At the grocery store today, I picked up a bag of carrots. I was about to turn away when I heard a voice say, “很美, hor?” (Aren’t they beautiful?)
I looked up. It was one of the aunties who worked at the grocery store. Short and silver-haired, she looked back at me with a gentle smile.
Frankly I hadn’t noticed. Monday is Grocery Run Day. After dropping Aramis off at school, I have 3 hours to get the goods, zip home, cram as much work in as I can, before I have to make lunch for the hungry hordes. So I pick up carrots like I pick up scattered laundry – as quickly as I can.
I looked back down at the carrots. They looked like every other carrot I had ever seen. Long, orange, firm. What else was there to appreciate?
I looked back at her and forced a smile. Yes, they are, I said.
She told me that they had just come in that morning, so fresh-looking, so firm, and they were on sale too. She had just been bagging them, and was clearly full of admiration for the harvest before her.
I looked back at the carrots and somehow they looked brighter than a few seconds ago. I thanked her, and as I continued down the vegetable aisle, I walked a little more slowly, and let my gaze linger over the greens.
And then there was this little gem
Aramis: How do you say ‘with’ in Chinese?
Me: Nice try! But in Chinese, you have to say “I like with Mummy to walk”
Aramis: Why is Chinese so ungrammatical?!
I’ve been trying to speak Mandarin to the Pilgrim boys to help them get more practice. A feeble attempt in the spirit of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s lofty vision, and not particularly successful if this episode is anything to go by:
Aramis: Yes, I am 吃ing my 面包。
Last weekend, we ran out of milk and flour, and Porthos, who just turned 9, volunteered to go to the store by himself to buy it.
Pilgrim Mom: Do you want Kor Kor to go with you?
Porthos: No, I can go by myself.
PM: Are you sure?
And so, off he went, carrying a grocery bag and $10. It’s a trip we’ve made dozens of times, and he knows the way, and the store layout, and the whole routine at the check-out. Yet I have to admit I had my heart in my mouth the whole time, and had to resist the temptation to trail along.
He returned soon enough, and really didn’t see what the fuss was about. Me, I had to swallow hard and push away the thought that my little guy was growing up faster than I thought.
A few weeks ago, we discovered “The Sing-Off”. Or, more accurately, I just discovered “The Sing-Off”, and the rest of the Pilgrim family has been dragged along, hapless and helpless.
Which led to this little conversation last night:
Athos: I like acapella
Porthos: I like alapecca too.
Two emails from two older women carry the grace of God to my heart. Thank You for the reminder that You are looking out for me.
That’s Aramis’ current favourite word.
He learnt it from a book about vultures that we borrowed from the library. Up to now, his library book interest has seldom extended beyond trains, resulting in a vocabulary comprising words like ‘freight’, ‘engine’, ‘track’ and ‘coupling’. So I was surprised when he asked about birds at our last library visit. (And I have a strong suspicion I have Rovio to thank for that!)
Anyhow, he’s been practicing saying the word “carrion” for several days now – a little macabre, I know. Then this morning, right after breakfast, he reached down to the ground, smacked hard on a hapless, unsuspecting ant that was walking by, showed me his palm and said brightly, “Look Mommy, CARRION!”