parents

Never understood why my mum always told me that choosing who to marry is one decision that shouldn’t be done recklessly. 

“选老公,不可以选错” that’s what she’d say. 

I always thought the family turned out right despite the many turns and obstacles we had to go through because we overcame them and moved forward. I always thought, as long as you emerge stronger from the marriage, it’d a blessing in disguise but today, I related to her after they quarrelled and when my dad argued that his method of parenting was on the basis of my sister’s gender and when he eventually ended the conversation “你把她带走吧 (You can take her with you (to China where my mum is working)).”

Marriage is not just a force that legally bind two people who are in love to each other, together but an action that integrates two families. One that has a lasting effect on the future generations of the family tree. All with a signature and a ceremony. 

Who you marry will affect not just you as a being but also your children – how they are brought up, what their priorities are, how well-adjusted they are and essentially, their character.

Growing up, my mum took care of me significantly more than my dad. She was my caregiver, chauffeur, tutor, counsellor, nurse and most importantly, she fulfilled her role as a mother.  I could say confidently that he was almost insignificant in my childhood, except for the part where he provided money, which some may say, is the most important part because without money, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. But really, though money can buy almost all tangible objects but can money buy character? Can money cultivate values? 

I have had numerous birthday parties and at none of which, do I remember seeing my dad. I have participated in many violin performances, ranging from the smaller scale ones in my music school, to mid-scale ones at Tanglin and Victoria Concert Hall or even larger scale ones at the Esplanade, and similarly, at none of which I remember my dad being. I have also participated in at least 15 bowling tournaments since 10 y/o, and I don’t remember my dad supporting in any form. 

Even during Christmas and New Years Eve 2008 when my mum caught the bird flu and was quarantined in the Communicable Disease Centre (CDC), spiking a 42 degree Celsius fever, on the verge of dying, my dad wasn’t there to spend her darkest moments with her. He was busy at the New Year Countdown at the Lido. So much for “in sickness and in health”.

When I was all rebellious in my prepubescent stage, she dealt with it all, supported me through out and slowly, but surely guided me. She went through the time where I felt the need to fit in, to be cool. She dealt with the multiple phone calls she’d get from my tutors and school teachers who so frequently complained about my behaviour. How I was hiding under the table instead of paying attention, how I was playing with the broom while lesson was ongoing, how I was being too talkative, how I didn’t do my work, how I rebutted my teachers and the list goes on. 

Now that my mum is pursuing her career and i’m furthering my studies, my dad is left alone with my sister. To guide and nurture her. But what I see in my sister now, is clutter and disarray and absolute cowardice in my dad. Your second child may feel like your first child because you neglected your first. But hey, that’s not a valid excuse. I was my mum’s first, and she did great. 

You can’t blame a 12 year old for not handing in assignments, for eating and using phone in class. It’s all part and parcel of growing up. He’s surprised because in his time, pagers were barely available. What more phones and now, smartphones. 

Instead of finding excuses and wallowing in self pity, it’s about them he stood up, took charge and get ready for whatever that’s coming in his way because honestly, this is just the beginning. Everything will only get worse in Secondary School and if he doesn’t do anything to guide my sister now, he will find it even more impossible to in a few years’ time and by then, it’ll be too late. 

One can lack in altruism but one must not be filled with selfishness.

It’s hard not to blame him for what the family has turned into. It’s hard not to condemn him for his egoistical self. It’s hard to not compare the both of them and seek comfort by telling myself that “everyone is different” because honestly, the contrast is startling. It’s hard to “forgive and forget” the mistakes that he’d done when he himself isn’t even the least remorseful or repentant. 

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