Never Bring Your Work Home

MjAxMy1mY2ZkZDg5ZWY4NDY4MDdkDear boys,

You will hear a lot of work-life advise in your life. Some say this and some will say that. It all depends on what works for you and what kind of a person you grow up to be.

You can either learn to take stress well, and be a tough guy, and be a Type A personality, that’s fine.

If you both gets married and have kids, you must make sure that you have a spouse you can talk to. Whether you choose to talk to your spouse or not, that is entirely a different matter.

Well, actually it is not that entirely different, becoming husband and wife and being in a marriage is building new habits, and the old ones evolve.

What I’m trying to say here is, at this stage of my marriage to your mum, I’ve learned to open up a lot more and tell her a lot of things. It didn’t used to be like that; in the past, I hate being on the phone, as part of my job requires me to be on the phone 6-8 hours a day. Enough of phone conversations!

These couple of years has evolved and I’ve taken to calling your mum ever-so-often, and you boys would have heard me calling home during lunch time and have a quick chat with your mum.

So what do we talk about?

Mostly work stuff, for me and also some work stuff for her and maybe somethings about you boys.

There will be people out there telling you not to bring work home, and when you leave the office, leave the work in the office. It means that you need to sort of compartmentalize some parts of your life and when you go home, you take off your ‘office manager’ hat and put on a ‘husband’ or ‘dad’ hat. Well I wish life is as simple as that!

Psychologically, it is quite impossible to draw a clear line as where your work ends and your family begins. sometimes, you get so heated up with a home argument, you are still carrying that anger into the office, and vice versa. And sometimes, our work and colleagues become our bona fide ‘relatives’, and we start to treat them as such.

What I’m saying is you need some skills to de-personalise your work and profession to be able to not bring work back.

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That’s not my practice. I have full transparency with your mum, and she does the same with me.  

It helps in our relationship as she knows what I am doing in my work. Its not so much about trust, but having someone to share your stories and also your woes. We are married and there are times where we have to fight the battles alone. For me, I sometimes fight those battles, with the full blessings from your mum.

Bringing work home also helps the “You don’t understand me!” department. While this will still sometimes occur, it is mitigated because there is a lot of banter. It’s not really a conversational technique, as it is something unique within a marriage and it differs from couple to couple. It is such casual banter that allows us to weave context into our relationships and when we misunderstood each other, we can pull out past banters ‘records’ and cross reference to help us work between the confusion and ambiguity.

That’s said, I don’t usually bring my family to work, despite of the fact that my wife and you boys are a very big part of my life. It is again a judgement call dependent on the kind of people I am working with. There are colleagues who are family oriented, because they are parents, husbands, wives who can relate to me. If such a connection can be explored, then I’ll sometimes share a bit more. But more often than not, I’d like to keep my personal, family life away from work. After all work is work, you can always find another work, but you cannot find another family.

Secrets

Secrets

Dear Ian,

We were having a meal at McDonald’s today, and you started to write something on a piece of paper. Your 弟弟 naturally wanted to know what you wrote and you decided not to share it with him. That, of course created a knee jerk response from your 弟弟 and he also retorted by not wanting to share a hypothetical secret with you.

It was a time for a discussion.

This family works on a transparent basis, we don’t keep secrets from one another. Sometimes we do, that is usually to surprise our loved ones. Between your mum and I, we mostly tell each other what is going on, you see this in our family day to day. There is a lot of things we don’t know in life and we learn by sharing our experiences with each other.

Growing up, personal spaces.

While I am aware that you are growing up and you need your own space and identity, I am still interested in your secrets. you can have every right to keep you secrets, secret. But by you writing them in front of us, and saying it is a secrets, simply don’t work well for our social setting. It is like telling the whole world you have a secret, and this, invites people to pry you open like a can of sardines.

Well, we all have our secrets, people don’t just go around telling people they have them, that is the irony of life.

So you can have your space to keep secrets, but don’t do it in front of a bunch of people, your family and then say that we are not privy to it. It is not a very nice thing to do, as secrets can hurt people, and secrets can hurt you.

Inner circle

Honestly, your little brother is very bad at keeping secrets; from us. We are very bad in keeping secrets from you boys too, this is because we are a very close knitted family and we are very transparent in our feelings. When you tell you 弟弟 a ‘secret, you can be sure that your mum and dad will learn about it, this is because for your 弟弟, we are part of his inner circle and we can be trusted with your secrets. He won’t be so kind and so open with his friends. You can be sure about that. Your 弟弟 loves and respects you, for you to tell him it is a secret, he will keep it with his life, but he will not keep your secret from us, this is because we have a high level of trust in this family. This might change in future, dependent on the ebb and flow of your brotherhood, but as of now, you are his big brother, and for a little brother, keeping secrets for a big brother is a big deal.

