Sunday, December 23, 2007

Local Woman's Devious Plans Foiled by Local Toddler's Devious Plans

I've probably spent about an hour in total reading up on childcare manuals over the last 2.75 years. It's a combination of female machismo ("It's my kid, I should instinctively know how to raise him") and the fact that his main care-giver (my Filipino maid) has 2 kids back home and can quietly undo all my mistakes while I am at work. Like the one time she threw away all the expired fever medication I had carefully accumulated through the years. Who knew fever medication could expire?


Yesterday I finished reading this super cool book I picked up at Kinokuniya's (The Secret Mother's Club, by Joanne Fedler) and although it's mostly fiction(ish) it did have a great tip for potty-training a male toddler. Why didn't I think of it before? BRIBES.

So it came to pass that the Husband and I ran out to the store on a Saturday evening and bought a little box full of toy cars. S$16.90 for 25 little Matchbox cars - works out to about 70 cents per car. Then we came home and informed The Son that if you need to pee, just pee in the potty and you will get a present! a surprise! a reward!

Then we set up the potty, perched The Son on it and he obligingly squeezed out 2 drops of pee for the rather breathless parental audience. There are cheers, whistles, hi-fives and a standing ovation culminating in a prize-presentation ceremony where The Son is presented with a single brand new Matchbox car which gleams as it basks in the glow of our collective achievements. He is overjoyed, we are overjoyed - this is a cinch!!!! Why do people have to write so many books about potty-training? Just open a toy-store, call it "POTTY TRAINING".

The entire family retires for a well-earned good night's sleep. That was yesterday.

By the time I wake up this morning, the loophole in our rather devious plan has been found and is being ruthlessly exploited. The Son keeps asking for a new car. This time he even specifies the colour of the car he wants. Then he runs to the potty while ripping his diaper off, squeezes out 2 drops of pee (I notice the diaper is still being well utilised for the serious peeing) and then demands another car.

It's only 11 am now, and he already has 5 cars. He's stopped wearing his shorts - he wants just the diaper to facilitate easy removal. He's watching us very very closely to see where we go to get the new cars and it's just a matter of time (minutes?) before he finds the motherlode. I am a broken woman.

Someday my son will stand in a car showroom, staring at all the gorgeous new cars that he wants to buy, and he will wonder why he has the overwhelming urge to rip his pants off and pee into a pot.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Environmentalist, Philanthropist, Married Man

There's nothing worse than forgetting to hand over the Ang Pao at a good friend's wedding. Especially when you know he pulled out all the stops with the world famous photographer and videographer, fifty? hundred? table-dinner at the Shang and multiple tailored and hand-sewn dresses for the new wife. Also, world famous makeup artist. And spanking new hand-stitched tablecloths and chair covers for each red rose-petal strewn table.

Ok ok so obviously I already handed him the Ang Pao, otherwise I'd be passed out on the floor already from the guilt.

Passed him the Ang Pao today, only sans the red packet, just after we met for lunch. Also, there are probably some things in the world more embarrassing than your Boss passing by and seeing you furtively pass some random young guy a bundle of cash in a shopping mall. If I can think of what these more embarrassing things would be, you'll be the first to know. But I digress.

What do you say to a dear friend who just got married barely a week ago and managed to take time out from his busy golf-and-wild-animal-sex-with-new-wife schedule to meet you for lunch?

I asked him - hey, where's Part 2 of your Memoirs of How to Pick up a Stewardess before the Plane has even Landed? I thought you wanted to make sure that your vast and wonderful knowledge of secret feminine desires does not become lost forever. What about the young men who will now grow up without this Holy Grail of wisdom. How will they manage to pick up wimmen and have sex. How will humans survive to leave Earth and populate the mighty Universe. The future of our world depends on you.

Well, he said, putting more chilli into the soup, since nobody has really asked about Part 2, I just haven't written it yet. Also, did you notice I did not have an Ex-Girlfriends' Table at my wedding. Don't you want to know why?

Gee. I guess it's because it would have been logistically much more complicated to have to rent another ballroom (hur hur hur) just to accommodate all the Exes. Also, the simmering broiling tension hanging over the Ex-Girlfriend section would have set people's hair and clothes on fire. Obviously you really do understand wimmen since you didn't even try to invite a single Ex to the wedding.

Exactly. Also, do you know that by getting married, I am saving the Environment? It dawned upon me one day that, with all the wimmen I have been dating through the years, that I have substantially polluted the Earth and the Environment with my sperm. While it is true to say that I have also given generously of myself and made many many women extremely happy for no extra charge, I must also acknowledge that my constant and effusive contributions are causing the Earth to become highly concentrated in sperm. Specifically, my sperm. And I have not stopped, until now, to think about the potentially adverse consequences to the Environment. Just like the woman in the supermarket who uses a recyclable cloth bag for her groceries, it is time for me to take a stand for Gaia. Therefore, I must now marry, and stop this wasteful pollution once and for all. FOR I AM SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT!

