Growing up with two young parents who were barely past their early twenties, set on creating a family and forging a life together (spoiler alert: four kids and more than two decades together, it’s safe to say, goals have been met), it’s unsurprising that I absorbed a lot of quirky beyond-my-years mannerisms. The now-glorified nineties culture was for me a series of vibrant memories which helped shape me tremendously. I experienced the happening era through the curious eyes of a child while being pulled along by equally gung-ho parents who took my hands and ran on either side of me.
Looking back on it now, I realize that I wasn’t the only one doing a lot of growing up; the three of us were all in it together. Rocking out to Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi while dad strummed along with his guitar, and crooning to Patsy Cline and The Carpenters while mum read her magazines, the nineties to me is a golden trunk ever-brimming with fresh treasures to be reminisced.
With an even younger auntie who was going through a very vivid grunge phase at the time (brown lipstick, bedazzled DKNY cropped t-shirts and default middle finger poses for every angsty picture taken), my fun times were multiplied a hundred times over. Countless are the times we would sneakily go into her bedroom to watch cartoons that my parents, who were at the time still growing into their stern big people roles, had banned their six-year-old from watching. Jokes on them because even as a full-fledged adult, I still love cartoons! But when we weren’t watching Beavis and Butt-head on the sly, my auntie and I were taking joyrides in her black convertible to get ice cream at Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts.
While a lot of these activities sound highly inappropriate for a child to experience, even in the age that birthed the internet, I learned a lot of lessons from my upbringing. I learned the significance of Girl Power from the continuous Spice Girls marathons that my parents indulged me in (and then perhaps regretted when I started expressing strong interest in being a mini Ginger Spice, red hair, rambunctious personality and all). I learned from watching Mulan seven hundred times (much to my poor boy cousins’ hair-tearing frustration) that girls can do anything they set their mind to, something that I still wax lyrical about, even if it involves them having to wear a really tight bra to save a whole nation. I learned from Little Lulu that feistiness as well as strong wit is mandatory in kicking butt and that there’s no fear in being a little bit mouthy and bossy to get things done the right way.
Being my parents’ daughter, I also unconventionally learned that it’s alright to begin a buffet at the dessert section from a mother with a sweet tooth. I learned that it’s okay to arm your daughter with a slingshot and go trudging through the drizzle in a raincoat to shoot at lizards for Arowana food as crazy fun father-daughter quality time. I learned the importance of balancing hard work and good times from parents who both worked hard and played hard with the best of them.
Today my forever-young-at-heart mother laughs at my “old lady” penchant for the Brady Bunch and the fact that I’m always down for a Golden Girls marathon (both shows had constant reruns on Star World when I was growing up. Fun times.). But there’s no denying that the age I was raised in by my budding parents played a huge impact in who I am today.
It’s been eighteen years since the nineties ended but nostalgia still swaggers in like a familiar friend, ready to raid the fridge of my mind and sleep soundly in my bed of memories. Whenever it does, I, the ever-welcoming host, greet it with open arms and an open invitation to a comfy couch marathon of Spice World and a jam session to Michael Learns To Rock.