Thursday, 30 June 2011

Mommy dearest...

I grew up in a typical Chinese family who never really expresses feelings of love.  I don't remember my parents ever hugged or kissed me and my siblings when we were young.

My parents seldom praised us for our achievements.  When I managed to do well at primary school (ranking 3rd for the whole batch), I didn't get any compliment.  They just thought that it was a normal thing to do.  In fact, they asked how come I didn't get the 1st place?

While they didn't give compliments, they were very generous in criticisms.  They often compared us with their friends' children who did better from us; having better grades, better jobs, better spouses, better houses, etc.

Studying in US had changed how I behaved. I was more expressive in my feelings.  I hugged and kissed (cheeks only, of course) when meeting friends. I became a "warmer person".  Hugging and kissing were part of my daily things to do.

When I went back to Bandung for holiday, I automatically hugged and kissed my parents .  They were so surprised and taken back.  It was such an awkward moment. They didn't know what to do, just frozen until I let them go.  At that time I forgot that my family were not used to physical closeness.

During that holiday, I told my mom about my study hoping that she would be pleased to know that I managed to get good grades.  Although I knew that I wouldn't get any compliment, I just wanted to show her that the money she spent on me was not wasted. Right after I finished my chatterings, she told me that her friend's daughter graduated summa cum laude in Accountancy in just 3.5 years from a better university that I was enrolled in.

I was heartbroken and cried.  My mother was surprised.  She didn't know what she did wrong. She didn't know why I suddenly cried.

At that time, I told her everything I didn't like about her.  I said a lot of things that hurt her.  I asked her what should I do to make her proud of me, to make her love me.

She was shocked and confused.  She never thought that I would think she was not proud of me.  She told me I was insane for thinking that she didn't love me. If she hadn't love me, she wouldn't work that hard to send me to US for college, she wouldn't let me explore the world but kept me beside her so that she wouldn't have to bear the pain of missing and worrying about me.  If she hadn't been proud of me, she wouldn't tell her friends about how well I did in college, she wouldn't ask her friends' children to ask me for advice to study in US, she wouldn't even ask me to cook for her friends.

I told her how could I know that she loved and be proud of me if she never gave me compliments and always criticized me.  She said, she didn't praise me because she wanted me to be humble, not a snob.  She always criticized me so that I would be motivated to do better and not to be content with what I achieved at that time.

It was my turn to be surprised.... a pleasant surprise to know that she was actually proud of me and all of my siblings.  We had a long talk.  After hours of talking, I understood her better.  She did what she had done totally because she loved her children.  She loved her children too much that she didn't care what we thought about her, as long as we could grow up to be decent human beings. 

When I heard about the outrage in US when Amy Chua released her book "Tiger Mom", the picture of my mom popped into my mind.  Although my mom was not as strict as Amy Chua but they do have some similarities in raising their children. Although their hearts are full of love, both of them appear to be cold and heartless.  For American who believes in motivating children by praising them, the book was very difficult to digest. 

Overly praising the children will lead to dilussional adults.  Just look at the American Idol auditions.  Millions of them really believe they are good singers because their parents always praise them although their voices can break the thickest glass windows. 

I know a friend who thought that he was the most handsome and attractive guy around despite his big round belly, short legs, miniscule IQ and bad manners.  He said his mother always told him that she was very proud to have a very handsome and smart son. I should have been honest and bought him a mirror and a GQ magazine..... but unfortunately I was not a "Tiger Woman".

But if I look at my family case, overly criticizing someone will also make the person lose his/her self-confidence and feel unloved.  If I hadn't had that conversation with my mom, I wouldn't find out how she felt about her children.  I told my siblings about that conversation and they were surprised too.  Slowly we began to understand why she did what she did... We do know that she loves her children very much but sometimes she doesn't know how to express her love.  She is now learning to express more of her feelings.  She hugs back when we hug her... She is also used to have us kissing her. 

My mom had never really been a Tiger Mom like Amy Chua but overtime she has definitely turned into a Teddy Bear Mom.

