To be or not to be...concerned, worried, bothered, involved on one hand, or indifferent, detached, uninterested, uncaring on the other. That is the dilemma I face now-a-days with regards to my brother's almost 15 year old daughter. My brother who is a single parent lives next door with his two kids, a son and a daughter. The son started college last year and comes home only during breaks while the daughter is still in high school. My brother works in another city four days a week. He goes every Friday afternoon and comes home early Tuesday morning, leaving my niece whom I shall call Aloof Girl with their househelp cum nanny during those days. Her mom usually comes to pick her up on Saturdays unless something comes up and brings her back on Sunday afternoon. Her relationship with us has been good until last year when her brother left. Since her dad and brother weren't around, I would watch out for her and she did not like it. She felt it was enough that her father knew her whereabouts and resented my monitoring of her activities which basically just consisted of being informed where she is going and with whom. She complained to her dad that I was trying to make her into a nun. Imagine that! I told my brother that for a 14 year old, she has been given too much freedom. She always comes home past 6 pm even when her classes end before 5 pm, does not talk much about her friends or activities even when asked, and has been caught a few times telling half-truths. However, my brother believes that he is being a cool, supportive and trusting dad. I may not agree with his permissiveness but I can see how difficult it is for him to raise his children alone. Recently, she has become reticent, distant and generally uncommunicative towards me and my mom. If Aloof girl resents my intervening in her life as I am not her parent, then she should not run to me when she needs something or wants something to be done. I should learn to look the other way when it comes to my brother's children. I am not saying I won't make myself available for them when they need me, but I will no longer take it upon myself to feel responsible for and act like a surrogate mom to Aloof girl, especially since she does not appreciate it anyway. Although it was my hope that my mom and I would be positive influences in her life, I now understand that I am not my brother's children's keeper. I have to rethink my role specifically in Aloof girl's life. I thought because her parents are separated and her mother is not around that she needed a mom. I took it upon myself to take that role. I realize now that she does not need another mother. After all, she already has parents, albeit separated but still very much alive and kicking. When all is said and done, Aloof girl's upbringing is her parents' responsibility, not mine. Perhaps my role is simply...to try to be a friend.
Saturday, April 07, 2012
Monday, April 04, 2011
Frankly I don't remember talking what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was always the adults around me who would answer..."a doctor!"...every time someone asked. And like a good mimic...I would say the same thing. Of course, as the years went by the idea of becoming a doctor took root and when college came, I just went along for the ride. But what did I really want to be? What were my dreams? Well for one, I wanted to be a princess. I don't remember who brought me to see Forever My Love (1962), a condensed version of Sissi, a 1955-57 film trilogy loosely based on the life of Elizabeth, Empress of Austria. What I remember after that is the fact that I was so taken by the idea that maybe I could be a princess. I think I was around age 6 then, and later I was able to see the sequel (?) to the film which further fueled my imagination and dream of becoming one. I would convert my bed into a castle, my blankets into long skirts and play pretend for hours on end. My brothers were my minions and my dolls, my children. The pretend Prince was in my head all the time. But looking back, I am not sure if I really wanted to be the princess or was it more like wanting to be Romy Schneider, who was only 16 when she first portrayed her. I guess when one is a child the reality of life is farthest from one's mind and when one becomes an adult one realizes that all those dreams were mere childhood fantasies...
Sunday, February 24, 2008
A few days ago, I was talking to some people I just met at a dinner party about my career and how I got to be where I am now. I said something about not really wanting to be a doctor but somehow as I plodded on in my studies, it was too late to change my mind. And then I talked about getting my MBA and being in my present job and so, one of them asked me if I was happy now...and I laughed and said, not really and that was when someone said...so what do you want to be when you grow up. That comment although jokingly said, hit close to home...the realization that I am still a work in progress...that inspite of being middle-aged, it is still not very clear to me what I really want in my life. I have said this years ago and until now I keep on repeating myself... that I know what I don't want...what I still don't know is what I do want. I envy people who dare take risks to go after what they want in life. I continue to see my life as one that is so predictable, so conscientious, so reliable...so...ordinary. Most days, I am content and relatively happy but there are times when I feel restless and unsettled. Maybe because I'm aware that I'm not getting any younger in age and if there are things I dream of doing, I should do it now. Much like the Lion in the Wizard of Oz, I just need to find courage.