Enjoy the last day of the first decade of the 21 century.
This is written on the eve of the New Year for my children and for all of my dear friends and relatives. My children hear me repeatedly pounding into their heads the value of time and they still act as if they didn’t know they were 14 or 15 only once.
The story goes like this. A man is suddenly gripped by the desire to learn drawing. But he cannot make up his mind. Hence, he goes to ask a primary school teacher, “You see, I will be 44 years in 4 years. Do you think I can learn it?”
“Why not? You will be 44 years old in 4 years even if you don’t learn drawing,” is the answer. Indeed, time flies even if you don’t learn or do anything. Just as flowers will blossom, even if nobody pays attention to them.
People seldom save time with the same zest as they save money and other tangible valuables. Common sense seems to give them the illusion that time come by freely and endless of it without their ever putting an effort, but they have to earn money which is gone and spent so fast. Alas, people seldom realize the fact that while they can earn money but time, once gone, is lost forever. No amount of gold can get back a second of it.
Once again, I have this for my children — show me how you use your time and I will show you your future.
A day before the eve of New Year.
On Monday after I got back from work, I asked my daughter what she had accomplished in a day. “Oops, I have not thought about it, but I will think about it tomorrow,” said she. My son said, “You should always think about what you should do at the beginning of the day instead of at the end of the day. Otherwise, you will think there is always a tomorrow to get things done.” His words reminds me of a poem called The Song of Tomorrow. It goes like this, “Tomorrow after tomorrow, with endless tomorrows. Everything will end up in bubbles if people always wait for tomorrow…”
When I shared with my friend my thought on issue touched on 12/16/2009, my friend suggested that very often we do good thing without enough passion. Exactly so. When I told my children to live a life that’s worth living, find your passion and go for it with full speed, we ourselves have not provided a good model for them in this aspect.
Look at our own lives, do we exemplify the kind of life that we expect our children to live? No. I am not content with my current position, neither are many people that I know of. Just look at our New Year Resolutions at the end of each year. At best, my life consists of many dreams, goals, tons of efforts to advance and to overcome any adversities, and then is often followed by a series of compromise and another compromise.
All we can say is we try our best and won’t suffer from regret and guilt when we are old and fragile.
P.S. I talked to a former college classmate last weekend and learned about more of our classmates. The seven of us were roommates for four years. We were young and immensely stupid, yet happy for no reason at all, leaving endless laughter beyond ourselves even after so many years.
A heavy snow greeted us on the Christmas morning, 12/25/2009. I knew we expected a family coming over for dinner and we might have to drive out in the morning, so I started out shoveling the snow on our drive way. Boy, it was a backbreaking and lip-biting task! I felt like going to collaps after this unwilling workout.
Back home I thought it a good opportunity for my daughter to learn a lesson. So I told her, “Get up quickly. You got a good opportunity to earn some spending money. Just go to one of our neighbors and said, “Merry Christmas. Can I shovel snow on your drive way for $10?”
She welcomed the idea and went out cheerfully but she had no idea how hard the job was. I thought she would appreciate this hard-earned money after this exercise. My son went to help her. Actually my son did the large part of shoveling. The neighbor lady was so kind and gave her $40 instead. She gave her brother half of it but her brother did not take it.
I was so proud of my daughter. When she got back home, she was exhausted. “Are you happy you did it?” I asked. “Yea, sure,” said she.
P.S. Back to work and in some way to a break, after a long weekend at home with many people running around and equal number of high-pitched voices yelling in the sky. More on this later.
My children think I give them too much lectures and pep talks as if they did not need any of them at all. As a matter of fact, we all are not as strong as we would like to be and all need some kind of pep talks in our daily life. Instead of going to church every Sunday, these pep talks strengthen us up so that we can be able to shoulder our responsibilities.
Just last Friday afternoon a high school classmate of mine called from California. I was home already while she was still working. I told her of my work schedule, up at 6 AM and back around 3 PM, feeling exhausted before the day ends. Still, I need to drag my feet till midnight. Sometimes I feel my legs are giving away. She feels the same way. I am sure many responsible parents are doing exactly the same thing for their children.
