Thursday, March 29, 2007

Angie dan Mita



Kisah berikut ini terjadi beberapa bulan lalu.
Aku sedang berada di ruang guru ketika sms dari Angie datang, “Mama tahu letak Polsekta Semarang Utara ga?”
Meskipun aku lahir dan besar di Semarang, (sempat mengungsi di Yogya selama beberapa tahun tatkala kuliah S1 dan S2 di Universitas Gadjah Mada), aku tidak begitu hafal letak kantor-kantor tertentu, dan tidak hafal banyak nama jalan di Semarang. Tentu saja aku juga tidak begitu tahu dimana letak Polsekta Semarang Utara. Karena itulah aku bertanya kepada seorang teman, L.
“Pak, kamu tahu letak Polsekta Semarang Utara ga?”
L menjawab, “Kalau tidak salah terletak di daerah Jalan Petek, atau sekitar situ. Ada apa?”
“Angie kirim sms, bertanya kepadaku dimana letak Polsekta Semarang Utara.”
“Wah ... pasti ketangkep nih.” Komentar L sembarangan. LOL.
“Ketangkep? Maksudnya?” aku tidak paham ke arah mana komentar L tadi.
“Ya ... barangkali naik motor, padahal belum memiliki SIM. Bisa jadi kan?” dia mencoba menganalisis.
Aku sempat heran sesaat. Angie belum punya motor. (Baca  aku belum mampu membelikannya motor. LOL.) Kira-kira dengan siapa Angie bepergian? Biasanya pulang sekolah, Angie bareng kedua temannya, Nana dan Mita. Angie dan Nana sering menemani Mita menunggu jemputan nyokap/bokapnya. Atau kadang Nana danMita menemani Angie menunggu jemputanku (kalau Angie minta kujemput).
“Well .. Angie berteman baik dengan dua anak yang orang tuanya jelas tidak akan (atau belum) percaya anak-anaknya naik motor sendiri. Mita selalu diantar dan dijemput orang tuanya. Orang tuanya TIDAK PERCAYA Mita bisa pulang sekolah sendiri. Nana masih agak mending, kalau Mamanya tidak bisa menjemput, dia pulang naik angkot. Dan untuk itu, Angie biasanya menemaninya, karena mereka satu jurusan, hanya Angie turun duluan dari angkot.” Komentarku kepada L.
“Lah, kira-kira kenapa dong Angie bertanya dimana letak Polsekta Semarang Utara?” tanya L.
“That’s it. I dont understand it either.” Jawabku.
Kemudian tiba-tiba aku ingat Angie pernah bercerita kalau Bapaknya Mita adalah seorang polisi. Dan kebetulan tempat tinggal Mita berada di daerah Semarang Utara. So, aku balesin sms Angie begini, “Mama ga tahu Sayang dimana letak Polsekta Semarang Utara. Coba Angie tanya aja ke Bapaknya Mita. Mita ada di situ bareng Angie ga?”
Jawaban Angie, “Mmm ... sekarang ini Angie berada di rumah Mita Mama. Bapaknya Mita kan memang kantornya di Polsekta Semarang Utara. Maksud Angie tuh Angie mau minta Mama jemput Angie di sini, di Polsekta Semarang Utara. Tadi pulang sekolah agak pagi, trus Angie dan Nana main ke rumah Mita.”
Hahahaha ...
Komentarku ke Angie, “Aduh Sayang, maaf Mama udah di kantor nih, ada teachers’ meeting yang harus Mama hadiri. Angie pulang sendiri aja yah? Nana ga minta dijemput Mamanya?”
“Iya sih. Ya udah, Angie pulang bareng Nana aja kalau gitu. Bye bye Mama ... ‘met meeting ya?” jawab Angie.

