I went for a movie and dinner with a very dear friend last night. He is from Catalonia and knows more stories than I do.
He was telling me why the Catalonia flag has 4 red stripes, which led to many other stories..
I lost track of time and eventually got back home at 12:30 AM, only to find my youngest still awake.. She kept awake to make sure that I got back home safe and sound. Before leaving, I told the kids, I will be late and they don’t have to wait up for me.
Somehow, I feel terribly guilty.. Usually it is the mother who waits for her children to come home after a night out.. not the other way around.
Few years ago, a friend gifted me a book by D. Conley titled The pecking order: which siblings succeed and why. I love to receive any gifts except books. There are certain genre of books I don’t like to read and when I am given a book as a gift, I feel terribly guilty if I don’t read it. So I forced myself to read this book. I would recommend the book if you have more than one child and want to avoid sibling rivalry.
I am the second child in my family and I know for a fact that it is my pecking order that made me who I am. Basically I could see the mistakes my oldest sister made and knew not to do it or do it without getting caught. ( I did the latter more than the former). I got away with murder and my sister was not so lucky !
I had written about my nephew’s visit to Australia recently. Yesterday when I spoke to his mother, she mentioned that her youngest son has told her ” Mom, I too would like to travel on my own, why don’t I visit my grandfather and spend some time with him” His mother was so pleased ! And she was looking for flight ticket for the youngest.
What the mother didn’t see was how clever the youngest son is and how well he manipulated her.
First, he acted all matured ( he is 13),
Secondly, he used the mother’s guilt to his advantage..you paid for my brother’s trip, now it is my turn to benefit from your generosity ( fairness)
Thirdly, he chose the destination well, visiting his grandfather ( mother’s father)
What the mother didn’t see was the anger the older child felt. He was never given an opportunity to travel anywhere when he was 13 and yet his younger brother was getting the things he didn’t. The trip to Australia was his moment of glory and his younger brother was taking it away from him.
I asked the mother, if she thinks she is being fair to both the children?
I started off my day by scolding my son.
I do not like to start my day in a bad mood, because it kind of affects my whole day and it is the same for the kids. If you yell at them first thing in the morning, it affects their whole day too.
I was in a rush, there was leftover baked beans in the fridge and I wanted to use it this morning. So I asked my son if he could get me the sausages from the freezer, so I could serve beans, sausages and egg for breakfast. Freezer is in the garage and it is really cold in there. I heard my son huffing and puffing while chucking things around the freezer.
“Where are the sausages?” He yelled out ” It is really cold in here and I am freezing”
I was working last weekend and my partner had sorted out the grocery and I had no idea where he kept the sausages. So I told my son ” It has to be along with all the meat”
My son started huffing more and eventually he slammed the freezer door and came to the kitchen, grabbed a bowl from the dish rack, opened the fridge took the milk out, slammed the fridge door with such force that the fridge magnets fell down. ( I think all that slamming actions was to show me that he wasn’t going to get the sausages and was going to eat cereal instead and if I really wanted to cook the sausages, I had to go and get them)
And I lost it.
I told him off.
Every day morning when I go to the garage to get items from the freezer, I too feel the coldness. All the meat items are kept in the bottom two racks of the freezer and all he had to do was to lift the top items and look inside. There was no need for the tantrum first thing in the morning. It is not like my son is someone special sent to earth who can’t bear a few minutes of cold air and if he felt really cold, he should have gone and wore a jacket. I feltif I don’t get him to understand that simple truth that he is really not someone special, in a decade or two, he will get married and will treat his wife the same way.
He went to school without saying I love you to me.
Baby is in Spanish Immersion ( learning all subjects except English in Spanish with no prior Spanish knowledge). Yaya refused to help her in any way saying that she didn’t have anyone to help her when she joined Spanish Immersion and Baby just have to struggle like she did.
I was very upset with Yaya, but I didn’t have any valid reasons why she should help her youngest sister. What Yaya said was true, that she struggled and survived and so will Baby. I had to make an appointment with Baby’s teacher and explain to her that Baby doesn’t get any help at home even though both her brother and sister are fluent in Spanish. ( I used to get in to so much trouble at school when I didn’t know to do some of the maths problems.. according to my Math’s teacher who was also my oldest sister’s teacher, I was being simply lazy, because she knew my oldest sister was a brilliant student and I could have asked my sister for help. Unfortunately my oldest sister refused to help me by saying if you had paid attention to what the teacher was teaching, then you would know how to do the problems)
Last week Yaya had her first set of IB internals and she made tons of notes. After the exam, when I picked her up, she told me “Mom, when I get back home, I am going to make a celebratory camp fire and burn all the notes, because I will never be learning John Keats again for the rest of my life. After a few seconds, she said ” But then again, perhaps not. Baby can use all these notes when she is in Grade 12.”
I guess this is what siblings love is all about.. You may not see it all the time, but just when you least expect, you get this glimpse of pure love.. I am so happy.
My high school classmate sent me a mail requesting that I convince her son to study medicine. According to her, all other degrees are not worth doing because there is no job security.
I asked her “what does your son wants to study?” and she replied ” He doesn’t know what he wants to do yet and wants to do a general degree first”.
But she doesn’t want him to do a general degree. She thinks because he is a talented artist and has slender hands, he would be an ideal medical student.
I explained to her that at the age of 18, most people do not know what they really want to do for the rest of their life and hence the reason American Unis allow you to take general subjects the first two years and then go for what you really like in year 3.
She phoned me few days ago insisting that her son should do medicine and I really must talk to him. I finally asked her ” Is it because you wanted to do medicine and was not given the opportunity that you are insisting that your son should do medicine?”