Your secrets reflects your confidence

The conversations and probing leads me to discover that you have a certain apprehension towards people’s reaction towards your ‘secret’ once they know about it. that tells me that you are not prepared for the eventual consequences of people coming to know about your secret.  There is a lack of confidences in dealing with the response, once people found out your secret.

I always tells people I am an ‘open’ book, and I behave like one. My friends knows me as a very transparent fellow, and I harbour no secrets. I do, in fact, keep secrets; we all do. I just do it in a manner like I don’t, so that I don’t invite curiosity, I hide my secrets, other people’s secrets in plain sight. That is the best way to hide secrets. that is the way you instill confidence in people to decide that you are trustworthy. The worst kept secrets are some of the best place to keep secrets, since your secrets are no secret.

Secret hurts

And the most important thing is, at your age, you still lack that maturity to decide what is ‘secret’ and what is not. You might be compelled by other stronger opinion leaders to keep secrets on their behalf, and those secrets can be criminal and illegal. You might want to impress upon others that you are trustworthy and helped these people keep their secrets, which will eventually hurts you and land you in trouble.

Right now as your Dad,, it is my job to discern those secrets with you. It can be quite a burden to hold custody to secrets, other people’s secrets. So I have to know them, help you carry them, and also give you resources to help you.

I cannot allow a secret to hurt you, and until I can see a maturity in you learning to keep the ‘right secrets’, please let us in and be there to know you and the secrets you keep.

Life changing events-end of PSLE

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Dear Wayne

Your big brother’s Primary School Leaving Examination(PSLE) is over, that means that he will be going over to a new environment, a secondary school.

You will no longer have a big brother in your school.

While we can reminiscence over the ‘good ‘ol days’ a few years from now, the immediate impact is you both will be lonelier in school. But that is life, we all have our own paths to walk.

As your dad, walking you both to school, I will miss the banter as well, some of the nonsense stuffs you both had, while walking to school. Now it will be just me and you. Your brother will have to go to school on his own, he will learn to become a big boy soon.

I will certain miss the crisp morning walking that 8 minutes, holding your hands, and sometimes you both will quarrel a quick quarrel, and I have to explain why and mediate. Bonds are made during times like these and while your big brother no longer walks with you to school, the bond building cannot stop.

As for school, I think you will feel it that somehow, there is no more ‘kor kor’ in school, where you can go to if you need help. Your big brother sometimes finds you during recess so that he can munch a meal with you. you both have each other when your friends decides to be otherwise.

While it had been only 2 years for the both of you to bond as school mates- I hope it has been memorable. School is a whole new ecosystem with its own fun and peril, your big brother paves the way going into your primary school first, then you, he helped you fend off the bigger boys trying to push their weight around you. He has been there for you when you needed help, or company. Now you have to be on your own.

While I have often preached that you can’t count on friends much, in the new school term, you have to learn to socialise more.  Take the new year positively and challenge yourself to be independent, while there is no more kor kor in school, you still have friend’s whom have been with you for the past 2 years, it is time to deepen your relationship with them so that you can have an opportunity to build new bonds.

I hope you don’t feel lonely, and look at 2018 with new stride and a spring in your step. While your big brother moves into a new environment, he has left you in an environment where you can grow and make new friends confidently.

Dating and companionship

Dating and companionship

Dear Boys,

It was on the news lately that Singaporeans between the age of 21 to 35 years of age are not actively dating, or have not seriously been in a relationship before. I felt a little sad, but there is a lot of truth on the ground. I know of many good friends in that age group who are wonderful people, and would make a great life partner. They are single, most likely not dating.

One and only

I think had I not met your mum, I would have fallen into that category as well. I’m a ‘metrovert’, (I invent this term now), since I was neither introverted nor extroverted. And because I have my natural quirks, it makes me a little bit of an oddball. Besides, when I met your mum, I was a secondary 2 drop-out. Her parents voiced concerns about my background, but since then I’ve gotten my due in education (which is no big deal). In short, I’m odd, and given the current socio-eco climate, people has become so ego-centric, they have no time for others, other than themselves. And I don’t think I’ll stand out that great, there are other younger, taller, richer more suave guys out there, I don’t stand a chance getting a mate, right now; so thank you, Wife.

Your mum was my first girlfriend and that’s that, I hadn’t dated anyone, called anyone else ‘girlfriend’ other than her. I went out briefly with a girl called ‘Chris’, she was a tad older than me, practised Tae Kwon Do (not that well, too be honest), a staunch vegetarian, for a fanatical religious reasons. I went out with her a couple of times, and by and large we came to a conclusion we are better off as friends, toasted on it, and moved on. It wasn’t a relationship per se, since we never got pass the ‘testing’ and ‘feeling’ phase. It was a good call.

