Parenting

I have often wondered at my parents' way of bringing up my siblings and I. I am the eldest of three, followed by my younger brother a year later. My youngest sister is seven years younger than I, and decidedly the baby of the family. Or rather, as my neighbour puts it (which I think infinitely appropriate), the princess who can get away with murder at home.

You may think me jealous, for aren't most children jealous of their younger siblings because of the attention they apparently have which we didn't? No, I am speaking as objectively, as unbiased as I can. This supposed jealously is, I suppose, one of the reasons my parents never took me seriously each time I complained about my sister (the others being she is too young or she is ignorant, neither which I think is true), especially my mother, with whom my sister is a decided favourite. Yet, my eyes are open, I assure you, and I know, beyond a doubt, that she's the most insufferable little brat that I know (excepting one of my friend's brother, whom he and I think is as bad as my sister).

As far as I remember, I've had to pay the piper for every bit of mischief I did. When I was two, I tore my favourite cousin's drawings. She cried. I was about to be punished when she begged them not to. Only then was I mercifully spared. (Frankly, I couldn't remember the incident, but was reminded of it every time I tried to point out my sister's faults, with an "all children make mistakes. I am far from thinking that the things my sister did was accidental, but rather, is accidental-on-purpose) But I was two, my sister, however, is ten, and she still can, I quote, "get away with murder" as easily as snapping your fingers, on grounds that "she is still too young" and "have patience with her". And there she'll be smirking in an extremely self-satisfied way. I can't believe that my parents can be so blind.

I was already doing self-study by the age of ten and never depended on anyone to help me with my homework. Being the eldest, I've always had to figure my way out, and learnt independence in the academic field. Save my two elder cousins (I have four, but the eldest two are working), I couldn't turn to anyone for help even if I wanted to (which – I flatter myself – was only on the rare occasion). Anyway, they were exiled soon after (long story) and so I was left on a dark road, on my way to self-discovery ever since the early days of my primary school.

However, believe me, or not, at the age of ten, which is equivalent to Primary Four (I was in Primary Five then, as I skipped Primary Four), she still does her homework every day under her mother's supervision! (I don't really think of her as our mother as she is hardly a mother to me) And her mother also has to check every single piece of her homework before she handed it up the next day. Our father frequently asks my brother and I, but more so I, as my brother can't manage his time well, to take over that role, as "your mother is very tired". But I tell myself (and our mother, but she never listens), why should you take on this extra role when it only increases her dependency and irresponsibility? Let her make mistakes and correct them herself, I said, for her education is more important than getting all correct but zero understanding. If she is used to her mother checking her answers for her, she will never learn. I strongly suspect, too, that this is the reason she is weak in arithmetic, which is easily the easiest subject.

Whenever my brother or I report our sister's faults to our parents, they just say that we "should be tolerant towards her, as she is still very young" and they "loved us just the same when we were her age, only that we might not remember". I would like dearly to point out to their faces that ten isn't a very young age to learn, instead, it is almost too late to correct behaviour faults. The clay is drying, and once it does, neither heat nor force would be able to change its shape. In my opinion, a child's manners should be drummed in once they can talk and understand, which shouldn't be measured by age, as that ruler is faulty with the different maturity speed of each child. They should be disciplined (but not terrorised) in their youth and the discipline should be relaxed as they grow older. Yet, my parents are doing the exact opposite, which explains the I-can-get-anything-I-want behaviour so evident in my sister.

Secondly, my parents were (and are, actually) always too busy to raise us (my brother and I) when we were children. Instead, we were raised by my father's sister and widow sister-in-law (he hated my mother's family, and my mother, for that matter), until their exile (same time as my cousins'). So I really don't know where this "we loved you just the same" idea came from when they've neglected pretty much most of our childhoods (maybe neglect's too strong a word). That would probably be why we don't recall how they "loved" us too. Amnesia comes from memories that doesn't exist!

Thirdly, and most importantly, I thought parenting (and basically everything else) is a journey where you discover your mistakes and correct them. And since my brother and I are constantly being scolded and labelled as "useless" and "rebellious" and "stupid" and "dumb", I don't really see how a rerun of how they brought us up is going to do much good on procuring a good daughter in my sister (My brother and I are constantly subjected to verbal abuse, as we sometimes do not completely stay on our father's right side. He has a peculiar mood swing so when we can't 'swing' in time too, well… you get the point. He also has an extremely nasty and explosive temper. Period).

There's one difference, though. My sister is way worse than either my brother or me (which is saying something), besides being impertinent and unguarded, and when my parents are finally able to open their eyes to the truth, they are going to have the "time of their lives" trying to beat (literally) some discipline into my way-beyond-hopeless sister, who is already ordering my mother, at frequent intervals, to "shut the fuck up" (I'm not joking or exaggerating) and totally exasperating her badminton coaches, one after another, with her extremely saucy manners. One of them even asked my brother (who trained together with her), "What's wrong with her, huh?" I can only suppose this worsening of behaviour is because she is indulged more than either of us were, and for a longer period (it's still going on, in fact), and that we were mostly brought up by our aunts, not our workaholic parents, who don't know the first thing about marriage (again, long story), let alone parenting.

Finis –