When I was 10, all my friends were attending piano lessons. They played Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars with both hands, and all fingers.I was impressed as I could only manage a miserable tune using my right index finger. During those days, I roamed around my residential area alone on my Chopper bicycle and one day I went into a music school and inquired about lessons. The lady was very amused at this little girl in shorts and bubblegummer slippers interested in learning the piano but not accompanied by her parents. I asked the necessary question, how much?
I went home and mustered all my courage to ask my ah pa if I could take piano lessons. I explained that I will cycle for classes. He said, "Of course, you may, SorMui (my nick then). Anything you want.." Because he said that, I didn't take the lessons.
My parents work hard all their life. They wake at 3am to leave for the market. We were never poor. We always have good food and in fact we live in a rather big house. But it's a silent consciousness that they have worked very hard and we, as children never take them for granted. I knew the 'rule' as young as 5. I'd never order Milo in a restaurant and insisted on drinking water. My earliest memory of my childhood was in a restaurant when I was about 5, and my ah bu asked if I wanted Milo, and I said aloud, "Oh.. that is too expensive."
My parents were very easy going. They didn't nag us or raise their voices, even. They just let us be. I won't say that they didn't care about our education, but because they themselves didn't attend school, and thus they didn't know what is involved. So instead, we told them how the system works.
After form 5, my friends were all going to colleges and preparing for overseas studies. If I wanted, again I could have gone to US, Australia or Timbuktoo. But with another brother leaving for UK, I knew I had to make the right choice by attending a local university. Some friends asked, "Why so unfair? Boys get to go, and girls stay local?" (All 3 brothers went to Uk, my sister and I attended local Us) Is gender equality even an issue here? I absolutely don't think so.
I don't know what my parents did, but all 5 of us were good children. I grew up thinking, I'd get anything if I asked from my parents. And therefore I shan't. Now as a parent myself, I wonder how to do just that, giving Gooly everything but not spoiling him at the same time. How do I strike the balance?
Currently living the 3rd decade of my life, I am comforted that my parent will still give me anything I want. So occasionally I'd ask for a lift from my ah pa, and some curry chicken I crave from my ah bu. Little little things that make me a child, and them, the loving parents they will always be.
I hope they know that I will give them anything they ask, in fact a thousand times over. But like me, they never ask.
It saddens me that my parents won't be able to read this post as they read and almost speak no English. It's always very 'shy' to show affections in a chinese family. I don't kiss or say mushy stuff to them (sometimes tempted, but didn't lar) But I hope they know, as I do, that love is abundance in our family, albeit we show them subtly.