Being from a typical Singaporean family, I was never very expressive in showing affection. Then Caleb came along and things changed. I’ve enveloped him with countless hugs and kisses ever since he was a baby and he demands them if I fall short of the count these days.
Although he is my Kung Fu fighting kick-ass little superhero, he’s likewise never fought shy of lavishing affection on me.
During his Taekwando class, when he was practising kick-ass high kicks and punches, he would run across the room to whisper “I love you Mummy” quite loudly. The first time he did that in class, I was in the middle of typing an email and was caught surprised. I looked up to see two mums nearby go “Awww….”
In recent weeks, my four-year old superhero incorporated an add-on to his “I love you Mummy” routine. He would blow me a flying kiss which I had to catch and in turn, I would have to blow a kiss back. He would then dive to catch my flying kiss, like a goalkeeper saving a goal, catch it dramatically in the air whilst mouthing “Got it!”
If we were in the bedroom, he would roll across the bed, slow motion Hollywood-movie style, clutching onto the kiss as if catching a baseball.
His well-timed actions over the past year have also surprised me on many occasions. Just before he turned three, he rummaged through my cupboard and found an old cassette tape. It was an old voice recording that I had kept as a record of how bad I had sounded when I was struggling with Spasmodic Dysphonia years back.
“Mummy, what’s this?” He had asked. Cassettes are like dinosaurs to today’s kids. He then proceeded to pull out the reel.
Initially, I reeled. “That’s my only record of my voice at one of its worse times.”
Then, it dawned on me quite quickly after. Why do I want to hold on to something like this as if it had any value? “It’s okay, you can pull it out.”
And he did, unraveling the tape with great relish for a good half hour till it was a huge pile of black tape.
Not long after, he suddenly said to me, “Mummy, how come you have a nice voice?”
“Really?” I said. No one has ever told me that since I was afflicted with Spasmodic Dysphonia 15 years ago. All I ever heard was:
“Are you sick/are you having flu/asthma/laringithis?” Because of the breathy nature of an SD voice.
“Are you nervous?” Because of the shaky quality of an SD voice.
My preschooler, oblivious to my voice journey, was telling me how nice my voice was (and many more times since).
The symbolism of new life, ie my son, dislodging me from my “past” that I had stored in a cassette and finding beauty in my highly imperfect voice caught me right there. Quite speechless.
He quickly caught on, from my smile, that a few well-placed words could help turn a situation around.
So, on a few subsequent occasions when I was in the middle of scolding him, he suddenly said, “How come your voice is so nice?”
“You mean my voice is nice when I am angry?” I huffed.
“No, when you are happy,” he said, looking at me with big manga eyes. Then he added, “Are you happy?”
I paused, undecided whether to finish scolding him. “I’ll be happy if you listen,” I said.
“Mummy, be happy!” he chimed.