I often recall to my daughter how difficult life was when my son was small and I was working on my dissertation and teaching for money and how I managed to beat the deadline each time and accomplished what I started for.
With motivation and positive thinking, you need to be equipped with certain mental toughness to tide you through any adversities in order to reach your goal. This toughness is what we all need.
An acquaintance of mine, having moved out of this area, once said that she would not want her son to go out of the state for college, more for fear of losing him. This reminds me of my aunt who makes sure the both of her sons settle in the same town as she does.
I have seen too many cases where parents try to keep their children close by, shielding them under the wings of a huge hen, mostly out of fear — the fear of children being on their own or of children not coming back any more once letting them fly too far, or of children getting into a wrong group which will lead them to a wrong path.
Here’s another extreme case of dependence from an acquaintance of mine. She is already in her late 50s. Her mother in her 80s still lives with her, serves her, and be her company. So much of lack of independence at this stage of life, she provides a classic example of its kind and the consequence of a failed parenting.
To be sure, these fears are as powerful as they are irrational and detrimental, to the point that they never fear that their children will never grow up and be independent. For some time, I am not sure if these parents start out for their own benefit or for that of their children. I would like to think better of these parents.
Alas, parenting involves so much in terms of love, reason, and honest self-reflection, honest with the children and with themselves.
P.S. A family of four came over last night against the snowy day.
During the weekend of 12/5/2009, after my daughter left SAT test center at SME, we went to Whole Foods, where she ordered a tiny small cup of gelato and started consuming it. Before we checked out, she had completely finished it. We could just trash the container without paying for it. She left the store first. When I returned to the car, she asked me, “Did you pay for gelato?” I showed her the receipt. “Good,” said she. That was an expensive little cup. Much as I hated it, I still paid for it because I knew I should. Next, our conversation turned to this subject.
There is a difference between these two attitudes — (1) You think it a good thing and you do it because you want to do the good. (2) You think it a good thing and you do it because you think you should. Very often we adopt the second attitude and still believe we are good persons. Actually we are not as good as we believe. If we are really good, we should love doing the good thing regardless of should-or-should-not.
In essence, a little bit self-reflection often serves to curb our overblown ego. Yes, self-reflection seems so incongruous to this commercialized religious holiday. We had a friend family coming over just to catch up with each other. Nothing commercial and nothing religious.
An acquaintance of mine started his Ph.D program and had to give it up after over a decade. I know of many people who can be characterized as having a big temper but small character, steel-strong in trivial fight but cotton-weak in the will to rise up. When he is expected to complete a task within a certain time-frame, he fails again and again and has to push back this time limit. For all people like this friend of mine, it is mostly because they are not strong enough to break out of their comfort zone and do what they have to do. A loser has to break away from his/her loser habit in order to cease to be a loser.
I always tell my children, “A man got to do what a man got to do” and “Tough it out if toughness is needed.” If you lose, there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever. You can get back to your comfort zone only after you have fulfilled your commitment to yourself and to others. If you make one commitment or set one task for yourself, stick to it until the job is complete. If you start a journey, like that lovely tortoise, don’t stop until you reach the end.
I have seen too many cases where a person so ridiculously fails simply because he/she cannot tough it out, all being the direct outcome of a weak will and character, the ruin of it all. Therefore, the building of a strong valid character should be on top of all parenting efforts. With that, everything else should fall in their right place.
So much has been going on at the same time — my son came back last Friday, my daughter just finished the finals yesterday, and I am in the process of moving into another clinic, a bit further away from home, but a welcome move as people at the new site are much nicer than some that I have been working with.
Yesterday evening the whole family plus the relative went to take a walk at a big mall, which did not end up pleasantly. After that my son and I took a long walk outside, talking and exchanging views on issues that concerned both of us. By the time we got home, it was after 10 PM. He took away a novel that his sister was reading, drove her to a local bookstore, where he wanted to get her a good book. I know he will have some serious talk with his sister.
I am so glad he is home. I know he will be of tremendous help to me. In fact he is the only help that I can count on. I cannot think of anyone beside him who genuinely cares for his sister. With his help, the future should be bright. Let’s hope.