She was silent for a few seconds and then told me ” Yes, she really wanted to do medicine, but her marriage was already arranged when she completed pre-degree, but that is not the reason why she wants her son to study medicine, as she has met several people who have done other degrees and are jobless”
She was really annoyed with me because I refused to do what she wanted me to do.. convince her son to do something he doesn’t want to do.
I seriously think children should find their own path. There is no such thing as guaranteed job security.. even if you became a doctor, you could still make that one mistake and lose your license.
Up until last year, Yaya had no idea what she wanted to study. We went from becoming a world famous artist/graphic designer to Bio medical science. Right now she wants to do a double major in economics and politics ( I have no idea what she means by politics, I assume it is political science) or economics and law. I have not encouraged them to follow any particular career path. ( I did wish secretly that they wouldn’t do medicine), but I will never tell them to do a degree because it provides job security..
Ps. every morning, when I go for my walk, I pass by one of the largest house in my neighbourhood. It is in an acreage, beautifully manicured lawn and they own the latest Lexus..The owner doesn’t work in the weekends, doesn’t work after 4 pm on weekdays and goes for surfing holidays around the world. He is our local plumber.
When I was doing pre-degree, a classmate of mine who also stayed in the same area where we used to live came over for a visit. I introduced her to my mother and right in front of her my mom huffed, turned around and walked off. My friend lived in the poor area of the neighbourhood and Amma wasn’t happy that she was my friend and showed her displeasure without any thoughts about my feelings or my friend’s feelings. She was my friend because she was a really nice person and her family’s lack of wealth was not something I was concerned about. My friend never talked to me after that. ( And I never introduced any of my friends to my mother after that.. only one of my medical college classmates ever came to my house in the 5 years)
I had promised myself that I will never treat my children’s friends the same way my mother treated mine.
When Yaya was in grade 3, she met this girl and they were very close. The girl’s mother is a third generation Canadian and studied only up to 10th and believed that Canada was a state of US. In grade 3, the kids needed to do their genealogy as part of their school work and Yaya’s friend came to me for help because no one at her home could help her. We could only manage up to her grandparents because her family is a mix of Japanese, Irish, Swedish, Czech and other unknown nationalities. Her father himself doesn’t know if he is Czech or Slovakian and he introduce himself as a ‘redneck’.
However, if I ever needed any help. it was this family I would call first because they were the most honest, helpful people I have ever met. The father would go hunting and fishing every year would makes sure that I had enough meat and fish. He would even fillet the fish for me because he knew how much I hated doing it. They always took Yaya with them when they went camping.
Some time ago, Yaya’s friend went to an Indian restaurant somewhere in the interior and the owner of the restaurant came and thanked her because she was the first customer to have used her fingers to eat the food instead of using the fork and knife at his restaurant. She learned to eat rice using fingers because she spent most of her time at my house. If she wasn’t at her house, her family knew she would be at my house.
She came all the way from Canada to celebrate Yaya’s 17 th birthday. ( her mom worked three jobs to pay for her flight ticket)
Imagine if I had picked my children’s friends for them and told Yaya not to be friend with this girl..What a great loss that would have been..
Today was my son’s turn to accompany me for grocery shopping. I look forward to spending time alone with each of my kids.
Today I asked my son “What do you consider my legacy as your mother ?”
He thought for a few seconds and replied
“Mom, you taught me how to be an awesome parent when I will eventually have kids. You had a messed up childhood and you could have continued the same with my siblings and I, instead you chose to be the best mother a child could ever get, I think that is your legacy”
I have no words to describe my feelings.
Away until next Monday. (27 th) See you all then
I received a heartbreaking letter from a mom ( yes, I got her permission to write about it)
She is a first generation immigrant to England from Kerala. All she ever wanted was to ensure that her children were given the best. She worked so hard and made so many sacrifices for her family.
Two weeks ago, she registered her son for a ? speaking class because he is very shy and she felt he needed help. ( I think it is something similar to toast masters that teaches you to talk confidently) and it costed 180 pounds. Her teenage son forgot to go for the class. This for her was the last straw.
Her son completed his A levels few weeks ago, haven’t applied for his undergraduate uni admission, decided to take a gap year without planning anything as to what he is going to do with his time off, haven’t bothered to apply for his L plate or go for driving lessons. He just sits at home all day and do nothing.
She doesn’t know what she should do, and is tired of doing everything for her children. She wants to know how I get my children to do things on their own.
I honestly don’t think I have any magic formula. The only thing I do is ‘not do anything for my children’. If my kids wanted to do something, they simply have to do the work. ( If I want them to do something like getting Yaya to apply for her L plate, I find ways to make her do it. I have written about it) Basically I think if you did everything for your children and made their life really easy, it will be difficult for them to take responsibilities on their own..
btw, if I paid 180 pounds and if my kids forgot to attend the class, I don’t think I will take it quietly.. I can assure you all hell will break loose here.
My nephew phoned me yesterday to thank me for insisting that he buys something for his father from here and give it to him.
My nephew and his father are not close, they don’t even talk to each other. He felt it is a waste of time and effort to buy something for his father as he was sure his father wouldn’t appreciate it.
I told him
Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani.
Obviously he doesn’t understand Sanskrit and never heard of Bhagavad Gita. I didn’t have the time to explain the whole story to him and this is what I told him.
“Your duty in your life is to do the things you are supposed to do, irrespective of the outcome, it is not for you to decide the impact of the outcome ( how your father is going to react) or worry about it. Your job as a son is to accept the fact that he is your father and that you will get him something from here, just as you got something for the rest of your family members”
He bought his father a wallet from here. Apparently his father was very happy to receive the wallet and immediately transferred his cards and all from the old wallet and started using it.
My nephew would have never known how much his father would have appreciated his gift, if he hadn’t bought something and given it to him.
Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani