Kids say stepfather is cool

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Kids say stepfather is cool
Mr Quentin Foon and Agnes Lim. With them are his stepchildren, Faith and Lexx.

Sales manager Quentin Foon, 36, first laid eyes on retail consultant Agnes Lim, 38, in a club 11 years ago. They were introduced by mutual friends and Mr Foon thought she was single and attractive.

Unknown to him at that time, Ms Lim, then 27, was a divorcee with two children - Faith and Lexx, then aged eight and six.

Mr Foon asked her out and, after a few dates, Ms Lim told him about her children. "I told him, 'I will never leave my kids for you. They will be with me for the rest of my life.' I told him to have a think. I gave him the option to walk away."

Mr Foon decided he wanted to pursue the relationship. Ms Lim introduced him to her children as her "friend".

Within a few months, this "friend" was paying regular visits to her parents' three-room HDB flat in Geylang East, where Ms Lim lived with her children, her parents and a maid. After a year, Mr Foon moved in with them.

By then, Faith and Lexx were told that Mr Foon was "a close uncle", but Faith recalls not liking him much at the start. "I was quite strict," says Mr Foon, even as Faith nods her head vigorously.

She says: "He was very concerned about our studies and kept wanting us to keep to a schedule. He also wanted us to be up by 8am as he did not want us to 'waste our days away'."

Having had no contact with her biological father since her parents' divorce was finalised in 2002, she was not used to Mr Foon's presence and his expectations. Furthermore, the people looking after her - her mother and maternal grandparents - had no such time-management rules.

Lexx recalls being "rude" to Mr Foon about this issue too. "I would ask him, 'Why do you make me do this?'"

Now, however, both children say making and keeping to timetables has made them disciplined individuals.

Faith, who is now 19 and studying events management in Republic Polytechnic, says: "He taught us to use Microsoft Excel to do our schedules. That turned out to be useful because we had to use Excel in polytechnic and many of my friends struggled with doing so."

It also took time for Mr Foon's parents to accept his relationship with Ms Lim, after he broke the news to them that she had two children.

He says: "They objected. They could not understand why I did not just have a 'standard', 'normal' girlfriend."

Still, he persevered and soon started arranging for Ms Lim's children to visit his parents. These visits were understandably awkward at the start, he says.

"Faith and Lexx would call my parents 'nai nai' and 'ye ye' (Mandarin for grandmother and grandfather). I'm sure it was strange for my parents, having these 'grandchildren' pop out of seemingly nowhere," he says, chuckling.

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