updated 21 May 2011, 17:52
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Mon, Nov 29, 2010
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To juniors, Mummy ranks last
by Clara Chow

IN A two-horse race, I have come in fifth.

The other day, I asked my elder son, Julian, who is now 41/2 years old, who he loves the most in the world.

"Papa," he replied, without hesitating.

And after him?

"Papa again," came the swift response, "and Papa, and Papa. Then you, Mummy."

Okay, so I might have been asking for it, prompting my son to rank his loved ones as though it is a popularity contest. But his answer confirmed only what I have known for a while now: Papa is god.

Both my sons are huge, resolute fans of their father.

When the Supportive Spouse comes home from work, they lounge around with him on the sofa, clambering all over him and each other in order to get closer to their sire.

My younger son, Lucien, 13 months old, reserves his biggest, toothiest grins for his dad. Not surprisingly, both boys' first words were baba (Mandarin for "father").

To be honest, I sometimes miss the days when I was the go-to parent for everything.

Between the ages of one and three, Julian would want me to put him to bed at night, and ask for me if he had a bad dream.

Similarly, Lucien used to fall asleep only in my arms, squirming when anyone else carried him.

I am, however, more than happy to play second fiddle to Papa.

After all, it is a sign that Papa plays an active, self-sacrificing part in raising them. It is Papa who wakes up several times a night to give Lucien his bottles of milk; Papa who drags himself out of bed early in the morning to play with a hyperactive Julian; and Papa who changes diapers and cooks pasta for them on weekends.

Most importantly, when Papa is around, everyone is in a good mood - including the usually surly, bad-cop Mummy, who walks around the house barking orders at the kids to stop watching TV shows, eat their food at the dining table and take their naps.

So, when the Supportive Spouse and I get into arguments - over anything from politics to road directions - Julian's default response is this: "Stop it, Mummy. Stop doing it to my Papa. Don't you know he's my favourite Papa in the whole wide world?"

How do you resist a command like that?

My husband is modest and diplomatic when I point out how I am far behind him in the kiddy opinion poll.

"You don't know that for sure," he says, soothingly. While I may still stand a chance with Lucien, I am pretty sure that Julian has decamped to the Papa for President campaign.

Recently, I was walking hand-in-hand with my firstborn son down a dark alley, after parking the car, in search of the Italian restaurant where my parents and the Supportive Spouse were waiting. Lucien was being pushed in the pram behind us by our domestic helper, Gina.

"Be careful, ah. Don't fall into the drain. Otherwise, you'll die, and we'll all die, and Papa will never see us again," said Julian, the sweet little nag, to me.

The words were my own. I had often reminded him to watch where he was going by painting the most neurotic consequences.

But the conclusion was all his: "If we fall into the drain, Papa will have no more wife, no more sons. Auntie Gina will go back to the Philippines, and Papa will have nobody."

As a friend later pointed out, Julian was more concerned about his Papa being left alone and lonely, than of his Mummy disappearing.

Am I feeling sour? Maybe just a bit. But, as I am fond of pointing out, my sons have been literally attached to me by their umbilical cords - something that dads, no matter how awesome, never experience.

They are extensions of me, and vice versa. Why would anyone feel particularly happy or excited to see, say, his hand or leg?

At least, that is what I tell myself: In the two-horse race, I am the owner, stables and entire bl***y race track. So, there.


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