*****

Rabu 28 Maret 2007
Tadi Angie bercerita Mita kirim sms ke dia. “Aduh Angie, aku ditangkep polisi nih! Masak hanya gara-gara aku imut aku ditangkep polisi? Gimana dong?”
Aku ingat banget kalau Bapaknya Mita polisi, so aku langsung tahu Mita cuma becandain Angie aja. Dan Angie pun tahu itu, dan dia sedang kumat cueknya, so dia ga balesin sms Mita yang sedang kurang perhatian. LOL.
Sekitar setengah jam kemudian Mita telepon.
“Eh Ngie, kamu tahu ga? Cuma kamu loh yang langsung sadar kalau aku cuma becanda! Tadi Nana langsung telepon aku dan tanya ini itu. Setelah tahu aku cuma becanda, marah-marah lah dia. Ganis juga begitu. Malah ngambek dia sekarang. Aduh, gimana dong kalau Ganis marah betulan sama aku? Tadi aku telepon, dia banting teleponnya.”
“Enggaklah, paling Ganis cuma kesel sedikit sama kamu. Besok paling dia udah balik baik lagi sama kamu. Ganis tuh kan sobatmu yang paling sayang sama kamu?” komentar Angie.
Setelah bercerita itu, Angie merayuku untuk memasakkan indomie dicampur telur kesukaannya, plus segelas teh manis hangat.
Dan sebagai Mama yang manis dan baik hati, aku pun dengan senang hati membuatkan untuknya. LOL.
PT56 22.40 280307

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My Spoilt Angie



Minggu 25 Maret 2007.
Aku sampai rumah sekitar pukul 09.00 dari Paradise Club. (FYI, aku meninggalkan PC setelah the cutie ngomelin aku untuk segera to turn her off berhubung dia minta di-recharge. LOL.) Ketika memasuki ruang tengah, dan melongok ke ruang makan, aku lihat adik bungsuku sedang nonton televisi. Kemana gerangan my Lovely Star? Biasanya dia yang duduk di kursi situ.
“Angie?” aku bertanya.
Menggunakan gestures, adikku memberitahuku kalau Angie sedang nonton televisi di kamarnya. Mengapa bertukar tempat yah? Aku bertanya dalam hati. But I didn’t really give a damn.
Aku segera ke kamar mandi, untuk mencuci baju berenang dan menjemurnya. Setelah itu aku sarapan. My beloved mother telah memasak bakmi Jowo untuk anak-anak tercintanya. 
Ketika aku sedang menggosok gigi, setelah makan, Angie datang. Melihatku sedang menggosok gigi, dia bertanya, dengan nada agak kesal, “Mama sudah sarapan?”
“Sudah Sayang...” jawabku. Kupikir dia sudah sarapan, sehingga aku tidak menawarinya untuk sarapan bersamaku.
“Ah ...!!!” Angie mengeluh kecewa, sembari menghempaskan pantatnya ke salah satu kursi yang terletak di ruang makan itu.
Ketika aku menghampirinya, dia berkata, “Angie tuh kelaparan, menunggu Mama pulang, untuk sarapan bareng Mama. Masak Mama makan duluan ga ngajak Angie bareng?” protesnya. Matanya berkaca-kaca.
Duh!!! Anakku sedang kumat manjanya.
“Aduh Sayang, maafin Mama ya. Kirain Angie sudah sarapan tadi?”
“Belum!!!” jawabnya setengah ketus. LOL.
“Ya udah. Sarapan sekarang ya? Mama siapin sekarang ya?” aku menawarinya.
“Iya ...” jawabnya, manja. LOL.
“Mau Mama masakin telur ceplok?” tanyaku.
Dia mengangguk.
So??? Setelah aku menikmati kesendirianku di PC dalam dunia sempitku—myself, notebook, dan MP—aku kembali menikmati peranku sebagai seorang Ibu dari seorang anak perempuan yang telah memasuki masa remaja, yang berhubung merupakan anakku satu-satunya kadang masih manja. LOL.
“Jangan-jangan kamu sendiri tuh yang segitu kurang kerjaannya sehingga mengurusi Angie sampai hal-hal kecil begitu, such as preparing her meals, making her cups of coffee, or glasses of iced tea, bikinin sandwich, nyuapin dia makan, dll, dll!” tuduh Abangku beberapa bulan lalu. LOL.
That’s it!!! I love it.
PT56 12.10 250307

