Don’t Mess With Dad, He’s Got OCD

Image: Goodhousekeeping

BRYAN has OCD. He doesn’t like people to touch his things. It would drive him crazy. Walk into his study and you would find everything spick and span, neat and tidy. His laptop is never on, except when he sits at his desk, doing some paper work, sending a couple of emails, surfing the web, and dawdling over Facebook. No one can touch that laptop, not even his mother, his wife, his daughters three, or the cat.

One time, his eldest daughter Xin Xin, tried to push her luck. She had to submit her term paper by 5PM on February 23, but for some reason, her own laptop died on her on the eve of submission deadline. She panicked, and she cried. Then her mother said, “Sweetheart, don’t worry, go use Daddy’s laptop. I’ll take care of it.”

“You sure, Mom?” Xin Xin said. “He’d kill me.”

With her assurance, Xin Xin went for it, taking care not to mess up his workspace. Her father was away in Shanghai for business, and so she worked through the night of the twenty-second, typing away. Every so often, she would log into Facebook, which was where the mess started. She logged out of her father’s account so she could log into hers.

The next day, when her father got home in the evening, he was so mad. His mouse had moved an inch or so to the right, and his keyboard was a little off-kilter. Oh, and when he clicked on his Facebook icon, all he saw were photos of Xin Xin eating chocolate cake with her best friend, Winnie, and a slew of other silly posts!

The next morning, at the breakfast table, Xin Xin got an earful from her father, but her mother intervened. She too got an earful, only louder and angrier. Xin Xin was so upset she vowed, “I’ll never ever let Mom be a shield for me. When Dad’s triggered, nothing can stop him.”

Truly, nothing can, except coffee, his peanut butter toast, and the morning paper.

(342 words)


Chia Xin Yu, Primary Six
March 2018

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.

This essay was written in response to the theme, “An Argument,” and two pictures: (1) a man and a woman in an argument, and (2) a broken laptop


Scream, and Courage Will Show Up

Scream! (Image:

ADVENTURE is not my cup of tea. I don’t like pizza, I don’t care for Mentos, and I don’t even like Coke or Sprite like every other normal kid. So it’s only natural that someone like me can’t handle the Viking—that evil, treacherous pendulum-like ride you find at outdoor carnivals, the kind that incites the wildest screams.

I would be the last person to get on the Viking, but I did, thanks to my elder sister, who is a complete daredevil. She can be a daredevil all she wants, just don’t involve me, but she did, during the December holidays just before Christmas at the Marina Bay Carnival.

She pulled me onto the ride with an eye for the back-most row, but fortunately, that row and the next got snapped up very quickly by the brave souls. How wonderful I didn’t have to beg her, “No, no, please, no, not the back row!” No one needs to know I’m chicken, though at that very moment, I have to confess I was something of a brave chicken.

If I had been a true chicken, I would have long ago resisted my horrible sister’s pulling, yanking, and dragging. So I was in for the ride. I needed no strength or muscles, just an ounce of courage. The moment the boat started it’s back and forth swing, gentle and slow, the chicken had already started screaming.

I screamed on the way down, I screamed on the way up, I screamed on the way down, louder than when I went up, I screamed and screamed till my voice went hoarse.

At one point, I seemed to have almost lost my voice, and the stupid ship was still rocking away merrily, just as my sister was screaming her giddy, gleeful scream. I, on the other hand, was just going: I want my Mommy! I want someone to rescue me! But Courage never shows his face when Mommy is around. It strangely does, however, when your idiot sister is just sitting next to you.

If it hadn’t been for her, cajoling and bullying me to get on this crazy, mad ride, I wouldn’t ever have tasted the thrills of being a daredevil. She was in cahoots with Courage. She got me to meet him face-to-face. When I clambered out of the ride and felt my feet on terra firma, I did feel a strange sense of triumph.

Courage has nothing to do with strength, courage is about confronting your fears and saying hello to new adventures. Don’t be surprised if you find me eating a pizza soon with a Coca Cola, but getting on a Viking again sometime soon? No way. 