Well isn't the English language a wonderful thing indeed. Given enough time and consideration, even your penis can be a philanthropist AND an environmentally friendly piece of equipment. Vagina monologues are so overrated.

Very Unsatisfactory Post-Script. Just watched Survivor. I CANNOT believe that Air Tiny won.

Friday, December 14, 2007

No More Apathy

It's really hard to push my brain off the couch sometimes and get all hyped up about anything in particular and this one issue has taken years for me to take any interest at all in.

But it's getting increasingly hard to ignore.

Why don't employees in Singapore have real rights? Everyone knows about the Employment Act of course, but have they looked closely at the definition of "employee"? It excludes individuals who are employed in a managerial, executive or confidential position. Does that pretty much exclude everyone in your office, except for the pantry lady? So yes, it's a nice piece of legislation, but does it apply to you? *evil laughter*

If it does not apply to you, then what employment laws apply to you? *evil laughter*

What is your assurance that if you do your job well, you can't be pushed out on the street tomorrow? What is your assurance that, once you announce to your employer that you just got pregnant, you can't be asked to leave? Are you just like everyone else - you think your job is now protected, and you can get your job back when you return? *evil laughter*

Are you just like everyone else who thinks that you are entitled to redundancy pay if you have worked with an employer for more than 3 years? You think that you are entitled to 1 month's salary for every year of employment? Entitled? *evil laughter*

The legislative reasoning is that more MNCs will set up shop in Singapore if we have employer-friendly laws. But here is a factoid for you. When MNCs send through questionnaires to law firms asking about employment and other laws in Singapore, nobody ever asks about redundancy pay.

And when they want to ask people to leave and instruct lawyers to assist, they all think they need to pay redundancy pay.

And when we tell them that they don't need to pay redundancy pay, they are not exactly jumping up and down with joy at the savings. Because what they thought they had to pay - that's not really very much money anyway. It's like when you clean out the back of your couch and find some change.

We are in Asia. Near Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand where employers get reamed when they terminate employment of employees. Everyone else has much more stringent employment laws that protect employees. We don't need to bend over backwards like this.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hello Mumbai

When I mentioned to friends and fambly that I was going to be spending a work weekend in Mumbai, the responses were fairly uniform:

1. bring diarrhoea tablets
2. be careful of molest
3. what will you eat - everything is poisonous.
4. you sure get rob one.

So of course whilst I was headed there, I was a little bit afraid.

Quite unexpectedly, and against all known odds, I had a wonderful time. Mumbai may be a little messy - the roads have no dividing lines (none that are taken note of by anyone anyway), there is the occasional pile of burning garbage by the side of the road and I was a shining beacon for various individuals seeking gratuitous payments by the side of the road, but the food was glorious, the people were extremely gracious, kind and about twice as tall as me. I was walking in a land of giants.

AND, most importantly, quite unlike a certain part of China that I visited before, people did not spit, pee or poop on the road or in public places, nor did they grab me or pull my clothing when I refused to give them money for nothing. I recall sadly the one time I was running from 2 little old Chinese lady beggars who were pulling at my clothes and grabbing at my arm because I wouldn't give them money.

The pavement was not covered with dried spit. The children did not wander around bottomless (except for one little girl outside a temple) and I was completely floored when, facing a small crowd of beggars by the road, the oldest one said to me graciously, in perfect English "If you give me the cash, I will divide it amongst all of us." And so I did, and so she did.

Am craving for some Indian food, just like the food I et in Mumbai.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I Have a Brother!

Normally people say this right about their time their mother delivers a baby boy, but in this case it's been such a long time since I saw or spoke to my little brother that it's kind of a big surprise, and not just for me. My mother was also rather surprised with the sudden physical evidence that she has a son. Being the middle child in the family between 2 girls who were always getting in trouble, and also being kind of quiet and well-behaved, I guess it was only a matter of time before he got left behind in the frozen food section of the supermarket.

I think it was about 14 years ago when he left for Manchester with 10 packets of Maggie noodles to further his education and broaden his horizons. Now he is back from 8 years of living in Manhattan, completely flat broke, and it seems quite clear that the last time he had a haircut was when he left Singapore 14 years ago. I guess haircuts are expensive in the Big Apple.

He is now staying with The Mother, and seems to be quite happy living under her roof again, with the free accommodation, laundry, cleaning and catering service and also the 2 free haircuts he has received since coming home (the first cut was not quite short enough for parental approval).

I wonder how long he will last when she progresses to Phase 2 and replaces all his underwear, tee-shirts and shorts with 'Mother's Choice'. My husband did express some surprise when he came home and all his house shorts were replaced with 'Mother In Law's Choice' but he seems to have settled into his bright purple house shorts quite well, so hopefully my brother will be able to cope. I'm sure there are worse things in life that one could complain about, like coming back broke and living with your mother at the ripe old age of 32. Hur hur hur. I guess one is never too old for sibling rivalry.