Saturday, 10 October 2009

Father-son conversations

For the past week or so, a few blogger-friends have posted interesting and amusing stories about the conversations with their young children. The witty responses that come from the mouth of our young ones sometimes catch us off-guard, but they never fail to raise a smile or a chuckle from us.

Recording such beautiful dialogue in blog posts is a wonderful way of preserving the memories. Pretty soon, our children grow up... and we long for the days when we could cuddle them and listen to their innocent banter.

My days of cuddling the boys are already over. As you can gather from my earlier posts, my sons have all grown up into young men. The youngest one is already a teenager. So stories about funny and witty replies are all but just memories. A few of these stand up in mind but maybe I'll post them on another day.

Father and two sons, circa 2000

Father-son conversations are not as common as mother-son conversations. The reasons are quite obvious. In general, sons are closer to their mother than their father. There are things that a son can only tell his mother... especially things that relate to emotions and feelings. It is somewhat not a `manly' thing to do to be talking to your dad about stuff like that. Moms understand these things better. Often, the father is the last person in the house to know. Fathers only get consulted on really formal stuff and in particular, any decision that has a financial impact.

My sons have always been closer to their mother... and it is fine by me. Because I can say the same for myself too. So don't ask me if I know the names of my sons' girlfriends... or if they actually do have girlfriends already. My wife would know.

When the eldest boy got the opportunity to study overseas about 2 years back, I had Streamyx broadband installed at home. The main purpose of which was to allow the mother to be in contact with the son on Yahoo Messenger. And when I fitted the webcam on our home desktop a bit later, she can see the image of her son in real-time, all those 8,000 km away. And then she starts worrying if her son is eating well because he looks so thin...

The technology of today has made the old form of communication near obsolete. I am of course, referring to the art of letter-writing between a son and his parent. I don't think my son has ever written a letter to his mother, not even when he was in boarding school. He would feel hard-pressed to write one now, especially in decent, if not classic, Bahasa Melayu. His YM chats with his mother are in standard everyday informal prose.

I remember as a student, writing letters to my mother in classic writing style... the one that starts : Kehadapan ibunda ku yang dikasihi, semuga ibunda dan ayahanda yang berada jauh di tanahair sentiasa dalam keadaan sihat hendaknya...

My mother was a schoolteacher once, hence my letters to her need to be tip-top. It wasn't too much of a trouble for me because I loved writing. Letters to my mother could be four or five pages long. Comparatively, one to my father would be 2 pages at most :-)

I wonder if my mom still keeps my letters. It would be real interesting to re-read them after all these years. I wonder now, what was it that I actually wrote about. Surely personal and emotional stuff mostly, and probably ridiculously embarassing on hindsight. But one thing I can assure you is that the language is gracefully classic.


Aizan Suhaira said...

I have 30 second phone calls with my father, but the ones with my mom could last for hours.

Anonymous said...

Salam Mr Oldstock, I know exactly how it feels to be writing to a mother who was a schoolteacher. My mother was a linguist and it was not uncommon -- in those days of letterwriting -- to get her reply PLUS my previous letter with grammer/sentence structure duly corrected; complete with comments at the sidebar!! Uggghhhh!!

D said...

Tee hee... I too used to write those classic letters to my dad. Well, it used to be at least one aerogramme every week(note:to late husband who was the boyfriend then). Sometimes, when there's a lot to tell, I'd number the aerogrammes (1),(2) and the max was perhaps (3) or (4).

My kids just love listening to stories of them when they were little. Looking forward to read yours!

Ki Moira said...

boss. i dah tukar blog's url

HLiza said...

Aaahh..those letters with ibunda-anakanda..classic; yet has a beauty of its on..I always find it so sweet for a person to want to use his fingers to compose lengthy letters..yes you can't find that no. During my time, letters had been replaced by long queue at the phone booth..with collection of telephone cards to show how often I'll call back home..I prefer dad answering me though as his nice words will make me miss him so nags a lot and will be suspicious of what I've been up to..he I hardly wrote letters too those days; except for my long-distance then boyfriend!

