My parents have been living with me on and off for just over 2 years now. While having my moments secretly wishing that I’d never live with my parents in the same household again, I have to admit it’s been a great time to bond with my parents and learn a bit more about them.
Truth to be told, I didn’t know my parents that well at all. I couldn’t wait to run away from them at a young age.
My memory of childhood was filled unhappiness and my parents fighting with each other all the time. Mum cursed a lot, dad doesn’t curse but he smashed things when he was extremely unhappy. So yeah, I’ve always felt a little embarrassed and resentful of my parents and my upbringing. My dad wasn’t around that much and between me and my sister, dad favoured my older sister, so that just confirmed the theory: My dad is not good.
Ironically, after 20 years staying away from my parents, I got stuck living with them again. This time they came all the way from China to live with me. In a way I’m glad they did because I’m able to get to know my parents from an adult point of view. I started to notice many good habits of my dad and like him more and more.
There are so many good things I learned from my dad and I wish I knew him a lot better before.
- You can always overcome the setbacks in your life. I was pretty much at a low point in my life when my parents moved in with me. It was my dad who told me to be strong and strive to be the best I can. “Don’t frown.” Dad would say, “This shall pass. Keep working hard and you’ll get back up again. Trust me.”
- Never say never. The first time I learned the phrase “Never say never” was actually from my dad. I remember vividly how fascinated I was by Pyramids after reading about them in my text book from primary school. I was this little 8 years old Chinese girl. It was impossible to travel overseas from China at that time. Putting my head down, I murmured in a sad tone, “Shame I’ll never be able to see them myself.” Then my dad said, “Why not? Things might change. You’ll travel to Egypt and see pyramids yourself. Never say never.” That shocked me and really opened up my mind. Dad was so right. Look how things changed all those years!
- Travel as often as possible. Dad loves travel and he took me and my sister to many different cities when we were little. Dad travelled a lot for work too and there were always some weird and wonderful souvenir he brought back from his travel. Until this day, he’s still planning to travel more and exploring new places.
- A good education is essential. Both my sister and I went to college in China and received further education overseas. My parents are not rich but they did try their best to provide a good education for both of us. My dad was the main drive for this. Admittedly I did make full use of my education but going to college really provided me more opportunity and life choices.
- Read A LOT. I was surrounded by different kinds of books growing up at my parents’. There were always new books coming into our home collection. I quit reading for many years and decided to always make time for reading.
- Stay informed. My dad is a very informed man. He knows a lot about history, geography and current affairs.
- Keep up with technology. Dad is turning 78 this year and he’s very good at using his smart phone and laptop. He also likes taking photos and videos.
- Be relentlessly curious. Dad still has an inquisitive mind like a little kid. He observes, researches and asks questions. He’s been to more Sydney suburbs than I did in the last 20 years!
- Be aware of your surroundings. My dad is very observant and very aware of his surroundings. Now I understand why he didn’t like me much when I was little – because I’m nothing like him!
- Sharpen your senses. Dad is very alert and still very mindful of sharpening senses in his old age.
- Admit mistakes. What I noticed is that my mum needs to win every argument. My dad is different. He listens to other people’s opinion and admit his mistakes. No offence taken.
- Don’t be wasteful. I tend to buy things and never ever use them. Mum tends to buy way more food than we could consume so that all food would go bad in the end. Dad is not greedy. Also not stupid. He only wants a few things that are necessary or nice to have.
- Keep on learning new skills. Dad taught himself PinYin input to message family and friends. He also learned free style swimming by going to the pool every week at the age of 76.
- Maintain a good body posture. Dad walks with head up and a straight back. He looks years younger than his actually age. I have a bad habit of sloughing so he taught me to go stand against the wall for at least 1 minute everyday. I’m mindful of maintaining a good body posture almost all the time now, thanks to my dad.
- Have self-discipline. Dad has good self control. He’d keep active everyday. He’ll never overeat because the food in front him is extra delicious and abundant.
- Be tidy. I never knew dad is so tidy. He keeps things in organised spots and tidy up everyday. He also keeps my car spotless all the time.
- Exercise regularly. Dad stretches everyday after dinner. He goes for long walks a few times a week and social dancing twice a month. He never ever had an overweight issue.
- Plan ahead before taking action. My dad would make a list before going shopping while my mum despises this idea and shouts at my dad for suggesting it. Dad is a thinker and he always plans ahead before taking actions. As a result, he’s way more efficient.
- Enjoy simple and finer things in life. No matter how busy he is, dad would take a break to have a cup of tea/coffee and read his book in the middle of a day. He doesn’t want a lot of things but he does enjoy a few nicer things. Let’s take food for example again: My mum would buy a big basket full of half rotten fruits because they are cheap on average, while dad would pay for one piece of nice fruit for the same amount.
- Always celebrate special occasions. Dad would make an effort to celebrate every special occasion. He’d at least decorate the table and cook a very nice meal. Dad doesn’t cook as often as mum does but when dad cooks, it’s fine dinning level. Dad looks happy when busy preparing everything.
- Laugh often. Dad laughs out really loud and laughs often now. Maybe he’s happier now than when he was younger. I really don’t remember much of him then. But I’m glad that after so many years of misunderstanding, I finally got to know my dad as a person.
In 3 weeks time, my parents will fly back to China. I’m not sure when or if they’ll come back to Australia again. One thing I do know for sure is that Dad has the best intention for me and I’ll miss him while he’s away.