Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Two Teachers

Many years ago when I was in either first or second grade, we had a young teacher joined our school. He was very pleasant and friendly to us, and we all liked to surround his desk during recess just to chat and laugh with him. He would let us touch the paper, pens on his desk without yelling at us, and he always had a smile on his face.

For some unknown reason to me at the time, he was particularly close to me. While other kids got to stand around his desk, I was the one he would pick up and sat upon his lap most of the time. He would ask me questions about my family and parents, and squeeze my calves when it was time for me to get up and go back to my desk. While I was basking in this special attention, I didn’t realize I was also the envy (and resentment) of other kids.

I vaguely remember fragments of conversation between my mother and him. I think my mother relayed part of it to me later. He was from a town far away from ours, and couldn’t go home as often as he liked. I reminded him his kid sister at home, so he took a special liking in me. It was probably his first teaching job, and first time being away from home. He didn’t stay with us too long and soon he left the school.

We had a different, older, and much colder teacher as his replacement. The first day he took over, some of the kids complained to him how I was the favorite kid and how I always got special treatments (although I really don’t remember what they were). I do remember, however, the new teacher looked at me and spoke coldly to me, “It’s not going to be that comfortable for you from now on.” I felt very sad and humiliated while other kids snickered at this comment.

Now that I think back, the first teacher probably left due to the complaints of parents. The thought never crossed my mind because he never did anything inappropriate to me or other kids as far as I could tell. I stopped myself from asking my mother, “Did you have anything to do with the departure of that teacher?” As it turned out, he was the only male figure who showed me some kindness and affection while growing up. For that I am forever grateful; and for that, I don’t want this nice memory tarnished by the tainted eyes of other grown ups. I sincerely hope wherever he is and whatever he's doing, he has all the happiness surround him.

As for the second teacher, I do have a question for him, “Being an elementary school teach, why would you think it was a good idea to be cruel to a little kid who did nothing to offend you?”

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Not Yet Crazy

Sometimes I get the urge to write a book. The name of the book? How Not to Drive Your Daughter Crazy. My source of inspiration? My mom.

Easy target, you say. Everybody tries to blame his/her problems on the parents. Big deal. Well, it is a big deal because I became self conscious since my daughter once said to me, “That’s just like grandma!” In our household that’s not a compliment, and oh, what a shocker!

One of mom's favorite things to say is, “You should start using face cream. You are not young anymore, and really should pay attention to your skin. You get more wrinkles now that you’re older, you know.” It’s like a direct copy from a “Friends” episode when Monica Gellar’s mom asked her, “What’s with your hair?” and, when she replied, “Nothing,” her mom said, “Hmm…maybe that’s why.”

It’s funnier when it happens to other people.

Being raised by very old fashion parents, I could never talk back or tell them how they hurt my feelings. Never mind that my skin, among a couple of other things about me, is often the envy of my friends (unless they lied to me just to be polite). To be fair though, she does this to everybody, albeit not in those exact words.

Our conversation can go like this –
“Did you have your garage door fixed?”
“Yes, ma.”
“Make sure you don’t stay in the house when they fix it.”
“It’s already fixed.”
“You never know what kind of weirdo they might be. It’s safer for you to stay outside of the house when they are there. Do you hear me?”
“It’s already fixed, ma.”
“You can’t be too careful being a woman…do you hear me?”

Listening skills are not her strong suit, especially when she feels a lecture is in order-- which is most of the time.

So now I look at my daughter’s face (which is a very cute one) and dare not to suggest a scar cream to her. She has some signs of pimples left from her earlier years. I’m afraid even the slightest hint will result in her self doubt or resentment to me. I don’t want to be my mother. I’m trying very hard and don’t know how good or bad of a job I’m doing. I guess one good way is to avoid doing things she did that really bothered me. The difference between my daughter and me is: she can (I hope that’s how she feels) tell me if I said or did anything to hurt her feelings. Like the above example. I was offended at first (I am nothing like my mother! I thought), but then I tried to look at it this way: I strive to be not like my mother, but without a daughter I would probably never know how I am doing.

Although I do hope she will call her mother more often.


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