This is OnlyGirl, my one and only daughter. I have previously mentioned her in my post about traveling with kids and also in my mini-travelogue about Port Dickson. I seem have developed this bad habit of talking about people whom I haven’t properly introduced yet :P
OnlyGirl is very spunky, artistic, independent, outspoken, loves to sing, easily makes friends with anyone and everyone, has an excellent memory (so I always watch what I say around her because she’ll question me afterwards if I say anything inconsistent or contradictory) and has a very pronounced American accent which, to this day, we have no idea how or where she got it from.
As a toddler, she spoke English long before she learned to speak Bahasa Malaysia (literally: Malaysian language, or BM for short), to the consternation of our Indonesian maid, who didn’t know any English at all at that time. She eventually learned a few words from OnlyGirl, the first of which were ‘banana‘ and ‘go away!‘. OnlyGirl always told her to go away whenever I was around. My children would pick me over anyone else anytime ;)
All my children were bilingual from the start. DH and I always spoke to them in English; they picked up BM from everyone else. Hence, I consider English to be their first language, despite their being Malaysians, and this gives us quite a headache every time they need to do their BM homework because *I* always have to translate most of the instructions and questions for them. And my BM’s not that good either. I mean, I can pass off as a local when it comes to day-to-day conversations, but BM grammar and essay writing are totally out of my league, despite having 2 Malay-English dictionaries to assist me. So I end up calling up friends who are good in BM because even DH himself speaks better English than BM :P
But I’m digressing from the main topic for this post. As I said, OnlyGirl has many outstanding qualities as a person. But if I were to choose just one single word to describe my daughter, it would have to be DETERMINED. She’s the type who doesn’t give up, once she has set her mind to do something. She is bold and fearless. She could very well be a spokesperson for Nike, as the famous tagline ‘Just Do It’ is a very apt description of her attitude towards life.
For instance, when we went snorkeling recently in Phuket, off the beach in Bangtao, the lifejacket that she had on was too big and too uncomfortable for her, so she decided to take it off and just use a kickboard. Mind you, we started from a depth that was deep enough for the boat not to scrape the coral reef. And she’s only 8 years old!
The two of us swam away from the boat and went farther and farther, as the view underwater got better and better. We saw at least two puffer fish, a live coral that looked like a throbbing brain, a school of long, thin, silver fish and an assortment of colourful tropical fish. Sorry, I don’t have any pics of those things, as I don’t have the budget for an underwater housing for my D40 right now.
This was our snorkel site. From this photo, you can see how far OnlyGirl and I swam from the boat and back. We swam very close to the rocks on the left, way past the round orange buoy. The boatmen didn’t dare bring the boat any closer, as they feared that they might damage the corals if they did.
After some time, OnlyGirl told me, “Mama, I think we should get back to the boat now. We’re a bit too far.” Mind you, she didn’t say “I’m tired” or “I can’t swim any more”.
So we swam back to the boat. And it turned out to be quite hard, as the current was getting stronger and stronger. I was fighting back panic, as it was very tough swimming against the current, even for me. We were not that far from the boat (everyone could see us and we could see everyone), but I was seriously worried for my little girl because I had a life jacket on but my 8-year old daughter only had her kickboard. I knew I had to be calm and level-headed so that she, herself, would not panic.
Did she complain? Not at all. She just stopped several times to spit out sea water from her snorkel and asked me a couple of times to help clear her mask.
When we finally made it back to the boat, she excitedly told DH about all the things that she saw — something which she was very proud of, because only the two of us made it that far — and only casually mentioned in passing how hard it was for her to swim back to the boat.
I am so proud of my little girl. And I like to think she got her determination from me ;)