5 Things You Would Have Heard as a Child Growing Up in Singapore

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This is all too familiar; it really brings me back to my childhood. If you are a millennial (80s/90s) that was born here in Singapore, it’ll probably be more relatable. Things may be a little different for those born in the 2000s. I still can’t believe your IC starts with the letter T.

“Ah run lah, run some more.”

 Image credit: Pinterest – Uploaded by Jill Byrne Murphy

This one’s absolutely iconic. It always happens when you fall down and start crying. Your mum will walk right up to you and say this in her I-told-you-so voice. It’s also usually accompanied by “How many times I tell you don’t run already, still run? See lah, see what happened. Tell you don’t listen then how? You asked for it. Ah cry… cry some more. This is what happens when you don’t listen to mummy.” You know what’s the best part? It never worked, we never listened. We’d be right back at it in minutes.

“If you don’t study, you will become a road sweeper when you grow up”

This is such an Asian thing to say. Parents say this with good intentions although you can’t deny that it is an insensitive remark towards road sweepers. They just want us to study hard, do well and earn big bucks in the future so they come up with this “scare tactic”.

“Later the police come and catch you”

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That was enough to make some of us stop throwing a tantrum/misbehaving in that moment. For others, this “empty threat” was overused and would only have some effect when we actually saw a policeman. Sometimes even when you didn’t do anything wrong, you’d be afraid that the police would actually come over and put you in handcuffs.

There was also a rendition of this that some of us heard, which was, “Later the Ah pu neh neh come and catch you”. I strongly urge parents or anyone for that matter to be very mindful of what you say and what you’re inadvertently teaching the next generation. To you, it may be a casual, thoughtless remark but to a young impressionable child, it can easily be understood as something with a negative connotation.

“If you don’t finish your food, later you don’t get to play”

This was a rather effective ploy to get children to finish their food because it was actually enforceable. When strict parents say you won’t get to play, you really won’t get to play. You can whine all you want but they’ll just say you made your choice. That helpless feeling I experienced when all I could do was stare at my toys, eventually made me a much less fussy eater.

“You cry some more, you stay here. I’m leaving now, bye bye”

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It’s commonly heard at the playground or in the toy store, accompanied by the wailing sounds coming from a young child sitting on the floor protesting with every cell in his/her body. It’s a game of “whoever gives in first, loses”. Some parents feel paiseh (embarrassed) and would cave in quickly. Others adopt the reality television show “Survivor” approach, which is to outwit, outplay and outlast the other contestants. In this case, the child throwing a tantrum. 

Some of these sayings stick with us and become something that we practice with our own children as well. Let’s keep the good ones and do without the ones that in fact, probably did more harm than good. 

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