A nomad mother in Singapore

Thursday, 11 December 2014


‘Mama, I’m cold,’ Jasmijn shivered this morning at breakfast, hugging her bare arms to her T-shirted chest. ‘I want a jumper.’ 
Admittedly, these singularly rainy weeks have left the Singapore weather fresher and cooler than average. Still, average being hot and sweaty, the temperature hasn’t dropped much below twenty-eight degrees. Twenty-five at night, maybe.

It is not the first time my tropical kids complain of cold. They often come out of the pool on a cloudy day with blue trembling lips and goose bumps all over. They don’t get it from a stranger either. I sleep under a light quilt these days, and no, we don’t have air conditioning.

When we first moved to Singapore, Tijm was scared there would be no Christmas. After all, all the Christmases he could remember had been white. He quickly came round to the concept of Christmas on the beach though, and it has been three years since we saw a European winter.

I have not missed it one bit. I have not missed spending half an hour wrapping up the kids in layer upon layer of wool, only to have the first child having taken everything off again by the time I finished number three. Or that by the time they finally all have been covered head to toe, with only noses peaking out, one will need the loo. Nor that by the time you have finally unwrapped them, put them on the toilet, wrapped them again and made it to the park, it is dark. O, yes. At 4pm.

I don’t miss any of that. I love our ‘flip-flops on everyone, we are going.’ I love the fact that when we got rained of the football pitch yesterday, and the kids thought rolling in puddles was a great idea, nobody contracted pneumonia.
The tropics suit us perfectly, and I vouched never to leave again in winter, preferring tropical typhoons to sleet and drizzle any day. Because I know winter, and I know that it rarely involves ice-skating and snowman building under sunny, crispy skies.

Next week, we will board a Singapore airlines flight to Munich. We will then drive to western Tirol and spend Christmas in the… snow. Real snow, not the bubbly kind that Tanglin Mall’s foam machines spit out. So far, twenty centimetres have fallen and we keep our fingers crossed for more. I keep my fingers crossed for something else as well: that they wont’ freeze off.

I hope Tirol is still like it is in my childhood memories, sunny and white, and beautiful. I’m sure it will be, and that my kids will love it as much as I did. Still, I am not sure what I am looking forward to most, the skiing, or the hot spot in front of the fireplace afterwards.

Friends and family will meet us in Tirol with a supply of snowsuits, mittens and boots. Let’s hope the furry fleeces Sinterklaas supplied us with, which the kids have been parading around in ever so proudly the last few days, will get us there safe. And warm.