Your Father’s 39th Birthday

Your Father’s 39th Birthday

Dear Boys,

This 39th birthday I truly understand the meaning of family. It is simply because I felt a sense of abandonment from my mom and brother. I heard from my mother’s sister, my aunt, that my mother and elder brother has moved, she invited her sister to her house for some kind of house warming but she didn’t inform me. Given the kind of relationship I have with my brother, I can understand why she didn’t invite me, at the very least, tell me where they’ve moved to.

That is quite a psychological reality check for me, I guess I should have seen it coming, things hadn’t been the warmest between me and my brother and mother, but I still would think of them as family. The signs are there when I visited them one Chinese New Year and me at the gate, roused my brother from his slumber, only to hear him said, ‘Brother? I don’t have a brother.’ That was when I greeted him and asked him where is mum, and I’m his brother!

So now they’ve move, and without an address the cut is complete, and absolute. Perhaps is better this way, boys, I don’t know, things are always happening in future tense that leave us with little preparation in the present. The reality is that, I felt the loneliness in a deep and profound way.

So this birthday, it was a very small family affair, just your mum, and the 2 of you, there’s really no one else left who will remember my birthday, not to mention the mere celebrating the day. When I die, if anytime sooner, my wife will have her parents and little brother to remember her birth and celebrate with her, she has the both of you, that kind of birthday song, would sound a little louder.

For me, this 39th birthday for me, looking at the 3 of you, singing the song, made me really, really wish, and I want to hold true to that wish, ‘I wish that the 3 of you, sitting before me, will be by my side for as long as I live

Posted February 23, 2015

Stop at Success

Stop at Success

Dear Sons,

Your mum baked butter cakes yesterday. Twice.

For the first round, the 2 of you tried to help in the process, In measurements and cutting of the butter, it was good to have involved the 2 of you, even though you boys monkeyed around more than being helpful.

The cake wasn’t very well made, it rise in the beginning but the cake collapsed towards the later part of its time in the oven. Of course your mum, was dejected, it was a failure. The texture of the cake was too light, and it felled apart when we cut it and when we ate it, even thought it tasted good, but it wasn’t a ‘cake’.

I saw the opportunity and told her “Let’s bake another one!” I wanted to drive this point home, Do not stop at failure, stop only when you are successful. Later that afternoon, I went out and bought another bunch of ingredients and we tried at it again, and this time the cake turned out alright.

You see, boys, the difference is that if we stop at the first bake, what would have locked into our minds? The end process of it was ‘failure’. And if we do not correct that immediately, the feeling, the mood and the psyche of having failed at baking, would have sunken in, gotten locked into our sub consciousness, and the next time we bake, may be next week, next month, we will go to our sub conscious file and access the last time we tried, which was locked in ‘failure’. What a way to starting making something as beautiful and delicious as a cake! Will our next attempt fail again? I don’t know, but I’d rather start a new endeavor , with a past history and memory of success rather than having a last records of failure.

We also did something different the second time we bake, we wrote down every bit of the process, step by step. For the second time around, you boys were playing in the living room and had no part in the baking process, maybe the absence of you 2 monkeys would help in your mum’s concentration as well?

We wrote down every writable details of the baking, so that if we fail, again, we will know, more than less, how we can adjust our process.

The second time was a success!

And what a difference it made for your mum! From dejected, deflated talk of failure in baking the first round, she is now beaming with joy knowing that the second bake was a success. This is what I want to have locked into her psyche, that she can bake and baking is a process of success. And with the formula on hand, now she can bake and repeat the same success.

So boys, when you do fail in future, quickly dust yourself off and try again. Do not stop, never stop until you have successfully achieve your given tasks. Failure and success is nothing more than a state of mind, be careful at which state of mind you decide to take a rest, for it will affect you and your next course of action. so when you fail, do not stop, keep going, stop only when you are successful.

Posted August 12, 2013

Friends and Family

Friends and Family

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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Friends

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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Family

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.

 

Are Son-in-Laws, the new Daughters?

Are Son-in-Laws, the new Daughters?

Dear Boys,

This is going to be quite a sensitive subject.

Consistent with our Chinese roots, culture and customs, in a matrimony, the woman/ bride/ wife, will be married ‘into’ the man/ groom/ husband’s family. She will take on the man’s surname, and well, become part of the man’s family. So she is, in effect, a ‘loss’ to her parents. Which is why traditionally, Chinese parents prefer baby boys, so as to carry on the family ‘lineage’ and bloodlines. Socially speaking, the wife should be closer to the husband’s side of the family, now that she is married into the family.

More often than not, It is a vice versa situation.

Let’s face it, I’m a guy, I’m a son to my parents. Is my wife, your mother, close to my parents? Wait, am I close to my parents?

Straight answer: No.

Am I closer to my wife, your mother’s parents and relatives? Yes.

It appears that I am not the only one, your mum had conversation with her peers (fellow mummies/ wives) they too came up with the same observations. The husbands seem to be closer to the wives’ side of the family than the other way around. So it give a very sweeping observation that although the woman takes on the man’s surname in a marriage, but socially, the man becomes closer to the woman’s side of the family.

In that very sweeping observation, every case of this happening is unique. Let’s start with me. My parents are divorced, since then, things between me and my elder brother (yes, you boys have a very little mentioned uncle from the paternal side) has been very distant at best, violently hostile more often, it is very much the same with my mum. As for my dad? He has since remarried, and he seems to be only interested in my money, and my brother’s money. Not the happy bunch of paternal side I’d like to expose the both of you to. Sorry boys.

Your mum’s side? Well, I’m very close to them, for meritocratic reasons, for the fair of a fair argument. They have been your primary caretakers, other than your parents. They take you boys on holidays. You boys have stay-overs at their place. You boys have tonnes, I mean tonnes of photographs with them. But with your paternal grandparents? Zilch.

What happened?

Frankly, personally, it is a case of attraction. Your mum’s parents, The Grands did more, love you boys more, supported my marriage more, helped us more; and of course, created less problems for your dad. We are all attracted to good, kind and nice people and deeds.

Your dad’s side of the family is simply too emotionally taxing and complicated for me to introduce to you boys. Sans your dad’s Aunt (you grand-aunt), she is the only saving grace as a decent relative from your dad’s mum’s side (its getting complicated) She loves and dotes on the both of you like crazy, so much so she is more like a paternal grandmother to you boys, than the actual paternal grandmother, who you boys have only met, less than 5 occasions in your lifetime!

It is a choice I made towards the best interest of my marriage and having the best memories for the both of you boys. I cannot keep hanging around people, and relatives who have little or no interest in my children’s well being, it is not the healthiest thing to do.

That is my case, in specific, I can’t say the same for the rest of the fathers, husbands and guys out there. But both of you, being boys, I’m facing the odds.

As men, we all will become our own Alpha in the family, like how I am, in mine. What can I do when you boys become your own Alpha? You will want your own independence, will you both come back to this home, to your dad, to your old Alpha? You boys will get married, have a wife, and perhaps, get closer to the wife’s side of the family too. I cannot stop that from happening, but here is part of my plan. This blog.

to be the bestest dad ever…

The other part of my plan, the biggest part; is to be the bestest dad ever, show your boys, what it is to be a dad, a father, and a husband, and when you boys settle down, be the best dad-in-law to your spouse. I will be that pillar you build your family on, a constant source of wisdom, culture, experience that you boys can keep coming back to. That means, I have to stay relevant in you life, stay relevant to life, and in doing so, continue to bring value into this family, so that you can continue to see value in coming back.