A**hole!

asshole.JPG

the road to hell is always paved with a unhealthy does of good intentions

Dear Ian,

Your friend ‘K’ called you an asshole.

All I can say is that, sometimes; a particular word gets stuck in our head and we keep on using it like it was vogue. So he could have been stuck with this word and thinks that it is cool to use it. But you know better.

What I told you to do is, think of this friend during the days of happiness. Nobody is nasty 24/7/365. We are nice by default, there are no evil babies.

People do all sorts of things thinking that it is in the best interest, but people are most of the time, self centred, selfish and they couldn’t see beyond the halo of the ego they created for themselves. So don’t fall into that trap, since the road to hell is always paved with a unhealthy does of good intentions.

So this K friend had been nice to you before, he has helped you brought your homework back when you were ill. He did stood by you (not often though). So he did somethings that sometimes qualifies him as your occasional friends.

So I told you to tell him ‘I like you better, when you were nicer to me.’

It is true, since everyone has a nice side and nasty side, even when we are nasty, we often didn’t know we were being assholes. So you know better than to do tit for tat.He called you an asshole, that doesn’t mean you have to make his wish comes true. You can define the ‘asshole-ness’ in the word ‘asshole’, always remember never play the game by other people’s terms. He want to get his desired attention from you, to allow him to do that will mean that you are playing by his game. You are much better than that, you don’t have to play his game, you don’t have to acknowledge that K is K. Treat him with equanimity, you have plenty of friends, and he has to queue like everybody else, when he jumped the queue, by calling you an asshole, you have to put him at his place, back in the queue. Treat him normal, never accord him the attention he wanted calling you callous names. People do all sorts of things to get you attention, and when they becomes too obnoxious, you have every right to put them at the last of the queue, or take them out of the equation totally.

Plain K

I’m glad you did what as I advise, and the last I heard from you, K did some other obnoxious things to you, you didn’t even bat an eye lid, you just treated him like he was him, plain, normal, nothing new, nothing fantastic. That’s good, because when you are able to control your feelings and deny negativity and nasty people to dwell in your mind space, your life will start to align with the great things in life.

 

Friends are like Drugs

Friends are like Drugs

Dear Ian,

Your mum told me one day you made this remark: “Friends are like drugs, some are good for you when you are not feeling well, but having too much of that will be bad, and makes you addicted to them.

I think you’ve hit the nail right spot on the head.

This applies to many things in life, but for you I know where you are coming from. Friends and the social life are a big melting pot for you in school. You get to work with people you like, and don’t like. Sometimes, the teachers will assign you to a team where there are ‘enemies’. You don’t always get the sunny side of the deal.

Drugs are good when you need them, and you have to stop taking them when you no longer need to consume them, and instead keep them handy in the event that you have to take them again. If you continue to use them longer than necessary, you grow dependent on these drugs. They will have an influence over your life, and soon after that, you will grow to depend on them, whether you like it or not.

And drugs changes you, and if you are not careful, you’ll turn into someone you don’t like.

Friends: Boon or Bane?

In my formative years, friends are a boon, as I do not have a strong family base. I started working young and depended a lot on my colleagues, who turned into friends for support. Friends taught me a lot, and I was thankful I mixed a a good bunch of guys. I owe a lot to who I am to the friends I know.

For your mum, she was the opposite, the family bond was strong, even until now. She has no allegiance to friends or groups, she is still very close to her parents, and there is always a time for family gathering and parties. These are precedence and priorities that I sometimes are at odds with.

Friends fade way

People always have their own agenda. We taught you this early, as we have been through many of these ‘cycles’. From young, we have a group of fun friends, close and tight. Good people whom we thought will be great to age along with. Truth to be told, everybody grows up, grows old, and grows away. Those who stays are families. That is for me; your mum, you, and your little brother.

Your friends

As you are now in your final years in Primary School, most of the friends you know now will go into separate Secondary Schools next year. All of you will go forth and pursue the calling and destiny of your choice.

