Monday, November 23, 2009

You did what

I get a huge amount of grief from my ability to remember numbers, which has a very bad knock-on effect on my ability to remember birthdays, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before I forgot my own birthday.

So it's a good thing The Husband reminded me last evening. I can't imagine the internal discussion that would have transpired if I suddenly remembered my own birthday days/ weeks after it had passed. How long would I hold the grudge against myself?

I suppose as we get older, birthdays become less important and this process becomes accelerated if we are not really a party animal. I do also have a phobia of organising parties but that's just another tragic story for another time. Anyway, it does not impact my ability to attend and/or crash another person's party (she said, quickly).

It appears I'm not the only one to forget my birthday since my employer has also taken the liberty of organising a client lunch for me on that date. In passive-aggressive style, I asked my boss if the client lunch was just a cover story for my surprise birthday party. No, it isn't, he said, after he called to congratulate me on finally reaching the ripe old age of 27.

But do I get to choose the restaurant? I said, determined to salvage something out of a bad situation.

Er no, said he. The client will pick.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fun With Atichyphobia

No, I didn't catch something from eating unpasteurised cheese, I'm just trying to rationalise my Fear of Poverty And Failure ("FOPF").

It's becoming both a cliche and a truism, in my view, that the FOPF in a person is proportional to their grades in school. Better grades, more FOPF. Worse grades, less FOPF. Except maybe for me, my grades were fairly mediocre once I discovered boys but my FOPF factor is and has always been really really OTT.

Especially now when I'm at a bit of a crossroad situation and trying to figure things out. How much does a person need to think before they make a decision? And is this before or after their head explodes. I have always faulted myself for not thinking hard enough before I reach a business decision - this time I'm really trying to make a decision only after seeing the pros and cons from every single angle, and even then I wonder.

Decision A - means I will have to, for once, take some fairly substantial risks financially.

Decision B - no financial risk, but it comes with its own cons too.

But the biggest thing about Decision A, she said, finally getting to the point, is that I have to inform my mother that I'm making Decision A. I will have to take the risk that she will look at me and the expression on her face will read something between horror and disappointment. Or rather, she will be squarely in horror territory, but within 100metres of reaching disappointment and finding a place for long-term parking. Shortly thereafter, all the relatives on my mother's side would be informed through a series of hysterical phone calls, and within a day or two, I will get a call from one of my favorite aunts, asking in sad haunted tones if I will be able to make ends meet and do I need any money to buy food for the children.

All my life I have felt like failure was not an option, and that, whilst a certain sibling of mine is free to walk the earth unemployed, shirtless and unshaven, unencumbered by pride or responsibility, it would be a grave disappointment to my mother if I should fail to show a stellar performance in anything I should try my hand at. In response, I severely limit the number of things I try my hand at that she knows about. Anyone who's played pool with me would suspect I might have some issues - I treat every shot like the fate of the free world hangs in the balance.

I think about passing these values on to my children and I weigh the pros and cons. FOPF means they will, by default, end up reasonably successful having taken minimal financial risks and always career planning. Plodding along, working hard, doing reasonably well and being comfortable. They would also be pretty good at pool. No FOPF could mean crashing failure at some point(s), and if we look at real life examples within the family tree, a permanent establishment in the parental home with a mother who will chop his vegetables in teeny tiny little pieces so that her 34 year old son will not have to chew too much.

Is it all in my mind? I don't think so. We were not created equal, my siblings and I. Some of us are not given the option of failure, some of us are allowed to fail. And whilst I don't spend much time wondering what people think of me generally, I look around me during family reunions and all I see are mirrors.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time of the Season

So it's that time of the year again for parent-teacher meetings. I just attended 2 yesterday, one of which was, to my horror, conducted in Chinese. It is a constant embarrassment to me that The Son's Chinese language abilities may already have surpassed my own and that, with every new Chinese word he learns, another one slips from my memory.

In effort to spare The Son the torture of going through 12 years of mediocre grades in his Chinese classes, we have enrolled him in not one, but two, Chinese language tuition courses. Having done this, I suppose it would only be natural and expected for us to receive, at the end of each term, 2 progress reports for The Son but what I certainly did not expect was for both of them to be written in Chinese. Not the simple stuff that The Son has been learning, but of the standard that one would expect to find in Lianhe Zaobao.

Do the teachers not know their audience??? The type of parent that would send their child to a Chinese tuition centre would be unlikely to be conversant, or even have a passing acquaintance, with the Chinese language. I have passed the reports to a friend to translate for me - she has a great laugh at my expense every time I do this, but how else am I going to understand what the progress is.

At yesterday's meeting with the Chinese teacher, she passed me the report and waited expectantly for me to read it so that we could discuss any questions I had. She watched my finger crawl laboriously under each word for about 2 minutes as I tried my damndest to pronounce each word under my breath. We got past the second sentence before I gave up. I had a nightmare flashback to my last Chinese oral examination.

I wonder what she thought when, whilst writing The Son's Chinese name at the back of the cheque for the term fees, she saw me surreptitiously referring to the Chinese characters of his name written at the top of his progress report. I'm told that I'm not alone in this - a friend told me once that he was in the process of writing his son's Chinese name down for school registration when he realised that he had forgotten how to write 2 out of the 3 characters and had to take the form home.

In other news, The Son and I checked out the rather intriguing Body Works Exhibition at the Science Centre recently. We encircled the various displays of preserved human bodies while The Son clung to me and asked me whether "Daddy will grow old" and "Will Daddy die". He did not enquire after my mortality. In my typical motherly passive-aggressive style, I informed him that everybody dies. Daddy, mommy, even our dog, will eventually die. This may take a long time, but everybody dies. No one is spared.

At one point, we found ourselves staring at a display of a male carcass sitting on a carriage drawn by 2 skinned deer in mid-gallop. The Son points at the man and his question carries across the room: "DID SANTA DIE???"