Monthly Archives: September 2014

And the curse lives on…

unruly kids

I was watching this youtube video-sleep deprived parent parodies classic Carmina Burana song. The ode to sleep deprived parents and terrorizing toddlers song was written by Matthew Hodge, an Australian father of three who was inspired by his one-year old son, who he hopes to show the video when he turns 21. The revamped song was performed by Sydney’s Philharmonic choir.

The musical was just amazing, with all the different voices co-ordinating beautifully. Other than that, it was also very hilarious, as it is the cry of an exasperated parent, who feels their toddler is driving them up the wall. Here are the lyrics:

O’ you terror!

Get down from there!

Mummy’s getting cranky…

Put my phone down.

Where are your pants?

What have you done with my purse?

Don’t throw those blocks.

What is that smell?

Why do you look so happy?

What’s in your mouth?

Who ripped that book?

Why won’t you just stop moving?

He’s on the chair!

Just standing there!

Wobbling like a drunk man.

Where is my mug?

What was that crash?

Who let you in the kitchen?

You’ve got a knife!

Put it down now!

Don’t wave it near your sister!

Put my phone down!

Where are my apps!

Who dialled triple zero?

Why won’t you sleep?

Is it your teeth?

I need another coffee!

My head’s so sore!

Look at the floor!

Cleaning will take forever.

What’s wrong with you?

What did I do?

Why do you do this to me?

I hope when you…

Have some kids too…

They drive you crazy!

I don’t have kids yet, but as I listened to the song some things felt familiar as I have babysat some friends’ babies. Even so, the lyrics had me in stitches. Towards the end of the song, the last few words caught my attention:

What did I do?

Why do you do this to me?

I hope when you…

Have some kids too…

They drive you crazy!

I have heard them so many times before; from my own mom. She’s said them to my sisters, and to me on so many occasions, when she’s pissed. Nowadays she doesn’t say them much though. I guess it’s due to the fact that nowadays we’re trying to respect and understand each other.

Those last words got me thinking; ‘what did I do?’ Nothing actually. I guess the writer’s parent(s) told them the same thing when they were young, ‘I hope when you have some kids too they drive you crazy!’ I’m imagining at least every parent has said that to their kid(s) at one point in their lives.

So in my opinion, parents pass down the ‘curse’ from generation to generation, and that is why anyone who has a toddler, or a child for that matter feels so exasperated as those kids grow. Obviously toddlers are difficult to handle, given that they think everything within their reach is a play toy. But, what if parents were like, “I hope your kids, don’t do this to you.” That would be a really nice thing.

Maybe then those little people wouldn’t be so unruly. And to think they do most of this exasperating stuff with angelic smiles on their little faces… Kids!

 

 

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Let yes be yes, and no, no

promises

“Now what do you think? There was once a man who had two sons. He went to the older one and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’

‘I don’t want to,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

Then the father went to the other son, and said the same thing.

‘Yes, sir,’ he answered, but he did not go.

Which one of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The older one,” they answered.

So Jesus said to them, “I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John the Baptist came to you showing you the right path to take, and you would not believe him; but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. Even when you saw this, you did not later change your mind and believe him.” (Matthew 21: 28-32).

This was a parable told by Jesus to His disciples. One brother refused to go to the vineyard at first, but later he changed his mind and went. The first brother signifies those who are considered sinners by the society; those who hear of God’s word but refuse to believe in Him. Like the brother though, after some reflection they change their minds and commit their lives to God.

The second brother refers to those who consider themselves righteous; they hear God’s word and believe it so readily, but later on, down the line they stop believing and fall from His grace. One might condemn the older brother because he didn’t accept to oblige to his father’s will at first, but the thought that he realized what was the right thing to do later is what counts.

In our daily lives, some of us are like the older brother; we say no to something without giving it much thought but later on we do what we’re expected to, while some of us are like the other brother; saying yes to something then reneging on our promises.

A story is told about a man and a woman, who were tying the knot. When the time came for them to exchange their vows, the bride developed a cough. “I promise to love you, in [cough] and in health, in good times and in [cough], till [cough] do us part,” she vowed.

