A Lifetime Of An Embarrassment.

by Patrick Liew on October 10, 2013

I read an interesting article in the October 2013 issue of the Reader’s Digest. It was written by Bruce Feiler from the New York Times.

The well-written article was entitled, ‘The stories that bind us.’ What attracted me was the subtitle, ‘The strongest families are those that know – and teach the next generation – their histories.’

According to the author, ‘…the single most important thing you can do for your family, it seems, is to develop a strong family narrative.’ To support the point, he quoted a study conducted at the Emory University  by Marshall Duke, a psychologist and his colleague, Robyn Fivush.

They apparently found that ‘the more children knew about their families’ histories, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self esteem, and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.’ They also tend to be ‘more resilient.’

He concluded the article by encouraging the readers. ‘The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine, and retell the story of your family’s best moments and your relations’ ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.’

I was very happy to read the article because members of the Liew Family are story tellers. In fact, we have a habit of recounting past experiences and we still harbor good feelings about them.

One of our favorite stories or should I say my children’s favorite stories was about Elsa when she was still a child. It was a story they would love to repeat, half in jest to embarrass me and remind me to live up to my promises.

The story was about how I had left her at the swimming pool with the coach. One of my former classmates was also there with her daughter who was learning how to swim in the same class. I had asked my friend to keep an eye on my girl.

Feeling safe that she was in good hands, I had gone to a pet shop to purchase food for our pets at home. At the shop, I was attracted by a huge bird cage, one that was big enough to house three humans in it.

I started to discuss with the shopkeeper about the possibilities of what I could do with the cage. Then I started to bargain with him for what I thought was a giveaway price.

Ultimately, what I paid for it was much higher than what was printed on the shop’s receipt. The price? A lifetime of embarrassment and for awhile, regret and remorse.

While engaging the shopkeeper, I did not realize that time had stolen an important part of my mind. I forgot about picking up my daughter.

Perhaps as an excuse, I told myself that it was okay to be late. She would be sitting patiently on a bench besides the pool and waiting for me.

What I don’t like to tell you was that it was also pouring cats and dogs at that point in time. There was also a dark overcast and the environment was gloomy and getting gloomier.

By the time I reached the swimming pool, I saw my poor little girl sitting at the bench bawling her hearts out. My friend was besides her abd she could not console her.

Elsa told me later, “The class had ended. I was still in the pool, swimming and playing by myself.

“Then it started to rain. I started to panic. I didn’t know what to do.

“You were not around. And I was wet and shivering in cold.”

Then she  broke up in tears. At that point in time, my heart broke into a thousand pieces.

No matter how much it broke, it would not be enough to redeem my irresponsible action as a father.

I prayed very hard that my daughter would not suffer any psychological trauma. That she would not lose faith in me as a result of my negligence.

I’m grateful to our Creator for watching over her and protecting her. Thankfully, she recovered from the incident.

In fact, she turned the story into somewhat of a joke.

My children used it to bargain with me to do whatever they wanted and also for presents. It took me awhile to find the equilibrium and leverage to stand up to their ‘blackmail’ and ‘negotiation ploy.’ Lol!

The best part of this story was that they would retell the story obviously with salt and pepper added to it. If it was told in the presence of my wife, she would also tell her part in it.

She would begin by saying,”When I was driving past you and when I saw Elsa crying in the car, I knew immediately…”

At that juncture, my children would join in one voice to tell the rest of her story. It was done in a way to add salt to wounds and pepper to eyes to make me feel more remorseful.

I’m happy that my girl has put the incident behind her. She can joke about it and have a good laugh over it.

She had forgiven her father. Even though she had not forgotten the incident, she had removed the negative emotions and replaced it with positive ones.

She had not allowed herself to be affected mentally, emotionally and psychologically. It had not caused her to respond negatively to both herself and others – except to make fun of her not-so-innocent father.

This story has reinforced my belief that there is a beautiful humour in every problem. The bigger the problem, the more uplifting the humour.

We may not realize it while we are facing the problem. However, if we keep our hearts and minds open; especially for the new and unexpected,  we can learn from it and have a good laugh over it.

We should laugh over it because when we are laughing, we can’t be unhappy at the same time. The positive juices that are produced in our brains as a result of laughing will give us added strength, energy and vitality to overcome challenges.

It will also improve our resilience quotient.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at http://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/

Please visit my website, www.patrickliew.net

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


Powered by Facebook Comments

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: