I LOVE It When They Fight!

gloves

When siblings are aged 11 and 9… in between angelic offers to help with dishes and intellectual conversations about the motivation of Rolf in the Sound of Music, they, well, argue… and fight… and beat up each other… and yell… and scream… and bicker… and find ways to really, REALLY get on each others’ nerves.  And mine.

Traditionally, I try to be patient for a while until they hit my tiger mom maximum level of tolerance and then I roar at them to stop, or else.  Lately, we’ve all been debating the idea of or else and what that could be, because really, once they reach an age where they realize, no, we don’t really have that much control over them, it’s all over for the authoritarian parenting style.  I could yell at them, but they can yell back.  I can punish them, but what punishment is really meaningful if the goal is for changed behaviour from using anger when they are frustrated?  I could take away their entertainment, but again, would that change their behaviour, truly?  They are at an age where if they wanted to run away, they could.  They could really go in a direction that I really wouldn’t want them to go if I’m not careful.  They remind me that they watch videos or play games that I really know nothing about.  They are coming into their own… as human beings… as autonomous people.

Now that I have to be more careful about my health and stress level, I’m very conscientious about when I start getting agitated.  To be fair, they are sensitive to it too.  So today, while I was taking them to school and they were bickering in the street car, I shushed them and said, guys, you are being too loud.  Other people would like to transit in peace and quiet.  They joked that mommy was getting stressed and that I was about to yell at them.  As we got off the street car, I turned to them and they braced themselves for my usual admonishment about how they should behave better and how stressed they are making me and how I expect much more from them.

Instead I decided to pilot a new initiative: “I LOVE when the two of you fight.”

Bewildered looks were exchanged. They smiled a little and then furrowed their brows… there was a pause as we walked in silence for a few moments.

Then the older one snickered and sarcastically said “Yeah, sure you do.”

I explained, “I LOVE when the two of you fight because it means that you are both here, I can hear you, you are safe, you are intelligent enough to interact and you have each other.  It means that I’m around you and we are still together.”

Now the younger one looked at me, wrinkled his little nose, and added “And you just love it when we scream at each other…”  They were no longer arguing with each other, telling on each other, tripping each other.  Instead, they were trying to figure me out. Their little brains were like “Huh? Is Mommy being serious or sarcastic? Is she going to get mad at us?”

I nodded earnestly now and continued, “I LOVE when you scream at each other.  It means that you have brains to think and have feelings. It means that you have been communicating with each other.  It means that you care enough about something to fight about it. I LOVE it when there are toys all over the house because it means that you have a house, toys to play with, and it means that you still live with me in our house.  I love knowing that you had a good time with your toys.  I REALLY love it when there are a pile of dishes to do, because it means we had dinner together at home and we had a healthy meal in our own home.”

They were both relaxed now and they walked on either side of me, holding my hand, “At least until we move out of the house! You have to put up with a messy house until we move out of the house.”

“Yep.  Until you move out of the house.  Right now, I get to be with you.  I get to love you and I get to know that you are okay.  What more could I ask for?”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too.”

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They Know Me Well

A2: They are putting ads about iPhone Xs… and *I* only have an iPhone 4.

Me: 5. You have an iPhone 5. By the way, I never want to hear you complaining about the fact that you have an iPhone.

A2: No Mommy, I’m just joking. It’s a joke!

Me: Not funny. Not even as a joke. Too many kids have nothing. What you said makes you spoiled. It means that I’ve spoiled you and I can certainly stop spoiling you. If you are going to behave like spoiled brats, I’m either going to take away all your gadgets or send you away to a country where they don’t have any. Do you have any idea how privileged you are? You are not allowed to complain about your gadgets. I’m serious. Do you understand me?

A2: Yes Mommy. Sorry Mommy… Uh… Mommy?

Me: Yes~~~~?

A2: Um, I think we know that you love us too much to send us away. You could never send us away…

Me: Oh, okay, yes, you’re right. My threat was a bit exaggerated. But you get my drift though, right? You understand what I’m trying to say.