“What’s wrong?” The priest asked.

“I seem to have developed a cough father,” the woman replied and the priest unsuspectingly, went on to unite the two. Some weeks later, the married couple started experiencing some difficulties. “I’m leaving,” the wife announced.

Shocked, the husband stood up in protest. “But you vowed to stay with me till death do us part.”

“Did I?” The wife asked. “We can watch our wedding video to confirm. I was coughing the entire time so no, I didn’t promise to love you forever. I knew there would be bad times ahead, and there’s no way I was going to spend the rest of my life in difficulty.” And just like that, she walked out on him.

The wife is like the younger brother; she accepted to marry a man but later left him. The parable encourages us to be firm in our decisions; if it’s a yes, let it be a yes and if it’s a no, let it be a no. It’s good to change our minds, but sometimes that is never a viable option. Ergo, when making decisions in life, we should take time to think about what we really want so that in the process we don’t hurt others.

In the man’s case for instance; he married a woman, hoping to spend the rest of his life with her but she broke her promise. Obviously he was hurt. We’re encouraged to put some thought into the promises we make, so we don’t go back on our word. But just like the first brother, if we realize we made the wrong choice, we can always do what’s right.

Too much parent involvement?

controlling parents

Every sane/loving parent out there wants the best for their kids; that of course leaves out all the perverted parents, who shamelessly molest their children and do other ungodly stuff to them. For this reason, some parents will go to the ends of the earth to ensure their children get the best in life. In the process though, some of the things this loving or controlling parents do feel a bit extreme.

Personally I feel some of the things done would be best left undone; you know, because in the end it will be in the kids’ best interests. So, I beg to ask, how much is too much?

In some previous posts I have mentioned this aunt of mine, whose mom was so protective because she didn’t want her daughter marrying into a poor family. My aunt fell in love while in college and from that love an innocent boy was born.

My aunt’s mother-my grandma-was obviously none too pleased. I’m thinking she envisaged her daughter’s bright future go up in flames, and as she couldn’t let that happen, she took the small boy in her care so my aunt could go back to school.

I wasn’t born at the time so whatever I know about the particular story, I gathered from different family members. The story, as it turns out, is an open secret, which everyone is too scared to talk about because many people stand to suffer if it was to be discussed openly, for reasons I’ll be revealing in the subsequent paragraphs.

I do not have the full details about what happened back then, but what I am sure of, is that the boy who was born thirty something years ago is now a fully grown man. Problem is, no one took the liberty to undo the mistake that was committed when he was born.

When grandma took him, his mom went back to school. So he grew up thinking our grandma was his mom. Due to our strained relationship with our grandma, my sisters and I only got to meet him when he was in his late teens. Given that he is older than us, he comfortably thinks he is dad’s youngest brother, and the woman he thinks is his sister is actually his mom.

After having his son raised by her mom, my aunt later found another guy and she gave birth to a baby girl, who is only a few months older than me. She grew up knowing she was an only child, and it’s not until a few years ago that some cousins maliciously insinuated she had a brother during a get-together.

The way I see it, my cousin now knows she has a brother, but she can’t ask anyone since no one is brave enough to tell it straight to her. Slyly, she tries to get someone to slip up and say it but when we’re around her we try to bite our tongues so we don’t get openly ostracized by the concerned parties for releasing those old skeletons from the closet.

Since I found out ‘my uncle’ and my cousin were actually siblings, I always wonder how it will end. I’m imagining grandma wanted the best for her daughter and that’s why she took her son and raised him as her own. But was that really the best thing to do? I know there are many people out there who have done the same thing and it all turned out fine for everyone. However, I can’t say the same for my aunt.

For starters, my cousin grew up alone and I always got the impression she was very unhappy. During holidays her mom would take her to some relatives’ and as much as one would be tempted to think that was a cool thing, I would totally beg to differ. Her visits felt imposed so they were never that fun. Christmas holidays were some of the worst because essentially they are a time when family members spend together, yet on most occasions she was away from her mom.