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My Sweet Angie



Jumat 16 Maret 2007.
Aku menginjakkan kaki di rumah, sepulang dari Paradise Club fitness center, sekitar pukul 09.15. Setelah mengambil setumpuk pakaian kotor dari keranjang yang khusus kusediakan untuk pakaian kotor di kamar, aku langsung ke kamar mandi. Dan berkutatlah aku di situ selama kurang lebih satu setengah jam; mencuci pakain plus mandi (yang kedua, karena pagi harinya sebelum mengantar Angie ke sekolah dan kemudian ke PC, aku sudah mandi.)
Sekitar pukul 11.00, seusai menjemur pakaian yang baru saja kucuci, aku masuk kamar karena kudengar bunyi “ding ... dong ...” pertanda ada sms masuk ke hape. Aku yang sedang menunggu sms balasan dari Abang semenjak pukul 8 pagi harinya, langsung berlari untuk mengambil hape, untuk mencari tahu mengapa Abang membalas smsku sangat terlambat.
Setelah kubuka hapeku yang berbentuk flip flop itu, kulihat ada satu sms yang menunggu dibuka, dan tujuh missed calls. Heran, siapa yang miscall? Oh ... ternyata my Lovely Star. Dan sms itu pun darinya, yang mengatakan, “Ma ... jemput sekarang aja ya?”
Karena belum siap, aku membalasnya, “Sebentar Sayang, Mama baru selesai menjemur cucian. Tunggu ya?”
Aku langsung buru-buru mempersiapkan diri.
Angie membalas, “Cepetan ya Ma. Ini teman-teman yang menemani Angie nungguin Mama jemput udah hampir mati kebosanan nih.” LOL.
15 menit kemudian aku sudah sampai di traffic light dekat sekolah Angie, SMA N 3 Semarang. Selama itu, Angie tak bosan-bosannya misscall melulu. Heran, apa yang membuatnya usil begitu yah? pikirku. LOL.
Sesampai di pintu keluar, aku lihat Angie sedang duduk sendirian, manyun kebosanan. LOL. Sorot matanya memancarkan rasa gundah. Aku heran, ada apa?
Angie langsung duduk di boncenganku, dan tanpa bicara apa-apa aku langsung ngacir. Dalam perjalanan aku ingat-ingat lagi Angie tidak pernah marah maupun gusar atau sebangsanya itu kalau aku menjemputnya terlambat. Waktu dia masih duduk di bangku SD dulu, aku pernah menjemputnya sangat terlambat, kurang lebih 1 jam, karena aku harus melakukan sesuatu yang lain. Dan berhubung kita berdua belum terhubung dengan handphone (masih terlalu mahal untuk ukuran kantongku waktu itu), praktis kita tidak bisa saling memberitahu. Bahkan pada waktu itu pun, yang kulihat adalah senyum manisnya yang mengembang tulus, matanya berbinar menatapku senang, melihat Mamanya datang menjemput. Sedangkan aku sendiri berurai air mata, karena merasa begitu bersalah datang menjemput sangat terlambat.
So, apa gerangan yang membuat Angie manyun? Aku bertanya dalam hati.
Sebelum pulang, aku ajak Angie mampir ke restauran Mie Bandung. Beberapa hari sebelumnya, dia bilang pengen makan mie ayam bakso. Aku ajak Angie mampir ke situ bukan untuk menebus rasa bersalahku karena datang terlambat menjemputnya, tapi memang sebelumnya sudah kurencanakan. Bahkan kupikir Angie yang pulang terlalu awal. LOL. Setahuku biasanya dia pulang sekolah sekitar pukul 11.30 kalau hari Jumat.
Setelah masuk restaurant, dan Angie menulis pesan makan dan minum, aku menatapnya. Sembari menunggu pesanan datang, Angie langsung nerocos.
“Mama ... ga kebayang deh pasti apa yang terjadi kemarin di pertandingan sepak bola!” Angie terlihat menahan emosi (yang dengan baik dia lakukan.)
Dan ... mulailah acara curhatnya. Ah ... aku lega. Angie belum berubah. Sorot matanya yang gundah, dan bibirnya yang manyun tatkala aku datang menjemput bukan dikarenakan dia ngambek aku datang terlambat. Tapi karena dia sebal, dan (agak) patah hati mendengar apa yang terjadi di pertandingan sepak bola hari Kamis. Angie sendiri tidak nonton pertandingan kelasnya melawan kelas lain itu, sehingga dia tidak langsung tahu kejadian heboh apa yang terjadi.
Curhat Angie kali ini kusensor ajalah. Bukan untuk umum. LOL.
My sweet Angie ... the best blessing I have ever got in this life of mine.
PT56 21.55 180307

