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Children's Day

You don't see many Singaporean fathers alone with their young children.
I had initially wanted to write this post a few weeks ago; about how much fathers were missing out by not biting the bullet and taking their kiddos out for some one-to-one time. I wanted to write about how the notion is scarier than it seems – that a day out with your toddler is absolutely harmless.
Somehow life, and your child, has a way of humbling you. Just when you thought you had a good grasp of things, the rules would change. Whether it's how to get her to sleep, or your foolproof plan to get some time alone with your Xbox, children will find a way to break your routine.
So I've had a few successful outings with Anne. Amazing, wonderful times. And I thought I had it down pat – the whole deal of keeping her occupied, getting her food, scheduling some rest in between activities etc. Then three Sundays ago I brought her to church by myself as Faith wasn't feeling up to it.
Hell broke loose on the way home.I brought Anne to her Grandma's for some lunch and hopefully some sleep. She was happily singing songs and telling me that she was looking forward to Grandma's home while in the cab on the way there. The moment she stepped out of the cab, her tune changed.
"I don't want to go".
I ignored her and continued walking. She squirmed out of my arms, got on her feet and sulked.
"I don't want to go".
We were a few metres from the elevator. I walked on. She followed me, sulking all the way. We just need to get her some food and some rest, I tell myself.
When we get to Grandma's she's kicking, screaming and making the largest din. She lay on the floor and kicked the gate with both her feet, almost going hysterical. She wants to go home, she says.
I apologise to my infinitely patient but somewhat shellshocked mother-in-law, and I carry this bundle of flailing limbs, still kicking, into the elevator.
When I hit the main road, Anne issues another ultimatum – "I don't want to take a taxi". The cab's faster, but the bus provides more distractions. I take a gamble and chose to take a bus. Maybe she'll catch some shuteye.
Seeing that she hadn't quite settled down from the tantrum-throwing I walked an extra bus stop away to give her some time. I was carrying all 11kg of her on one arm, while the other hand held a bottle of apple juice she did not want to drink. The bus came and we got on. She seemed quite calm at this time and ready to sleep a bit.
As I sat down on the bus, the bottle of apple juice decided to take a flying leap out of my hand and onto the floor. Anne sprang upright and started screaming for her bottle. A helpful fellow passenger helped me pick the bottle up, which had scuttled halfway to the front of the bus. Anne insists on drinking from the soiled teat.
We argue. I lose.
The whole bus looked at me while I waged the epic war against my own flesh and blood. I can't quite recall clearly, but I think there were shaking of heads and whispered murmurings, whether spawned from my imagination I do not know. The teenager sitting in the corner listening to her iPod while totally oblivious to everything that had transpired became my best friend simply by virtue of the fact no judgement was passed. I felt my skin thicken, and I didn't care if all 40+ folks on the bus thought I was a terrible parent. I just needed to do what I had to.
Then it stopped. Just like that. Her head on my shoulder emitted tiny snores as she breathed in and out. The elderly women on the bus looked at me and smiled. A few of them told me that children were all like that. I strained under the weight of everything that I had to carry, but thankful that it was all I had to bear.
As we approached our bus stop it started pouring. The bus driver gave me a newspaper to cover her head with. It was with colossal effort and a huge dose of God's grace that we made it as far as we did. The 2 minute downpour became a light drizzle, and I carried the comatose sparkplug home.
She woke up 15 minutes later, good as new, shining halo and all.

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