You know what I’m talking about – the cocky expression of all-knowing that your Singaporean Mom or Dad puts on when you realize that you really should’ve heeded their advice before it was too late, followed by the inevitable “Wah ka le gong” (Hokkien term for “I told you so” which essentially means “You shoulda listened to me before, bitches!”).
If there is one thing to be understood about Singaporean Parents, it’s that they love sprouting bits of wisdom to their kids because it makes them feel wise and omniscient. In particular, Singaporean Parents like to make references to ancient Chinese philosophers and scholars, especially Confucius. Despite his receding hairline and saggy eye bags (It’s called concealer. Use it.), Singaporean Parents love Confucius because he would never talk back to his parents, nor would he ever drive his lao shi insane by turning off the toilet flush while she was taking a dump. Not that I ever did that to my lao shi or anything. Doo dee doo dee doo. Anyway, back to what I was saying about Singaporean Parents. Confucius is their homeboy because he embodies everything that a good Singaporean Child should be – filial, smart and conservative. I know, I know… who in their right mind would even want to kick it with a goody-goody like Confucius, what with his questionable dress sense and all (What’s up with his crazy robes and far out hats anyway? Someone give the man a gift card to Zara for crying out loud.) You’d be surprised at the number of Singaporean Parents who would kill meet the guy. You know how you had to write that essay in school about which famous personality you’d like to meet, dead or alive? Singaporean Parents would totally write about Confucius, not Obama. Or Lady Gaga.
Anyway, I digress.
Singaporean Parents love saying “Wah ka le gong” because they enjoy being right about things, and then rubbing it in. Take my Singaporean Dad for example – he loves saying “Wah ka le gong” so much that we debated making him a t-shirt with the phrase printed across the front. One time my sister forgot to bring her passport to the airport and my Dad said, “What did I say? Always check! And double check! Wah ka le gong lah!” Five minutes later (while my sister was still rummaging around in her bag, hoping to miraculously find her passport in there), he gestured at us to listen to the pearls of wisdom he was about to impart upon us. “Wah ka le gong loh,” he said, in a sage-like manner. “You must always check! Passport is a basic thing! What did I say? Passport is more important than..? Makeup. Phone is more important than…? iPod. Wallet is more important than…? Snacks. “
Take note that when your Singaporean Parent gets on a roll with this “Wah ka le gong” business, do not try to defend yourself. Ever. Because that would be equivalent to talking back, therefore negating your Singaporean Parent’s “Wah ka le gong” bliss. Instead, put on an appropriate expression of remorse and promise to be more like Confucius.