Ivan was on a one week break last week after his completion of BMT. He had been away for nine weeks, returning home only on Fridays and then back to camp on Sundays. His home leave did not make any difference to me. I hardly saw him. He was out most nights until late and then appearing briefly for lunch before heading out again. In my mother’s words to my sister eon’s ago, he was treating the house like a hotel, except that it’s free and comes with breakfast and laundry service.
In case you are wondering, no, I didn’t nag at him. I had been warned already by my aunt that army boys would rather be out with their mates than be home with their mothers. Thus I fully appreciate that my twenty-year-old eldest son makes the effort to spend time with me. For the past few weeks, we have been jogging twice a week every evening. He paces with me, rather uncomfortably for the first 2.4km, and then dashes back at his own time on the return journey, sometimes waiting for me at the end point, other times jogging back again to meet me. Along the way, we chat, about my history and his future. (Are you envying me now?) Perhaps the role Mike and I play looking after our aged parents has made some impact on him. He sees how every Ching Ming Festival, it’s his father, the eldest son who takes the responsibility to pay respect to the deceased ancestors, and not his uncles.
Last Sunday after dinner, I asked the two older boys to join their parents and youngest brother Aaron for an after-dinner walk. Andreas was reluctant but agreed. Ivan refused, even though I tried to persuade him to make it a family bonding event. Nah…he didn’t barge, preferring to log in to the virtual world than connect with real humans.
The above article appeared on Sunday Times last week. It was written by a woman. She feels this way because daughters are different from sons. They feel it’s their responsibility to take care of the family. There is a local saying that one loses a son when he marries, but gains a son when a daughter marries. This is ironic when Confucius societies consider that daughters marry out, and no longer belong to the family. But I know many of my girlfriends who continue to take care of their parents even after they got married.
I don’t have any daughter, and I don’t wish to burden any of my sons to take up the responsiblity of looking after Mike and I at our old age. I’m contented that they spend time with us now, and for that matter, also spend time with their grandparents every weekend.