(450 words)


Chia Xin Yu, Primary Six
February 2018

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.

This essay was written in response to the theme, “courage” and three pictures: (1) firemen in a rescue effort, (2) a crying boy in his mother’s arms, (3) a muscular man showing off his muscles to a kid


Who Cares If I Lose?


COMPETITIONS make people nervous. Even our Olympic gold medallist, Joseph Schooling, must probably feel nervous all the time. I, too, was filled with anxiety the day before our Sports Day. I had to run the 200-meter race in the Primary Four category. I am the fastest in the yellow house, but not the fastest in the level. I am less than a second slower than Boon from the blue house. I so want to beat him and I so want to shatter my 31.86-second personal best.

The day arrived and the moment arrived. We’ve got our fingers on the track and our feet planted on the starting plates.

“On your marks. Get set. Go!”

The digital gun made a metallic sound, and off we went. I had a great start, a split-second faster than Boon. My legs were agile and swift, and the balls of my feet had a bounce, all light and nimble.

By the time I crossed the 100-meter mark at the bend, I had the feeling that the gold medal was mine. But when we got to that final home stretch, Boon and I were neck and neck. Presently, my legs sprinted even faster and I could feel the wind on my face and my body. I felt as if I were faster than my legs could carry me, so fast that I was delirious.

The finishing line was there—ten, twelve strides away. The gold, the gold! That was all I was thinking about. Then, I hurtled forward, my feet buckled somehow. Next I knew, I felt a crash on my chin and a sharp abrasion on my arm and on my palms.

I lost. I didn’t even get the silver, nor the bronze. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I was devastated. My teammates rallied around me: “It’s OK, Sam! You ran your best.” I knew I did. I may not have won, but it’s not the end of the world.

At the next race, I’m going to get Boon. Just you watch.

(345 words)


Edith Lee, Primary Four
November 2017

For more essays by Edith, visit Edith Writes.

This essay was written in response to four boxed pictures:

  • a boy trains for a race
  • on the day of the race, the boys line up at the starting point
  • the boy crashes near the finishing line
  • the boy’s friends gather round to comfort him

Hello, Kitty!

Hiya, Kitty! (Image: Pinterest)

WHEN I think of strays, I think of quiet back alleys, trash cans, dumpsters, lurking rats and scary cats. So when I found a stray kitten the other day at the neighborhood playground, I thought, “How strange!”

I was strolling home from a quick errand to 7-Eleven before dinner, picking up a bottle of milk and a box of Magnum, an occasional treat I always stash at the back of the freezer so my mother would never discover it.

As I was approaching the playground next to the block where I live, I thought I saw a gray blob just under the bottom of the slide. The closer I got, I realized the grey blob was a moving thing. I walked right up to the slide, squatting low and poking my head to check it out. True enough, as I had guessed, it was a little gray kitten.

It looked at me with eyes that spoke of fear and self-pity. My heart grew soft as it tends to whenever I behold anything cute. Cute dog, cute bear, cute rabbit, cute panda, cute pig. Right now, it was none of the above, just a real kitten, a cute, soft-furred kitty.

“Hello, Kitty!” I cooed.

“Hello, Kitty Cat!” I said again, this time, almost breaking out in song.

For a moment, I thought Kitty’s eyes grew rounder and larger as if to tell me, “Hey, I think you’re nice!” I did feel nice. In fact, that was the only thing I felt just looking at Kitty. I stretched my hand out, softly murmuring: “Hey, Kitty! Come on out, Kitty!”

Slowly and cautiously, Kitty emerged from under the slide and poked her tiny damp nose at my fingers. My heart almost broke at the thought of this sweet, vulnerable thing with her mother nowhere in sight. Kitty just felt like a girl cat more than a boy cat.

I tickled her cheek a little, then under her chin, and cupped my palm over her soft, furry head, while devising a plan. I wanted to have her, but I knew I couldn’t. My father wouldn’t have it, not least my mother. I scooped Kitty up with my right hand, careful that she didn’t come in contact with the shopping bag of cold milk and ice-cold Magnum in my other hand.