It is good to stay close, but being close to a certain level where you have a void, is no good. There are friends toxic to you right now, will also part. Fighting them, dealing with them now, only to face the reality that they will too go their own ways, leaves you with a kind of withdrawal symptoms.

I’m glad you have a metaphor like that, at this age. You’ll learn to distance yourself and have a healthy perspective over things. Never get too engrossed ‘fighting’ that undesirable character in school. I know you have a certain classmate, who is constantly at odds with you, picking on you. He irritates you, but he too will go his way. And when that happens? What happens to your epic ‘Me against Him’ story?

More important thing in life

Drugs are important too, for our lives, you know that. So use them well, and learn about their properties, their side effects. When to take them, what kind of ailments specific drugs can fix.

Friends are like that too, you need to learn about them and be useful to them, and make sure they are useful to you. Have an independent mind, at the same time, use friends to give you the right support and opinion. But never get too dependent on those opinions.

 

Be a brother, not a parent

 

WAYYYYYNNNNNNNE!!!!

Dear Ian,

Be a brother to your brother and leave the parenting to us.

As you are now growing up, and being the elder brother, you will invariably boss your little 弟弟 around. It’s quite natural, since he is the younger, naughtier , more irritating one. You being the older one has a larger responsibility of taking care of him, helping him and chaperoning him. That is fine, until you start to do our job.

Don’t parent him.

Leave that to us, we are the parents to both of you, we are your judge, jury and executioner. Not you, not your 弟弟. He may get on your nerve many times, but don’t take matters into your own hands and scold him the way we do.

You are his peer, his brother, leave the scolding to us.

Wayne looks up to you

Truth to be told, your little brother looks up to you, he doesn’t says it out, but we all look up to out elder siblings. So you need to be a brother to him, so that you can continue to bond with him. Be the elder brother he can learn and emulate from.

While we as your parents are guilty of passing some bad parenting tips to you, that you are doing to your brother, right now I’m telling you, consciously, stop. Enjoy your brotherhood with him. Bond with him, sometimes even cover for his mistakes. I know saying that will cause some resentment, but that’s what elder siblings do.

Your mum, the elder sister.

Your mum covered for her younger brother as well. They were both playing on their mother’s bed and the little brother, jumping on the bed, broke it. They were terrified of course, and tried to pushed the broken bed frame back, and make it looked as if it wasn’t. It was a crack and any more weight on it will fracture it again.

So your mum, orchestrated with her little brother to make it look as if she broke it. When her mother was in, the sister purposely sat on the broken part, and sure enough, it crack, and your mum made a dramatic effect, pretending to be shocked that the bed broke under her weight. Her mum, was shocked but thought nothing about it, since the bed was already quite old. and it is a matter of time. She never knew the bed was broken by her son, and her eldest daughter covered for the younger boy.

These are the things siblings does for each other.

Back against each other

I’ve told the both of you many times, after both your parents are long dead and gone, it will be the both you, back against each other, facing the big bad world. That is really all there is, we are not a big family, right now you have your parents to back you both up, you mum, she has her parents. Me? I’m pretty much on my own, my only source of backup is your mum, my wife. Yes, I have my parents, and my elder brother, but they are an whole bunch of sordid stories on their own.

So whatever the problems, you boys must be able to talk to each other, help each other, lookout for each other, cover for each other. That must be unconditionally done. Always find a way to talk it out, no matter the differences. Sure next time, perhaps the both of you will be married, start your own family, have wives to confide to, like how I confide to your mum, as my wife. But when it comes to brotherhood, that is another whole different level of your life.

Bearing witness.

Ian, you are a good 3.5 years older, and you have seen your baby brother grow up, held him, and in the hospital’s nursery, remarked that your 弟弟 is the smallest baby! You have held him, protect him, cajoled him. Continue to do that, and he will have to rely on you for these memories, you need to provide that reference for him. You have also experience more things in life, last year, we went to Perth and Star Cruises was because you have been on these trips, but your 弟弟 hadn’t. He wanted to do those things you have done in the photographs, when he wasn’t around yet. He will always be your little 弟弟.