On the evening of 12/20/2009, I talked to my relative in China about the challenge of responsible parenting. It is a difficult topic because people invariably have very different standards on what constitutes a good parenting. I know some people believe the best parenting is the least parenting, so much like some politicians who uphold the best government is the least governing.
Very often parents act upon the assumption that whatever they do, they do it for the benefit of the children and always with good intentions. Unbeknown to most parents, whatever the parents do, they inevitably leave permanent imprints on their children. When we talked about our parents, we realized that they had definitely shaped our view of life and the world and dictated the way we deal with people. Whatever we do, there is the shadow of early parenting at work.
Indeed, by now I have realized parenting, at least responsible parenting, is one of the toughest tasks that an adult can possibly face. On the one hand, you want to implement proper discipline on the child, to rid the little one of any undesirable habits or make the little one do what he should do; on the other hand, you don’t want the discipline too harsh that you ruin an otherwise perfect childhood.
On the one hand, you want them to be happy and carefree; on the other hand, you know they cannot have their way all the time because their way may not be the best way for them in the long run. Take for example the simple food issue.
A child like to eat hamburgers plus french fries and absolute no vegetable, the most unhealthy lifestyle being the key ingredient to his being happy. I see not a few parents will feed their children the way they want. They might have a happy childhood but will have to pay the price later in their lives in the form of heart attack and high cholesterol and even early grave
You think love is the best nutrient for the children, but you don’t want to unwisely smother them with too much of it.
The trickest part of parenting is to make children willingly do the right thing without the uncomfortable discipline and supervision. So far, I have not been so lucky to crack this trick. I always want to do what I believe is the right thing but I am always afraid that I might make everybody unhappy because of this.
Our clinic asked everybody to make donations to sponsor a family in need. This family hands us a list of what they want for Christmas. The list includes Jeans, Any new release DVD’s, Revlon new completion #2 makeup, any kind of kid movie on DVD, Axe for men, board games, Wal-mart, Best buy or Game Exchange gift cards, any kind of musical DVD, remote control car, Action figures, Transformers, Bi-onicals, … I become so impatient going their list.
I am not going to donate anything. Here’s why:
(1) I never did Christmas shopping for my children and never encouraged them to get anything for nothing, as if there were a real Santa burning money for all the kids in the world. Why should I deviate from my normal practice this time?
(2) As far as I can see, they can live very well without these stuff. That is, they don’t really need any of them and they just want something extra. I will take care of the need first and wait till I deserve it to indulge the want. They can do the same.
(3) I never bought anything that I cannot afford, other than the house. I wait till I have enough for the purchase. Why can’t they wait till they have enough? Nobody’s life is easy.
I have made clear my position on Christmas shopping. Yes, I am firmly against this wasteful practice of shopping spree, commercialization of a religious holiday, as if it were Jesus’ wish for everybody to buy and spend in celebration of his birthday.
Even more stupid is the saying “shop till you drop.” Indeed, shop till the nation drops. How ridiculous can we be? Watching Christmas shoppers often reminds me of the statement that the average intelligent level of the nation is that of a six-grader. No wonder I become impatient so easily among six-graders!
P.S. Before posting this, my daughter read the draft and asked me “Did you email it to your co-workers?” No, not that I am afraid of anything but that I don’t care sharing any of my thoughts with those around me. Here’s one funny thing at my office, some of my co-workers always do the writing on my behalf when writing is needed. Because they know my English writing is pitifully incompetent. Bless their hearts.
Last Friday, 12/18/2009, two elderly colleagues of mine bought a winter jacket for another young colleague as a Christmas gift. This young colleague of mine referred to the two senior colleagues as her moms, that is, they take care of her like her mom. So heart-warming in this cold December day. This reminds me of my aunt who acts in the similar manner toward her sons.
My aunt has some treasures like antiques and a handsome of wealth, best fit for her children who are not as well equipped socially and economically as she is. Both she and her husband are college graduates and become highly-paid engineers. Yet neither of her sons went to college. She raised her children like a hen trying to protect her chicks under her huge wings. So safe and caring.