Friday, March 16, 2007

ARIES

Kamu percaya kah kalau orang yang berbintang ARIES punya bakat untuk memberantakkan suatu tempat? 
Ketika aku masih remaja, teman sekamarku adalah adikku Nunuk yang usianya empat tahun lebih muda dariku. Aku seorang LEO sedangkan Nunuk adalah seorang VIRGO. Seingatku di kamar ada dua buah tempat tidur single, satu buatku, dan satu lagi buat Nunuk. Di tengah tempat tidur ada satu meja plus rak tempat kita berdua menaruh buku-buku pelajaran sekolah. Di pojok yang lain ada lemari pakaian. Kita berdua sama-sama bukanlah orang yang rajin merapikan kamar. LOL. Kalah jauh dibandingkan dengan kakakku (cowo) yang berbintang LIBRA. Tempat tidurnya selalu rapi, sehingga kadang kalau aku main ke kamarnya, aku suka tidur-tiduran di situ. Kalau ketahuan kakakku, kadang dia ngomel, apalagi kalau dia baru saja mengganti sprei dengan sprei yang baru. LOL.
Tempat tidurku? Selalu saja ada barang ini itu; buku yang berserakan di bawah bantal (sok kutu buku soalnya LOL), tas sekolah, radio saku, dll. Tempat tidur Nunuk? Idem ditto. LOL. Kemudian kita menemukan ide yang brillian agar kita tetap bisa tidur dengan nyaman. Kita gelar (well, this is Javanese, I don’t know what it is in bahasa Indonesia LOL) tikar di tengah-tengah tempat tidur kita berdua. So, sebelum kita tidur, kita berdua melempar barang apa aja yang ada di atas tempat tidur ke atas tikar. LOL.
Tentu saja my beloved mom sering ngomel melihat tingkah laku kedua anak (cewe) remajanya. Anak yang cowo rajin merapikan kamar, eh, yang cewe kebalikannya. LOL. (So, lupakan saja masalah stereotyping cowo cewe, bahwa cewe lebih rapi dibandingkan cowo. LOL.)
Ketika lulus SMA, aku melanjutkan kuliah ke Yogya. Pertama aku ngekos di Jalan Kaliurang Km 5 Gang Mijil no. 11. Kamar lumayan sempit, dengan tempat tidur hanya setengah dari tempat tidurku di Semarang. Aku sering was-was jangan-jangan aku bakal jatuh terguling ke bawah kalau sedang tidur. LOL. Ada sebuah meja belajar plus rak untuk buku dan pakaian. Kamarku di Yogya ini lebih rapi dibandingkan kamarku di Semarang yang kuhuni berdua dengan Nunuk. Hal ini bisa membuat Nunuk menjadi scapegoat bahwa dialah penyebab berantakannya kamar kita berdua. LOL. LOL. Ketika kuliah S1 itu, kalau aku pulang ke rumah, kadang aku dapati tempat tidur Nunuk yang super penuh dengan barang ini itu, tikar di antara kedua tempat tidur ga ada, dan Nunuk tidur di tempat tidurku. Nah lo. LOL.
Sekarang my roommate is Angie. She is also my bedmate karena kita share tempat tidur yang berukuran 2 m x 1.5 m. FYI, Angie is an ARIES. Kamar kita berdua selalu berantakan. Aku pikir karena mungkin terlalu banyak barang di kamar kita—terutama buku—dan dua rak buku yang masing-masing berukuran 60cm (lebar) dan tinggi 125 cm tidak cukup memuat semua bukuku (dan buku Angie). Aku yang greedy buku ini kadang ke rumah kita yang satunya (sok banget punya rumah dua LOL) dan mengambili buku yang berada di situ karena aku kepengen membacanya. (Di rumah yang satu itu aku punya rak buku panjang 2 meter, tinggi 180 cm.) Alhasil, rak buku kita semakin berjubellah dengan buku-buku.
Itu sebab aku kepengen membeli rak baru, yang selain bisa berfungsi sebagai rak buku, juga untuk menyimpan barang-barang lain agar kamarku terlihat lebih rapi. Namun ketika aku mengatakan hal ini kepada Angie, komentarnya, “Mama ... karena penghuni kamar ini ada yang berbintang Aries, maka kayaknya ga mungkinlah kamar ini bakal rapi. Paling baru Mama rapiin di pagi hari, Angie pulang sekolah sudah ga rapi lagi.” LOL. LOL.
Mengenai hal ini—bahwa orang Aries pekerjaannya membuat satu tempat berantakan—aku dapatkan dari seseorang yang pernah mampir dalam hatiku. Dia berbintang Aries. Ketika anak pertamanya lahir pada tanggal 18 April 2005, berbintang Aries, istrinya mengatakan, “Oh no ... ada dua Aries di rumah ini? Bakal mereka berdua bahu membahu untuk membuat rumah ini tambah berantakan.” LOL.
“Oh? I have never heard such a thing...” aku bilang ke dia.
“Oh yeah? Well, I have told you so now you know that.” Katanya.
“My daughter is an Aries. Can I say that she was the one who made our house always in a mess?” tanyaku.
“Definitely,” dia bilang. Dia juga mengaku bukan tipe orang yang rapi. LOL.
Ketika aku mengatakan hal ini kepada Angie, dia sangat bersuka cita. LOL. Dia merasa punya innate excuse untuk selalu membuat berantakan kamar kita berdua: BECAUSE SHE WAS BORN AS AN ARIES!!!”
PT56 11.50 150307

