Dear Boys,

Your dad, for the most part of his life, has been a ‘friend’ guy. Especially when he has been working since 15 years old, depending on colleagues and friends to learn the ropes of life. You dad’s parents was virtually non-existent and your dad’s elder brother, even less so.

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The nature of how I ended up working my first job full-time at fifteen years of age, instead of studying, is another story for another day. The gist of a boy, past fifteen, working in a retail sales job in Changi Airport. It is an environment, where I believe I was the youngest worker there, barely legal.

We need a pass to get into the restricted area in the Departure and Arrival Hall in Changi Airport’s Terminal 2. While my permanent pass will take about 2 weeks to process, I have to make my way to the Airport Police Station to get my temporary pass changed. I never forgotten the policeman’s name, Rudy. He was the one who told me, I was probably the youngest Perm Pass holder in the airport. What a record. I think what he meant was, any younger, I wouldn’t have been granted the pass.

Anyway, working at fifteen, you are really at the mercy of the societal ecosystem. I am lucky to have bumped into really decent colleagues who eventually became friends. Sebastian was one of them, he introduced me to reading, how to carry myself well, and of course, ethos and friendship. I’ll tell you boys more about him later.

More importantly, I grew up molded by friends, being young and nubile, their opinion shaped me, their maturity lead me, I learn to lean on these friends as a source of opinion, and it works for me, These colleagues, who later became friends, were indeed my extended family. So friends are important to your dad, more than family, since friends justify your dad’s existence.


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Your mum, on the other hand, grew up in a more restricted, mainstream environment, where family takes precedence. She often regales how she and her younger brother plays, and how she played with her cousins. Her parents are more cautious about her making friends outside and while she do have friends, family come first.

Friends vs Family

When we met, this apparently became one of our relationship ‘issues’, not really a big one, but it was one that we do have talks over, up until now. This was more pronounced during courtship as we are 2 individuals, coming together as a couple, integrating 2 sides of our lives, which is all our family and friends.

Friends being friends

While we were younger, we hang out together, and we also hang out with each other’s friends. Me, being more socially savvy, has a wider pool of friends; I can mingle with quite a good range of people. Furthermore, being in Aikido, I do get to know new friends, all sorts. I’ve German friends, American, Scot, Thai, Filipinos, you name it, locals and foreigners. Your mum’s first few close interaction with Caucasians in her social circle was with my friends.

It is those closer friends that is a source of discontent and discussion. You see, closer friends of mine, are closer because I knew them long, some longer than I know your mum, back in my National Service days when I was nineteen, I met your mum in my mid 20s. So some of these friends have a longer track record with me, than me with your mum.

The problem starts when I go with them, more than I go with your mum, or more specifically, with your mum in tow.

She’s a great gal (that’s why I marry her!), and she is great because she let her feelings show. Whilst she is not jealous in anyway, my relationship with my friends affected her, since sometimes, friends don’t really treat friends very well. She couldn’t understand back then, why I treat my friends nicer, than sometimes I treated her. She sees my friends from an angle of family, since she has a more of a family orientation, by and large, I’m beginning to look more like ‘family’ to her. Back then I couldn’t understand this, as I was a ‘friend first, family later’ kinda of policy, and she was vice versa. She was trying to determine, if this boy-‘friend’ of her is worthy of a conversion to a family. For my part, I couldn’t understand why she has issues with my friends.

Friends and family comes and go

I didn’t understand the importance of having a family first policy, and since your dad is pretty much a loner, and y parents and my elder brother was virtually non-existent, because of that, my extended family don’t count for much, and friends to a large extent, is of inexhaustible supply (6 billion people on Earth?). So why hinge your happiness and existence on a limited pool of people called relatives and families, when it is more fun having friends?

This was a problem for me, sometimes even until now. But your mum has been steadfast, she knew how a family worked and sometimes fought with the ideas in my head, that family is first, then friends, even though both will come and go, but more often than not family will usually stay, long after all the friends (6 billion of them!) are long dead and gone. she stood by me, and proved that she is family, you boys are family. And that ought to be the first order of the day.

Hindsight is perfect.

Now as couples, we do look back at those days where we hung out with friends, many of them are long gone, started their own families and are often more busy with their own family than to still hang out with friends. There is nothing wrong with with that, it is the nature of life. We will have a mix of friends with families, and more often than not, it is always the family that stays, long after the allure of friendship, that came and went.


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