Instead of buying this or that for my children or leaving them a huge chunk of wealth, I would rather inspire them, motivate them, fire their dreams and vision and the desire to learn and to grow their own wings. With their own skills and ability, they will be in the position to buy not only their own jackets but also the jackets for all in need.
Now people may say I find excuses for not buying stuffs for others. Well, in the long run, I want my children to be proud donors instead of charity recipients. I am sure that is what they want for their future.
By the way, I don’t have any objection to charity recipients. I just want my children to be the other end of it.
On 10/24/2009 in Richmond, California, over 10 boys engaged in a 2 and a half hour long gang rape against a 15-year-old girl outside a California high school homecoming dance Saturday night. Shocking and disgusting.
The most tragic and disturbing part is as many as 20 people stood there watching without doing anything, some even laughing nearby with video cameras, as if they were watching a movie.
Richmond High student body is predominently Hispanics. What can we say about that high school and the people going there and their norms, values and culture, the culture that devalues their women to nothing but sex objects? Is it too much a prejudice to see this as a reflection of a sub-culture? What has made this part of humanity downgrade to this beastly low existence? I don’t have answer. I feel sad beyond words and deeply disturbed when I think of this poor girl.
Toward the evening of 12/17/2009, I talked to one of my high school classmates over the phone about the education of our youngsters, her child being the same grade as mine. She told me something rather amusing on the surface but equally disturbing when I dwell more upon it.
Her child loves watching TV and spends large chunks of time in front of it. Knowing her parents’ position on her TV passion, she would turn it off right before her parents return home. This reminds me of my children who minimize the Internet page when I approach them, knowing too well that they are doing something they are not supposed to. Children are so good at this hiding game.
I often tell my children that the worst part of this game is they are cheating themselves. What really happens is they cheat away their time and their lives. They victimize themselves while trying to outsmart their parents. What a huge loss! I wish my children are smarter than this.
By the way, we went to the airport tonight to meet my son. So glad to have him back.
A friend of mine asked about college application. Here’s one important success ingredient.
I can never overemphasize the importance of extracurricular activities. I identify this as one of the essential components in college application. These non-academic experiences throw more light than GPA and SAT on your personality, passion, interests, potentials, maturity, ability, and leadership. A sustained commitment to a well-chosen activity is a rare quality found among high school students. If GPA and SAT tests your academic power, extracurricular activities expose the human side of you, making them to see a whole person with full spectrum.
Very often extracurricular experience is also rewarding and life-enhancing, yielding more fruit in the long run than you realize at the moment. These experiences provide unique material for essay and interview topic.
Back to the practical side, the more extracurricular activities you get involved, the more admission index points you accumulate in your favor, the greater chance you will have for thing to go your way. This is especially written for my daughter.
P.S. I just read this quote from a book that my son recommended me during his Thanksgiving breaks — “The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” Herbert Spencer.
When getting ready for a relative’s visit, I took up this book again, Harvard Family Instruction, and suddenly remembered that I should return the books to its owner. There are so many interesting stories that I simply do not have enough time to dwell upon them all.
Here’s one on Albert Einstein. He used to fool away most of his time with some children, resulting in having a few fails for his school. When his father talked to him about it, Einstein replied, “Why are you worried about it? Jack and Robert also have some fails. They also go fishing.”
Next his father told him a fable about two cats who dropped into a chimney and one of them smeared his face. When the clean-faced cat saw the dirt on the other cat, he thought his own face must be this dirty. So he went to the river and gave it a thorough scrub. However, the dirty-faced cat, seeing the clean face of his friend, believes his own face is as clean as that of his friend’s, going about the town proudly without ever a scrub.
“Albert,” said his father, “Nobody can be your mirror. You are your own mirror. If you use others as your mirror, you will eventually end up being an idiot like the dirty-faced cat.”
“I am unique and am not going to be as mediocre as others,” thus thought Einstein. The fable had since motivated Einstein to embark on his own unique and exceptionally outstanding life journey.
Five days have passed since the arrival of one of our relatives from China and so much have unfolded before me and so many puzzles have been answered, at least according to me.