I’m quite an unromantic, given that I lay down my ‘terms and conditions’ in my 5 year plan and my then girlfriend, your mum, loved it. In that sense, I was lucky.

Love in 2017

It bothered me a little, as I think about the people around me, when I take the train, eat in foodcourt, and the colleagues I worked with, there are a lot of good people out there, and they deserved to be in a relationship with other good people. What complicates the matter is all about ‘ego’. Men are too proud, women are too beautiful. And both men and women are too smart.

It takes us away from the crux of relationship, being together, for the better or worse of things. But if everyone puts the outcome in front and wants certain, certain criteria, then the bond between human will not happen. Women wants to be the proverbial ‘tai tai’, the men wants trophy wife. Then nothing happens from there.

Relationship is about getting together. It was never about marriage, even though it will end up as such. I met your mum, not looking for a wife, I think she is a great person to be with, she cares about me, and allows me to care about her. She is a smart person and is often sensitive to the needs of others. She is still, after all a woman, and is terribly afraid of cockroaches and other creepies. I hate them too, and would get a restraining order against them if I can; but I am often tasked to catch them, and kill them. A Man’s Job.

I wouldn’t want to go that far as to tell you boys, what she sees in me, that will borders bragging, but I think as a man, her lifelong companion, I’m doing okay. Perhaps I am someone she can bear with for the rest of her life. That is good enough for me.

No Time.

This is the number one excuse, people are busy, busy, busy, these days, trying to pay bills, meet KPIs, and other work stuffs. Even where there are free time, we busy ourselves with Facebook, phone games, Korean dramas, and other self indulging activities. Even when we go on a social event, we are still so stuck on trying to find a person for ‘me’ instead of thinking the other way around, trying to figure out how ‘me’ can be suitable for the someone else out there.

The ironic thing about Facebook and other social media, is the pun., ‘Social Media’, it is supposed to bring people together, and it did, virtually. Now people no longer have that need to be social, on a physical, face to face, sit down and dine, get-to-know-you-in-person kind of social. Everything we need to know about a person, we go into Facebook, twitter, Instagram to find and learn about them. There is no need for us to go out and meet people anymore. And while we are on a social media CSI, we quickly turn to our Candy Crush and make sure we hit a new personal level. With so much to do in social media, it is no wonder we cannot find time to get to know other people better!

So all the time we have, the equivocal 24 hours, is mostly spent on ‘me’. There is no time of other, so how can we be in a seriously dating others, when we are so deep in dating ourselves?

The Remedy?

There is no quick remedy. People always lament that the life in Singapore is always so fast paced, its work, work, and work. The competition is intense. There are always this excuse of foreigners taking away our jobs. We have parents to feed, bills to pay, and ooh, I have dragon boat training, and then there are medicure, and pedicure appointments. The list goes on.

The only way through that hubbub is to listen to your deep needs, pick these pointers and listen to them:

  • There are friends out there who is in need of a company.
  • Pick up the phone and call someone, instead of just sending a text, or worse, an emoticon.
  • Be sincere, be funny, be vulnerable.
  • Let people know how you feel, instead of what you think.
  • Stay away from religion, politics, gender and racial issues until you both are very  much comfortable.
  • Don’t think of a date as a date, think of it as meeting a good friend and getting to know that person over and over again.
  • Learn to accept others as they are.
  • Don’t be intimidated if your partner is holding a more senior post professionally, earns more than you, smarter than you, or prettier than you (This is for the men!)
  • Always be there for the person, make you the go-to person for this friend’s needs, whatever it may be.
  • Drop whatever you are doing, especially that damned smart phone, and pay attention to your friend. 100% in-person attention is so rare nowadays, that when you do that, you immediately rise above the crowded crowd.
  • Don’t attempt a bullshit on your partner, no sweet talk, no cheeky remarks, no wise-ass jokes, that might come off as corny, lame or roll-eyes, unless you are really a genuine sweet talker, cheeky wise-ass, corny kind of person.
  • It doesn’t always have to be the guys first. Your mum, made the first move. She took the bait. LOL

The Good News

The news article says that Singleton Singaporeans are thinking of marriage, which is good, but that is too much of an outcome. A lot of things can happen, and marriages can end up in the dreaded ‘D’, divorce. So while we thinking wedding bells, we need to get out more, find a life companion, regardless if it ends up in marriage. While I was prepared to get married, the back of my head, I was prepared more for companionship, and marriage is just a formality. Without a good companion, there is no marriage. So go out there and find a good companion, get to know people, love life, and what it brings, and please, get the damn smart-phone out of the way. It is a human to human thing.

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Link: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/more-young-singles-do-not-intend-to-marry-and-more-have-not-dated-seriously-marriage-and