Thursday, 5 July 2012

If it's too loud, you're too old? - Reflection on values and growing old.

Pix above was taken at Disney World, Orlando, Florida end March 2012, when hubby and I were there on our US honeymoon - also hubby's working trip. It was taken near the Aerosmith's Rock and Roll terrying roller coaster, which we both chickened out and settled for just a few photographs from the outside, will blog about the rides soon, the ones in Disney Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios), at Disney World are really scary! Not sure when I will get around to write that blog post though, lol.

A preview of how scary the ride was - we hung about the area for about 5-10 minutes and many times, we overheard riders who just exited the ride walked past us saying things like, "I am not gonna line up a freaking one hour for that (scary) ride anymore" - "That was so scary I'm not going on it anymore", and they are young boys/teenagers, so the two of us, being past 30, opted out, call us chicken! haha

What caught my attention at the souvenir shop upon exiting the coaster ride (we went in the reverse way as we did not go into the ride) was the T-shirt, specifically, the wordings.

"If it's too loud, you're too old."

It struck a nerve. Not only is the message defiant, it thinks it's cool to be defiant to the elders. That's my personal opinion anyway.

NOTE: This blogpost will turn into a reflective post (read: Ranting) on the 'moral degradation' of our youth/adults/young seniors who ill-treat their elders who may still be alive or even put them down even in death, in memory.

It has always irked me when people lack respect or blatantly acting disrespectful to elders, by elders, it is a broad definition ranging from someone who is the younger or same age as you but is your 'aunt' or senior in some form of school/class/rank, to the definition of being older than you in age, and the 'elders' in the family, i.e. those who came before you, in your clan/family.

I remembered an incident last year when I went to renew my passport and was waiting for my number to be called, when I overheard a grandmother talking to her grandson, giving him advice/asking him questions, and he ignored her completely as he was engrossed in his PSP in his hands, he was about 8 years old. Suddenly, I had to turn around and look at them as I heard a loud snappy remark from the grandson - "You are so annoying/noisy!". The grandma shut up, stunned, I guess, or maybe she is already used to that retort from her precious grandson.

Geez, if I ever have a son in the future, and I will never ever let him get away with such speech to the elders, and this is a close elder, his own grandmother! The thing is, the grandma still so lovingly offered him a jacket to ask if he was cold in the air-conditioned waiting area/offered him a drink, etc after that. Such is the unconditional love of an elder towards the young'uns. Spare the rod, spoil the kids - oh well, not my family, who am I to tell that boy a piece of my mind?

Kids nowadays are smarter and craftier than before. Back when I was a kid, you will be smacked on the bottom when you were out of line (rude, lacking good manners, etc) when you were younger and when you grow older, pre-teens into teens, the cane (rattan) will land on your thighs/legs when you try to run away from the punisher, usually the dad.

Sorry, pardon my language, but a recent 'study' conducted which claimed those who were smacked when they were younger tend to fall into mental problems when they are adults are kinda 'bull' in my opinion. Are we dysfunctional? Look around.

The previous generations have survived all that smacking hundreds and thousands of years before us but in the past 30-40 years, more and more younger mental health patients were recorded, and smacking has become illegal in some states, so go figure, spare the rod, spoil the child, which in turn, affect their mental health, strong statement, I know, but that's a retort against that study, not a personal attack on anyone.

Of course, ideally, it will be best if we use the ideal gentle parenting approach with no lifting of a finger against a child. However, with the hyperactive kids overfed with sugar-filled milk powder, some sort of 'force' is required. If you are too gentle, like my close friend with a very bad-tempered toddler, the parent will be the one on the receiving end of the 'smacking' - a barely 2-year-old tot hitting his own mother. Come to think about it, a little boy I know back in the 1990s hit his own mother as well, when he was throwing tantrum and the mother didn't even lift a finger against him. The kid knows that, hence he dared to smack his own mother and continued his tantrum. Smart kid, poor mom?

What has the society become? I am not blaming the gentle mothers. I cannot blame the children, as they are still young. Who is to be blamed? The milk powder/formula? The mass media the kids are exposed to? The environment/surrounding? The immediate family members? The extended family? The working mom phenomenon, hence the caretaker/nursery/babysitter is responsible?