So far the first impression has been overwhelmingly positive — warm-hearted, fun to be with, open personality, eager to serve, help and to give advice, hard-working at cooking and cleaning, constantly doing and moving without a moment of stopping, admirably carefree, money-wise, exuding endless energy and enthusiasm, having a wonderful memory for thing she cares most.
In many aspects she provides a sharp contrast in comparison to me. She said I worried too much. “See I don’t even worry one tiny bit even when my son is nearly 30, no job, no a girlfriend,” said she. Regardless of what, she remains a proud and upbeat mom. I wish I could be as relaxing and carefree as she is. I wish I were as energetic as she is. I ask myself if I could be this diligent if I were a guest at other’s house. I am not sure if I can be up to the task.
I always believe one of the sure ways to really know a person is to know his/her parents, which throw strong lights on how a person is raised and brought up. There is seldom an exception to this rule. In fact, I told my children not to make any commitment to their significant others before they get to know their parents. In this case, it is interesting to see the young man is almost the exact copy of his mother in his attitude toward life and the whole world view.
So far, I am glad I get to know her better. Or maybe there is other side of her that has not been revealed to me, which is very likely. At least I have come to a better understanding of how her son become what he is now.
It gives one such a warm fuzzy feeling to learn that the protection of human subjects, all of us, constitutes the heart of all the current rules and regulations regarding clinic research. Nearly all of them came into being in response to certain atrocities inflicted against human subjects.
The first and foremost important international document is Nuremberg Code of 1947, developed for the Nuremberg Military Tribunal as standards by which to judge the human experimentation conducted by the infamous Nazis doctors. The Code captures the basic principles of all clinic trials. That is, it is absolutely essential to have voluntary participation and “the voluntary consent of the human subject.” And the “experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.”
Further more protection follows. “During the course of the experiment the scientist in charge must be prepared to terminate the experiment at any stage, if he has probable cause to believe, … that a continuation of the experiment is likely to result in injury, disability, or death to the experimental subject.”
In the late 1950s a case involved Thalidomide emphasized the need for more regulation in drug development. Thalidomide was not approved by the FDA, yet it was prescribed to control sleep and nausea throughout pregnancy, but it was soon found that taking this drug during pregnancy caused severe deformities in the fetus. Many patients did not know they were taking a drug that was not approved for use by the FDA. Some 12,000 babies were born with severe deformities due to thalidomide. Thus, the 1962 “Kefauver Amendments” was added to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. It ensures drug efficacy and greater drug safety.
On 11/9, at about 10 AM Monday morning, one colleague from another office sent an email me, saying another colleague of ours was not in today. Later in the afternoon, when I went to the other office, hurriedly doing some work, one colleague talked to me in a very nebulous term. “You know it’s hard for one person to do it all, if you have only yourself. You have something you got to do yourself and have nobody to turn to.”
At first I thought she meant it was hard for me to do it all since I was the only one in that office today. I was wondering, “Strange. How come she suddenly cares about me? It’s so unlike her.” I was going to say, “Not that bad since we don’t have monitor today,” but when she mentioned her husband who had a flexible work schedule so that she did not have to do it all, I realized she meant the other absent colleague, who couldn’t come because she did not have anyone to turn to and got to do something today. She did not need to explain this to me at all, as I don’t care whoever came or not.
It is so interesting how the event turns and how erroneous was my assumption. Then I don’t understand why she was so evasive, if she was so eager to explain. Why not simply said, she couldn’t come because she had to do this or that during weekday. I know she wanted to find some excuse for her absence but she did not want to reveal the exact why.
I must be too bored to record this. But then, it might be an interesting read later. At least a break from a boring day. The next day, something of this nature occurred again. On the morning of 11/10, a colleague of mine told me secretly that another colleague got fired this morning. Both of us were deeply disturbed at seeing her go and wondering why. “Because many people don’t like her and monitors complain of the work she has messed up. She messed up with many things, so the manager has to let her go” was the answer. We were thinking who would take her place when the phone rang. It turned out that the so-called “fired” employee was joking. None got fired at all so far, but she might because of this joke. She was just being bored and extremely stupid. She reminds me so much of the book Then We Came to the End: A Novel by Joshua Ferris.