You both will have to bear witness to a lot of other things, unique to both of you. we as your parents, can never be a sibling to the both of you. You both goes to school together, and faced the tough school environment together. We are not there, we cannot protect you both, so there is only the both of you, and we trust that you both can look out for each other.

So learn to live with each other, warts and all, this is what brothers is about, it is not about who is the boss.

This is for The Bully

bully

Dear Bully,

You picked on my friend’s son and hit him so hard you send him to the hospital.

There are labels out there, and I would like to think that the child you hit is the ‘victim‘.

But he is not.

You are.

You see, you have physically hurt him, and we know that, we can heal him, with love, kindness, and all the asset at our society’s disposal. What about you?

Who is going to heal the hurt you have inflicted on yourself?

While it is very tempting to tell your ‘victim‘ that he should have, could have, would have done this and that, but I know you attacked him without provoke, you didn’t give him a chance for defence. I could also say that it wasn’t a ‘fair’ fight, which it actually isn’t but hey, there are no ‘Rules of Engagement’ in a school bus where you assaulted the boy.

We would like to do something nasty to you, in retaliation for what you did. It’s human nature, you hurt me, I would like to hurt you bad.

But everything and everybody looks like a freaking expert on hindsight, and we all know there is no flaw in afterthought.

We also know we live in a civil society, where such acts of violence, is not tolerated. we will not reciprocate in kind. An eye for an eye, makes everybody blind, with hatred. We are better than that, we are better than you.

But you did what you did and now we have to live with the reality and difficult situation you created for us.

You hurt my friend’s kid, not my kid. But I feel for my friend, as a parent. She is a great mum, and I share with her all the energy we can muster to protect our children from harm and danger, 24/7/365. You attacking her child, robbed her of her ability to protect her child. We are angry because we are put in a powerless state, by your malicious actions. We hate to face the reality that we are ineffective in shielding our children from the likes of you in society. We couldn’t protect our child from harm. Your actions forced us to come face to face with that reality. It sucks.

But we are strong, resilient and we want the best for our child. We do not want him to become like you, a Bully. But if we are not careful with ourselves, he might turn into a delinquent like you. So we must rise to the challenge, pick up the pieces after that, and heal our child from the hurt you inflicted. It is nothing much we can do, because as parents, we wouldn’t want you to face a bully like yourself, and end up in a hospital bed.

I rally with my friend, she is a strong mother, a wonderful parent, she well do well for her child. But what about your parents? The anguish you have caused with your wanton reputation? Every ‘victim‘ you add to your wrath, hurts your parents more than anybody else in the world. And when we are faced with a recalcitrant like yourself, we are faced with a harder reality than those whom you have made ‘victim‘. Your parents are in a dilemma, they cannot see that your pain and hurt is not physical, it is deep in your psyche. I don’t know what thoughts can motivate you be hit other people, and made yourself a bully, but I believe it came from a deep dark place in you, sweeping-under-the-carpetfull of hurt, pain and ignorance, that is a good 11 years of suffering. At the rate of denial you are at, your parents will not be able to help you come to terms with your own monsters. The best they could do, is to sweep your dirty deeds underneath a carpet, fast becoming a fabric mold. For this you will have my full sympathy. Good luck.

In light of what you did, I think, again, on hindsight, was positive in a twisted sense. Your violence, put my friend’s son to the test. He was broken, but he can be build up again, stronger wiser, never to become the person you are. He will be stronger, because that is the only place you can go, after being weakened. Your actions, has rallied me, to stand side by side with his mother. You random application of violence, didn’t break anyone, or perhaps you did. Which gives us a wonderful opportunity to  help ourselves up, become stronger.

The question that begs to be answered. Who is helping you, become a better person, my dear bully boy?

Being Ready is not Being Prepared

being-ready-is-not-being-preparedThe difference is subtle.

