Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The meaning of patience...

Conversation at dinner table over the weekend.

Dad: [lengthy "advice" talk to my little brother about what he needs to learn now that he's arrived at the ripe older and wiser age of 10]... [in Chinese] So do you know what I am talking about? [in English] Do you understand what "patience" means?

Little Brother: [in half whispers] Yeah.

Dad: What does it mean then?

Little Brother: [Still in half whispers] It means 耐性* lor.

[Collective jaws around the family table dropped. All of us were wide-eyed at my little brother's linguistic prowess, given how he's born here and has only been learning Chinese on Saturdays for a few years.]

Me: [Little Brother's name] you should not be afraid to speak louder when you know the answer, y'know.

Dad [visibly pleased but maintains a stern tone]: [In Chinese] That's clever that you know patience means 耐性 in Chinese. But what does it REALLY mean?

Little Brother: [In slightly higher volume and in English, though still hesitant] It means you don't care how long it takes.

[Another intake of breath around the table, followed by very proud smiles.]

Me: [To round off my little brother's sentence]. Yes, it means you don't mind how long it takes to complete a task that you have set for yourself.

Little Brother: [Nods]

Dad: [In Chinese] That's right. Hey I didn't realise you know this stuff. [Picks up a fish ball from the Chinese fondue broth and puts it in my little brother's bowl]. But would you learn to be patient now and stop throwing tantrums?

Little Brother: Yeah. [Smiles now that he realised the "examination" is over].

Mum: [Arrives at the table with more food and on hearing about the exchange on "patience", pats my little brother's head]. Really? I didn't realise your Chinese is so good. [Proceeds to give my little brother more food].


Thanks to my little brother, I'm reminded of the true meaning of patience, which I need to apply to my work.

*As I don't know how to type Chinese, I'm thankful to the Yahoo dictionary for allowing me to insert the actual words my little brother used on here.

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At Wed Oct 22, 02:32:00 p.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

It's always the job of a parent to instill wisdom on his offspring. It's not so much about patience, it's about fortitude. It's about hard work, it's about assessing oneself and has the confidence to stand up if standing up meaning standing up alone doing the right thing and enduring the ridicule. Sometimes I do feel the urge to pass on something on my own kids something that can stick and be remembered.

At Thu Oct 23, 12:03:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

True, one has to learn to stand up for oneself as well. That however is less of a problem for my little brother (even though it might appear in my post above that he's shy) than it is for my little sister. I've actually just reminded her to make sure that she at least try out the debating society in her school which is taking place this lunch time.


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