Thursday, January 29, 2009

I just spent a tiring Chinese New Year weekend cleaning and cooking. I sincerely hope that I won't have so many children in future. Doing the laundry and cooking for six people, three of them grown-up males, is a very exhausting business indeed.

Maybe people wonder what it is like to have a big family like mine. It's certainly not a common sight in Singapore. Well, firstly one has to get used to staying in cramped quarters, though that's not a problem if the house is big. Weekly buying trips at the supermarket spawn big loads of groceries- bundles of vegetables, whole chicken and fish. Then there might not be enough parental attention to go around. Pretty much all of us had our own caretakers when we were young. My eldest brother stayed with our grandparents for a year, my second brother and sister had their own nannies and I was taken care of by the family maid. And of course, there might be cash-strapped times where money has to be budgeted. Everything has to be prioritised- education, food, clothing etc. A point that people neglect to consider is that it's highly stressful living with and caring for so many people. Mouths need to be fed; everyone wants their own things.

Thankfully, my family has been lucky. Except for a short period of financial difficulty, in which we had to live in a rented house, we have got along quite prosperously as middle-class citizens, with the occasional overseas family holidays. I guess a price has to be paid for this kind of financial stability, which is, the limited time our parents could spend with us when we were young. Reflecting on those times, my mum advised me that it's always better to take care of your children yourself rather than entrust them to someone else.

However, once you get past the stress, having a big family yields many, many good things. There's always noise and life and laughter in the house; family outings are that much more fun. Now that we are older, we like to do more relaxing things like having a meal and conversation at new restaurants. There are photos documenting the times spent together when we were young- eating at McDonald's, playing at the beach, etc. My eldest brother, given his age, would be the more sensible one, friendly and likeable. My second brother would always be grinning mischievously, drawing aliens and guns, running around imitating the action in video games, being his usual cheeky and lovable self. My sis was kind of sulky, wailed easily and super loudly(I remember thinking how noisy she was), hated strangers, liked to lick chili sauce from McDonald's satchets, and generally fought with me. Sorry, sis. As for me- well, it's not for me to say what kind of person I was, right?

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