In my family there are 6 girls and two boys – They’re also the youngest out of the bunch.
In my mom’s generation there are 4 girls, one of which died, two males, one of which has not been in much contact since spending time in jail, so that leaves one lone male. Have I mentioned we’re Asian?
I’m sure my father had in some part of himself been at the very least a bit disappointed that I appeared as a female from my mother’s womb. In fact, contrary to all but one of our family members, every single household has been able to produce one male. My father’s only brother for example has three grown sons in China. But we won’t count them here.
Neither am I here to complain about how Asian families are cruel and injustice in abrading their future generations based on ancient relics of cultural inclination. I’ve never really noticed whether or not he had or had not been saddened that I missed his transmission of the Y chromosome simply because he loved me enough despite my inability to
theoretically carry on the family name. I remember all the times he humored my short-lived obsession with a certain talent; giving me constructive criticism on my skating skills, supplying me with lessons in piano, violin, Guzheng; then all my sadly chosen taste for my motor-mechanic-functioning in ballet, figure skating, trampoline, and swimming. I’m also sad to mention that I have not fully accomplished a single one of the mentioned activities. I didn’t recognize the silent proud my father wore when he could triumph to Hong Kong and show off his youngest daughter who was fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and English. Who was able to do the splits and bend over backwards into a petite compacted bridge. Who was also thankfully gifted in having some quirks in her singing so it wasn’t just a disaster of family tolerance. I hadn’t seen those things because I saw my grandmother holding a knife to me and threatening me for being undisciplined. I saw her yelling at my sister and cousins for defending me. I saw her becoming angry with the very existence of the reason of why I came upon this parallel hell-hole. My young boy cousin, perhaps just of a tender age 9 at the time, joined together with his sister and my own in trying to console our grandmother to drop the knife. But she hadn’t. Instead my sister, who was 15, aroused her further wrath and ran past her to hide in the bathroom. The story told that night was that she had intentionally and very forcefully pushed our grandmother down. So why had I gotten in trouble? Why, I never knew it was such a terrible thing to share sushi with your male cousin. For that I apologize to all you (male) salmon lovers out there.
Being spoiled as I was, of course I was a few corporal ladders further than being envious of my male cousins who rarely got into trouble, was asked to be tolerated as always (perhaps because of their age in hindsight) and was always abnormally and flauntingly favored by the family. They were the treasures in our home. And just a little bit of me begin to resent them. I hated their immaturity. Their constant request for me to play games of which I would most likely be out shined in. I despised their undisguised lenient rulings where I would have to clean up after their mess. Most of all, I hated that I had to accept one easy simple fact. The difference that they might have the balls and the sack, and I had no twigs nor berries.
But another simple fact was that, this entire sequence, this behavioral pattern that was cast by my grandmother and foreshadowed by her constant domineering presence is nothing of my young cousins’ doings. Perhaps they may not necessarily mind the extra attention, and certainly no problem in exploiting these opportunities to their advantages, but nonetheless the difference of 3 years -Their most absolute innocence shocked me into re-thinking why I had begun to place this brewing hatred on them. Although it certainly doesn’t help that one of their fathers had to be my grandmother’s crowned jewel. Really – alcoholic, divorced and a gambler. Sorry grand mama, I don’t see it. Even now I still resent him a little bit. For conning his own mother for money. For coaxing my mother for money. This was where my mother’s “whatever, let’s just get the shit over with, it’s too much” attitude doesn’t fly. It also doesn’t help if I just reject them altogether. Cause that’s going to teach young boys how to emulate love for the womankind. I look at my little boy cousins and wonder, what if I don’t have that compassion inside me to love you simply because of your father. What if I just don’t have that in me to give?
My peer tutor teacher expressed to me a few days earlier. I never thought I’d be ready to have kids. Hell, even now I still don’t think I am. But then now that I’m with my boyfriend, and him and his little 5 year old boy is a bundled package, I just realized – Now I have a 5-year old boy!…Even though he’s not really my son, it’s just like this overwhelming pressure to think this is the stage where there’s no room for mistakes. She thought, I don’t even get to start with the baby part. But honestly, I don’t think anyone of us is ever ready. We just don’t think we have that much to give.
I write this in retrospect of the few memories I have of my father – patiently drilling English work books everyday to make sure that I understood the backward concept from Chinese – in which case, sorry daddy, but sitting in my English 9 peer tutoring class I still can’t classify you a theme from a motif to a thesis statement. So please don’t come back to haunt me about the differences in verbs and nouns and adverbs. But what was most important was how patient he was. That’s what being a parent is right?
Wrong. I always thought parents were just naturally in a separate category, almost a brand new species from the world children came from. They were mature adults who could compose themselves, always had the napkins and band aids ready and knew the next step. They always drew that inner pool of willpower and had enough of it to pull you through. Well, hell, they’re just as human as you are. My mother lives like my sister who is now a full fledged adult of 21. In comparison I am probably the more likely boring stick-in-the-mud homebody who’s planning on remaining drop dead sober. The one distinct feature of mom-ness I could say that applies to my mother is when I had to teach her how to navigate and use her email and a blackberry today. Especially the English. One’s mouth gets sore from over enunciating every word. And constantly realizing how deteriorated their Chinese is for translation – once again, oops dad, my bad. My biggest lesson in endurance and patience. Bravo to parents all over the world.
For anyone who wants to blow the fuse – You can’t even begin to know how much you have to give.