Tuesday, October 14, 2008

water bottle

Someone who has lived only slightly more than 1000 days on earth has caught on to one of mommy's unhygenic tricks  - bringing out 1 water bottle for the purpose of delivering water to 2 kids. 
I have no qualms about letting them share a water bottle. After all, its just saliva and it saves me from carrying out 2 water bottles.
Carrying out water bottles I do not enjoy. They leak in your bag if you don't screw the cap tightly  so 2 water bottles enhance the odds of water leakage.  2 bottles weigh more than 1, not bad enough you are carrying wet wipes, their enrichment textbooks and crumbly biscuits which have a tendency to become a collection of crumbs finding their way to corners of the bag.
I brought out 1 bottle on sunday and before Shane went to reading class, I gave him a swig...I never let him bring a bottle of water to class because he doesn't close the cap properly and i can always tell which enrichment bag belongs to my son even if you remove the name tag - it is the one with soggy textbooks and water dripping out of the corners. Like mother like son.
When Shane goes into reading class, I take this time to be with Alix. Routine always is:
1. see the live crabs at supermarket
2. shopping treat of the week - glico pocky or yen yen biscuits
3. one spin on the mechanised helicopter or train
4. go to v hive the furniture shop for free spin on the rotating office chairs
5. go to diy shop to look at strange looking tools
With all this activity, she got thirsty and I offered her water off the spout of the water bottle. It was her pink water bottle, the one she carries to nursery everyday.
Alix: I want water.
Me: Here.
Alix: I smell something.
Alix: I smell ko ko shane.
Me: .....
Alix: It is ko ko shane saliva!!!
Her super sensitive nose detected the alien traces of saliva!!! So I started offering ways to placate her.
Me: I can wash it. [using tissue to wipe] see clean already?
Alix: Still smelly.
Me: It is not shane's saliva. It is MOMMY'S SALIVA!
Alix: I don't want mommy's saliva!
This went on and on for about 20 minutes.  I considered letting her go thirsty but water is essential for survival. Factoring the cost of bottle of mineral water, the emotional cost of having her unhappy for the rest of the day and the possible impact of her refusing the saliva stained water bottle the next day in childcare (the place where children fend for themselves), I relented and let her buy another new water bottle.
In the hygiene battle, 3 year old wins:
Alix: 1
Mommy: 0

Friday, October 03, 2008


The only person who believed that I could run; made me believe that I could do it, was Jinn.

I got to know Jinn in Secondary 2. She was the skinny girl who ran fast during PE. In Secondary 3, we sat next to each other and found common ground ignoring classes in favour of acquiring real life skills.

When we were caught reading romance novels under the desk, she’d whisper to me:

Stop looking so guilty. If you stop looking so worried, you won’t get caught.

I never unschooled myself from that look of guilt but every so often, when my brows furrow with worry, I remember.


She was good at things that I was bad at - Art, Chinese and singing the latest hits; though she never made me feel inferior. She’d look at my still life of a watermelon and laugh. Trying her best to make me feel better, she'd say

Even if I tried really hard, I could never draw like you!

She never corrected my badly worded Chinese compositions because she thought it was pure art that someone could assassinate the Chinese language the way I did.

And when it came down to singing the latest hits, I never had to sneak the radio into class because she was my live feed. Fans of the hottest pop channel back then, Zoo 101.6, we gave ourselves animal DJ names – Jinn Jaguar and Carrie Cougar. We spent many hours pretending to be radio DJs, anything to escape the oppression of being 16 and spending most of your day in a classroom.

She excelled in places I never went, making it to the school team and running competitively in the 100m and 200m sprints. Naturally, she was nominated the sports captain of our class but very unnaturally, she asked me to be her sports assistant. 

We’ll just plan for sports day and take lots of time off to go stadium ok?


As sports day approached, the slots for the short distance sprints filled up, but there were 2 glaring empty slots which no one wanted to volunteer for.

The 1500m race.

She persuaded me to run it with her. She told me we’ll just go there and try not to be last.

But I can’t run!!!

No, you can. We’ll be ok.

I only did it because she was my friend. We turned up on the day of the race, with zero preparation and late. There was only enough time to drop our skirts and dash along the track in our shorts.

I never stopped to look behind, but when I crossed the finish line, it was never discussed what position I came in…we had done the race! With aching thighs, we had no more energies to make it back to school so we went to watch Rainman.


We went to different JCs. She joined the JC athletics team. I joined the choir. She had several boyfriends and I had just one. On my 21st birthday, she gave me a painting depicting both of us, with full chests. I knew immediately that I was the one with the guitar and she was the one with the long cigarette.

When I went to university overseas, we exchanged a few letters. Most of my letters contained pleas to her to PLEASE USE CONTRACEPTION!

There was always something dangerous and reckless about her choices, but I never stopped her. I just didn’t know how to. In fact, I got sucked in.

We were 21 - the legal age to do things without parental consent. She wanted to marry a guy that she met several months before. Her parents would not approve it right now. Would I be her witness at the ROM? I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do but I couldn’t say no.

You will tell them when they’re ready to accept it yes?

Yes. Yes.

And so I just went along and we never told her parents. Do I regret doing that now?

Yes. Yes.


Just as Jinn’s life seem fully sorted out – she enrolled in a course at the polytechnic, got married to a guy who seemed fully committed to her, something happened which made her stop running. Which crashed not only her life but also the shape of our friendship.

I was 24, working in the law firm late. My first job. The phone call came in. Jinn is in the intensive care. She got hit by a motorcycle crossing the road.

At the intensive care unit, I saw my best friend – fighting for her life.

As time passed, I saw less and less of her husband who was with her when the accident happened. He was very caring at first, made journals of their love, drew her pictures of the past but after some time, he annulled the marriage and disappeared from her life.

In a way, I also disappeared - into my own life. I got myself out of the law firm only to start making new plans for myself. Get married. Travel. Start a family.

This is where it broke down. Realising that I can’t really get back Jinn - not the Jinn who meets me at the burger king in Holland Village wearing her Air Maxes and showing off her muscular calves from all the running she’s done. I couldn't face it so I hardly ever called, visited less and less. It seemed cruel to tell her about my life and the plans I was making. Did she even know me fully? Would she remember?


After some time, years, I received greeting cards from Jinn. Her right hand was no good but she had regained her ability to write with her left hand.

I love you!!!

It was left handed scrawl but the handwriting was the same and she had drawn hearts!

Still, something had crashed inside myself. 

Harder to accept than not getting Jinn back was getting Jinn (back with full mental faculties) without the use of her legs. Her rich voice, which was the sweetest sound, was now a shallow whisper.  


Jinn was really, the only person that could make me run so it really caught me by surprise that I’ve started to WANT to run again. Slow steps on the treadmill and then my first jog/walk on the open road. And now training for my first 10k in December.

I’ve always been shy about running in the open because I get breathless so fast. Neither do I have a 15 year old heart or the structure of a lean bird, but something has been lifting me beyond my limits and it would have to be Jinn.

Telling me that I can do it.

That its ok to persist against the pain.

To take that worried look off my face.

To be grateful that I can.

Through running comes a sweet relief against the fatigue, fear and breathlessness ….we’re on the track again, hearts ablaze and the only way to run the race is to keep going.