I was reading hissychick's blog and her mention of wanting to be her daughter's best friend, a darling threenager, but that's a really hard trick to pull off.
So I thought of how my parents and I became like best friends.
Before we were teenagers, my parents were just mostly instructive and acted as disciplinarians. They also provide physical care and other necessary external stimuli to help us grow intellectually and socially. Of course we'd sit and listen to them talk to their friends at dinners, etc. and get a bit more clue of what they are like and how they have good friends.
Dad was a lot more easier to talk to, with his sense of humour and his love to tell us stories of his bachelor days, catching butterflies, swimming in the mountain streams, going for camping trips with friends, etc. He learned to play the guitar to serenade to the girls as well as to sing all the pop songs that he liked. Until the day he died, almost blind due to his sickness, he still played the guitar to entertain himself and us. He never stop telling us all sorts of stories of the past. Gave us a love for nature and adventure as well as pretty good idea of our family roots too.
Mom was scarier (she's now so mild compared to those days we were growing up). She was the very-strict and no-nonsense kind. She was of course not beyond reasoning, but we always felt a lump in our throat if we ever needed to reason something with her. She is a lot more traditional than Dad, but ever supportive of our school activities. You know you can go to her if you needed any help last minute. She can cook and sew and she'll do either burning the mid-night oil to save your skin in school. (Btw, she worked too.)
Anyway, I remember very clearly when I was studying like mad for STPM (Pre-U) and one of those times I complained to her that it was just too tough, I was actually surprised by her response, "It's ok if you can't manage. Don't take it if you can't." I had walked into the kitchen with those words of complain spewing out of my mouth and suddenly I was stumped and speechless. All our lives she had nagged us about the importance of studies and we should never be lazy or distracted by friends and fun. And suddenly this?! I went back to my studies that evening, somewhat relief by her "no-pressure" statement.
It was later that I recalled how one of my childhood friends, and my mom knows her mom, actually had a nervous breakdown preparing for this exam the year before. She must have feared I would lose it too, knowing me to be the more "obsessive" one of her 5 children. Anyway, those were the days that my parents (and I myself too) were surprised at my not wanting to go out to the mall with the rest of the family so that I could study at home in peace. Hmmm... actually growing to be more mature and responsible...
Later in University, my mom surprised me again by showing her care and love for us by cooking me fish every weekend when I came back. I stayed in the hostel where food was provided, but I could never take the fish there. Somehow I found the fish too "fishy" or that it tasted like plastic. One complain of that (just in passing actually, and with no ulterior motive) and mom made most wonderful fish dishes every weekend, steamed (done in a few varieties), fried with "rempah" (spicy paste) stuffed inside or curry fish head. Those were the times I knew for certain my mom loves us, and did not just care for us out of a sense of duty all our growing years.
Then my father fell terribly sick. He had kidney failure and had to undergo dialysis. She and I became the primary care giver: Me the chauffeur and nurse, she his constant moral support and now the main breadwinner. Those years were somewhat the most painful years for me because I had to change my role almost overnight. I was no longer a child to be pampered and cared for, but had to be an adult and be the care giver. I assumed the very serious role of making sure my father's health was maintained.
The 5 years I took care of my father were the years that really changed my outlook in life. I changed from a total goal-getter to one who sits and watched the season change absorbing everything. I watched my father "managed" health deterioration, emotional despair and trying to see hope in the midst of darkness. That was very painful for me. That also made me a lot more human than I had ever been. That's what makes me treasure everyday that I have now with the people I love around me, even in the most mundane.
The 5 years I took care of my father were the 5 years I grew the closest to my parents. Many times the relationships were blurred. We were not always father and child or mother and child.
We were sometimes friends, sharing a meal and gossiping about people in high places that they have personal encounters with.
I was sometimes the nurse scolding my father for not following his diet.
He was sometimes my boss ordering me to take him into the heart of the city for a certain noodle at a particular shop he wanted. Everyday we drove out to have a meal of his choice at different parts of the city.
Mom and Dad confided in me regarding legal matters of their property as well as personal worries of certain siblings.
Dad told me his life's love stories.
Today Mom and I talk all the time about her friends, my kids, her other kids (my siblings), her dogs, her neighbours, my in-laws, my friends, food, some Chinese drama she's watching on TV, her concerns about her appearance, her concerns about my appearance, etc.
We are each other's sounding board.
We buy stuff for each other, more she for me and my family than I for her due to my two tag-a-longs.
I still play chauffeur for her occasionally, with and/or without my tag-a-longs+grandma.
It took a lot of time. A lot of pain, a lot of growing up and change for us all.
So now, in may ways we are best of friends.
p/s- This is with thought of you and A, hissychick.
p/p/s- Hope to scan a photo in soon. Just for the record.