Yup, you got that right. If you have been to the beach, you may have seen the crabs walking side ways. This Malay proverb means that if the parents are behaving in a certain way, their actions will speak louder than the words they say to their children.

Children follow by example. If they see you behaving a certain way even though you have told them not to behave that way, they will usually follow the action and not what you said.

Example (many variations of the story had been told before):

Father and Mother live together with the grandma and grandpa (father's parents) and their two little children. Mother is very annoyed by the extra burden to care for the elderly on top of her two kids. Kept nagging her husband, the Father, to do something to lessen her 'burden'. The two elders' are weak and frail, cannot hold the cutlery firmly. Spilling food on the table. To 'solve' this problem, the Mother asked them to sit away from the table and gave them wooden cutleries and bowls so they will not break her precious china/glass.

The nagging by Mother continued until one day, Father relented and followed Mother's wishes to 'get rid' of the elders. He carried his parents on his back (in the older version of the traditional story) or in our modern version, he carried his parents into the car, and went up to the mountains and left them there(older version of the traditional story) - our modern version will be he left them at the nursing home (if with money), or the old folks' home under Social Welfare if he doesn't wish to part with his money.

When Father returned home, he thought he will be happy if his wife is happy. Then he saw his little boy and little girl (some versions there is only a boy, some there is only a child, no gender specified) playing in front of the house, deeply engrossed in a craft project. Curious, Father walked close and asked what were they doing.

"Oh, Father, we are making a wooden bowl and wooden cutleries."

Amused, Father asked "What is the purpose of the craft?"

"So we can give them to you and Mother when you are old like grandpa and grandma."

The little girl held out a stack of newspapers and said she will be saving them for Father and Mother to use so the food won't spill on the table/floor when they are old. *dirty* she said, making a face like how her Mother always do when talking about the two elders.

Something struck the Father and his heart beat got faster. He just saw a flash of his future and saw himself as his own parents and how wrong he was.

He went back for his parents and carried them home and lovingly took care of them until their final days. He literally put his wife in her place and she had no say in this matter. The end

Of course, this traditional story has been retold many times, and yet, not many people pay heed to the moral of the story - filial piety.

Sadly, many such stories have been circulated and people felt touched for awhile, then forget all about it when life gets overwhelming.

I am not a parent yet, but I am a child to my parents and a grandchild to my grandparents and I have the privilege of being a great-grandchild of my great-grandmother up to the age of 10. I have been taught since young to respect the elders and reprimanded if I did not greet an elder when I see them, out of respect. Asian values are deeply instilled in me, despite me not being able to read and write in my own mothertongue, having been English-educated. Usually the perception is that Chinese-educated (with English and national language in Malaysia) people are more 'strong' in Chinese-values, I am a walking contradiction of that as I am more 'Chinese' than any Chinese-educated peers, if not the same.

- I find that the more highly you think of yourself, the harder it is to show genuine respect to others. The more humble you are, respecting others will come naturally. "Seperti resmi padi, makin berisi, makin menunduk", a Malay proverb, the more knowledgeable you are, the more you should be humble.

EGO - Again, referring to my blogpost on "Where is the Love?", there is a thin line between low self-esteem and big ego. Enough said.

EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL AND BULLYING - These people usually resort to emotional blackmail and 'bullying', yup, they will bully even their elders or their spouse via verbal abuse/physical violence on others/children/spouse or self-destructive behaviour like banging their fists hard on the wall/concrete/furniture or banging the door or stamping their feet.

Sounds familiar? Sorry if anyone felt offended by this blog post. This is entirely my opinion and if I struck a chord in your heart, I sincerely wish for a better society with solid values that make us humans. If my opinion is valid, accept it, if you feel I am wrong, feel free to discard it.

Everyone will grow old some day. The Aging Population are still humans and we shouldn't treat them otherwise. Even if they ask you the same question repeatedly, you should patiently answer them gently and try to control your irritation/temper, being an old person is hard enough without you mocking them. Imagine when you were a baby/tot and you repeated all those 'mistakes' the aging are doing now, when you were learning skills like talking and walking and you cried, did they snap at you unreasonably or scolded you impatiently when you repeated your speech? Not if they love you, you should show them some love too.

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