As for me..... Both of my daughters think that I am a bossy mom... Well, I am happy to know that they still think that I am the BOSS not a Tiger.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Father's Day

Growing up in Indonesia, I've never used to celebrate Father's Day.  I started to know about this special day 10 years ago in Malaysia after reading it in the newspaper.  Restaurants charge exorbitant prices for brunches or lunches on Father's day as if the more expensive the prices are, the more love customers show their fathers.

Until now, we don't really celebrate Father's Day.  I remember 6 or 7 years ago, we wanted to bring my father-in-law for lunch on Father's Day.  He simply declined and said it's unnecessary... Since we went out for lunch or brunch together quiet often, why did we have to pay more expensive lunch or brunch just because it's a "special day"?  He said he knew his children loved him and he didn't need fancy lunches or brunches to confirm it. 

The same goes with my husband and I... You can call us unromantic or stingy, but we are just being practical.  We don't go out for lunches or diners on Valentine's Day, Father's Day or any other day that give restaurants, hotels, and florists the rights to jack up the prices. Why do we have to stress ourselves by fighting for parking space, going into a crowded restaurant, eating the same food with twice the price if we can do it a day earlier (or after) with a more pleasant experience?

But of course, it will be a different case for families whose children grown up, have their own families and live far from them.  They seldom have lunches or dinners together.  This Father's Day will be a perfect excuse to get together and catch up with each other.

Just a few days ago, my husband said that a successful parent is measured by his/her ability to raise the children to be independent, able to make their own decisions wisely, able to differentiate bad from good (and do the good), and (since we are a Muslim family) able to follow the Allah's teachings in their lives. 

He also added that sometimes parents measure their success by the "obedient level" of the children.  He is totally against it because he said sometimes being obedient is not good.  Children need to learn to think critically, not to accept everything at face value, to argue, to find the truths, to make their own mistakes and to live their own lives happily.  It's very selfish to expect our children obeying us all the time.

I agree with him... Although it's difficult.... Sometimes I want my girls to be obedient.  But again, so many times I had been proven wrong by them.  I may know a lot of things but there are things that they know better than me.  It's really a two-way learning experience for both of us.

What he said reminded me of a line in one of Sting's song : If you love someone, set her free.  We all know that the best thing in life is Free.

My children are very lucky to have him as their father.  Happy Father's Day...

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Passionate Tukang Becak vs Smelly Rude Waiters

My husband took me and the kids for a short weekend gateaway to Melaka.  While we've been to Melaka several times, my kids were still amused by the colourful becaks (rickshaw) covered with plastic flowers.  So everytime we were there, we always had to have a becak ride.









Despite the hot sun and humid warm weather, our becak peddler kept on smiling and talking non-stop about the history of Melaka.  I was a bit embarrased for my shallow knowledge in history.  He told us how the Portuguese came to Melaka, how the Chinese influenced the culture in Melaka and how the Dutch tried to eliminate Catholics and convert the Melakan to be Protestans.  The only thing he missed was where the best Assam Pedas warung was located... (Assam Pedas is Melaka's signature dish of spicy and sourish fish stew)




He was so knowledgable that he made me forgot that he was "just a becak peddler" not a personal tour guide.  I was almost dissappointed when my ride ended.  I felt like staying in the becak longer and hearing him telling more stories. He made history sound very interesting, much more interesting than my high school history teacher who made me memorize a lot of "historical" things that I forgot after the test.

My heart always warm up when I meet such person... A person who is passionate about his/her job, whatever his/her job is, be it a teacher, a clerk, a receptionist, a doctor, a waiter, a banker, etc.  You can tell a lot from the service he/she provides the customers whether or not he/she has pride on his/her job. 

Not being able to afford fine dining all the time, a lot of times I had to settle for ridiculously bad services in smaller restaurants or warong.  I really hate waiters who are rude, have strong body odours, and think that we need them more than they need us. In KL, those type of waiters are abundant.  And to make it worse... they speak neither English or Bahasa Malaysia.  I wonder what the employers think on hiring people who can't speak the spoken language in Malaysia, let alone put them in charge of servicing customers.

