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

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

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
(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!

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

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!

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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