Mothers Are Angels in Training

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It has been one year and 4 months since my son joined me in Montreal from China. Time went fast and it was my birthday. Usually I do not celebrate it, mainly it is not my thing and practically I have been busy working elsewhere from my family almost all the time in the past 15 years. You know, when you were alone, you tend to forget it because you realize you had no one to celebrate with you!

This year, it was different! My son is here, wohoooo! I sure did remember my birthday and I kind of reminded my son of this dusted shy future event of mine! The very day arrived and I asked my son: “do you want to have dinner with us ( to say us, because I am supposed to have dinner with my boyfriend )?  I thought he’d say no, but to my surprise, he said yes with a positive attitude in a happy tone. Well, then I have to tell my boyfriend that my son would come with us, because it was meant to be a 2-person private party! Eventually, his 2 daughters will join us too. More surprisingly, his parents were joining us as well! Olala, a party of 2 now became a party of 7! Well, that was not what I expected! A happy surprise for me who seldom took her birthday seriously and celebrated it with people!

It was a very good French restaurant at Plateau Montreal. My son was very hungry. We ordered Entrée. I asked for Escargo which was excellent, but my son ordered Vegi Salade which turned out to be not so good according to him. “ yuck”, he murmured, “ it is bitter!” That was one of the problems too often to arrive when we do not know about the ingredients of Western food!!  He ate it almost up despite of his yucky feeling. “ Well”, I said to him: “ if you have an open stomach,  you might think it is not too bad,  or you will not order it the next time!”

For the main course, I ordered Duck Liver! That was very good as well. My boyfriend’s mother ordered exactly the same dinner as me: both entrée and main course! My son quickly finished his meal of pasta and played with his iPod touch with Frédérique, daughter of my boyfriend. When everybody finished and started ordering dessert, my son asked for his school bag which was put on the corner counter behind the table and reached for something inside. He took out an envelope, a big one. It looked like an envelope for photos. He stood up and gave it to me across the table. I took it and put my hand in trying to feel what it was. Well, what I took out was not one thing, it was 2 pieces. 2 long rectangular things rapped up with white gift papers. What could these be? I wondered!

Unfolding the white paper, I saw 2 plates of whitish lime stone like pieces. They were tied by 2 strings on top of each and they have words engraved in. On one, it reads: Mothers are Angels in Training! On the other: If I could choose again, I’d still choose you!  “WOW!”,  was said loud in my mind!  I looked at him thinking: “what the h..this little person did!” The second phrase, I heard it sometimes, but Mothers are Angels in Training! Shut up! Isn’t it awesomely nice!!

Just think about it, mothers are Angels in Training! An excellent compliment to his mother, me , and a compliment with a reserved attitude and a hidden reality truth: we are mothers who face challenges of parenting every day, and yes, haven’t we been in training all the time to cope with different situations and deal with different children? Are we doing well, are we doing bad? But no matter how we have been doing, we all have golden hearts full of non-conditional love for our children and yes, that is why we are angels! Nevertheless, it is a compliment with a sense of humor about the fact that all mothers are human beings ourselves with faults, yet who, despite of the fact,  always  love and protect our children almost  like angels only not quite knowing the HOW_TO skills! It gives an ultimate praise to mothers, it acknowledges the good wills of them and it brings hope to mothers who are facing challenges all the time no matter where they are in the world!

“I am jealous!”, said Stephanes’ mom. “ My son never said that to me!” Yes, it is another compliment again, not only for me, but also for my almost 20 years old son who is truly growing up every day with more and better gentleness, kindness, knowledge and skills…That is the direction all mothers have been keeping their fingers cross for every day and the direction for all mothers to look up to, secretly trying to be “trained” so that they can be honoured “ Angels” when their kids grow up into true women and men.

A Walk With My Son in the Angrignon Park

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It was a fine and beautiful Sunday, a perfect autumn day. There were no clouds in the sky and the temperature was 9 degree Celcius. I dragged my son for a walk in the Angrignon Park at the City Lasalle where we live. I say drag because he almost always tend to say no to my suggetions, like taking a walk, doing roller blading, swimming, etc. It took me quite some effort to get him out.

It was fresh and nice in the park. Not many people, a few enjoying their last BBQ and a few taking their walk. We saw quite many Chinese there as I know as a mortgage broker that quite some Chinese bought properties in Lasalle.

Busy all Spring and Summer, I myself didn’t have much time visiting around except once canoeing and another time kayaking with my son and friends in Boucherville. Taking time walking in the park, especially in Angrignon Park was the first time since 1999 when I was perching in one of the new condos just nearby.

My son arrived and started living with me last July. He is now close to 20, a tall slim handsome boy. He had been living with his father in China all the time,  with me visiting him every year for a few months. For sure, we would wonder how I kept the relationship with him while most of the time living here, not there with him. What I say is that even though we live with our children side by side 24 by 7, it is not guaranteed that we will have a good communication with them and nor that we will have a good relationship with them.