Work is a constant learning process. On 11/11, when a colleague of mine offered me some chocolate cookies, she said, “You will be as fat as me after you eat them all.” I said, “No I won’t.” She said, “You are not supposed to say so. You are supposed to say, ‘No, you are not fat. You are just like me.'”
Last weekend, I talked with a friend of mine over the phone about young Chinese students over here for graduate education. She was glad to report to me that her nephew, the son of her brother, went back to China and got a teaching position at Shanghai Shifan University (an institute for bringing out teachers). The young man stayed in US for a year and 5 month for his master degree in economics and went back after graduation. He first got a job teaching English at New East Institute teaching English, later landed this job, teaching economics in English. She told her nephew to find American roommate while he was in US and he did. See how much progress in English he had made in this short period of time.
I applaud for the young man’s success in his job-hunting. Indeed, it all fails, one can always pick up a job as an English language teacher, using his/her language skill. On the other hand, I have learned of many cases where young Chinese students still cannot communicate well with ordinary Americans even after three or four years of living in America.
The first step toward real language learning is to break out of one’s comfort zone by living with non-Chinese-speaking roommates, soaking yourself in this language as much as possible. Thus, you are forced to think and speak English whenever you open your mouth. Just as there is no excuse to trifle away your life, there is no excuse whatsoever to waste this opportunity to enrich yourself in this English language speaking environment.
As with everything else in your life and as I always say to my children, it is your life, your choice and your responsibility.
Not long ago, I was disturbed over something that I learned from another adult in the house. One of his relatives just had an extremely extravagant wedding in China, total cost running up to $80,000. They took over a whole floor of a five-star hotel, the best one in town. The news was used to prove how rich people have become and that his nephew should go back to China to catch the train to the rich and fame. But what a huge waste for just one wedding! Imagine how many children and how many lives they will be able to reach and touch with that amount of money!
Meanwhile, one of my relatives told me of a real story in China. Some super-rich people tried to get rid of their money by driving on the highway while tossing cashes out of windows in hundreds, just to enjoy the scene of money flying in the sky. Shameless and senseless beings!
These people have done nothing less than writing a shameful and infamous chapter in the history of Chinese civilization, an unprecedented one, way to prove this point, the one that the world is not willing to see, that is, the rise of an economically powerful China together with the fall of a moral China.
I hope these people were just a few isolated beings. I wish China had as many philanthropists as her millionaires and billionaires. Sadly to say, philanthropists are very scanty. Why? Off the top of my head, I can come up with one explanation — this sense of social responsibility for any unrelated human beings has not been part of education in most of Chinese families when the emphasis has always been within one’s family. Indeed, good moral and spiritual education starts from one’s first family. Or is it so? I have no other answer.
As my daughter put it, “These selfish millionaires are worse than those working at McDonald’s.” My son said, “You can be this luxurious after you have given back.” Well, not according to this writer. Wealth without morality, this is something I have warned my children against. Whatever you have means nothing, holding no social values until you share it with others, the more you share, the more valuable you are as a social being. Make efforts and make difference so that other fellow humans will lead a better existence because of you.
This was from a friend of mine, which I am sure is not new to some of the readers. Yet, we all need to be reminded from time to time, especially during holiday seasons.
If you have never experienced the danger of war or the solitude of imprisonment, the agony of torture and hunger, you are much ahead of the 500 million people who live in this world.
If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes to wear, a roof on your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than the 75% of the people who live on this Earth.
If you can go to your place of worship without being threatened, arrested, tortured or killed, you are luckier than the 3000,000,000 persons of this world.
If you have money in your bank account and your wallet and some loose change in some little box, you are one of the world’s 8% well-to-do population.
If you are able to read this message, you have just received a double blessing…one, someone is thinking about you… two, you are not one of those 2000,000,000 people who are illiterate!
Work as if you have no need of the money.
Love as if nobody ever made you suffer.
Dance as if nobody is watching you.
Sing as if nobody is hearing you.
Live as if the Paradise were on this Earth.
Now happy? Indeed, life is so darling.
P.S. the mother of the young man came yesterday evening, jolly and boisterous, an interesting character so different from most of the people that I know of, new experience, sure to provide plenty food for thought and lessons to learn.
