Chapter 21 - No Super Nanny

From the moment they entered my world, these "little people" (including my nephew Ridhwan) brought on interesting changes and challenges into my life as a young, inexperienced mum. Before becoming a mother, I never had any experience handling young children so most of my reaction to their wily ways were rather unconventional, to say the least. Nowadays, when I watched "Super Nanny" on TV, I often wonder what she would have to say about my unusual method of discipline...

The first thing that springs to mind was the way I handled little Derrick's bedtime delaying tactics. At the time, we were back living in Singapore and I was trying to get the little chap settled into a bedtime routine. Rick was home on leave and within minutes of putting little Deej to bed, the imp toddled out into the lounge room and lisped, "I want dwink, mummy". So I got up from my comfy sofa and got him a drink of cordial before putting him back to bed. "There! That should do it," I said to Rick before settling back to continue watching TV. Before I could get comfortable again, a little voice piped in from behind us, "I want cookie, mummy!" Soo... up again, this time to get him a biscuit before back to bed he went. What do you know? Within minutes, the little fella appeared yet again asking for more "dwink" and by the time he finally went to bed, I was well and truly exasperated. The start of a repeat performance the following evening made me totally lose my cool. After catering to the first request for a "dwink" and the second for a "cookie", I decided I had enough of his nonsense. When he made his third appearance for another request for a drink, I grabbed him and plonked him down on the tiled loungeroom floor before going into the kitchen to get a jug of cordial. To Rick's open-mouthed amazement, I then proceeded to pour the jugful of cordial all over little Deej! Then, without uttering a word, I picked him up for a bath and a change of pajamas, brought him back out to say goodnight to daddy and put him to bed. The following evening, after he was put to bed, he made a tentative appearance a few moments later and to my offer of more drink and cookies, he vigorously shook his head and said, "No! 'night-'night, mummy, 'night-'night daddy," and toddled off back to bed. No more bedtime antics after that little lesson!

With the spotlight staying on Deej - I'll never forget the time when he was a toddler - I was sitting in the lounge room watching TV when I heard him announced to nobody in particular, "Mmm... 'mell nice!" Uh-oh! I wondered what he was doing in my bedroom... So I pried my bottom off the comfortable sofa and waddled off (I was pregnant with Sharon) in the direction of my bedroom. I was almost knocked off my feet by the overpowering scent of Chanel No. 5 before I even reached the doorway! Shock! Gasp! Horror! I found out he had emptied my almost full bottle of said perfume all over my bed!!! Tell you what - the whole house smelt like the perfume section of C.K. Tang's Department Store for weeks afterwards. Man, was I cross but I didn't spank him - instead, I emptied the last few remaining drops of the "girl" perfume on him, which wasn't at all appreciated. He practically tore his clothes off and ran straight for the bathroom, screeching out, "YUKKY! I NOT GIRL, mummy!" No repeat performance after that...  

Still talking about little Deej here... His introduction to hot chilli was a rather rude one - I was sitting at the dinner table enjoying a feed of "Nasi Padang" (Indonesian rice with side dishes of meat or fish and vegetables) with an accompaniment of "Sambal Blacan/Sambal Terasi" (Very hot sauce made up of freshly pounded red chillies with toasted prawn paste and lime juice). Little Deej was in "touchy-feely" mode where he would toddle around the dining table and "see with his fingers", taste-testing along the way. Well, he managed to dip his little fingers right into my "Sambal Blacan" and before I could say "Alamak!" (Oh my God!), he stuck his fingers in his mouth! His ear-splitting screams that ensued could be heard all over Toh Estate, for sure. This unpleasant episode ended the "touchy-feely" taste-testing chapter of his toddler days.

I now turn the spotlight on my nephew, Ridhwan. He was about two years old at the time and for some unknown reason, he developed a fixation with the toilet system. On the pretext of taking a nap (or resting), he would disappear into Deej's bedroom which adjoined the ensuite. What a good little boy! NOT! Within minutes, gleeful exclamations of, "All gone, no more... yay!", accompanied by the clapping of hands, told us (Rahimah [sis-in-law] and I) that little Mister Trouble was wide awake and up to no good. We sneaked in on him and saw him pulling reams of toilet paper, putting them into the toilet bowl and flushing them away! He would wait impatiently for the cistern to fill up again before repeating the "game". Anyone who have tried reasoning with a two-year-old can tell you that it is a no-win situation. A few days later, after "losing" the umpteenth roll of toilet paper and countless litres of water, I knew something needed to be done before I ended up charged with causing grievous bodily harm or worse, premeditated murder. I discussed the matter with Rahimah and with her permission decided to teach the young fella a lesson. The very next time he started his "game", I marched up to him and asked, "What do you think you're doing?" With a guilty look on his face, he replied, "Make all gone..." I continued with, "Wanna see where all the poo and paper disappear to?" The silly little bugger must have thought that I was going to join in the fun as he eagerly nodded his head. I then grabbed him, plonked him inside the toilet bowl and flushed the toilet while saying, "Well, off you go then!" He let out a blood-curdling yell and hurriedly scrambled out of the toilet bowl. Without another word, I got him out of his soaked clothes, bathed him and put him back into dry clothes. He couldn't get far enough away from me for days after but my unorthodox action certainly put an end to his toilet flushing game!

