Physical ailments aside, the worst kind of pain I get as a mother is when my boys are in emotional distress and there is nothing I can do about it…
Hubs is not the most communicative nor intuitive person around and, as a result, the boys occasionally suffer from varying degrees of frustration and feelings of neglect. It’s not something that he does intentionally; he’s just that kind of “strong silent man” due to his upbringing. Be a man. Take hardships in your stride. Actions speak louder than words. Be humble because there are always others who are better/richer/smarter than you. Never neglect your responsibilities. One really can’t help but respect the kind of discipline they have to keep on keeping on regardless of whatever.
But – and there’s always a “but” in everyone’s life – his family is not strong in communication. In fact, the harsh way to say it would be that they are terrible communicators. They do not share feelings, they just trudge on in life no matter what. “Talking about it doesn’t change the fact that you still have to do what you have to do”, my mother-in-law once told me in Chinese. “Whether you like it or not, you still have to do it. So why waste time talking about it?”
[Slight digression: While this is the complete opposite of what I had learnt from my family, I couldn’t deny how right she was about it. Life goes on in spite of all the pain, mistakes and unwillingness. Yet, ironically, it is not entirely out of our control. My mother caved in to suicide and ended her own life, so in a way, she bought her own ticket out of all that she refused to deal with. Though that is a tad extreme, it is a way out.]
So with this kind of mentality infused in the family since his grandfather’s time (literally), Hubs not only has issues communicating his feelings and thoughts, but also faces difficulty understanding them at times. As a child, he was not taught how to handle what he feels, creating the facade of nonchalance towards everything. Without intervention and a conscious effort to change, the same problems will carry on to his children. My children.
However, as the children have spent most of their lives with me, they’ve picked up my mannerisms and are emotionally proficient for their respective ages. They are able to convey their needs and thoughts through words and body language, although sometimes it is so subtle that only a mother’s sixth sense could pick up on them.
And as I watched Kee sadly walk away from Hubs for the past two days, I suddenly realise how much he needs for Hubs to understand what he’s trying to say. He was so happy to hear that Hubs was coming home that he was bouncing his body up and down despite running a 38.7℃ fever. He kept smiling, grinning and chuckling through the rest of Saturday, just happy to see Hubs around the house. But yet when he tried to “talk” to his father, he could not make himself be understood.
Not only did his attempts fail, Hubs’ attempts to connect with him failed as well. It was a two-way communication breakdown. As if one was speaking German and the other one spoke Japanese; no one understood each other. And this has been the case for a couple of months now.
So he walked away with his head down, feeling neglected as Hubs conversed efficiently with Josh, and came to me for comfort. His eyes and sad pout seemed to say: “Why isn’t Papa talking to me? Doesn’t he miss me like I miss him? Doesn’t he love me like I love him?” My heart broke seeing how the two of them were so near yet so far.
While I have been and still am their mediator, there are just certain things that have to be conveyed directly. I cannot tell him that his father loves him very much and expect it to have the same effect as when Hubs says it himself. Meanwhile as Hubs learns how to communicate with Kee effectively, I can only watch Kee wear the hurt on his face and do my best to assure him that he is loved and wanted by his daddy.