I remembered that a few years ago, I was taking a walk with one of my aquaintances and her son then 11 or 12 years old. She called herself a writer who wrote about children’s education and still writes about many stuff. I was quite shocked by the way of her being with her son and the relationship between them. The whole time we were walking by the Fleuve St-Laurent, the son had always kept a big distance from us! He walked a bit closer only when his mom yelled at him! I tried to talk with him, but he showed not much response! Then his mom said to me: Aiya, he is just like that, very frustrating! It seemed that he was in his world having nothing to say to us and her mom on the other side, neither had anything to say to him except giving him lectures and criticizing him even in front of people…

My son was not yet here with me then. I was hoping that my son would do better and I would be very different in the ways of being with him as well…One thing for sure, I do not agree on criticizing children in a negative non-constructive way and on thinking that children should always listen to and do what their parents say as my parents and many Chinese parents had been doing and many still have been doing all the time. I am determined to do different and better! After all, as our Chinese saying goes: Children not educated is the fault of the Father ( we now mean the Parents)! For a young man in his late teens or early twenties, especially in this important critical transit period of his life from his childhood to adulthood, from one culture to others, the parents certainly are playing very important roles…

My son is not a very talkative person. He is very pleasant and takes care of people as he was educated as a Chinese, such as pouring water for other people around and putting meals into other people’s plates( which I do not do!). He does what I told him to do, even some renovation jobs and he is at ease with people and starts to asociate though very slowly with the society…I was told by my colleagues that  he is a good boy! As many of my friends said to me: he is a person with things in his eyes. I take it as an absolute compliment and feel very happy that my son turned out to be like such as he is now…but I feel that I haven’t seen the light in his eyes, the light of spirit, the light of love and sharing, the light which shows his pursuit, gratitude and that he is curious about life and is willing to understand life, the light that will lead him into the wonderful direction into which he is growing…but I surely believe that I will in the future and I am working persistantly to achieve this goal as a parent.

Through the over-lapping maple leaves, falling,floating, through those gold, yellow and some still green, the sun had his ways for us to see its magnifiscent rays. Walking through the woods with closer trees moving faster and farther ones slower, we saw beautiful stereotyped space full of different sized and couloured leaves radiant with different shades of golden beams of sun rays. It is through these colourful leaves shows the wonders of changes and beauty and values from different angles; it is through time that we work bit by bit together with our children…Things will work out wonderfully with time and patience like the Sun is working out magically the beauty of the woods in autaumn! On the walkway, I was trying to talk to him about Ralph Waldo Ermerson, the American 19th century thinker and writer( transcendentalist), his famous and generations-inspiring essaie Self-Reliance…

Owning Properties – Series of Stories of Owners and Tenants

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Since when I started to own properties and have tenants? Funny isn’t it? Funnier is that I have them in Canada! Just imagine 15 years ago in China, nothing belonged to people for about 45 years after 1949! Everything belonged to the big communist country where everybody was a tenant! The fact is that the owner didn’t have the concept and means to maintain its properties leaving them in poor or nasty conditions and the tenants naturally tend to care less about them. As a cruel result, the whole country became bleak and ugly!

Only after I started my career as a mortgage broker did I realize that we have multi-typed properties in Canada! That is completely new to us who came from China where we have very limited type of properties: condominiums! Here we have not only condos, we have 2-plex to 4-plex where we have one- owner-only owning the whole building living in one of the units or not. We have 5-plex up to even hundred-units building where one owner is owning all of them and renting them to tenants, receiving rents as the benefit of the investment. These units are inseparable in ownership, therefore you can not buy them separately except buying them as a whole. We call them Apartment Building. They are one of the big investment items in the society.

Since we had not much clue about properties and we seldom owned them, we had not much of a good habit maintaining the conditions. Well, to say that, I have to exclude those of us who are care taking anyway whether the properties belong to them or not. Yet most of us, I should say,  tend to think that since they do not own the place, so they figure that they can do whatever they like, such as making many holes in the walls without asking the permission of the owner, cooking with lots of grease leaving the oven and the kitchen cupboards greasy and disgusting without cleaning for long long time. I heard and saw some apartments even having the ceiling dripping oil down!!!! Many Chinese who owned plexes told me not to rent to Chinese! Wow, that is something quite paradoxical, being Chinese owners not willing to rent to other Chinese tenants!

I owned my very first property in 1996. It was purchased then with all cash made while working for Impregilo, Holtzmann & etc. in China. To own a property was a very proud thing to do in China!!!! I bought it at the price of 100k,  spent 35k RMB and got the 5 & half-like apartment( condo) furnished.  I spent 35k RMB to furnish the apartment because most of the condos sold in China from day one of our housing market, they are not finished! The developers sell you a shell without furnishing it. There are the standard toilettes,  kitchen sinks installed while the floors and walls are still in concrete. So if you like fancy styles and you can afford it, you can do whatever you want. But to tell you the truth, leaving the job to every family to finish,  it created lots of trouble for the not handy families who rack their brains for what to do and buy, where to buy, and trouble for the community as well such as hearing noise and walking over construction garbage and slip over dust in the corridors and elevators even 5-10 years after the building is finished.

Owning properties is for sure a good and essential change for China where it gives back the occasion and chances for people  to realize and establish the basic value system again and eventually to care about the system which is directly connected to people. The ownership of properties was long eliminated and replaced by the communist Utopia everything-belongs-to-people-system, which was proved not working at all by various communist countries in the world. Nevertheless, people do not own the land under their properties, including  the 700 million farmers in the rural areas of China where all the farmers are tenants of the communist party,  only having the right to use the land rather than owning them…where it allows the richer city real estate developers to drive farmers into situations of not even having any land to use…

Please read the interesting article on NYT website about the recent Chinese Land Reform.