Given that her mom was a single mother, I could only think of so many reasons why a child would feel alone and neglected. I doubt my cousin ever had fun. From my perspective, she would have been happier if she had her brother with her to keep her company.

Looking at my aunt, I wouldn’t really say her mom’s idea to keep her son worked for her. She never remarried, and from how I see her, she’s far from happy. Chances are she would have been happier if she kept her son and her baby daddy, who was poor at the time but is now rich. That’s why her mom didn’t want him for her in the first place; he was poor.

If you ask me, my grandma’s attempt to help her daughter only complicated her life. She hoped to fix her life, but instead, now she has everyone walking on egg shells because no one would want to be the one spilling those beans. My cousin had a dull childhood, with her own brother regarding her as his niece. There’s really nothing good about that.

It feels like a complex soap, where deep, dark secrets are revealed towards the end of the story. In this case I’m wondering who will be brave enough to set the record straight. Who will pull down those façades? And when they come down, who will undo the pain caused?

Blessings hidden in our crosses

Accepting our crosses

A Christian’s life is basically filled with suffering and tribulations. Jesus suffered too, ergo as His followers, our own suffering doesn’t come as a surprise. He set the precedent for us so we wouldn’t find it unusual or even unfair; He personally showed us how to persevere even when the crosses feel unbearably heavy.

Sometimes, it happens that when we can’t deal with those problems we start running away from them. That however, is not the right way to handle difficult situations. Problems are meant to be tackled and as it is, those sufferings are not meant to weaken us. They are meant to strengthen us. In those crosses lie massive blessings. So if we’re to uncover those blessings, we need to work hard, handling those crosses right.

Countless faithful have been known to abandon their faith when the going gets too tough. But a Christian’s life is about perseverance. Life in general is all about perseverance. If one was to take a close look at people who have made it big in life, they didn’t have it easy. Most have gone through so much agony to be successful.

The good thing is, when one perseveres, the victory feels even greater. Instead of running away from those crosses, we should embrace them and take them to God, so He can help us deal with them. He listens to all our problems. One thing I keep reiterating is, God works at His own appointed time.

If He is not granting us our wishes, it is not because He is not listening, but because He knows there is a better time to fulfil those prayers; and the best part is, His timing is always right. Difficult situations could make us sceptical-even I, get sceptical at times-but that is the absolute truth.

When God allows crosses like sicknesses to torment us, He doesn’t allow it because He wants us to suffer; on the contrary, He allows it because He knows we have so much to gain from it. Sometimes when those crosses feel unbearably heavy, we imagine God is punishing us. But again, that is not the case. He is a merciful God, and no matter how many times we wrong, He is ever willing to forgive us.

If you’re going through something difficult right now, it’s not a punishment. What’s more, there are many blessings contained in those crosses. If you trust God enough and remain patient, He will reveal it all to you in due time.

Before Jesus died on the cross He said, “Father, if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me. Not my will, but yours, however, but your will be done.” (Luke 22: 42). He didn’t want to go through what had been prophesied because He knew it would be so painful, but because He knew it was His Father’s will, He accepted it.

Instead of despairing, when in great anguish He prayed more fervently.

That’s the spirit we need to embrace; to accept the crosses which come our way, because like with Jesus’ suffering, there is victory in our own suffering. His death on the cross was not for naught; He saved all of mankind, by paying the ultimate price. If He didn’t accept that cross, He wouldn’t have had anything to triumph over. But because He persevered, we still sing His praises centuries after He resurrected.

Such will be our victory, if we hold on. If we take those crosses to God and ask Him to help us with them instead of running from them. We need to remember, there are blessings hidden in those crosses. We should think of the problems as a treasure hunt. During the search one encounters many difficulties, but then, finding the treasure makes all the suffering worth it. besides, nothing good comes easy, right?

And… the inevitable came to pass

old and abandoned

The inevitable happened. Dad’s grandma, remember her? From my post old and neglected? She passed away last Friday. Mom called my big sister to give her the sad news, and she subsequently told us. As she talked with mom on phone, I could tell it was bad news because she reached for a seat, her legs seeming to weaken. Before she could even tell us what mom had told her I immediately guessed it had something to do with our great grams.

