Monday, December 01, 2014


“Chochet! Chochet!” the Princess said as she pointed to the fridge. It took me a few seconds to remember that I had given her a tiny bit of chocolate the day before. “It’s chocolate,” I had told her.

 So yesterday I learned a new baby word: chochet.

There have been many similar words—some of which are quite impossible to decipher. The Princess learns some words almost immediately and there are words which seem impossible to ‘teach’.

Since I’m with her 24 hours every single day, it has fallen upon me to add words to her growing vocabulary. So it was me who decided what she should call her grandfather. Grandpa? Grandfather? Kung Kung? I was so tempted to name him ‘Grampy’ but one isn’t quite sure what his reaction would be especially when the sound he hears is ‘Grumpy’ like one of the seven dwarfs' names. Would he laugh? Or would he switch on to grumpy mode and storm out of the house. So he became plain, old ‘Kung Kung’.

 “There’s Kung Kung,” I told the Princess as Mr. Hubby came through the front door and she understood immediately. We heard him cough and as soon as the windows stopped rattling I asked her to “cough like Kung Kung” and she went, “Uhoo uhoo! Uhoo uhoo!”

“Koo Whom,” she calls him. These days when she hears him starting his car and driving off she looks at me and says, “Koo Whom. No more.”

“That’s Uncle,” I tell her every time Sonny appears. She understands that too but when ‘Uncle’ slips out of her mouth it becomes “Hok Hurm”. I wonder if maybe she has some kind of ‘oral dyslexia’ but I’m not overly anxious… yet. She has no problem naming the letters of the alphabet or counting up to twenty or saying common, everyday words such as spoon, cup, upstairs, star, porridge, flower, bird, cat, sit and so on. I did have a hard time teaching her to call me ‘Nana’ though.

Why ‘Nana’ and not ‘Nenek’? Because Nenek is my mother whose picture I have been showing to her while pointing out that was ‘Nenek’ smiling at us. Her Chinese great-grandmother is Ah Tai. “So I am Nana,” I told her as she played with her assorted bits and pieces and paying me no heed at all.

I was getting impatient and a little envious because she could now call “Koo Whom” and “Hok Hurm” but she just pulls at my clothes when she wants my attention. So one day I tried the ‘you-Jane-me-Tarzan’ trick.

 “Baby,” I said to her while pointing a finger in her direction, “Baby... Nana,” I struck my palm on my chest. The next day I repeated the same ‘lesson’ but this time I asked, Nana?” She looked at me, smiled—probably pleased that she remembered—and promptly struck her own chest with her hand.

I should turn into a bar of chochet.

But there’s hope yet! At the breakfast table this morning while the Princess was nibbling at a bit of whole meal bread, she suddenly called out: Nana! Nana!

I stopped stirring the porridge on the stove. “Nana! Nana!” I was overjoyed! She has a name for me finally. She doesn’t have to pull at my shorts or my fleshy thighs anymore. She was calling me “Nana”.

I walked towards her, my arms opened wide ready to give her a hug. Her eyes sparkled and she smiled. Her left hand held her bit of bread and with her right hand she pointed at the just-bought bunches of yellow bananas on the table. We haven’t had bananas in a long time.

“Nana! Nana!”

Oh well, you win some. You lose some.


  1. Reading this outlined a smile on my face.Keep it up, Nana and Princess.

  2. Charming, Princess. What fun you both have. I bought a denim skirt for my 3yr old niece one day but told her I'll wash it first and that she'd better go home to her mama before it starts raining again. "But I will miss my skirt," she said. It took me awhile to realised that she didn't intentionally meant 'miss' as in 'won't get to bring it back home', rather, she meant it like missing a person or thing. How witty was that?