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Tue, Feb 08, 2011
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When kids want baby siblings...
by Clara Chow

IF THE Government ever decides to take a wild-shot approach to raising the national birth rate, I’ve got a suggestion: Aim some propaganda at children.

I’m not talking about brainwashing kids into thinking that they must grow up to reproduce and replenish the population (although that might be worth trying, too). Instead, I think it may just work if we get young children to pester their parents to have another baby.

After all, concerted efforts to urge fertile couples to have more kids have not produced stellar results, with the fertility rate falling to a new low of 1.16 babies per resident female last year.

So, it’s time to bring in the soft weapons.

Given that those parents with only one child dote on their first-and-only-born so much so that they can rarely deny them anything, think about the effect an adorable child would have, especially when he or she puts on puppy eyes and asks in a sweet, plaintive voice: “Oh please, sir, can I have more siblings?”

Said child can proceed to behave like an angel, wax lyrical about having someone else in the family to play with, or vacuum the house for a week, in order to convince Mum and Dad that he or she is really responsible enough to have a younger sibling.

As part of the primary-school curriculum, there could be classes like “home-cum-baby economics” to teach kids how to cook and clean, so that they can prove to their frazzled mothers that they can help take care of baby if they accede to their heartfelt pleas.

The children can also be taught to write stirring compositions about the joys of being an elder brother or sister, and their wish to hold meimei or didi’s tiny hands in their own small ones, and protect them in the playground.

In music class, they can be encouraged to pen their own raps about how it’s cool to be a bro, or to belt out tear-springing renditions of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.

I jest, of course. Please don’t send angry e-mail about how I’m trying to breed a bunch of Hitler Youth. Nothing can be scarier to me.

But a recent dreaded question from my 41/2-year-old son, Julian, convinced me that there might just be something in the power of children to beget more children.

“Papa,” said Julian to the Supportive Spouse one night. “Can Mummy have another baby?”

The SS and I exchanged alarmed but amused looks.

Oblivious to the family machinations that could potentially change his life, our younger son, 15-month-old Lucien, toddled in figures of eight around us.

“I want a sister because I don’t have one,” Julian added for good measure.

“Er, if Mummy has another baby, you cannot dictate whether you’ll get a sister or a brother,” replied Papa.

The boy thought about that for a bit, then decided to jump around on the sofa. The issue of another sibling was swept under the carpet – for the time being.

Way to go, I thought to myself. If Julian keeps this up, the SS will possibly cave in and agree to have a third child.

A third child would stretch our finances but, like Julian, I had been hankering for a little girl for a while.

When I was a kid, my younger sister and I pestered our parents to give us a baby brother. In the end, they gave in, and that is why my brother, now 22, is 11 years younger than me.

Then again, if the third baby I may or may not have turns out to be another boy, I am not sure how I can cope with three hyperactive males – make that four, if you count the SS – in the house.

“Don’t all kids already think having a sibling is cool?” said a friend, when I mooted my kids-for-sibling national campaign pipe dream. Hmm, that’s true, I said.

What if I get three boys? I ask.

“Have a fourth”, she replied without missing a beat.

I’m already imagining three boys looking at me with puppy-dog eyes and saying: “Please, Mum, can we have a sister?”

How can one resist?


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readers' comments
yes add another idiot into your family stop talking rubbish clara
Posted by mcheong1 on Wed, 9 Nov 2011 at 00:35 AM

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