Wednesday, December 12

Putting My Family First At Last

For most of my teenage life, I really hated my parents. I blamed them for everything bad in my life. Like all those stupid music/language lessons I had to take. I even blamed them for everything that they didn't do for me. Like branded stuff, being handphone-less & unable to go out with my friends. Now that I am older, I realise that they really honestly did what they thought was the best for me. Deceived by emotions & pop culture, I was blind to all the good healthy things they have given me.

Now that I am older, I choose to see them & love them for their good side. Nobody is perfect. Not even ourselves. Everybody has flaws. Especially our parents. Once upon a time, I wanted them to accept me for who I was & not what they wanted me to be. (That's the ultimate desire of every child. To know that your love is unconditional.) I guess now that I know better, instead of pointing fingers, shouldn't I take the lead? I am truly ashamed of the child that I was. Now that I am an adult, I will adopt the ways of an adult & love my parents the way they want to be loved.

One thing I do realise is that they are getting older. Raising & educating 6 children is by no means an easy task. 1 is difficult enough, talk about 6! (Personally, I'm only having 2.) They are very stable financially but they are also well over 50, their bodies are getting weaker & my father has heart issues. After so many decades of pushing so many children to do their best, I'm sure they are also very tired. Yet their job is not yet finished, they have 2 more teenage children in Form 4 & Form 3. It is a steep uphill climb to ensure that the 2 remaining children are well prepared for an uncertain future.

When I started teaching 4 years ago, I had 4 siblings (out of 5) who were still in school. (Yes, there is a big age gap between us.) Since then, 1 sibling has done average while another 1 did relatively well. They have since moved on to tertiary studies. In all that time, I have been busy pouring out my heart & soul into a forgotten people whom their own people (who are educated) couldn't be bothered about. However, every time I go home for the holidays, I feel a deep sense of guilt & shame. I can't help but think: If I took my siblings under my wing, they would have done better. In my heart, I knew this was true & it eats me inside. I carry this burden until this day & I feel like I've let my 2 siblings down.

My parents are ageing & are not as forceful or persuasive as they were with me. They've been really soft with my younger siblings & I do feel that my siblings are taking advantage of my parents. (Yup, wake up parents. Your kids are still milking you long after they've stopped nursing. This might help.) I feel that it is my responsibility as the eldest child (who happens to also be a teacher for crying out loud) to play a larger part in the lives of my siblings. I hate feeling extremely inadequate when my father comes to me with a question about our education system or a request & I am unable to do anything because I am sooooooo freaking isolated & uninformed in my jungle school.

Especially now that my youngest brother is really struggling in school even with all the support, technology, camps & tuition money can buy. Next year is his Form 5 & if he continues on his current path, it will not bid well for him. SPM is the single most important exam in a Malaysian's life. You can judge the worth of a person by looking at his/her SPM results. (Degrees are overrated. Truly.) I plan to bring him with me into the jungle school & give him the best of all that I have in my personal capacity & my network of great teachers in my jungle school. In my 4 years, I have done so much & learned even more. I shall use that for him. I will create something unprecedented for the Form 5 next year. Watch me.

At the end of the day, you can bring the horse to the water but you cannot make it drink. My brother is a human being & should be treated with respect & love. I am really happy that he has accepted this exotic adventure & is willing to follow me to my jungle school. No tantrums. No arguments. In fact, he is embracing it. I believe these are the first signs of his maturity. My hope is that he will work his arse off next year & get the best possible results. I believe that he is meant for great things. That is why I am investing in him & giving to him my best. Therefore, I expect nothing but the best from him.

After 4 years of working my arse off for other people's children, I think it's about time I put my family first.

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