I thought my mother was Michael Jackson.
Confused? So was I.
My mother is a gorgeous woman who is Singaporean with Malay/Indian/Thai background. For much of my childhood she sported a pretty cool afro hair style.
As a five year old I didn’t know anyone else’s mum that looked like my mum. I didn’t know anyone else with an afro.
My mother’s side of the family is very musical. Her sister and brother have always been in a band. My mother was always singing to me. A lot of what she sang was Jackson Five stuff. She was a huge fan of theirs as a teen and had kept a photo album with a bunch of clippings about them.
At my grandparents house I’d spend hours pouring over old family photos. I loved looking at pictures of my mother.
She was the youngest and always up to mischief.
She’s so cute.
So one day a bunch of us are sitting around my grandfather’s house and the song ABC by the Jackson Five comes on TV. I knew the song because my mother sang it all the time. I said, “mum it’s your song you always sing!”
My aunties who are both tricksters and have always teased my mother about her Afro (they have long very styled hair) said “yep and there’s your mum!”
I knew it was Michael Jackson so that didn’t make sense. So they kindly explained it for me. You see, before my mum met my father and had me she was Michael Jackson from the Jackson Five (I didn’t know anything about Michael Jackson after the Jackson Five). And see? There she is singing with Uncle Johan (who I guessed looked like Jermaine).
Oh ok, my five year old brain thought. That makes sense. My mother is Michael Jackson.
The story began to grow: My mother is the extremely talented child star Michael Jackson. She’s from another country but she moved to Australia where it was more difficult to be Michael Jackson. She met my dad and had me, a big sacrifice, since clearly she was having a lot of fun being Michael Jackson. She still sings her old songs around the house.
The family just ran with it. They thought it was hilarious. It was a secret though, I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone. But what five year old can keep the juicy knowledge that her mother is Michael Jackson a secret?
At school one day I decided to break the news. It was Show and Tell time. I volunteered to get up in front of the class. I let everyone know that what I was about to tell them was a huge secret. My mother was a really talented singer. She was Michael Jackson. Maybe they were familiar with some of her songs? I sang a little. I told them that even though she’s “just my mum now” I was really proud of her, and proud to be the daughter of such a famous singer.
I sat down. No-one even questioned me. The teacher must have been confused. I felt like I had taken a huge weight off of my chest.
Later I told my mother. I felt guilty about telling everyone her secret. I was just so proud of her you know?
I think she was horrified. And amused. My dad and her broke the bad news. While my mother is a very good singer, she is not in fact Michael Jackson.