I read an article this morning in the NST (Hands-On (Off) Mums) on how times have changed, and how, when it comes to parenting, values or traditions have taken a leave of absence or been substituted by something else. I find it amusing because just the other day, we were discussing about this among friends over lunch at the cafeteria.
Children these days are such a lucky lot. They get to do things that we didn't get to do at that time of our age, eg. pegi rock concert, holidays in London, Paris, Bali & what have yous, expensive handphones & handbags etc. My first concert was when I was 19 (itu pun masa student kat London) ~ my daughter's first concert was when she was in Std 6! My first holiday abroad was after I got a job (with my own money!) ~ my kids: as early as 7 months old dah pegi London/Jakarta. My first branded handbag was bought with my first duit gaji ~ my eldest stepdaughter got hers when she was still in Primary school!
So, how do you beat that? I don't blame them. It's the way they were brought up. Parents these days have the means to provide all that for their children, unlike my parents dulu. So I didn't get all those priviledges. I never questioned what was given to me by my parents, never had a choice on what to eat during meal times (whatever that was served on the dining table, itu lah yang di makan. No complain. No such thing as, "Can we have Japanese today? Pizza tomorrow? And Korean the day after?" )
And I was so afraid of my parents; my mother especially. My ultimate aim in life was to please my mother. That's all I wanted to do. Tapi sekarang dah lain. Parents dah jadi macam kawan. Some mothers talk openly with their daughters about their boyfriends, love life, problems etc. Their children can freely bring home their BFs or GFs, and lepak2 like nobody's business in the room/living room, and it's ok. Parents tak kisah. Parents said, "better di depan mata I dari dia buat di belakang mata." But for me, that is unacceptable.
At home, I do talk to the girls about love, men, sex and so forth. Things they don't know, they ask me (but they know quite a lot already). However, when it comes to their love interests, somehow I just couldn't bring myself to talk about it openly. Entah lah, I just feel uncomfortable. Maybe because I wasn't brought up that way, or maybe because I don't think they should get themselves lost in love yet. I don't know...
My two girls are home are 17 & 19. They are at their prime, I must say, and of late, I noticed they've been acting rather secretive. Kalau texting on their handphones, macam sorok2, but I tahu coz tangan tu macam tak lepas2 pegang handphone. Or, kadang2, out of the blue, one would suddenly jump up excitedly and screamed all the way to the kitchen after an SMS came in, while the other two girls (my maid included) would circle her and they would also scream in excitement after that. If they were in the study room and tiba2 I masuk, they would quickly close the page they were looking at (or pictures), and jerit2 excitedly, "Cepat!! Cepat!!" (konon tak nak I nampak gambar siapa they all tengah tengok...).
These are signs, you see, and we all know that (eh, kita dah lama makan garam, kan?). I know they are going through this phase, and it's a nice feeling indeed. Kadang2 tu, I teringin juga nak tanya, "So, who's your BF now?" (konon2 nak pretend macam jadi dia punya confidante lah), tapi mulut ni macam berat je nak tanya. I don’t want to be caught in a situation where she’ll be all excited telling me about her boyfriend, and I would be gritting my teeth trying to control myself from saying anything nasty. By right, I should just be a listener, but I cannot bear listening to my daughter talking about her boyfriend (how much she misses him, what nickname he gave her etc) at this age! It's just so awkward!
To me, kawan2 boleh, cintan2 nanti dulu because I want them to focus on their studies first. Karang, dah pandai bercinta, habis semua lupa. MrNordin shares the same view with me, andI'm glad for that. I guess he was brought up that way too. Perhaps, they'll go through the same experience as WanShana, who knows? But WanShana & HH were innocent then. Kids these days are more advanced, hoi! Itu yang takut tu!
Just the other day, my eldest stepdaughter Nabila, was invited by her friends to attend this dining ceremony at their college. These are the Hotel & Catering students, who cooked the dishes and let their friends/family become the food critique. She wanted to go, so we let her go. A male cousin was supposed to pick her up at 7pm and send her home at 10.30pm. That was the deal.
After she left, I sat down thinking, "Wow... how times have changed!" Dulu, masa zaman kita muda2 dulu, mana ada chance nak keluar malam macam tu, and boys pick up pulak tu (well, that's her cousin, but still, he's a boy!). Nak mampus?! Nak keluar siang2 pun susah, ini pulak nak keluar malam. But now, "Baba... my friend invited me... Subang... 8 pm... D is picking me up.... bla.. bla... bla... ". And the Baba said, "Ok". And then when she came home, kita siap tanya dia balik, "So how was the dinner, sayang.... how's the food.... ramai orang tak...did you have a good time.... bla.. bla... bla..." !!
Ada tak anda pernah mengalami pengalaman yang sebegini dengan your parents dulu? For me ~ never. Not even in my widest dream! That’s why, as the article rightly pointed out, “the old school of upbringing, whereby kids are merely seen and not heard, has gone with the afro hairdo.”
MrNordin & me are now at this stage where our daughters have reached that age where they are going into adulthood. Slowly, they are steering us towards loosening our grip on them and seeking more freedom to do things that adults do. Kalau dulu, setakat pegi tengok wayang at KLCC je and then balik, now ada kawan lelaki nak datang pick-up from home & pegi minum2 kat Craven (most of her friends dah ada driving license). So whenever such requests come up, we’ll be torn. Nak bagi ke tak nak bagi? Kalau tak bagi karang, tak cool pulak. Kalau bagi karang, kita pulak yang risau…
Most of the time, we allow her to go, tapi after a lengthy interrogation from the father lah. But our rule is simple, don’t abuse it and pandai2 bahagikan masa. So far, she has been quite consistent. Kata balik pukul 6, dia akan balik pukul 6. Kalau lambat sikit, she’d call. So different from masa dulu (during her Form 4 & 5) when dia buat ikut suka hati dia je. Always extended her outing time with measly excuses, which always riled the father up. I guess she has become more matured and responsible (after her 1-year stint in Gopeng) and I’m glad for that.
Parenting is not easy, huh? Each child ada different perangai. I've gone through all those teenage tantrums syndrome, have gotten worried sick about the children's studies and behaviour, and have cried so many times when my patience was pushed over its limit. But alhamdulillah, I survived it all and the children are still with us. We are still learning about each other day by day, and my only wish is for my family to stick together and live in harmony as I grow older.