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Mother-Daughter Relationship



Below is the paper I wrote for the final project of AMERICAN’S MULTICULTURALISM IN LITERATURE class I attended four years ago, and Professor Hugh Egan from Ithaca College New York was the lecturer. (NOTE: I was not a feminist yet. LOL.)

MOTHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP

The story Two Kinds written by Amy Tan reminds me of my own experience with my daughter. Like the narrator’s mother, I also want my daughter to be a prodigy. When Angie—my only daughter—was two years old, I taught her to read. I bought a lot of children books full of colorful pictures. She was really interested so that she enjoyed opening the books, looking at the colorful pictures, and trying to memorize alphabets under each picture. I was very pleased when she could read and distinguish many kinds of colors—red, blue, white, yellow, pink, purple, black, green, brown, orange, and grey—at three years old. Her teachers at playgroup were astonished to know that. She said that children of that age usually could not read yet, and they were expected to know only three main colors—red, yellow, and green.
At kindergarten, she excelled over her classmates. She got her first trophy in dancing competition during her two years in kindergarten. Her teacher told me that she has talent in dancing. I did not send her to a special dancing class yet at that time. She got dancing lesson at school. In welfare party of kindergarten, besides leading her classmates recite Holy Alquran—we are Muslim—she performed dances and read a poem. I was very proud of her at that time though I knew that Angie was very tired at the end of the party.
At the first year of elementary school, besides going to school in the morning, she joined some activities in the afternoon—she joined English course, dancing, drawing, and also fashion modeling and a kind of leadership class to boost her self-confidence. This is because I realize that I am not a confident person to perform something in front of audience. I want her to be self-confident. Once in a while, my sister who worked as a radio announcer asked Angie to accompany her as an announcer in a children program in her workplace.
Different from my daughter, I never joined any kind of courses when I was a kid. At that time, joining courses was not a popular pastime. Besides, for my parents, to be a pious person is much more important than to be a prodigy. Therefore, I was sent to an Islamic elementary school. (I sent Angie to a public/state elementary school.) I believe my parents expected me to grow up to be a pious woman who would do the teachings of Islam strictly, just like them. They gave more attention whether I did the teachings of Islam—praying five times a day and fasting in Ramadhan month for 30 days besides reciting the Holy Alquran daily—than whether I studied at home, e.g. to do homework. My parents would be angry if I did not pray or recite Alquran, but they were not angry if I did not study. Besides, my parents taught me to obey whatever they told me to do. In Indonesia, children are taught like that, they are not supposed to oppose their parents in all aspects (except if the parents ask something considered sinful in the religion teachings, e.g. stealing). Parents are considered to know better what is good or bad for their children because of their advancement in age and experience.
During the last decade, I saw the culture changing. I think this is due to the globalization era. Indonesian people get influence from other countries; e.g. from movies, news, etc. when I was a kid, my parents did not give a special attention to my study—to be the best student in class for example. Now parents expect their children to study in the best school and to be the best student in class. Besides, they also want their children to have other activities outside school, such as joining English course, computer, drawing, dancing, playing music instrument, fashion modeling classes, and so on. (To meet the parents’ demand, people open such courses because they see it as lucrative business.) When I was a kid, it was not common for parents to talk about their children’s achievement in and outside school. Now, it becomes very common. A’s parents may ask B’s parents about the child’s achievement, while the children themselves ask each other, “Have you ever won a competition? What kind of competition? How many trophies have you got?” or “What kind of activities do you join outside school?” and so on, just like in the story of Two Kinds. And like in Two Kinds, I also find some parents who really want to see their children on the screen on television. They will do everything they can as long as they can make their dream—and not always their children’s—come true.
