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Tue, May 13, 2014
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Language of love
by Marie Lim

Cynthia Sng, 47
Managing director for Haba Skincare and Cosmetics

Megan Lau, 13
Secondary 1 student

Cynthia Sng goes against the stereotype of the Asian parent.

She readily shows affection for her daughter, Megan, often stroking the teenager's hair during the interview.

Cynthia even takes an interest in K-pop - going as far as to wade into the mosh pit - just because Megan and her brother like SNSD and Big Bang.

While Megan is shy, she's not afraid to talk about her love for Mummy.

The pair enjoy playing games, pranking Daddy, giving each other makeovers.

Cynthia hopes that Megan will eventually take over her business.

But for now, the Secondary 1 student seems more interested in dancing.

How do you show her you love her?

Cynthia: I hug and kiss mummy in public. When she is free, I ask her to shop with me. I ask her to pat me to sleep at night. I sleep with Mummy, too.

Megan: Every other night, she'd ask if she could sleep with us. If we say no, she'd be an illegal squatter and sleep on the floor (in our room) in a sleeping bag.

Most memorable gift you got from her?

Cynthia: I love her dancing. She's always very shy. Her performing a dance for me in front of all my friends for last year's Mother's Day made me really happy.

How do you plan to celebrate Mother's Day?

Megan: Probably get her a cup. She would always say, 'Please don't get me another cup.' And I would get another just to provoke her. It has become a tradition.

What do you talk about?

Cynthia: She tells me about her friends, gossip, complaints and we discuss how to deal with things.

Megan: Boys, too! (Giggles.)

What's your wish for her?

Cynthia: I wish that she will take over my business one day. She is quite business-minded, so the business might interest her.

Megan: During the holidays, I would ask for a uniform, stand in her shop and ask Mummy to pay me. (Laughs.)

Julia Nickson, 55 (left)
Retired actress

China Soul, 25
Singer-songwriter; Circus entrepreneur

She's the connection between Sly Stallone and Singapore.

Julia Nickson, who starred in the 1985 hit Rambo: First Blood Part II, was born here.

She married Starsky & Hutch star David Soul in 1987 but divorced in 1993.

The 55-year-old retiree was recently back here with her daughter, China Soul, as part of an early Mother's Day celebration as the pair live in different continents. While Julia lets China make her own choices - in 2010 she released an album in the UK and has set up an animal-free circus - she is still a doting parent. Before the photoshoot, Julia fussed over her daughter's make-up, making sure China looked her best.

How are you celebrating Mother's Day?

Julia: We're not going to be together (Julia lives in the US, China in UK). So I planned a special Mother's Day trip to Singapore. The last time China was here was 1998.

Most memorable gift you got from her?

Julia: One year, she wrote me a song called Golden Child. It was about how beautiful I was; silk dresses; a mother carrying a baby in nature.

China: I never recorded it. It was just for her.

Julia: She's much better at gift giving. I love her, supported her and paid for her education (Laughs).

Are you both alike?

China: Even when I was a kid, when I answered the phone, people thought I was my Mum.

What's your wish for China?

Julia: I always thought she would be brilliant in musical theatre. But that's my dream, not hers.

Lee Sock Kiang Teresa, 69
Retired Chinese and arts teacher

Maddy Barber, 40 (right)
DJ and assistant programme director of Kiss92

Maddy Barber and her mother are like chalk and cheese.

The Kiss92 FM DJ is loud and spontaneous. Her mother, Teresa, is a more of a perfectionist.

The assistant programme director of Kiss92 says it took years for the pair to learn to get along.

Teresa's love for Maddy is shown not through big gestures.

It's in the little things.

During the interview, Teresa may have slightly nagged Maddy about having breakfast, but she burst with pride when talking about Maddy's career.

Are you like your Mum?

Maddy: We laugh a lot. When we're happy, laugh. Excited, laugh. Awkward, laugh. Angry, laugh. When in doubt, laugh. It's better than crying.

But we are very different people. She's a perfectionist. I'm the type to throw caution to the wind and see where it all falls. As we got older, we learnt to meet each other half way.

She likes to nag, tell me the same thing five times. I've learnt to laugh instead of getting annoyed. Embrace being different and know that it's okay to be different.

What's your most memorable Mother's Day?

Teresa: Last year she got me a ring.

Maddy: She remembers it by the presents she gets. (Laughs.)

Teresa: I enjoy seeing them (Maddy and siblings) sit together and talk. When the family is together, every day can be Mother's Day. When your children are happy, you are happy.

Maddy: I'm not so selfless.

Teresa: Mothers must not tax their children too much and leech off them, saying, "Bring me here, take me there."

Was Mum very strict?

Maddy: My Mum is very soft-hearted, which means I got away with murder most of the time. I was very rebellious. She would tell me to do something and I would purposely do something else.

Teresa: I would never give up on you.

Maddy: I wished you would. (Laughs)

Teresa: Best thing I've done is to allow her to mess up the kitchen. Now she can cook and bake. These are life skills. I love and protected her. But I wasn't over protective. (During an incident) I didn't panic.

Maddy: You're the panic queen. (Laughs)

How does she show she loves you?

Maddy: It's always about whether I have eaten and how warm am I. How much did I eat? How often? Did I eat on time? Am I keeping warm? It's the way she loves.

Teresa: When Maddy joined the choir, she was supposed to get home by 4pm. She was late and I was annoyed when she finally got back. But she had gone to buy a jewellery box for me. Luckily I didn't scold her. She would also pluck wild flowers from the drains for me.

Lin Meijiao, 50
Veteran local actress

Chantalle Ng, 18
Third-year polytechnic studen

Veteran actress Lin Meijiao and daughter Chantalle Ng (centre) are so close they sometimes sleep in the same bed. Occasionally they even share the same bag - for the interview Chantalle kept her mobile phone in her mother's bag.

It is evident that the 18-year-old is the apple of her mother's eye.

Meijiao fondly recalls leaving Chantalle 'I love you' notes and sweets under her pillow, and helping to trim her fringe.

Chantalle has even followed in her mother's footsteps. She recently filmed a new Channel 8 drama, World At Your Feet. But the student laughs off any talk of permanently joining the industry.

How does Chantalle show her love?

Meijiao: She's caring and sensitive to my needs. During the Star Awards, I was so busy I didn't get to eat. When I got home, she cooked me my favourite millet porridge.

How do you show Chantalle that you love her?

Meijiao: I hug and kiss her every day and tell her 'good night and sweet dreams'.

When she was young, I would write her cards saying, 'You are a good girl. I have to go to work but Mummy loves you a lot.'

Chantalle: She would stuff sweets under my pillow. I thought they were gifts from hu gu po (a character from a Chinese folktale).

Are you both similar?

Chantalle: I didn't think so until I started filming World At Your Feet. The crew said even the way I held my bag and walked around was just like the way my mother did.

Is she a very strict mum?

Meijiao: She asked me to buy a cane so she could try how it was like to be caned.

Chantalle: I was young and naive. (Laughs) I thought I was missing out on an important life experience.

What is your most memorable gift?

Chantalle: Last year, I got her a necklace for her birthday. When I buy presents for her, I have one rule: Choose something I can use, so if she doesn't like it, I can use it. So I'm using it (the necklace).

This article was published on May 11 in The New Paper.

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