“What did mom say?” I asked anxiously the instant she hung up. I suppressed the words, ‘Who died?’ that were almost spilling out of my mouth.

She inhaled then replied, “Dad’s grams passed away.”

I was deeply saddened by the news, but somehow it didn’t shock me. Our great grams had been admitted in hospital a few days before then and mom had been told by her sister-in-law she wasn’t eating and had refused to take her medication. Given that she was about a century old, I knew that wasn’t good and if she didn’t start eating it wouldn’t be long before she crossed over to the other side.

I couldn’t blame her though. She had been miserable the last few years. One of her youngest sons, who had been looking after her, had only been using her as an excuse to get money from the rest of the family members, and the worst part is that he and his wife used the money to cater to their own needs instead.

They said she needed a special diet but the last time I saw her she looked so scrawny. I couldn’t comprehend where they had been taking the money people had been constantly contributing for her upkeep.

Based on the things I had heard mom saying, she wanted to die. But as much as I encourage people not to give up on life, I understood her. I imagined she felt she was a burden. Who can blame her anyway? The last time mom and dad went to see her, her son and his wife were asking mom to take pics of her that would be used on her obituary.

Our great grams was old, but she could still hear. The thought that her son said that in her presence just goes to show how little they were concerned about her well-being. They wanted her gone. I’m imagining she picked up on those vibes and therefore felt she was better off dead.
I know, chances are even if she hadn’t died she wouldn’t have lasted for long, given her age and all, but I believe if she had been well taken care of, she would have seen a few more weeks, months even.

I pity her. She gave birth to children, most of who are successful now and even had successful grandchildren; but apparently all that was useless. She died a pauper’s death. Those who should have been responsible for her neglected her, only concerned about their own needs. They forgot she spent the better part of her life fending for them. From her, four generations sprouted, but she died lonely, and abandoned. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone; not even on my worst enemy.

She’s gone now, and I only pray she’s happy wherever she is. And as it is with my weird family, her death has brought some drama of its own. Once, dad’s mom summoned all her children and she told them whoever wants to give her flowers should give her when she is still alive. When dad told us what his mom had said, I couldn’t agree more with her.

What’s the point of crying at someone’s funeral if when s/he was alive one didn’t make an effort to show them a little love/care? Well it turns out she meant it, literally, because she took her mom an artificial rose flower before she died. I couldn’t believe it. Why would she give her old mom a flower when she was more in need of food?

When dad’s grandma was alive, she was denied any form of comfort by her well-to-do children. But now that she is gone, they’re dutifully giving her a ‘royal’ send-off; expensive casket and all. That just had me wondering, where was that money when she needed food? When she fell ill she was taken to some poorly equipped hospital, when they could have atleast had her treated by a professional.

One of her daughters, who is married to a politician, is the one in-charge of making the burial preparations. She has strictly set the dress code because seemingly, her politician hubby will be accompanied by some of his friends, who are also prominent politicians. The charade is sickening. They want to give people the impression dad’s grams was from a moneyed family, but when she was alive she was worse off than the average elderly woman.

I don’t want to sound judgemental, but the idea of splashing so much money around when it didn’t help her when she was alive feels like hypocrisy to me. What’s the point of burying her in an expensive casket, when many are the days she slept hungry?

Additionally, as planned, after laying her to rest, the moneyed family members will be gathering for lunch in a five star resort. I’m all for celebrating our great grams’ life- she lived for almost a century- but in this situation I’m left wondering if it’s her life people are celebrating or the thought that she is finally gone.

Too poor to afford high-end love

Titanic Jack and Rose

“You can’t give my daughter the things she needs in life. You say you love her, but love alone won’t put food on the table, nor clothe her. Just leave her alone. She needs someone who can sustain her prestigious life. She’s from a rich family, and you are poor. You’re not meant for her. You two can’t be together.”

Those are such depressing words, especially if it’s about someone one truly loves. I don’t know if I will ever conform to the idea of parents deciding who their children fall in love with, based on the financial status of their partners.

