29 August 2019, by Joel Chng
“Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh… Our home, our heart, our Singapore.”
The catchy tune from this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) theme song has been in my head for more than a month – thanks to my son, Ezra.
When I first heard Ezra singing ‘Our Singapore’ back in July, I was impressed! I was even more impressed when I realised my barely four-year-old boy had learnt many NDP songs in school – including ‘We Are Singapore’ (1987 NDP theme song) and could even recite our National Pledge, which was part of the song.
Learning the new songs is an effective way of developing kids’ memories. Singing and reciting the National Pledge exposed Ezra to new words – such as, ‘Singapore’, ‘together’, ‘one’, ‘dream’ and ‘home’ which were used repeatedly in NDP songs.
My son does not realise it, but singing these songs also taught him to use complete sentences and expand his common vernacular with adverbs and adjectives. I was blown away!
Besides music, Ezra’s pre-school does a wonderful job every year, educating the kids on the concept of National Day and what it means to be a Singaporean. The day’s celebration began with songs and quizzes, followed by a school-wide sports day where each child gets to participate in a relay and everyone receives a prize (goodie bag) at the end.
Before Ezra was born, National Day meant attending the parade and embracing crowds at our nation’s biggest birthday party. But my wife, Petrina and I have not attended the parade since Ezra was born.
1. Too hot. Arriving early (at around 3 p.m.) is a must to get good seats, which also happens to be the hottest time of the day.
2. Too crowded. We have to remain in our seats for four hours, and Ezra would literally have nowhere to go.
3. Too humid. A sweaty and uncomfortable kid? Pass.
4. Too loud. The F-15SG fighter planes’ bomb-burst formation! The fireworks! Fun to watch, not so fun on a toddler’s ears.
That’s not to say that Ezra is unfamiliar with the NDP though.
In 2017 and 2018, we went to The Fullerton Hotel and Merlion Park respectively, to soak in the National Day festivities. Not on 9 August itself, but a few weeks earlier during the National Education (NE) show (for all Primary Five students studying in Singapore).
There, we enjoyed the aerial displays and fireworks without the crowds. Of course, whenever it got too loud, one of us would bring Ezra indoors to the Starbucks at Fullerton Hotel or one of the many cafes along Merlion Park.
This year, however, we decided to do things differently.
Instead of going to City Hall area a few weeks before National Day, we waited until the day after National Day, to watch the NDP mobile column travel from the F1 pit to Punggol.
Ezra got to see the Singapore Armed Forces and HomeTeamNS’ array of tanks, jeeps and support vehicles. There was also a carnival filled with food stalls and fringe activities, but the highlight was the four-minute firework display at 8.30 p.m.
This year, we were prepared; we bought noise-cancelling headphones to lower the decibel of the fireworks and protect Ezra’s ears.
Ezra was also given an NDP 2019 funpack by a family friend. Petrina and I emptied the bag’s contents and Ezra picked out the items he wanted – the flag and temporary tattoos.
May your love for Singapore continue to grow, dear son.
“Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh… Our home, our heart, our dream, our Singapore.”