Even back then, I almost always had a camera loaded with film and ready to shoot and in my spare time, I would hide behind the curtains waiting for that "Kodak moment", especially when the kids were at play. I was often greatly amused by the kids' antics when they figured no adults were watching. Once, after a playful tussle which resulted in my nephew Ridhwan grazing his knee, I saw and heard little Deej cuddling and consoling him, all the while saying, "I didn't push you, right, Ridhwan? You fell, right? Right? You fell all by yourself, right???". Ridhwan continued howling all the way inside with an anxious Deej following a couple of steps behind. Ridhwan reported thus, "DJ said I fell. He didn't push me. Right, DJ? Right?" It was no wonder they were such good mates! 

Then along came Sharon - my little tom-boy... she was into climbing and exploring at a very young age. Startled by the sound of an almighty crash coming from the kids' bedroom, followed almost immediately by a little voice saying, "Uh-oh!", I raced over to the crime scene. There she stood on the top of a four-foot tall chest of drawers with blood dripping down her chin! After checking for physical damage, which thankfully, wasn't as bad as first thought, I cleaned her up before surveying the disaster area. I didn't need the aid of Sherlock Holmes to deduce what had taken place. The little turd was undeterred by the fact that there wasn't a chair or ladder in sight. Instead, she put her little thinking cap on and got to work. She started by pulling out the bottommost drawer three-quarter-way out, the next drawer, halfway out, the next, just a wee bit out and then craftily climbed to the top like a monkey. It was obvious that in her mad scramble to reach the top, she had lost her balance and hit her chin on the edge of a drawer, which in turn pushed her front tooth into her lower lip. The crash was caused by a container of toys that came plummeting down during her scramble. Not bad problem solving for a 20-month-old, I must say. There was no punishment necessary and it was many years later before a similar performance took place.

Then there was this one time when she fell and grazed one of her knees on the concrete outside. I happened to be watching her from my bedroom window and couldn't help but be amused by her actions immediately following the fall. She calmly picked herself up, looked around to see if there was an audience and seeing none, she looked down and studied her grazed knee for a little while. She then screwed up her face, turned her waterworks on and ran towards the front door. Just short of reaching the doorway, her run suddenly changed into a most painful-looking limp! By the time she reached Rahimah, anyone would have thought that she had been involved in a most horrific accident. However, she blew her chance of winning an Oscar when she said, "Hurt bad, see!?" and pointed to the wrong knee!

In January 1980, Sharon joined Deej in attending Singapore Preparatory School (for expatriate children) in Margate Road, (off Mountbatten Road) on the East Coast. On Sports Day of this year, Rick was out of town so a couple of friends and I hopped into a taxi and went to the school to show our support. The race that Deej was in completed without incident and it was finally time for Sharon's class. Sharon was doing exceptionally well, almost assured of a second place position... Excitedly, my friends and I yelled out in unison, "C'MON SHARON!!!" To our utter amazement, she stopped dead in her tracks and yelled back, "WHAT???" before changing her course, to head in our direction! "NO! NO! RUN, SHARON, RUN!!!" we yelled back, so she resumed her race but unfortunately, the distraction had caused her to drop to second last position. No, that is not the end of this funny tale - as she resumed her race, she happened to glance back and saw her friend running several metres behind. So she did what a good friend would do - she stopped and waited for her friend to catch up and together, hand in hand, they ran to the finish line! If only I had a video camera, this episode would surely qualify for Australia's Funniest Home Video Show.

Finally we get to Selina... She loved listening to the Little Golden Book (TM) bedtime stories that I read out almost every night and one in particular, "The Animals Of Farmer Jones" was her favourite. She never tired of hearing me read it over and over again. A few times, out of sheer boredom, I tried to change the story and used my own words or would deliberately miss a page but she was way too smart for me and would immediately declare that I was "cheating"! One evening, she surprised me by saying that she was going to read to me for a change. Imagine my amazement when she proceeded to read out the whole little book to me, word perfect, full of expression and with no hesitation whatsoever! Elation at the thought of having a a child prodigy soon vanished when I realized that she had merely memorized the story, word for word. I discovered this fact when she read it again the following day and the story flowed as smoothly as before despite the fact that she had missed a page... Still, it was pretty impressive for a child barely four years old.

Selina has always been very mature for her age and try as I may, I cannot recall any major scrap that she had gotten into in her toddler days.. nothing that is worth mentioning anyway. That is not to say that she was a good little girl through and through, it was just that she was wise enough not to get into any serious trouble, or at least, none that she was caught red-handed at!



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