I consider it discrimination, and one of the worst kinds for that matter. Love is beautiful, but the minute we start putting up such barriers, we corrupt it. I understand a parent’s desire to protect his/her children; to ensure their needs are taken care of even after they leave the nest, but causing them untold misery while trying to prevent a love that’s already deep-rooted is unfair to say the least.

I grew up in a family where dad’s mother thought her children should marry into rich families. But as it is with love, it’s hard to dictate where it grows, so dad fell in love with mom, who’s from a poor family and his mother has never accepted it to date. I attribute many of the problems mom and dad have had to his mother’s incitement. Somehow she has always been bent on splitting them up.

I know in most of my posts I complain about dad’s shortcomings; even so, I see some good in him sometimes, especially when he is not drunk. Sometimes I wonder what kind of a man he would be if he didn’t drink so much.

On a good day, when he is sober, I see so much kindness in him; he radiates lots of compassion. But that side of him disappears the instant he imbibes anything alcoholic. I pray for a day to come when he won’t crave alcohol anymore. Maybe then, if all goes well, my sisters and I will have the dad from our early childhood back; a dad who wasn’t so cold… Everyone’s allowed to dream, right?

Back to love matters though, I don’t agree with parents preventing their children from dating certain people because they are from poor backgrounds. Money comes and goes. A rich man might go bankrupt the next day while a poor man’s star shines bright and he finds himself at the helm of a multi-billion company.

I always think, if a poor teenage boy falls in love with a rich teenage girl, who’s to say in a couple of years the boy won’t be rich? No one knows what tomorrow will bring. Luck changes, and I have an aunt who would attest to this.

When she was in college she fell in love with a poor guy and they even went ahead to get a baby. Her mom, who obviously felt her daughter deserved better, was against the relationship therefore she had my aunt break up with her boyfriend. Subsequently, she took the new born baby, so my aunt could finish up with her studies.

Fast-forward to thirty something years later, my aunt is still unmarried, and the poor guy her mom didn’t want for her is now a rich man. Everytime I think about my aunt’s predicament I wonder, if she went back in time, would she have fought for her love? And her mother, my grandma, if she knew the impecunious young man she rejected would one day be rich, would she have let him marry her daughter?

The words at the beginning of the post are from a show I was watching yesterday. A teenage girl’s mother was talking to her daughter’s boyfriend, asking him to keep off her because clearly she deserved someone from a rich family. The girl’s father additionally, asked the young boy to go make money first and when he was rich he would be free to marry his princess.

In a funny twist of fate though, the young boy grew up without parents because he was switched at birth with the same girl by the man’s wife, who was furious with her husband for cheating on her. Oblivious to them, the girl the parents are trying so hard to protect from poverty isn’t their flesh and blood and the poor boy is the one who is actually their real son.

Parents do many things-some of them awful- with their children’s best interests at heart. However, sometimes it is advisable for them to step back and let the kids forge out their own paths. I have seen enough instances-in real life and in movies-where parents meddle in their children’s love life and none of them has ever had a happy ending.

The last boyfriend my big sister had was an Indian guy and seeing as we’re not Indians, mom asked dad what he thought about the relationship. He didn’t have a problem with it. He said he wouldn’t want to butt in into our love lives, lest we had a fate similar to his sister’s. Hearing those words from him made me realize the seriousness of the issue.

He is not happy his elder sister is single, and it’s their mom who personally orchestrated it; in her attempt to fix her daughter’s life, she ruined it instead. I am not a mother yet, but I believe when I am, I will let my kids choose who they want to love, because part of being a parent is knowing when to stay out of children’s affairs.

It’s not easy I know, but one has to let their children make such choices. If it works out, good for them; if it doesn’t, well…the parents won’t have anything to blame themselves for. And money, as important as it is; lack of it is not enough to keep two people who truly love each other apart.

Lord, You have deceived me

Jesus carrying cross

Lord you have deceived me,
And I was deceived
You are stronger than I am,
And you have overpowered me.
Everyone makes fun of me;
They laugh at me all day long.

Whenever I speak, I have to cry out and shout,
“Violence! Destruction!”
Lord I am ridiculed and scorned all the time
Because I proclaim your message.

