Remember the post about Allan’s friend’s daughter, who is on the verge of being suspended from school? Allan’s friend invited us for dinner with his family. Nothing in particular, just want to get to know each other’s family members since they are working so closely together now.

Allan and I were so eager to meet them, especially the problematic teenager. But she did not come. The dad was telling us the story behind her MIA…

“I told her to dress up to have dinner with my friends. She said, ‘I don’t feel like going. I will have instant noodles for dinner instead.’ I am that kind of dad – I give you back whatever attitude you present to me. Since you are so-not-interested. So I shall give the so-not-interested attitude back to you.

I gave the maid S$3.00, nothing more, nothing less. Just enough for the maid’s dinner. 5 minutes ago, she called my wife and asked where were we. She obviously regretted her decision for not leaving the house with us. She said she went down to the coffee-shop to look for us, but could not find us there.

My wife told her we went to another place for dinner, where she had to take a bus or taxi to reach us. I told my wife, ‘don’t need to explain so much to her, tell her to have her own dinner, don’t bother to come, we are not going to ‘beg’ her to come. She can do whatever she like.’

She definitely overheard the dad’s words. Slammed down the phone.

I am her dad. Don’t expect me to beg her or coax her to come for a dinner. Even if she is here. She’ll be putting on her ‘black-face’. Mind you, she is already 14 years old. She is no longer a small kid like this younger one (pointing to his younger daughter-4 years old), whereby we still need to educate her what is right and what is wrong.

So let her be then. Anyway she hardly talks to us now, or rather to me now, ever since what happened.”

The dinner was fantastic. Not the food but the 2 families enjoyed chatting with each other. I chose to be with the kids rather than chatting about adult stuff. I loved their younger daughter at 1st sight. She reminded me of a girl I really love when I was teaching in the child care centre.

So the 3 kids were going crazy with me, playing ‘pretend’. Just when I felt so engrossed playing with them, Allan’s friend asked (the question that so many asked whenever they see me with kids), “Why don’t you go back to be a child care centre teacher? I love your patience and the way you communicate with kids. I can imagine how popular you were when you were a teacher in the past.”

Allan answered for me, “Spending time with kids can really be tiring, especially when they are not yours. Every Sunday, we would go over to my mom’s place and all my nieces would stick to her like a leech. When we leave my mom’s place at night, her battery is completely flat.”

I remember the day when my supervisor told me to consider being a full time child care teacher, “Its amazing how well you can take care of kids and how much the kids love you when you are still so young (was 17 years old then), you may want to consider doing this after your Polytechnic education. But as we know, loving kids and taking care of them is totally a different story altogether. You may find that the salary does not justify the hard-work you put in too (their starting pay were only S$800 then). You are really a great helper, ‘cos you can relate to kids of any age, that’s why you fit in so well here. Whenever a teacher is on leave, you can fit in, irregardless of which age group of kids the teacher is in-charge of. Do consider.”

My reason is simple – I just want to dedicate my time and energy for my own kids.

Too selfish? Maybe. But my decision is that for now. I love to spend time with children, be it my own or not. But to give my commitment, only to my own boys. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, if my boys no longer feel they need me as much as they do now, I may consider going back to be a child care teacher….ooops! By then they may consider me too-old-for-the-job.

Am I really missing out on a career?