Now that we have heard so much about the disappointed goings-on about the world-famous supposedly morally spotless Tiger Woods. Admittedly, I couldn’t help feeling disgusted, just as when I witnessed Clinton’s stupidity with that lewinsky girl. Then again, as Tiger himself claims that he is human and thus is not perfect. Don’t we already know this? What’s the big deal about it?
Is it his fault that we are disappointed? Not really. Maybe we would not feel this way if we had not held such an unreasonably high moral standard of him. Why should we expect so highly of him since he is like the rest of humanity and is not infallible and stupidity-proofed? We are doomed to fail when we expect perfection because there is no perfection.
Isn’t it true that we actually punish ourselves by raising our expectation to an unreasonably high level. Yes, true is this with celebrities, true is this with parental expectations.
One week has passed since my son left for college last Monday, 11/30/2009. Each time he comes back, I can see the change in him and he is getting more mature than before.
“Study is a privilege,” he told his sister. Not many young people at his age have come to this realization. One acquaintance of mine talked about going back to school this way, “It’s fun to go back to school.” I find it difficult to see fun in such a privilege as they are not even remotely related. Indeed, we often come to value this privilege after we left school.
He is getting better with time management. In fact, he talked to his sister on her time management problem. “When you come back home, go straight to your homework. Don’t say, ‘Oh, I work the whole day at school. I need to take a break before I hit books again.’ Because very often, before you realize it, many hours have gone and you have not started on your homework.” Indeed, this is exactly what happen right now. One of his friends often surfed around on the Internet until it is around midnight, “OMG, I have homework due tomorrow.” Then down into the night the student goes.
Another good advice to his sister — “Don’t turn on the computer as long as you can. Work on your book as much as possible. Because time runs very fast once you are on the computer.” Oh boy, don’t we know all this! I wish she could take this advice seriously.
Right now, a lot of their high school homeworks are posted on the internet. It seems you can hardly get anything done without the Internet. My son advised his sister, “When you take a 5-minute break from computer homework, stand up and do something else instead of staying on the internet. Chances are you will spend a lot longer on the computer if you use the break to surf the net.” Indeed, once you are online, there seems millions of icons screaming for your attention. With one click after another, pretty soon your time and life are sadly consumed, of no avail.
Knowing his sister was going to take SAT the next Saturday, he spent a large chunk of time working with her, explaining to her difficult concepts, much more clear and effective than anyone else. She rates him as the best tutor of all. I can’t believe he is getting so much better as a tutor.
We walked around the Plaza and Town Center. Such a blessing to have him back.
Finally I got over this certification exam yesterday at KUMC, 8 to 12 in the morning. Since I spent so much time preparing for it, I might as well share some of interesting facts here.
When I was toiling through Code of Federal Regulations, I read many extremely tedious and laborious rules on how a clinic research is legally carried out. The regulations are mostly on who does what, how and in what time frame. But it is the theoretical underpinnings for the laying of these rules and regulations that intrique me most. Sometimes, I traced back to the background of the rule establishing and tried to make sense out of it, so that it would not be so intolerably boring. When I do it, it becomes a bit interesting, and then I decide to gradually post some of them here. That’s one of my to-do-items.
Yesterday evening I talked to my mother about my exam and why I wanted to get certified. She was very happy to learn it, saying “It is good that you have a pursuit instead of going about each day just for a paycheck.” She asked me when the result would come out and wanted to be informed as I learned it. Like mother, like daughter. So is it with me and so shall it be with my children. I hope.
For now, I need to get our house ready for another arrival from China, the mother of the 26-year-old relative of ours, coming to visit us next Wednesday. She will participate in her son’s graduation ceremony next Friday, then stay with us for about two months. Looking forward to a lot of back-breaking cleaning work for this weekend.
On 11/21/2009, my daughter was going to do homework and prepare for SAT that Saturday afternoon. Certain conflict occurred between she and another adult in the family. When she was extremely upset over what she perceived as unreasonableness, she said “If you are unreasonable, I am going to be unseasonable, too.” Next, she declared loudly that she was not going to take SAT, that she did not care going to college any more. Whatever she said, the other adult was non-stop playing on the computer as if the words fell on deaf ears.
