When I finished this stage of Savvy Steve's house, Albany inspected the place, held my hands and began to spin around, singing, "Dancing, dancing, deh deh deh deh deh deh." Contrary to what I thought, it wasn't about a bigger house, as I found that out later. Our current place was a small townhouse. It would be considered small in Singapore and tiny in Perth context. However, it gave us some of the sweetest memories of our lives. Over three years, I noted how my social life quieten due to the size of the place. After moving there, we rarely did invites anymore. Most people I knew here in the earlier days had settled down and moved into a big comfy home, which kept them busy to no end improving or maintaining them.
Since we always paid Savvy Steve on time, he had left us alone during those the three years. While we were making the arrangement to move to the new place, I often asked Albany how she felt about both houses. Both houses belonged to Savvy Steve anyway, I didn't see the point to discriminate either. What I wanted to be kept in check was the "new is better" or "bigger is better" mentality that might be planted in Albany's mind by somebody else when I wasn't looking. Instead, I always remained her the purpose of both places and how precious they were to us for their unique reasons. I also wanted her to understand the bigger houses of her friends shouldn't objects of envy because none of those house, however sleek or grand, was special to her. None of those was her home, where her family would always be with her, nurturing, protecting and loving her. The house was only a structure to facilitate that. The memories of our lives under those roofs should be what we wanted to hold dear. Behind those walls were where we shared weals and woes, walked through storms and celebrated milestones together.
During these quiet years to ourselves, we watched how Albany grew up. When we first moved in, she was crawling down the staircase step by step, backwards with her butt up. Nobody taught her how to do it and it was amusing (at least for me) to watch. By now, she would be hopping down the stairs like a pro. "Albany told me she prefers the old house," I told Jen one day.
"She always liked that flight of stairs, maybe that is the reason," she said.
Children are not born materialistic. Society teaches them. Some start right in the family.
During one quiet moment shared with Albany recently during my break from all the "reno" work, she said solemnly, "Daddy, you are the best daddy in the world."
"Why?' I asked Albany
"Because you did all these," she pointed to the walls and floor. I felt appreciated. I was glad that she was starting to warm up to the new place not because of what it offered but how much effort she saw her father put into it.
|looking cold and desolated|
We were ready to move. With the master bedroom and two other rooms completely bare on the floors, finished with a constant layer of concrete dust. So was the corridor leading to the laundry area. I managed to meet the deadline I set. It wouldn't be possible without the help of my friends who lent me tools, support and advice.
Another new chapter of our Perth life awaits.