Everyone who is decently trained in Martial Arts of any discipline will have a certain degree of readiness in handling some form of combat, street violence and other unforeseen unpleasant circumstances

But being ready doesn’t mean that you will be prepared to do what is needed when the times comes to doing it. Most people as marital artists, would like the ‘artists’ part more than the ‘martial’ part. There is a lot of winning through techniques, skills, strategy, and there is often little or no blood, gore, raw grit and sheer application of terror and violence.

What we practiced on the mat, prepares us little about the kind of violence perpetrators are PREPARED to dish out to get what they want. More often than not, even when we are sufficiently trained that made us combat ready, but we are not prepared to up our level of finesses in violence to end the attack that is coming our way.

So even when we are trained, and attend classes consistently, we risk being stuck in a mindset that an attack might only happen in a specific way which we are trained in. It doesn’t. Because we are Aikidoka, doesn’t necessarily mean that our attackers will attack us the way we are attacked by our Uke. It almost never happen that way.

A person who has nothing to lose will always be prepared to do whatever necessary to attain his/her goals. People in a fight for survival will always be prepared to go the ‘extra mile’ and fight to the very last breath. This is a very different mind-set from someone who is ‘ready’ for fighting. Someone who is trained, might not be prepared to dish out violence to stop violence.

This is a chronic fallacy for an art like Aikido, which predisposed ‘harmony’ and peace’, so we end up with hippy-like mentality that all is well and we should harmonises with our opponent. That means doing things nicely, don’t hurt people, behave ethically, respect your attacker. So even senior Aikidokas takes it easy, thinking that they will be ready, when the time comes. The amount of violence people are willing to dish out in attacking you can be beyond any comprehension of a martial artist. Even in Aikido, there are moves that are violence and highly damaging, even life-ending, but not a lot of Aikidoka are prepared to up the level of violence, apply violence to stop violence. In fact, the very mention of violence, is abhorred. Aikido is a smooth, flowing, harmonious way of combat, and all fighting should be like this. It is not, and sometimes, reality can be the furthest  from the dojo!

be-prepared

The Boy-Scout Rule

The Scouts says it best in their motto, ‘Be Prepared’ and not ‘Be Ready’. As there is a lot more to do in preparation, in fact, if you have a be prepared mindset, it will mean that you will never be ready. There is no ends in preparation, but the moment you begin to say that you are ‘ready’, then you closed your mind to learning how to constantly hone your skill to meet all possible form of violence and combat.

Being prepared in a martial arts, is to make sure that we are able to use our skills, to kill, maim, and apply violence in a manner that does not look methodical, absolutely without aesthetic, and the end result will look nothing like the martial arts we all train so hard for years. Being prepared for combat means things might be ugly, violent, and there will be hurt, blood, gore. When violence is applied, nothing ever ends nicely, there is no nice break-falls, not many people get away unscathed.

It a MAD, MAD world

In military doctrine, there is a term called ‘Mutually Assured Destruction‘, at a high level, we are talking about a kind of stalemate, which either side are so well armed, that nobody wants to push the first button. For a martial artist, we must be willing to think first-strike to end any subsequent follow-up capabilities of our opponent. We must be able to forsake our being and bring the fight to the opponent, before the opponent bring the fight to us. If we think M-A-D, not a lot of people will be willing to match that level of craziness, and be prepared to be sacrificed with ourselves, since we are going down, might as well take a few more with them when we go down; be that crazy; that is sometimes enough to stop people, and trigger their self preservation instinct. When we fight with no care of worry about coming out of that fight alive, we put a level of determination, not many human beings will like to test. And be prepared to apply a level of violence that overwhelms violence. Even in our nice, civil society, no matter how well dressed we are, we must be able to fight at a moment’s notice, defend ourselves, attack with vigor and think combat. This is more than ready, this is to be prepared in a way that when it happens, our mind gets into action, and deal with the matter at hand. Otherwise all that we learned as a martial artists, makes us only artists, ready but unprepared.

