Colonel Lewis “Chesty” Puller once said “Tact and political correctness have made liars of us all”. Truer words have rarely been spoken. The dumbing down of thought and language in the interest of not offending anyone ever is a drain on society. It is even worse when the innocence of childhood must be breached in order to serve the PC Police. Take this recent conversation between our favorite protagonist, Emmet, and Mommy as an example.
“Hey buddy did you have fun on the playground?”
“Yeah I played Paw Patrol with my friends?”
“Matthew, and Chris, and Ananya, and Aruus, and my other brown friends?”
“The other two brown boys”
In today’s society I was overjoyed that this conversation took place in the confines of our apartment and not say….on the train. That would have engendered at a minimum dirty looks from the rest of the MRT riding population. At home I can , unfortunately, just cringe a little. I say unfortunately because he is just being honest, not hateful in any way. He has also described white children as “pale friends” and the Chinese children as “tan friends”. The next night when I asked him to tell me who his brown friends were he pointed out two Indian boys on the playground. I said to him.
“You know your name right?”
“Do those boys have names?”
“I don’t know”
“Why don’t you ask buddy”
Turns out they do have names, Yash and Suriya. Now when telling about his playmates they are included as Yash and Suriya. How do you explain to a three year old that some people are mean and use color as a way to be hateful? I chose not to. He sees them as friends. He describes them as best he can until he learns their names. I know at some point he will have to learn there are socially acceptable ways of depicting different people, but for now I think he can stay naive to how the world can be.
She is the most interesting woman in the world. Or at least of my year so far. A small woman of I’d guess fifty-ish, but I am horrible at guessing ages and I know better than to ask. She barely reaches my breastbone, I’m a short man of only six foot one inch. Brightly wrapped in flowing skirt and long sleeves, headscarf always matching. Her smile and laughter are infectious, her scowls at rude patrons would do any grandmother proud in achieving “the look”. We all know which look, the one that says “I am a mother and grandmother and will not tolerate your crap”. I think its genetically instilled in women upon giving birth. She always has a kind word and smile for E, and the wife, and usually something good for me to try. She has been trying to teach me Malay one word at a time, mostly centered around food. Emmet, no surprise, is picking it up faster than me. Her tan face and hands are careworn but kind. And unless she is very busy is always happy to talk with me for a few minuted about food, Singapore, and family. She is simply and genuinely nice.
I mentioned in passing my “vegetable lady” in my post, https://daysthatendwithe.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/desmond-has-his-barrow-in-the-marketplace/, and she has become a mainstay of my visits to the market. Her selection is much smaller than some, as she is tucked away in a corner and doesn’t get the foot traffic to support a large stall. She has her niche though, as the only vendor with a coconut grinder. I make a point to visit her and buy something each time I am at the market, whether I “need” it or not. Her welcoming manner and tips on local cooking have been invaluable, she even gave me her own recipe for breadfruit fritters. Yesterday though her genuine kindness and openness was thrust to the forefront.
It was a one of the rare days that all three of us visited the market as a family, as always after breakfast the first stop was her stall. Emmet let go of my hand and ran to her for his hug, to his chagrin no candy today. I had decided to get some coconut today to attempt a soup. As we were discussing my plans for making dinner she asked and innocuous question, “How do you feel about spicy food?”. I told her I liked it and Wife said she didn’t mind as long as it wasn’t too spicy. Her next statement floored us both.
“Ramadan is coming and at the end of the month we have a feast, a holiday. I would like your family to come to my house for it.”
Of course we said yes and now must make plans and get details, what should we wear, should we bring something, where is her home? But,…Wow!! To be invited to someone’s home for a family holiday meal, is so unexpected, appreciated, and exciting. Again I maintain its mostly because E is adorable, but I’ll take it.
Once, he was mine. My constant companion. We did everything together. Time passes though, and we grow, change. I’ve gotten taller, larger. He doesn’t fit the crook of my arm like he once did. My hands no longer the right size to hold his on a journey. My interests broadened and on a shelf he sat. He too has changed. Now sun faded and careworn. The only pockets he has left are mere suggestions of stitching. His eyes are still bright, his smile constant, and hey he’s still got his nose which is a wonder. I’m not sure when he came into my life, I’m sure my mother does and will tell me, at least once.
But he is no longer mine. To his present caretaker it is inconceivable that he ever was. When the fact is suggested I am meant with such a look of amazement it is comedic. The look that encompasses so many things from wonder, to incredulity, to horror at such a blasphemous thought. I know that I never mourned his loss, I simply moved on without him. My mother kept him safe all these years and when E was born it was as if he was just waiting for his revival.
“Emmet, you know Teddy used to be Daddy’s Sunny Bear”
“NO! Teddy is mine!”
I had always planned on passing him on. Just not so soon as he is not the robust companion he once was. Life and circumstances, however, dictated otherwise. So Emmet received this small inheritance after the age of two. Like me before him they are inseparable. Teddy has now been on an international flight, a subway and bus, has a few new stains, but still has a nose! He has found a voice again something he somehow lost when was seven or eight. I don’t recall when it happened but I know at some point he stopped talking to me. It is wonderful to see him talking again and having new adventures even if I’m only on the periphery of them. I sometimes am involved in the latest escapade, but I always feel as though its through a filter. I only get half the conversation, and there have definitely been some knowing looks and inside jokes that only Teddy and E are privy to.
There have been additions to his circle, the wife’s Curious George, and the new only his Boris the winter bear. Teddy’s denim is getting to be decidedly more gray then blue, his fur may not be as soft as it once was, but his smile is still ever present, and his capacity for unlocking the imagination of a small boy is still boundless. I have watched Teddy recently be a pirate, a cowboy, a race car driver, and his latest duty of all night sentinel against monsters (which is a VERY important job).
In hopes of finding new topics to write, I have started a WordPress U writing challenge. Each day we are given prompts to write, I may or may not post them but part of the challenge today was to post this so I will. Twenty minutes of free writing whatever came across my brain. Scary.
It is almost one am. . Its been a long day. I’m exhausted. Emmet is sick, fever, chills, general yuck. It has been a long daddy day, especially making the cardinal mistake of googling. Google sucks, OK it doesn’t but it always leads to badness when illness is involved. I should know better. How many times did I get annoyed at work (when I worked) of owners self diagnosing their pets via Dr. Google? A lot that’s how many a lot. I convinced myself he had something bad. Wife was at work no phone till eight. I texted our neighbors. Thank heaven she is a local elementary school teacher. Flu going around. All the boxes check. Had Mommy pick up some baby Tylenol….he’s sleeping now. I’m waiting to give the one thirty dose. Have I mentioned I’m tired. Tomorrow will be no better for the tiredness…..not sending the little man to school even if he’s feeling better. He needs a recovery day.
Twenty minutes can be a very long time if you don’t usually pay attention to the clock. I haven’t payed the clock any mind for a month. Except for when the alarms for wake up, and go get the boy go off. But then I’m not paying the clock any attention I’m just waiting for it to call to me. Ding dong time to do something. Other than that being the stay at home dad the clock has little bearing on me. I am ruled by E’s stomach and temperament, sometimes it is very apparent I should have looked at the clock because we have severely missed nap time. And the importance of nap time cannot be overstated. I would like to formally apologize to nap time for any derogatory statements about you I may have made as a young boy. I take them all back and beg your forgiveness.
The little red lines are bothering me. I usually correct spelling mistakes as I go but it seems not in the spirit to do so. I must soldier on. And keep writing the thoughts that flutter through. I’m curious to see what this will read like when I’m done, coherent isn’t a requirement right? I hope not. Ahhh and there is the timer twenty minutes done.