A Lone Wolf of a Child
|Alice Poon||Feb 20, 2009|
Here is my translation of the essay:-
"I am not an up-to-par father. Ever since my child turned twelve, I have been roaming everywhere in the country. I can only afford to spend a little more than a month in total at home each year. No doubt there is no lack of modern communication tools that I can use. But what we can say to each other over the phone are no more than a few words of greetings. The kid does not have a lot to tell me, and he shows no interest in what I try to say to him. The whole conversation would just turn banal. I cannot but admit that my passion in fatherhood seems to be dwindling fast.
Given such a state of things, I tend to miss the days when I could be with my child everyday. That was a financially strapped period in which we could just scrape together enough to feed and clothe ourselves, although I never let my child suffer any discomfort. He was the only source of my happiness and my sole silver lining. I didn’t have a career, but I had my child. Since then, I got immersed in the money world and was building up a booming business. But then my child and I have become more and more distanced from each other. It would have been manageable if he were only straying from me but were staying close to his mother. But the problem was that he seemed to resist his mother even more. That was really worrying.
The change in my child was quite perceptible. When he was a small kid, he used to be outgoing, friendly and self-confident. Whomever he socialized with, there was no question of any handicapped relationship. The reason was simple: I was there to influence him as I was with him all the time. Later on, if I wanted to take him to meet friends or relatives, he would seem very reluctant. Again the reason was simple: he was trying to shut people out. Most of the time I was away from home, and his mother had to go to work everyday, even on weekends, and no one was there to talk to him. His social circle was limited to a few school friends. The outside world to him might seem unfamiliar and strange, if not outright frightening.
I knew that was the price to pay. And it was a situation beyond my power to turn around – the most I could do was to try to make small changes. So my monthly home visit was a rigid appointment that I would stick to, and I would always try to stay one or two days longer. I wouldn’t say this was totally ineffective. But the effect was still not satisfactory. The gap between my child’s development and my own expectations is quite apparent. It is not related to his intelligence quotient or his school grades – it is related to his emotional quotient. I am not satisfied with his rational and empathic understanding of people, of society and of himself.
My initial thought was that my child had a competitive edge on arts subjects, as I was an arts major, and as such would naturally be the source of that edge. It turned out that he was inclined to take science subjects. I thought to myself: I should let him make his own choice. Besides, given his emotional quotient inadequacy, immersion in the science field might do him good. In the Western world, their children are immersed in a rich cultural environment from a very tender age and culture is so deeply ingrained in their bone marrow that it is like DNA. In this respect, my child would be no match for them. So, why don’t I let him try something else?
When I think about it, it is such a sad thing for my child. When I was a kid, everyone was poor. We never had any computer games or fancy toys to play with. A wooden toy gun would make us delirious for days on end. But in our childhood days life was lived to the fullest and we were happy. We had brothers and sisters and children in the neighborhood to play with. So we never knew what it was like to feel lonely. Also, we had lots of leisure time after school, and one could easily lose oneself in the hills and creeks of our home village. The shiny dew drops, the clear streams, and the high grasslands all held a mysterious charm. But none of this is available to the kids of today. To him, home is a lonely place. His schoolmates are also held hostage by their school work. So, even outside of his home he still cannot lose his loneliness. Sometimes I say half-seriously and half-jokingly to my kid: ‘Buddy, you are just like a wolf – a lone wolf in the wilderness. You only have yourself to rely on.’
Later on, I made an offbeat decision – I sent my child overseas. If he is to roam about in the country, he might as well roam in foreign land. After he’s gone, our relationship seems to have improved a little. He goes to class for five hours a day and has lots of holidays. So there is ample time for us to chat on the internet or send emails. It seems I can now carry out my duties as a father far better than before. This is not something within my expectations!"