That reminded me of an incident when my son was around her age. The other adult threatened to disconnect the internet service, my son was so agitated that he said he would not go to school if the internet was disconnected. “Whom do you threaten? I am not afraid of your not going to school at all. Go ahead” was the answer. Same thing happened to my daughter again.
Overly concerned was I at that moment, watching my daughter wasting the afternoon on the internet, doing something that she knew she should not do, just to express her anger. She had exactly two weeks before SAT and an exam early next week. I knew I had to do something to bring sense to her. So I took her out and we talked and talked, then finally she decided to go back to her study, saying “I have been acting like a simpleton.” Indeed, she later had to make up for the lost hours by working till two hours after midnight while the other adult was still on the computer, oblivious of anything outside the gaming world.
While giving my hearty applaud to my children’s quick return to sense, I am looking ahead not without concerns. I have these words for my children–
Losing a few hours of sleep is but a small price that you have to pay now. It could cost you a lot more in the future if you don’t grow out of this immature, irresponsible and totally senseless behavior. Things often happen even if we cannot make sense of them. No matter what happens and how upset you are with whatever unreasonableness, never express anger or any hard feelings by punishing yourself. Never lose sight of your big goal and your ideal self. Indeed, when you quit school or give up SAT, you are ruining your own future and your own life. Nothing can be as stupid as spitting out your anger by inflicting self-injury. I hope they can learn to bypass any negativity on their way to success.
One can either read and hear news about wealthy celebrities almost everywhere in entertainment or in business world, about their extravagancies, stupidities and the slightest whereabouts, or who-meets-who, etc. Some are nothing but the highest level of stupidity with negative degree of integrity and social value, like Jon and Kate Gosselin, providing sharp contrast when we celebrate over 100 years philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish industrialist, businessman, entrepreneur, and a major philanthropist.
Carnegie’s life was divided into two major phases — (1) making money (2) giving away money. He devoted his last 20 years to philanthropy, the true lasting legacy to the future generation of humanity, without which he would not have been so much adorned and admired world wide. There are plenty of Carnegie quotes, of which the following are my favorites:
“Man does not live by bread alone… It is the mind that makes the body rich. There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else. Money can only be the useful drudge of things immeasurably higher than itself… My aspirations take a higher flight… to have contributed to the enlightenment and the joys of the mind, to the things of the spirit,… I hold this the noblest possible use of wealth.”
“The amassing of wealth is one of the worse species of idolatry. No idol more debasing than the worship of money.”
I want my children to always keep in mind — a person is a selfish nothing, if he/she is no value to the greatest majority of people.
Occasionally a friend of mine mass-sends an email to a list of my high school classmates. Every time I click through these names, I remember some pieces of the far away past. However, the funny thing is for most of them, they know each other and know how to get in touch with one another, yet they choose not to. Is it because they are too busy or because there are too little in common among them or some other reasons which I cannot conjure up?
I threw up this question to my friend, who returned “The past memory were sweet and bitter. For sb the bitter part was more than sweet one, so they choose to ignore. I used to ask the same question and That is my thought.”
I agree with his bitter-sweet memory explanation since those young and stupid years seems so unflattering that some choose to ignore, as if avoiding further contact with the past will erase it from their memory.
Now that I read his input, I can come up with more possible explanations. People are either too lazy to contact or are not interested in getting in touch or cannot attach any value to these contact or are too busy with their own lives to care about anything else. Or we changed so much that our past experience has become totally irrelevant to us now.
This reminds me of an instance that occurred upon my son’s high school graduation. His friends voted him as the least likely to come back for high school homecoming. I thought it was because most of his classmates stayed local and he went farthest from his Kansas home. As it stands now, I am sure he won’t come back once we move out of this place.
A friend of mine asked me for a picture of my office. Here’s a corner of it.
First day of the last month for the year 2009, with a crazy week ahead, auditors plus monitor plus training plus exam on Friday and another monitor visit on that day. Last month of the year is always the busiest one — the beginning of it all today.