I rehearsed my lines in the lift on the way up to the 19th floor—the ones I was going to break to my mother and father. It was a wonderful plan to save Kitty. Just send her off to Auntie Lucy, my mother’s elder sister. Surely, Auntie Lucy could take in one more kitten. What’s one more to her feline family of five?

I couldn’t imagine her saying no. My mother loved the idea, and my father nodded in agreement. But on one condition: Kitty was not going to sleep with me for the night, she was going to be tucked away safely in a cold, brown, ugly carton. I winced at the thought, and offered to make Kitty a nice, snug bed out of my beach towel.

Just before bedtime, I took one last peek into Kitty’s new home by the coffee table. She looked up at me with the same round eyes, her head cocked a little to the right. I felt so warm in the heart I just broke into a smile.

“Good night, Kitty!”

“Off to bed now!” said my father. “By the way, that Magnum was really good, the chocolate almond one.”

(588 words)


Chia Xin Yu, Primary Five
September 2017

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.

This essay was written in response to three pictures: (1) an empty carton, (2) a playground, (3) a gray kitten.

The Big Tumble

Down, down, ka-boing, bump, thump, ahhh! (Image: Scott Adams)

I have been told this a million times before: Don’t read while you’re walking. But there’s such a thing as turning a deaf ear, a fault I’m famous for, a fault I don’t feel particularly bad about. After all, every other kid does it. Even teens and adults are guilty of it—WhatsApping while walking, or just fiddling with Snapchat, fixing whiskers or rabbit ears on a friend’s face. You won’t find me doing such things, but books? That’s so me.

So the other day last week, I was deep in this scene in Percy Jackson, the part where Piper stabbed the Cyclops in the back, turning it into a cloud of ashes. The recess bell had just gone off, and my plan was to spend the entire half hour tucking into the Nutella sandwich in my lunchbox and my Percy Jackson. I never made it to the canteen, unfortunately. I had tumbled down a flight of stairs—from the third level to the mid-way landing, a good twelve steps.

You know how the cartoon characters would fall in a spinning roll or a bouncing boing boing boing, mine was neither. It was more like a slip-sliding tumble, a momentary blackout, and that weird feeling that you’ve lost all control of your limbs. While I didn’t hear any boing boing boing, the journey down the stairs was filled with a series of painful thuds before it stopped in a bubble of silence. There at the landing, half-dazed, with my right cheek on the ground, and my arms like cactus, I felt a sharp pain in my right ankle.

A student from Primary Three Ixora was the first to spot me. Her name was Irene. Like a buzzing bee, she spread the word so quickly. By the end of the day, I was home, feeling dreary that I had spent most of the day at the hospital, taking X-rays, and having a cast immobilizing my right foot. This clunky piece of clay-like boot came half-way up the calf. I had fractured my ankle—just a hair-line fracture, the doctor said, not to worry. 

This stupid accident meant that I couldn’t run my race the day after, the 100 meters, the one race at Sports Day that I had a chance to win. The prospect of gimping along in that cast for at least a month or more was dreadful. Will my foot smell? Will my toes go limb from lack of movement? What if there was an itch there? Even if the cast came off, I’m sure I would have lost my sprinting groove.

Mommy tried her best to be cheery, even though she was totally heartbroken. But I pretended not to know she felt that way. We are both great pretenders, masters of the poker face. The next afternoon, after lunch, our silly game of poker and pretense gave way to a moment of giddy joy.

Mommy walked right into my bedroom with a gift box decked out with a turquoise bow. I tugged at the bow, and peeled the wrapper carefully, half-guessing it was a bunch of books—assessment books, to be precise, and study guides, knowing Mommy! My guess was only half-right. How I had underestimated her! My goodness, Percy Jackson! The entire collection.

“Happy now?” Mommy said, beaming. “At least, you don’t have to borrow your Percy Jacksons anymore.” 

(571 words)


Therese Lee, Primary Five
August 2017

For more essays by Therese, visit Therese Writes.

This essay was written in response to two boxed pictures: (1) a gift box, and (2) a foot in a cast

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