This phenomenon also influenced me. Having only one child, maybe I unconsciously gave a heavy burden to Angie. I wanted her to be the best student at school while at the same time I also wanted her to get a lot of achievements from her activities outside school. If I had more than one child, maybe I would share the burden with other children. For example, Angie got achievement at school (e.g. as the best student), another child would be a national swimmer, another one again a famous fashion model. Well, I do not know.
While the narrator in Two Kinds did not like her mother’s idea to make her prodigy, my daughter enjoyed all her activities outside school at that time. Especially she enjoyed most when she joined some competitions and became the winner, e.g. reading poem in English, reciting the Holy Alquran, dancing, and fashion modeling. I did not ignore her school though, she was the second best student in her class.
When she was at the third grade of elementary school (eight years old at that time), I started to teach her to ‘argue’ things when she did not like things I said or did to her. different from the narrator’s mother in Two Kinds, I did not really want her to obey anything I said or asked her to do for my sake. I wanted her to do things because she enjoyed it, and she felt that she needed and wanted to do it, not because she wanted to make me happy. I did not want our relationship like common mother-daughter relationship in Indonesia, and old-fashioned way where the mother commands and the daughter obeys—a kind of relationship I had with my mother when I was a kid. I want our relationship just like between friends. She was free to express her opinion to me about everything.
As I said earlier, my parents taught me to obey what they said. I was not supposed to disagree with their idea. In fact, I did not feel happy for that. However, I was taught that to oppose parents is sinful. Raised in a religious family, I did not dare to commit sin, because I was taught that sinful people would go to hell, the worst place that God has ever created, a very terrible place. On the other hand, if I obeyed what my parents said, I would go to heaven, the best and most comfortable place that God has created.
However, I did not really feel happy to be raised in such an atmosphere. I was not really open to my parents, worrying if my parents could not understand me and I would make them angry when I had a different idea from them. I was more open to my friends, telling them what I felt because they understood me more. It made my relationship with them not so intimate. I do not want such a thing to happen between Angie and me. I am worried if I am strict to my daughter, ask her to obey whatever I say to her, without respecting and listening to what she says, I will make my daughter confide in her friends more than in me. I do not like the idea that she tells her friends more than she tells me. I want her to regard me as someone who will always understand her, so that she will tell me freely what she thinks, feels, and does. I want to be the most trusted friend for her.
Because of my teaching to argue with me, Angie started to refuse to join any kind of activities and competitions. When I asked her why she refused, she just answered, “I just do not want to.” I told her, “It’s okay if you do not want to do something. But when you refuse to do it, or when you choose to do it, you must have a good reason for that. It is not wise to say, “I just do not want to do that!” but she still said the same thing. “I just don’t want to. No other reason.” Frankly speaking, I was disappointed. However, I had to respect what she wanted. Only once in a while she was willing to do the activities she usually did before or joined competition. She did not refuse offers like being a master of ceremony (she was the MC of an opening ceremony of Children’s Day in Central Java last year), a radio announcer, and a fashion model.
Going back to the story Two Kinds, I am very impressed with the narrator’s way to protest her mother. She said frankly, “I’m not going to play anymore. Why should I? I’m not a genius.” … “You want me to be someone that I’m not! I’ll never be the kind of daughter you want me to be!” Being born in America, though her mother was a Chinese immigrant, the narrator really had “courage” to oppose her mother. I believe she adopted American culture about freedom that she saw in her surrounding. When you feel like doing something, do it. When you do not like it, don’t do it. I dream that one day my daughter will speak up to me, to express what she feels about something, to give me clear reasons when she decides to do something or refuses to do it, and not just says, “I simply don’t want to do it, Ma!” or “I just want to do it, Ma!”