A2: Yes Mommy.

How Do You Like Them Apples?

apple

Today, I told my mom that like she used to do for us, I wash, peel, and chop up fruit for my kids to eat.  They love it and can inhale quite a bit.  My mom laughed and said, yes, your little sister used to wonder why American apples never tasted as good as Taiwanese apples.  She reminded me that I also stopped eating fruit when I went to study at University in Canada, away from home.  She sent me her journal entry and I’ve translated it for us to enjoy.

Taiwanese Apples are Better than American Apples!

In the heart of S, there was a question. Since apples are imported from the United States to Taiwan, why then did the apples that were eaten in the States never as delicious as the ones she ate at home in Taipei?  It wasn’t until one night during her senior year at university, did she suddenly realize the answer!

Two of her classmates were hanging out with her in her dorm room that night. She took out an apple from the refrigerator and asked the two whether they would like to have some. Both of them shook their heads no. She then cut up the apple and just before she started to eat and purely out of courtesy, she politely asked them once again if they wanted to have any.  Her friends suddenly changed their minds and now wanted to have some.

The question that S had harboured for so long was finally answered! The apple eaten at home in Taiwan was peeled, washed, and cut into pieces by mom. Of course that tasted so much better than apples in the U.S. that had to be peeled, washed, and cut into pieces by herself!

台灣的蘋果比美國的好吃

老三心中一直以來,有一個疑問,她認為,蘋果很多是從美國進口到台灣的,“那為什麼在美國住校時吃的蘋果,沒有在台北家中的好吃呢?”直到她大四的有一天晚上,才恍然大悟,有了答案。

那晚她的兩位同學在她的宿舍房內,她從冰箱拿出蘋果,問兩位同學要不要吃,兩人看了一眼都搖頭說不。老三削好了蘋果,自己要吃之前,再禮貌地問她們,兩人居然都要吃了。老三擺在心中很久的疑問,終於有了解答:原來,在台灣家中吃的蘋果,都是媽媽洗好、削好的,當然比在美國還得自己洗、自己削的來得好吃。

Where’s the Silver Lining in Turning 65?

My mother is the most inspiring person I know.  She’s always positive, encouraging and kind.  I’ve learned so many lessons from her that have gotten me through difficult times. She’s a hilarious story teller.  Here’s one of her cute stories:

“ㄅㄧ、ㄅㄧ、ㄅㄧ”,那是什麼聲音?原來是老年人免費車票卡的刷卡聲,到了65歲,拿到卡的親友們常會說:“三聲無奈” 、“我寧可沒有”、“唉,那表示我老了”….

那年我63歲,再兩年我就要拿老人卡了,我想,年齡增長,是自然現象,沒有一個人可以避免。當我拿到的時候,與其哀嘆ㄞㄊㄢˋ,不如轉個念,“ㄅㄧ、ㄅㄧ、ㄅㄧ”、“哈、哈、哈”、“好、開、心”、“免、費、票”….,還要感恩政府,鼓勵我們老年人出外走動,給我們這麼好的福利,說聲“謝、謝、謝”。

“Beep. Beep. Beep.”

What’s that noise? It’s the sound made by the Senior’s Bus Pass.  It beeps once for regular fare, twice for student fare and three times for seniors 65 and over, who travel on the Taipei City bus system for free.  Recent recipients of this benefit have complained: “The three beeps of hopelessness!” “I’d rather not qualify for this pass.” or “This means I’m getting old!”

The year I turned 63 (knowing that I was two years away from getting my own Senior’s Bus Pass), I thought to myself, “Aging is merely a natural phenomenon; no one can avoid it.” So the year I obtained my card… instead of lamenting, I thought “Why not find the silver lining?”  So my mantra became: “Beep. Beep. Beep.” “Ha. Ha. Ha.” “I. Am. Glad.” “This. Is. Free.”

You know, we should thank the government. This really encourages us older people to get out and about. It’s a fabulous benefit!  “Beep. Beep. Beep.” = “Thanks. Thanks. Thanks.”