So, my baby is bi-racial

So, my baby is bi-racial

The salesgirl at the department store had been eyeing my 11-month-old daughter for a while, so I knew it was only a matter of time before the question came.

"What is she?" the older woman asked me. "Is she half?"

At first I think: "Are you calling her half past six?" - the Singlish phrase used to describe someone who is "half-baked" or incompetent.

But then, I know that's not what she's asking.

Since becoming a mother, I've had to grapple with an entirely new set of comments and questions directed at my mixed-parentage daughter who is part-Caucasian and part-Chinese.

Mixed marriages are on the rise in Singapore, accounting for one in five unions in 2013, up from one in eight a decade ago, according to the latest figures from the Department of Statistics.

Yet, friends and the general public seem unable to see past my daughter's ethnicity.

A stranger asked me over a pile of lemons at the supermarket if I thought my daughter would "be able to speak Chinese".

Her mixed heritage also never fails to ignite discussions among friends and relatives, who often launch into a fervent debate about whether she looks more Asian or angmoh now, compared with the last time they saw her.

There was never any malice in these comments. In fact, I often get compliments.

When we went to snap her passport photograph, an employee at the booth told me that such babies tend to be pretty and that mine was no exception with her double eyelids and high nose-bridge.

That was nice to hear - but surely, my daughter would look cute even if she had a flat nose and mono-lids just like me?

A Chinese mother at a playgroup listed an odd advantage.

Being a hun xue'er (mixed-blood baby) apparently gives my daughter an "out": She will neither face the same agonising pressure to excel in school like her fully Asian peers nor be expected to sacrifice her childhood to school work.

And as a way of reassurance, when my daughter started screaming her lungs out at a cafe, a fellow diner said that what she was doing was "perfectly normal" because "mixed-kids" tend to be more vocal.

I cannot help but wonder if the constant chatter about my daughter's ethnicity and its associated expectations will affect her.

Research seems to suggest that it will.

In a study reported in Psychology Today magazine, two academics told elementary school teachers that some of their students had scored in the top 20 per cent of a test designed to identify "academic bloomers".

This was all bogus. The students had been randomly picked and scored no differently from their unselected peers.

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