”

Tonight, I kinda figured out how to “spell” something he’s been uttering for about a week now.

Ardent; without the “t” of course.

On a related matter of his development, his walking is a lot more steady now. It’s quite amazing how within 3 days of making the first steps, he’s now walk-chasing his jie jie quick briskly.

Mind you, Hot Mummee thought his style of walking reminded her of one she knows but can’t quite put her finger on, until I reminded her of it.

Orangutan. Yup, legs spaced apart, arms up.

Heh.

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It shouldn’t be, given that Caleb is our second child

But this Daddee seem to only have started knowing how to read the little human’s signs. And for the life of me, I can’t seem to recall those of Caitlin’s when she was his age.

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