My comment about the narrator’s mother is that she is “split” into two. I think she migrated to the United States—like any other immigrants—to achieve success, meaning having much money while at the same time to forget her bitter past life. Besides, she also was inspired with one of American dreams—you can be whatever you want to be. She wanted her daughter—the narrator—to be whatever she wanted her daughter to be. In this case, she wanted to make the narrator an American child (to be like Shirley Temple for example). On the other hand, she still adhered to Chinese tradition. She insisted that the narrator be an obedient daughter. In her opinion, a child must obey what the parents command. A child is the property of parents so that the child is not free to decide his/her own future. It means that the narrator’s mother wanted to make her child an American child without forgetting that she has Chinese blood in the body.
I was sorry when the narrator said, “I wish I wasn’t your daughter. I wish you weren’t my mother.” In my opinion, it is a terrible thing to hear our daughter saying that. I would be very upset and feel miserable in her position. And it was a shame that in order to ‘defeat’ her mother’s obstinacy, the narrator said, “I wish I’d never been born! I wish I were dead!” I believe it struck her so hard that at last she stopped her ambition to make her daughter a prodigy.
Indeed, we must realize that our children do not rally belong to us. God does not really give them to us, He just lends them to us. Like what Anne Bradstreet wrote in one of her poem “Farewell fair flower that for a space was lent, Then, ta’en away unto eternity.” And in Islam, there is a tradition to say “Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un” which means “in fact everything and everyone on this earth belongs to God, so to Him everything and everyone will go back at the end” when we hear news that someone passes away.
It is true that through us—parents—children were born. However, it does not mean that they are ours so that we can do anything we want to do to them as if they were our properties. They have their own thinking, feeling, interest, which are different from our way of thinking, feeling, and interest.
The story reminds me that maybe it could happen to me too. My ambition to make my daughter a prodigy can ruin our relationship. I have to always remember that she is not me, she has her own world which is different from mine. She has her own way of thinking, feeling, and interest which may be contradictory to mine. And I have to respect that. In fact, I’d love to see her grow up and be a different person from me. in Indonesia—and maybe also in other nations—parents mostly want to see their children be better than they are in all aspects, having better education, job, luck, destiny, and especially for me, I want to see my daughter grow up having better character traits than I do—more intelligent, pious, broadminded, open-minded, confident, successful, and also wise. Too much to ask, yes, I realize that. but I think, other parents may share the same feeling with me.
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COMMENT FROM PROFESSOR HUGH EGAN
As I read this revealing essay, I think that your daughter is quite lucky to have a mother as introspective and self-examining as you are. This is a nice meditation on how parental ambition can be self-defeating, turning kids into rebels rather than prodigies. I’m fascinated by a number things. First, you hint that your daughter started to rebel after you encouraged her in the art of argument—although her rebellion did not really take the form of argument, right? Second, you conclude (with Bradstreet) that children are only “lent” by God rather than given permanently, and I wonder if that religious thought actually provides the kind of comfort you say it does. There is something heartbreaking in seeing children willfully turn away from parental preferences, but it is also a normal psychological process by which they must define their own identities. It is this sort of explanation (rather than a religious explanation) that I rely upon when I think of my own children. (And we have some experiences in common.) I’m fascinated by your choice to emphasize education over religion (at least more than your parents emphasized it) in your own household, which leads to my question about whether traditional religion provides the kinds of answers you need. Fine work.
Yogya, June, 2003