My four-year-old niece Bethany is extremely competitive. As it turns out, I do have a thing or two to learn from her.
Ever since she is aware of the concept of gender (one day she returned from a child care center saying boys have long long things), her instinct has taken over. When she was at her younger sister’s age, she was very much attached to me. Right now? It is all about girls power. She forms a team with my wife so as to beat me in all front. If I were at her age, I would have met her head on. Now I play along. It is a win-win.
Today was all about racing. So Bethany and my wife ran ahead of me as the group was heading towards the train station. Whenever she looked back at me, I always pretend to make an effort to race. When she was not looking, I casually chatted with my mother in walking pace. My dad, as always, was miles ahead of us reaching the station way before we did.
Then we made a wrong turn and having to make a u-turn. Which means all of a sudden I was way ahead of the girls power duo! At that very moment I was curious on how Bethany would react. That sense of wasted effort, so much disadvantaged when she was leading the race all the time. She did not think. Instinct has taken over. I could sense that fire of determination written all over her face. Without missing a single beat, she grabbed my wife’s hand and screamed, “Run!” even as I turned away and pretended to capitalize on this very advantage. I let the duo ran past me, of course. I hope Bethany has learned an important lesson in life to never give up. I too am very much inspired by her. She would enjoy watching Formula One with me when she has grown older.
My one-year-old niece – Lydia – is a natural charmer. It is impossible not to fall in love with her in first sight. She would all of a sudden gesture a flying kiss to a lady nearby. The stranger would first be taken aback (how cold real life is, come to think on it) and then reciprocate with a big smile. Lydia would then wave and say bye bye. Those who are briefly touched by her good gesture would agree with me that she is indeed a little angel on earth.
Because the police was clearing the areas where protesters had camped, we headed to Lantau Island and have avoided town. We did not enter Disneyland. That would have cost a bomb. Instead, we have visited the Inspiration Lake nearby that comes with a pretty decent playground. In fact, all the playgrounds I have seen in Hong Kong are pretty decent, built for kids of various ages in mind. Unlike the basic tiny ones we have in Singapore.
In the evening, we popped by an Indian / Western restaurant at Tong Chong – a town next to Disneyland and a stone throw to the airport. My cousin works there as a bartender. It is hard to describe this cousin of mine. He is the youngest in our generation. While he may not have done particularly well in school, he has inherited his father’s trait of being extremely sociable. He holds his liquor well. He smokes like his father does. He says the right thing to make everybody happy. He cracks jokes. In short, he is a party man.
Today I get to see another side of his. He came all the way out from his restaurant duty to meet us at the station. The walk took a quarter of an hour. He handled the kids extremely well. Knowing nothing in the menu would suit a one-year-old, before he started work at four, he bought fish porridge from a shop nearby and has it heated up once Lydia was awake while we were having our dinner. He carried Bethany to the bar area and took her for a short tour of the kitchen. He even offered to pick up the bill, which we politely declined. I wish I have more time and opportunity to bond with this cousin of mine. But our paths seldom cross. Such is life.
Tomorrow my wife and I will return to Singapore. My sister and her family will stay on till next Wednesday. Cynthia and I both think it is a brilliant idea to have a family holiday like this one. Since my mother will be the only one to send us off from the hotel, at the station, we bid our goodbye to my dad. My dad seldom talks these days because he is too old to hear properly. But words are not necessary. His teary-eyed expression said it all.