A typical scene at our home in the evening: As soon as I reach home and drop my handbag and Baby B’s diaper bag onto the floor, and as soon as Baby B dashes out of the baby carrier confidently discovering the world as his oyster, a rhythmic mix of conversations between Cheeky Koko and I, between Pumpkin Mei-Mei and Cheeky Koko and between Pumpkin Mei-Mei and I interspersed with the occasional baby monlogues from Baby B can often be heard gracing our dinner time. Case in point:
Cheeky Koko: Mommy, I learned about the names of the male, female and offspring of the animal kingdom at school today.
Me: Oh ya? That sounds so exciting! (Saying that absent-mindedly while trying to cook a quick dinner and chasing after Baby B who kept walking into furniture ).
Cheeky Koko: So mommy, did you know that a male cow is called a bull, the female a cow and the cow baby is called a calf?
Me: Yes, yes, I sure know that. (Putting the final touch to the Caesar Salad, while wondering why it is called a Caesar Salad, instead of something more food related, such as The Ultimate BELT (Bacon, Egg, Lettuce, Tomato) Salad or something more striking)
Pumpkin Mei-Mei: Mommy, you forgot to buy me oil pastels for the art project next Monday.
Me: But it’s only Thursday, I will buy that tomorrow or this weekend from the corner stationery shop. (Note to self: Buy that oil pastels, and I think she wants the Buncho brand)
Cheeky Koko: But did you know that a male chicken is called a rooster, his wife a hen and his baby a chick?
Me: Of course, that’s what I taught you when you were younger, remember?
Cheeky Koko: You did?
Me: Yes my dear, when you were eight! (Feeling guilty that may be I have forgotten to teach him about the Noun and its extended family of Proper Noun, Common Noun, Concrete Noun, but wait… who needs to know all the confusing terms anyway?)
Pumpkin Mei-Mei: Mommy, which oil pastel brand would you buy? I prefer Faber Castell because the colours are richer.
Me: Sure, Sweetie, Faber Castell it is then. But sorry, sweetie pie, what happened to the box of Oil Pastels I bought for you guys few years ago? (Half-focusing while wiping down Baby B who has found his way to the half Milo mini pack his brother has left on the coffee table and who decided to squirt the remaining content onto his PJ.
Cheeky Koko: Then do you know the name of a female tiger?
Pumpkin Mei-Mei: They are sooo old (exaggerating her little voice) !!! Most of them are broken and a few more are missing.
Me: Is it? I didn’t know that.
Cheeky Koko: You didn’t know what a female tiger is called?
Me: No darling, I mean, I didn’t know that the old box of Oil Pastels cannot be used anymore.
(At the same time as I spoke) Cheeky Koko: It’s called a tigress!
Pumpkin Mei-Mei: That was what I was trying to tell you last week!
Me: OK, sorry sweetie pie, Mommy wasn’t listening, and I know, darling, about the tigress and we call the baby tiger a cub, right? (Trying to sound super-patient but internally was very frustrated over Daddy Joe who was not home yet to save me from the many conversations I was having with the kiddos PLUS I was multitasking the cooking, the teaching and guarding-the-baby part all at once!)
Cheeky Koko: Mommy, did you know what to call a girl sheep?
Me (in exasperation and caught in the moment when I just could not recall the name for a She-Sheep, I just blurted out): Sheela? That’s what we call a she-sheep, huh?
Cheeky Koko (laughing hysterically): No Mom… It’s called an ewe!
The mama admits that there are just days when she is overwhelmed with all that is going on in her little universe where she plays the superhero, the nanny, the cleaner, the chef and the brilliant teacher to her kids.
These are the days when the female sheep is called Sheela.