One of the most awkward questions a pre-pubescent child can ask is “where do babies come from?” Either you use lousy euphemisms for it (like “the birds and the bees”), you go into scientific Slot A/Tab B style explanations (that they can’t understand yet), or you lie. And if you’re a parent, you’re going to go for that last option, you terrible obscurer of truth you.

Unless you’re a pre-school teacher, there’s no way you’ll be able to talk about reproductive organs and their purposes in a neutral way (because older children are going to burst into a fit of giggles and you’ll never be able to finish a single sentence). In the West they can say the Storks brought their child, but it’s just not feasible in Singapore. Where did the Storks get the babies from – the Singapore Zoological Gardens? Jurong Bird Park? If so, why don’t we just drive there to pick our new baby?

Desperate to stave off explaining the mysterious origin of babies, parents all over Singapore have had to resort to creative ways to give a (presumably) plausible answer. So here’s the product of Singapore parents’ creativity. Children all over our island are still falling for it.

1. The dustbin

Dustbin. Credit: JustRunLah!

Dustbin. Credit: JustRunLah!

You get this answer whenever the parent is in a bad mood. And come on, parents are in a bad mood all the time, what with the sleepless nights (infants), constant questions (toddlers), and teachers’ complaints (adolescents). It’s said with the implicit meaning of “you are so naughty you might as well have come from the dustbin” so that children will, hopefully, not ask any more questions about the birds and the bees.

Of course, it never works. The follow up question is inevitably “which dustbin?” Wah piang.

2. The longkang

Storm drain. Credit: MIT EEE

Or as MIT calls it, “storm drain”. Credit: MIT CEE

The longkang is the answer you get if you’ve been a bad, bad kid. I mean, come on, the dustbin is bad, but at least you know what goes in there. Drainwater and surface run-off from rain run through the longkang. Although Singapore’s drainage system actually separates drainwater and sewage (so that they don’t mingle and we don’t get pee-filled rivers), the meaning is still the same. You’re as bad as the stuff that goes into the longkang.

Unfortunately, for kids, drains and sewers are kind of cool. That’s where the Ninja Turtles come from, after all.

3. Prettyland

This is what adults think of when they say Prettyland. Credit: SSEPT15

This is what adults think of when they say Prettyland. Credit: SSEPT15

This only applies to girls, of course, and this is always used whenever the girl has brothers. Girls are usually disgusted by the thought that they came from the same place that boys do, because boys are icky. So to pacify their daughters, parents often say they’re from “Prettyland” or some other variant of “beautiful” + “country”.

Why don’t boys get something similar, like Machocity?

4. America

Come on, when you say America, you really mean North America, don't you? Credit: ConceptDraw

Come on, when you say America, you really mean North America, don’t you? Credit: ConceptDraw

America is far away enough that it seems like totally different planet when you’re a child (unless you’ve gone there for a holiday). So it’s remote enough that when parents say “you’re from America,” there’s no way the child can verify it. It’s not like they could up and go to America by themselves, right? Yet it’s not as silly as say, Antarctica (and then you’ll need to explain how the South Pole works and so on, so never mind).

It’s also a slightly sarcastic way of saying how Americanised children these days have become.

5. Adopted

Wouldn't you want to adopt him too? Credit: GP Tuition SG

Wouldn’t you want to adopt him too? Credit: GP Tuition SG

This is perhaps the most genuine way of explaining where babies come from without actually going into the specifics. Again, parents use this whenever they are irritated (see a pattern here?) with their kid. It’s meant to instil some gratitude (“you’re not even my own child and I feed and clothe you!”) but as with all such answers, it’s always met with another question.

“Who are my real parents? Am I actually Harry Potter?”

Storks. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Storks. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Here’s an alternate solution for you – tell them that the Storks brought them, and when they ask what’s a stork, bring them to watch Storks! The avian movie tells the tale of the fallen Storks, who have been reduced to freight delivery for a thinly disguised version of Amazon in the film. Babies are no longer delivered (how does the human race reproduce then?) by Storks, and it is in this sad state affairs that a new hope arises.

And, of course, a new baby.


Credits: JustRunLah!, MIT CEE, SSEPT15, Concept Draw, GP Tuition SG, Golden Village Cinemas