Attention Deficit Disorder

add

Dear Ian,

You have ADD.

We found out that in a very bad way when you were 9 years old, which I think is one of your bad years.

Your Primary 3 years

We couldn’t get you to remember things. You constantly have to be reminded of the simplest things. It frustrates the hell out of us when we have to tell you things again and again, for a span of minutes. We thought it was a kid thing, for us to keep reminding you, nagging, and repeating our instructions. But something’s got to break, you results was deteriorating and despite of our coaching and helping, we can see that you are failing and we were desperate, a little scared ourselves perhaps.

The Last Straw

We didn’t know what to do. Simple instructions said had to be repeated countless of times. The last straw came when I told you to write your date format as DD/MM/YYYY, and that was told to you more than once, and you came back with MM/DD/YYYY or something else. I flew into a fit of rage and kicked you in the chest. I think the whole drama was too much for our neighbours and they called the cops, who came, took down our details and that was that.

While I was screaming at you, ‘WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO!?’ ‘DO YOU WANT TO SEE A DOCTOR ABOUT IT!?’ You mother in the room picked up my vibe and checked online, she googled your condition and we learned that you might have Attention Deficit Disorder, which was the first time we heard about it. We also learned that the ADD will be most obvious around the 9-11 years of age, where the child will be tasked with more challenging and complex functions and responsibilities, and this will aggravate a child with ADD conditions.

School’s Challenging

It didn’t help when your Form Teacher and  Co-Form Teacher was too inexperienced and immature to help you with your challenges; you were having problems with your classmates and even with us bringing this matters up to the Form Teacher, she was inadequate in understanding how easily other students can distract you from your work.

We eventually went to seek professional opinion from the Institute of Mental Health, so that we know what we re dealing with and if what we know is on the right track. Most of what we know is what they know, but more importantly, we want you to know that we are seeking help and there is nothing wrong with you. You spoke to the psychiatrists and psychologists yourself and have you explained your behavior and conditions to them and I think you did quite well in your meetings with them.

They helped us by informing your school about your condition and it is not that you are ‘stupid’, it is indeed a diagnosed condition.

We are thankful we didn’t protect you by protecting you.

The Responsible Thing to Do

Once we knew what we were dealing with, the very first thing we want to is to response in an able manner, we want information, knowledge and facts about the situation, we want to be educated, realistic, and pragmatic about what can be done. What we do not want is a stereotype, type cast, and discriminate, blame and label you. We as your parents have to be very careful, and we think the best way to protect you is to keep you informed. And also educate you on how people will see you. We are thankful we didn’t protect you by protecting you.

I know this was the approach when we realised that you have Tourette. We didn’t want to change you, or stop you, make you suppress your Tick. You have it, we will learn about it and manage it. With that approach we try to manage your ADD.

It is not easy, but we have to manage our expectations at a whole new level. There are things we have to explain again and again. we tried to label and colour code your tasks (that helped a bit). Diet wise, we heard that Fish Oil helps (the verdict is still out there). But more importantly, we want you to live your life, your way. Having ADD is you and we have no intention of removing that, we can’t.

What we have is you, the Lim Ian, our child, my favourite eldest son. You’re not perfect, you’re work in progress. As much as I loathe the ADD in you, you are a personality on your own, lovable, affable, aloof at times, very innocent.

Sometimes, I do get angry with you, and I strike fear into your heart, but I have to be very, very aware of who you are. Anger are ineffective as a tool in ADD management, raised voice is the best I can elevate the urgency to, anything higher, I’ll lose you to fear, panic and ADD. this tests my patience and having you as my child change me as a person, man, father and husband.

This condition will never leave you, you are, like what Dr Chng said to you, ‘You have a very special gift.’ and you have to see that you you it to you best. It is very unique to you, nobody else can understand you, and your butterfly mind, constantly fluttering from one flower to another. Ever settling down and never able to hold your attention for long, constantly distracted by yourself.

