From 6 to 34

The weekend came and will soon be over. There were a few unanswered calls on my phone. It was hibernating under one of the many pillows on my bed so I didn’t hear it ring. Doesn’t matter anyway. It was 8.28pm when I finally checked the phone — whoever called would have lost interest by now.

(stop sekejap to make myself a mug of coffee)

I spent the whole of yesterday babysitting the kids, like I always do every Saturday when Ina’s maid come to clean. Yes, I hire someone to come and clean my house and fold my clothes and mop the floor and wash the dishes et cetera; I’ve done worse things so let’s all move on. The little one climbed into my bed and innocently asked if he could sleep with me. I said yes but he left after 5 minutes upon realising that I have no intention to turn the Wii on. Heh. I was a kid once. I know all the tricks. When we were living in the old apartment, Alan’s kids used to sleep over during weekends or school holidays. During one of those times the boy would not stop crying because he wanted his dad. I gave him RM10 and told him to go wait for a taxi at the guardhouse to go home. So, acik aning walked him to the guardhouse and they waited and waited and waited for a taxi. When aning finally saw a taxi and was about the flag it down, the boy changed his mind and said… his house is very far away so maybe it’s okay to just sleep at acik ijah’s house for just one night. The moral of this story is, if you expect me to babysit for you, don’t kid yourself into thinking I am one of those makcik who would spoil the kids. Sure, I’ll buy them the pre-requisite Kids Meal at McD but throw a tantrum see how fast I would walk away leaving your child squirming on the floor screaming at the top of his lungs.

When I was a kid, I was a very good kid. I would sit at a corner munching a biscuit and basically gave no one any trouble at all. One of my earliest memories would be hearing Ina crying at night and me wandering into the kitchen trying to make her some milk. One day I was mad about something so I ran from the house and sat at the end of the lawn near the gates and cried – then I peed in my pants. My father came back from school and saw me sitting on the ground, he was on his motorbike (this was when we were living in Changkat Tin and the school was very near to the house); he stopped and asked me to hop onto the bike and I remember thinking, oh crap, he’s gonna find out that I peed in my pants. I was 5. Not long after we moved to No 668 and I spent almost all the time on the lawn as well  (for some reason I didn’t like being in the house). My mother would yell out an alphabet and I would take a piece of stick and wrote it on the ground. Then she would say, huruf kecil! (small letters!) So I would write the alphabet again in small letters. I think it was her way to make sure that I didn’t wander around and I was too scared to go anywhere because she would come every now and then to check my alphabets.

I know I Iearned to talk, read and write early. When I was younger, my aunties used to have a huge laugh out of asking me questions to see how I would answer them. I didn’t go to tadika (pre-school). Instead, when I was 6 my father enrolled me into Standard 1. He gave me my birth certificate and school fees and told me to get in line and register myself for school. Udin is 5 years older, so he was already in the same school doing his Standard 5. I stood in line and when I turned around to look at my father, he was already gone to his school (by then he was teaching in a neighboring school). It didn’t even occur to me that it was unusual for a parent not to stay with his kid on the first day of school. In fact I was uncomfortable surrounded by crying kids and anxious parents peering from the windows.

I am constantly faced with having to do something new; sometimes something that I know completely nothing about and most of the time, receive no proper instructions, briefing or guidance on how to do them. I guess everyone does too. When this happens at work, I always get a little bristled by it  – how would I know I can do this, or if I have the right skills or knowledge to pull it off, what makes people think this can be done just by saying “Do it”? But if this was work, there is always a way around it. There are resources you could pull out, people you could ask assistance for. I was 6 and had to stand in line for school. If I could do it at 6, with no fear or preconceptions, I could do it at 34. And if the going gets unbearable, you always have the option of walking away.

When it’s my personal life, then it gets a lot harder coz it’s not about results – it’s about feelings and trying to cut a middle ground between what you want or willing to give and what (realistically) you can do. Sometimes you want the moon, and you are willing to give up anything to get the moon – even buy it, if that is what it takes. But can you? Your child throws a tantrum in the middle of the shopping mall for a Ben 10 morphing devide that costs RM6, would you buy it?

I have been told, at different points of my life, that I have to lower my expectations. At work someone even told me, instead of running on multiple gears, why don’t I just run on gear 2 like everyone else? (this was an actual suggestion). What I am trying to say is this, the only expectation that I have is of myself. It’s not always necessarily realistic. I remember being asked if I had a dream job what would that be and once, I answered, “The King of Spain”. I was told, but that’s ridiculous. Isn’t that the purpose of having dreams – so that you always have something unattainable to strive for? But yes, my expectations are not always realistic; neither does the values that I hold nor the way my mind defines what is logical and what isn’t.

This is a very long and roundabout way to say that at the end of the day, you only have yourself to answer for. Give up or go on. Fight or flight. Live or fade. Yes or no. It can’t be for someone else. It can’t be for love. It can’t be for atonement.

You have to do it for you.

You know what I mean?

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