Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sleep Away

Psyched up for the 18 hour flight, I structured activity for Shane on the plane:

a) Nap
b) Walk around the aisle
c) Watch one movie
d) Share a pack of chips
e) Draw
f) Eat grapes
g) Toilet break

8 hours in the flight, I was getting quite tired. Only 10 hours more....what shall we do?

Then I saw her.

She was slumped on her chair. She had a baby asleep in the bassinet in front of her. In the near aisle, there were three other children aged 3, 5 and 7 who were squirming around and kicking each other.

Shane stopped. He wanted to play with them.

"No Shane...their mommy is sleeping"

The 5 year old boy started jumping on the airline seat. Shane joined in. The 3 year old girl woke up and kicked her brother.

"You're kicking me. Stoppit!"

"Shut up!"

The 3 and 5 year old started throwing muffin pieces at each other.

The 7 year old looked on with disinterest. She was colouring.

All this time she remained asleep, dead to everything that was happening around her. Even if she was awake, her kids would still fidget and fight.

So why bother, just sleep.

I steered Shane back to our seats and seatbelted him tightly. Propping up my neck pillow, I knew then how I would survive this trip. If that mom of four could do it, so can I - closing my eyes, I fell asleep.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Free Ticket

Gary flies the Airbus 340-500. This magificent bird goes non-stop from Singapore to New York in 18 hours. He flies this route twice a month. Sometimes to LA. But always to the US. Everytime he comes back, he tells me stories about the city, the friends he's made, the places he's seen.

Shane is almost three. He hasn't seen the world outside of Katong. Every morning, he takes the bus to nursery and in the evenings, we hang out at home. Sometimes, we go for an outing to the neighbourhood park, shopping centre or library. The kampung boy's attire: sandals, shorts and tshirts.

When Gary first mooted the idea of bringing Shane to New York, I was against it:

a) Shane will surely freeze. He has never worn closed toed shoes or pants, or shirts with long sleeves.

b) 13 hour time difference!

c) 18 hours on the plane!

d) It won't be a vacation

e) How about Alix?

Then, the most compelling reason to go to New York with Shane presented itself.

"If you don't go, you will waste the FREE TICKET." (SIA gives each of us a free ticket every year).

The idea of losing that free ticket emboldened me with a new courage:

a) I purchased in a hurry, a basic winter wardrobe for Shane - Coat, ski pants, sweater. Barney closed toed shoes.

b) Left Alix in the trusted care of my mom and Grace.

c) Sterilised the Avent Manual.

The little boy man went with us to New York.

Because of that Free Ticket.

Friday, November 18, 2005

New York State of Mind

Its 3 am. Once my head hits the pillow and day breaks, I'm heading to Changi Airport to make the long journey to New York.

Gary just told me "You don't need to sleep, can crash out on the plane."

Haha..we're bringing Shane. It won't be restful. It'll be a babysitting nightmare. 18 hours in a confined area trying to keep him quiet while other adults are trying to get some sleep.

I can't sleep already thinking about it.

"Shane you are going to New York."

"New Yoork?"

"Yes. Alix will be at home with Grandma and Aunty Grace. You'll see her in 6 days."


"You want to go New York with mommy and daddy?"

"Yes. I want to go new yooork now."

Whatever that means.

Friday, November 11, 2005


There is a mouse in the house.

Gary saw him first, scampering from the downstairs toilet to somewhere beneath Shane’s bath tub.

Then Grace saw IT in the kitchen.

The fella is small. Katz, if you’re reading this, it is exactly like the one in Leedon Road. It does this special ninja trick where it squeezes into the tiniest of crannies. Because I can’t find it, in my imaginations it is everywhere.

I want to set a trap but Grace told me that if I kill one mouse, the rest of the pack will return and gnaw everything in the house IN REVENGE.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I dislike funeral wakes. The mock sad people who say tragic things - he was such a good man…sigh…sigh. The relatives you never see that you have to be nice to. The peanuts on the table. Kua chee. Packs of Yeo’s chrysanthemum tea. If you take away the coffin, you'd mistake it for going visiting during Chinese New Year.

Its something I wouldn’t wish on anyone and certainly not on my junior college class mate C.

For the past few years, C worked In Geneva. I saw him a few months ago and he informed us that he wanted to wrap up his work there and return to Singapore to spend more time with his folks. That was the plan.

Then, last week, he received a call from Singapore. Father had a heart attack. Emergency operation has been done. He took the first flight out and when he reached home, he didn’t get that last glimpse. The wake was being set up.

I could offer no comfort except for the fact that I had recently faced the same thing. I told him that when my dad fell ill, he asked my bro to become the head of the family. Since my dad's demise, that's what my older bro has done more. He helps me out, drives us out for outings and meals and serves as the all round back up man of the house when Gary is away.

So quite practically, I told him that he would have to rise up to take his father's place as head of the home. Just as I uttered that, I felt instantly stupid and inappropriate. Here was someone who had just lost his father and there I was needlessly clucking like a hen? I was doing the wake thing!

We started to talk about his mom. She looked distraught. They were only 2 days shy from his dad's 65th birthday and had been planning birthday celebrations. Unlike my parents, who had grown emotionally separate, they were very close. In that way, my parents had it better in a perverse way, in that my mom didn’t suffer a huge emotional fall out when my dad went. Strange, divorce makes it easier.


A few days later, I had coffee with C and his ex girlfriend. He told us a story which his mom told him.

The night before his father had the heart attack, he went on a ‘date’ with his mom. This was quite unusual. Usually, the adult children were around home and they each went about their respective activities. They hardly went out together as a couple. That evening, it was just the two of them, the kids were all out and his father suggested to his mom ”let’s go out for dinner?”.

After dinner, they went for a walk. On the eve of his demise, his 65 year old father held his wife’s hand and asked “Do you regret marrying me?”

Her answer?

(She had many suitors, choosing him she underwent hardship)

The truthful expression of that anti-romanticism - that she stuck around despite regrets and loved her man to the end totally left me AGAWP.

And as I nervously stirred my cafe latte, it hit me like a ton. So this is what it means to love for a entire lifetime. This is what it means to love as you grow old. Despite regrets. Till death parts.