I wonder if it's because customers in KL don't really care about the service?  I read an article about this very delicious char kwey teow in Penang whose owner, chef and server are super rude.  Yet, people line up everyday to buy the kuey teow.  As for me, no matter how good the food is and how much I love food, I just don't have any respect for business owners who are rude to their customers. I will choose to spend my money somewhere else.

I am not fussy about food or service... I don't mind waiters or shopkeepers who don't say hello or thank you, but I think a pleasant face is essential when serving customer.  I meet a lot of grumpy, unsmiling and irritated waiters/bank tellers/shop keepers almost everyday. 

When I feel nice and in cheerful mode, usually I tell them that the secret of being beautiful and healthy is by getting rid of that grumpy look they have in their faces. But a lot of times, I just couldn't be bothered to tell them anything.  But I always try to give compliments and/or tips to those who smile and/or give good services.  I hope the compliments and tips will encourage them to keep on doing the good jobs.


Monday, 6 June 2011

Obedient Wife Club..???

For those who are not in Malaysia, be ready to have a shock of your life : Malaysia has (trust me, it really has) Obedient Wife Club.
Last week in the newspaper, the members of Obedient Wife Club said that the cause of men infidelity is disobedient wife.  Another shock....?

I had an interesting discussion with few friends over lunch about this issue. We thought that the club must be invented by men to bully women.  But then the husband of my friend came and said this club was ridiculous.. he even said the word "obedient" was more suitable for pets, trained dogs, or circus animals.

I think whoever invented this club is a genius. 

He/she is actually able to gather a lot of members to really believe that infidelity is caused by disobedient wife. But I can't say the same to the members though... I really feel sad that there are some crazy women who actually join the club, become members and really believe in it.

Why do women get the blames when men cheat? Or even worse... women get blamed for being raped..!!

I read somewhere that women get raped because the way they dress.  They don't cover enough. Come on... you can go to Europe during summer and see women, young, old, slim, fat, pretty and ugly in swimming suits or bikinis.  Do they get raped? Or go to Japan in summer where women wear light and minimal clothings.  Do they get raped?  In fact Japan has one of the lowest crime/rape rate in the world.

Here in Malaysia women dress pretty much covered, yet the rape rate is high and crime rate is rising like a meteor.

When my friend went for Umroh, she had a very shocking experience.  She usually covered everything when she was there.  But there was one time that she had to go to the toilet badly.  The toilet in her room was occupied... Since the nature call was urgent, she just put on her scarf and went to the toilet at the hotel lobby.  When she put on her scarf, her head was covered but not that tight. A small part of skin around her neck was "revealed".  She then walked pass a group of men in the lobby.  Then there was this guy who stared at her and was lusting for her "open neck".  His eyes looked like he was ready to attack and rape her..!! He extended his hand to try to touch her skin..!! Can you imagine that...??  She ran for her life..., forgot all about the need to go to the toilet.  Luckily nature was very kind to her, she didn't wet the floor...

When she told me the story she said, "Well, I am fat and old... the incident was horrible but honestly a bit of me was flattered.  A man was actually aroused just by looking at my wrinkled skin." 

I was like....?????? Helloooo.... if he was aroused by this dear friend of mine, I can't imagine how he'd behave if he saw me in my t-shirt and jeans, or worse... ask him to go to the beach in Nice during summer, i think he'll just pass out there and we'll have a nice laugh over ice cold Orangina. 

A rapist will rape no matter what clothes his victim wears.

A man/woman will cheat when he/she wants to cheat, no matter that the partner does. 

But of course, a relationship needs both sides to be faithful.  It's so easy to blame infidelity to the other partner's action. So often I heard cheating partner said, I cheated because my partner is not understanding, my partner doesn't take care of me, my partner doesn't give me satisfaction, my partner is not pretty, etc etc. Maybe it's true... he/she cheats because he/she is not happy with his/her partner.  Obviously the relationship is having some problems.

But is cheating really the answer?  I think cheating adds to the problems. Instead of having 10 problems, cheating will multiply the existing problems by 10. 

I am not a marriage councillor nor a wise wife... but I am waiting for another genius to form an "Obedient Husband Club."  Anyone...??? Please keep me posted...