God bless IMs…

For their video conferencing feature, to be precise. And I have a strictly personal reason for this statement. One of the very few things that keep me sane in this insane world is to meet my 10-month-old niece through Skype. In front of my webcam, I do EVERYTHING to win her smile, however faint it might be. Usually baby-talking and singing. That’s right, I sing. Milk Song (the lyric of which goes, roughly, “I don’t like Coke. I don’t like tea. How about coffee? Oh no. I don’t like hot chocolate. I don’t like lemonade. How about milk? Oh yeah […]” – Isn’t this brainwashing in the most obvious form?), Carrot Song, Number Song, you name it. While I sing all these songs, my niece stares at me making a fool of myself in the monitor on her end with such a serious yet cool look on her face. It’s almost like being judged by Simon Cowell. Her current favourite is this one below, which I therefore have to master tonight!

Although I’m pretty much under her spell, I wasn’t thinking of writing a blog post about her – until yesterday I came across, via a friend’s Facebook feed, an article about a couple arranging an exhibition for their toddler’s *abstract* paintings. Scott Adams (of Dilbert series) once wittingly put it (1998: 157), “I’ve heard it said that kindergartners already know how to sing and dance and paint. But as you’ve probably noticed, that only applies to your own kids. Everyone else’s kids are just scribbling, shouting, and jumping around.”

Admittedly, I am just another palbulchul (팔불출). Hmmm, here comes another untranslatable word. Rumour has it that this word originally meant those who were born before due time, which later evolved to discriminatingly refer to someone “a screw short”. The current usage has, however, nothing to do with premature birth nor stupidity. It now very specifically designates “people who self-praise”. And the ‘self’ here is meant in an extended sense. It is frowned upon to boast about not only you yourself but also your spouse, your children, your siblings, etc.

Despite the risk of appearing like a complete palbulchul, I still can’t resist showing off my baby niece, who can tell when people make international calls (e.g. to me, the auntie in England) from usual domestic calls – by observing the different lengths of telephone numbers dialled, that is. Genuis, huh? Would this have anything to do with the whole “digital natives” thing? Well, she certainly likes sitting on a laptop, if that counts for qualification. 😀


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