My husband is one of the most iconic voices in Singapore: K.C Meals. My daughter will undoubtedly be known as 'K.C’s kid'. Which begs the question: would I want her to date someone like her father?
Before delivering my verdict, I thought I’d take a quick trip down memory lane to reflect on my own parents’ approach when it came to boys. Ultimately, they faced this very situation with me when I bought K.C Meals home. Would I react in the same way? What lessons could I learn from them? Let’s start at the beginning…
Growing up with ‘cool’ parents
Yep, I’ll openly admit it. Growing up, my parents were unbelievably cool. Something that at the time, I obviously could not concede because who wanted cool parents? Everyone bonded over how much their parents sucked. But what made them cool in the eyes of a kid?
Well, first up, they were open and let me try things. One evening when I was around eight years-old, we were at a party, and my Dad took a gulp from a mug that looked very Homer Simpson-esque (the Simpsons were super popular at the time). I asked what it was, and he answered beer, then asked if I’d like to try some. Excitedly I took a huge glug… It was gassy, bitter and pure awful! My reaction gave my Dad and his friends a good laugh, and that was it. From then on, whenever I asked my parents what they were drinking, I knew I would always be offered a taste. I also now knew to only take a sip even if the beverage in question smelt delicious! It completely took the ‘cool’ out of underage drinking.
That’s not to say my parents were relaxed and let me do everything. Absolutely not. Smoking, for example, was a clear no-go. My parents were very much against smoking, and I respected this. I never questioned it or tested this boundary.
Lesson 1: Overreacting and restricting everything does more to peak curiosity than being open and letting your kids try things.
How did they deal with the boy issue?
I went to a convent, so boys were just not readily available to me. To be honest, I was rather unfazed by boys in general (apart from Leonardo DiCaprio (obviously) – he was a god!) None of the plebeians my age even compared. I guess that’s why I never thought anything about speaking openly about boys to my parents.
This seemed to differ from my friends. When I was almost in my teens, my best friend at the time wouldn’t dare breathe the word “boy” around her mother. We lived in the same estate, and her mum would often give us a ride home. I remember her mother crying on one car journey over how boy-crazy her daughter was and demanded to know from me how she knew so many boys. This inevitably led to even more lying and hiding on her daughter’s part.
But I wasn’t perfect either…
By no means was I the model child; I did lie about some things (mainly grades), just not boys. When boys did come over, they didn’t have to take out their piercings or hide the smell of cigarettes, like they would have to at my other friends’ houses. My parents were fully aware of everything; as long as I didn’t partake in it, then all good! My parents never judged my friends or told me not to hang out with so and so. They trusted what I told them; it was just mutual respect.
Lesson 2: Building trust with your children means being open, non-judgmental and trusting them.
What about boys who were rock stars?
To be fair, let’s take the term ‘rock star’ out, so we don’t stereotype all musicians of a certain genre. Let’s go with the fairly accurate (but IMO massively gag-worthy term) – ‘bad boy’. My parents view? Loud, angry rock music was fine. The tattoos that are typically associated with them? Not fine (for me, that is). Being outspoken and opinionated? Fine. Being disrespectful? Not fine. I don’t know how they did it, but it worked. I was more worried about disappointing them as opposed to worrying about looking cool among my mates.
And in particular, what about K.C. Meals?
How did things differ when it came to K.C. Meals? Well, for one, my husband and I had a ‘Sid and Nancy’ type relationship for many years. Due to many factors: alcoholism, mental health issues, financial difficulties. No parent in their right mind would want their child to go through anything unpleasant. I know for sure my parents felt a certain way about my then-boyfriend.
Things got so bad that at one point, my mother told me he was no longer welcome in the house. I was 26 – for the first time in my life, I started lying to my parents about a boy. It was a wretched feeling. My parents were always my teammates. They were my go-to, and now I felt I was alone. I didn’t want to disappoint them, yet, deep down, I knew my husband was actually a great guy that needed time to work out issues. Why didn’t my mother understand? Wasn’t it her who raised an empathetic, strong-willed daughter? Wasn’t my father the one who taught me that people were more than the sum of their parts? Shouldn’t they trust my decision and have faith I knew things would work out?
Now that I have Lily, I think about all these questions in a new light. I ask my husband: if Lily dated someone who went through all that he went through, would he support the relationship?
Would I want my daughter to marry someone like my husband?
The answer? No.
Although we did have a happy ending, I don’t think that’s common. The quote ‘believe that you’re the exception and not the rule’ seems fitting, aptly featured in ‘He’s just not that into you’ (which is a great film for hopeless romantics!). While my husband and I dealt with our issues, a close friend was going through a similar scenario with her own ‘bad boy’. I knew the guy she was seeing was just a hopeless case. She saw things differently. She thought that since our stories were similar, things would eventually work out for her. Sadly that was not to be. Why? Because no one can make you do anything you don’t want to. This is something my father said to me multiple times through multiple stages in my life. It applies to everything. My husband didn’t change his lifestyle for me; he changed his life because he was tired of living a certain way. No one made him see the light; it was just a choice he came to.
So how would I react if Lily brought home K.C. Meals 2.0?
The question still remains – would I want Lily to date someone with the same issues as her father? Of course not. Like with everything in life, there is always an easier way. But would I want her to abandon a friend or stay away from people with similar issues because they’re too much work? Definitely not. I hope to raise her how my parents raised me – someone who is accepting, kind, and can see past flaws to the core of a person and stand by them. In essence, I hope I raise a leader and not a follower – someone who dates whoever they want but maintains a strong sense of self and self-worth. With those two qualities, I wouldn’t worry about who she dates.