But when I say, “I will forget the Lord
And no longer speak in His name,”
Then your message is like a fire burning deep within me.
I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back.

I hear everybody whispering,
“Terror is everywhere!
So let’s report him to the authorities!”
Even my close friends wait for my downfall.
“Perhaps he can be tricked,” they say,
“then we can catch him and get revenge.”

But you, Lord, are on my side,
Strong and mighty, and those who persecute me will fail.
They will be disgraced forever, because they cannot succeed
Their disgrace will never be forgotten.

But Almighty Lord, You test men justly;
You know what is in their hands and minds.
So let me see you take revenge on my enemies,
For I have placed my cause in your hands.

Sing to the Lord!
Praise to the Lord!
He rescues the oppressed
From the power of evil men
Curse the day I was born!
Forget the day my mother gave me birth!

Curse the man, who made my father glad,
When he brought him the news,
“It’s a boy! You have a son!”
May he be like those cities
That the Lord destroyed without mercy.

May he hear cries of pain in the morning,
And the battle alarm at noon,
Because he didn’t kill me before I was born.
Then my mother’s womb would have been my grave.

Why was I born?
Was it only to have trouble and sorrow,
To end my life in disgrace? (Jeremiah 20:7-18).

Jeremiah was a prophet chosen by God, even though at first he was reluctant to accept the calling, citing youth (Jeremiah 1: 4-18). He lived during the latter part of the seventh century B.C. and the first part of the sixth century. During his long ministry he warned God’s people of the misfortune that was to fall upon the nation because of their idolatry and sin.

He was a sensitive man, who loved his people profoundly and who hated to pronounce judgement upon them. But as he says in the lamentation above, the word of the Lord was like a fire in his heart, which he couldn’t suppress, no matter how much he tried.

At one point in life each believer feels the same way; when they feel like their belief in God is being questioned, especially if something is not going right and others just can’t seem to understand why one would still believe in Him when everything around shows He is manifestly unreliable.

Sometimes remaining faithful to God feels difficult when the people we interact everyday don’t support us; because truth is, it is difficult trying to remain strong in faith when everyone else is a cynic.

“Why do you still believe in God?” A sceptic asks. “He is not real.”

“He is real,” a believer argues.

“Where was he when I lost my job? Or when I got kicked out of my house by the landlord because I couldn’t afford the rent? Where was he?” The sceptic questions.

When confronted with such scepticism, a believer tries to answer all those questions in a way that will help the doubter understand God is real and His intention isn’t for people to just suffer futilely. But what happens when that faith is the sole cause of one’s misery?

What if someone told you, who believes in God strongly, all the problems you have would cease if you did one little thing; if you denounced God? That if you stopped believing in Him, all those who hate you will love you and you will be popular. Would you do it?

That is the kind of life Jeremiah lived. His life was particularly difficult because he continued to believe in God, when those around him were opposed to it.

Suffering is part of a Christian’s life. Jesus suffered in the hands of men before He was eventually nailed on the cross and from His Passion, we’re reminded to persevere when we find ourselves enshrouded in misery.

When He was calling His disciples He told them, “If anyone wants to come with me he must forget himself, take up his cross everyday, and follow me.” (Luke 9: 23) He wanted them to know being His followers wouldn’t be an easy thing. They would be persecuted and killed for believing in Him.

Just like the Martins sang, He didn’t promise we wouldn’t suffer; but He promised to always be there; to see us through the storm. Believing in God doesn’t mean one has it easy; it only means one goes through each day fighting, hoping God will make it all fine. So don’t feel deceived if you pray every day and life still feels unbearable.

In the world we live in today, people are guided by the ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ mantra. So if Jeremiah lived in this century, he would have denounced God-hypothetically- just so he could be happy. That mantra however, as seen from Jeremiah’s life experiences, is not the attitude a Christian should adopt. If you can’t beat them, keep trying until you finally succeed.

It’s only by being persistent that we pass tests, and from that triumph we get testimonies. So whatever your situation in life, don’t give up; and don’t give in to pressure. Do what’s right, and God, the faithful Lord He is, will grant you that victory.