"That's not. No, you yours gave it yesterday. Well to me, that's, today yesterday I back. You want it can't do Yes, I like that can. Mother! also no use. Tell mother Give it now. No! to me I'll take Don't you your ruler. dare, I'll take pencil. I'll back your. I'll find hide it it anyway ..."
That's my two kids, 9 and 7 years old, performing their daily ritual. I've come to believe that it must be some sorts of chants they learned during pregnancy to get revenge on us for bringing them into this world. And we thought we'd done them a favour and bragged smugly about it. If you're lucky, you would get to enjoy an ensuing Coyote and Road Runner Show (all chasing and no physical contacts). If the warfare escalated to a DEFCON 1, you'd have a Tom and Jerry Show. Oh, how they would fight. But I've learnt not to be agitated by it, until a certain limit, and accept it - much like I accept that however close a couple is, there are still secrets best left untold; as friendly as your parents are, there'll be moments when you wish they would just shut up; as tightly held as you think your brotherhood or sisterhood is, there are still things not meant to be shared. So, brothers and sisters at their ages tend to fight - that's human, that's growing up, that's life, no problem.
So, kids' bickering I can withstand, with a smile too. Sometimes, it's the object of contention that bemused me. In the above jumbled up arguments, it's a sweet, a 5 cents sweet. I understand we should not always use an adult's value judgment to assess things in the kid's world. But, a fight that nearly turned into a Jet Li's Invisible Kicks vs Michelle Yeoh's Weng-Choon Fists over a 5 cents sweet, which they get to enjoy often whenever their parents is in a good mood?
But it is exactly this kind of absurdly-out-of-proportion-to-us-adults-basis that prompted our primary-3 daughter to jump with joy when we finally decided to give her a weekly allowance - 50 cents, to go with her snack box. By my calculation, if I got 20 cents as allowance back in my primary school years, which allowed me to buy a bowl of noodle and a glass of drink, and taking in the inflation rates over the 30-odd years, her joy was way overrated. But then again, she's measuring it against the yardstick of kid's world. Still, her overjoyed outburst caught me a little bit by surprise.
I was thrown into more surprises the other day, not long after we started giving her allowances, when she secretly told me ... well, this is another kid's wonder ...
When one of the kids comes to you and says, "Baba, Baba, come here, I want to tell you something, but you cannot tell Di-di (little brother), (or Jie-jie (elder sister), whichever case applies) hor ...", you're sure to find the other sibling right within a earshot away. Kids ...
Anyway, in the kid's most secretive way of telling a secret, my daughter pulled my ear towards her and whispered to me that she would use her weekly allowance of 50 cents to buy a 30 cents snack for her younger brother on the coming Wednesday. Sure enough, the boy didn't hear about the secret, but, as usual, knew that a secret was being told, and was hopping mad for not being told the secret. The kind of surprise brought by the learned secret put a smile on my face the whole day. I was so pleased I thought I couldn't have smiled any wider.
But I was wrong.
On Wednesday, my daughter kept her promise. She gave the snack to her younger brother, bundled in a self-made gift wrapper. I was again surprised by her thoughtfulness. And, of course, I was caught by another surprise (this just shows how presumptuous I was regarding kids' value judgment) when the little boy couldn't stop giggling and yelling with joy over the kind of present that takes him less than 30 seconds to gobble up.
The biggest surprise of all?
After my full-of-surprises daughter had given my full-of-surprises son her gift, she gave him a hug and said, "Happy Birthday!"
Moments later, after the gift was unwrapped, and the jumping and yelling of joy came to a halt, another surprise - "This is the bestest birthday ever!" my little boy trumpeted with a big smile.
Ahh ... kids. What would you do without them, when you're not spanking them for their hair-pulling maddening mischief.