Just a couple of days back, you came into the room and asked me if I should clear the laundry, and I told you to do so, you took the laundry out from my room and the next thing I know, you are at the sofa, reading your book, and the laundry, left out at the living room, task not completed. I brought this back to your attention, and you told me that while you are kicking the laundry out with your leg, you saw the book and you wanted to keep it, which meant that you walked towards it, and the next thing you know, you sat down reading the book, and the laundry was left on the floor. It was always a new day when you are living with someone who has ADD. Everyday is a new day, a challenging one, and as your dad, I see that joy in your eyes, knows that every moment is worth it.

Child-led Parenting

Child-led Parenting

Dear Boys,

Your mum and I were chatting in bed and we realised that a lot of kids with good grades are getting what they want. When they get good grades, they are entitled, rewarded, encouraged to have things done their way. If you get an ‘A+’, you can spend all the time you want in front of a computer, and play games all day.

Children are any parents’ gem. I love the both of you dearly, and like any parents, I would do whatever I can for you, and make your world a better place. But please remember, the world was here first, and your world is nothing but a small part of a larger world, and the world do not evolve nor revolve around you.

Let me tell you boys something else, like the world was here before you, your parents are here before you.

Having better grades or being smarter than your parents does not put the both of you in the leadership spot. I am The Dad, and I still runs the house. My rule stands, if you want to run a house, go get your own, go get your own woman, and make that woman your wife. Until then, I lead the pack. Not you, the children.

Parents relinquishing their authority to their children raise brats. Period.

Children don’t rule the world, they never did, and when we let them, bad shit happens when they grow up. They will think that they are able to get anything they want, without care or consequences. If we allow them to have their gratifications as long as they secure a good grade, we are cultivating a very narrow band of life values. And just because children get good grades, doesn’t make them pack leaders. Child-led parenting style upsets the natural pecking order in the house.

It is getting very prevalent, as more and more parents are not stepping up to be parents, but they are simply, Adults with Children. The parents of these adults probably didn’t or failed to impart the right parenting skill-set, or they was exposed to child-led parenting template before and this is what they thinks works best. It doesn’t, but without the right values, adults who grow up to become parents, have no idea how to manage children, with the right leadership and authority.

Ethics Values and Principles (EVP of Life)

Getting good grades does not automatically qualifies one as a good human being. Being smart does not means one is wise. Clever is sometimes turned into deceit, when self-centredness becomes a person’s core motivation. When we parents do not set the parameters right, we are linking the wrong consequences to the action. While we can reward our child with computer game time if they get good grades, we need to bring to their attention and awareness that they get what they got, doesn’t means that they have gotten everything.

By everything, I don’t mean to simply aspire them to get better grades. If in Primary 5, you get 90%, you can have 2 hours of game time, that does not naturally equate that if you subsequently get 95% you can get 3 hours of game time. This kind of rewards structure teaches the exact value that leads kids astray.

Everything means, the value of hard work, having good ethics to help people, weaker classmates, instead of ostracizing them, be principled and argue for the good, admitting to wrong when wronged. As kids, do not negotiate nor bargain with your parents for gains. There is no negotiation, parents give, children receive.

When children gives good results, does the parents receive?

This is crazy and skewed.

I’ve long said, the results, good and bad are yours to keep, boys. I do not stand in the way to bask in the limelight of your good results. Your grades, is not my bragging rights, they are yours. You go to a good school, that is your merit, you go to a bad one, that is also your doing. While I love to be proud as a parent to have kids getting good academic results. I’d prouder if you boys grows up becoming good decent human beings, who are not extraordinarily smart, doesn’t save the world, but remembers to greet the people, show respect to the elders, is gratuitous, still laughs at the silliest jokes, have fun. And enjoys being in our company when we are old.

The conduct as a decent human being is more important than a grade, remembering where you came from is more important than a grade. Remembering your lessons learnt in failures is more important than the celebration of your success. Remembering and honoring those who have helped you,is more important than becoming a champion.