Nowadays, technology had changed us a lot..I wonder what medium I'll be using 10 years later when my kids will be away..but your wife's ability to check out your son's physical look from far away is cool!

Patricia said...

Yes, boys are tough - even with their mums. When my daughter was away in Canada, we talked every day, either on MSN chat or via the phone on weekends.

When my son was away, it was a once a week chat :( Otherwise, I'd get a few lines of text via an e-mail telling me what's what with him.

But that's still tonnes more than the communication with his dad. So, yup, you're right!

Now that they're both home, they're both constantly rolling around my bed and chatting with me - until dad comes in. Then, they disappear!!! Hahahahah!

Oldstock said...


Heheheh... Cakap dgn abah tu bila perlu je kan?

Oldstock said...


My mom is not up to the stage of yours. She doesn't correct my writing but it is important for me to write well... basically just to show that I'm not slacking :-)

Oldstock said...


Aerogrammes, huh? Now that really is something from the past. I wonder if people still use them nowadays.

I started with aerogrammes too, but I found the space to limiting. Almaklumlah, banyak yg nak diceritakan kak mak kita tentang hidup kat London tu... :-)

Oldstock said...


Noted and already updated.

Oldstock said...


When I was in boarding school, I could chat on the phone with my mom for an hour (because someone showed me a technique of making a long-distance call on the rotary dial public payphone but only paying the 10-sen local call cost). Later on, when the school received the Telekom bill, the amount of money in the box could not cover the cost. They replaced the phone with a newer model (push button type) and the time for cheap long-distance calls were over.

In 10 years time, you'll probably be chatting with your kids on videophone.

Oldstock said...


Dads make lousy chatting friends :-) That's why God make moms as the place for kids to pour out their hearts.

VersedAnggerik said...

ahhh... Husna writes me letters, often.

but not the ayah-bonda kind.

more like drawings of stick men and women with a big orange sun and lotsa flowers and huge scribblings of I LOVE U Mak!

I love her letters!

Oldstock said...


You should carefully keep all of such letters from Husna. Precious memories for reminiscing at a later date.

Chahya said...

Ah, this reminds me of my own ayahanda-bonda letters too back in boarding school.

At that time I dont have a phone at home, so I had no choice but to come up with classic masterpieces to pour out my emotions - homesickness, and by the time I'm settled with those emotions, I receive my parents' reply, only to feel homesick again...hehheheh

Uncle Lee said...

HiOldstock, enjoyed reading your this heart warming posting.
I fully agree with you, son's will take their moms into their confidence, as moms will understand, ha ha.

We some years back with regards to young kids and "witty responses", as well catching us off guard....
it happened at a friend's bbq party, abot 20 couples.
And friend's 2 year old boy fooling around with a toy rubber mallet knocking some stuff into a whatever.

We were all sitting around when he, the kid let out a loud %$#@$%* 4 letter word.
He had banged his finger with the mallet.
I can tell you, we laughed till our tears came out....a 2 year old swearing like a sailor, ha ha.

And his mom saying, "see la! He follows what the father talks or swears". Ha ha.
Yes, kids can be fun...only they grow too fast.
Have fun and keep well, Lee.

DrSam said...

I used to have the same type of mute-relationship with my father. Most of the communication will be channel through a medium - my mom. Only quite recently my father and myself talk quite a lot. Not that I scared of him but more of a respect or perhaps I saw the same type of relationship between my father and his father (my late grandfather).

Anonymous said...

I carry on word-less conversations with my sons. We just use grunts. Somehow, we understand each other.

Typical dialogue

Me: Ugh
son 1: arragh
me: grkh?
son 2: nergh nergh
me: oh dregh..

Nurie said...

Reading your post definitely bring back those happy memories of waiting for the postman to drop off letters to our mailbox depan rumah...esp when waiting for letters of your ehem ehem!

Nowadays I think my kids will never know the joy of writing letters, using those lovely writing pads and I wonder if they still have those scented writing pads!

Yr friend mentioned aerogramme - wow!! I have not use that word since like eons ago! Normally I'll use aerogrammes to send letters to my pen pals(now thats another word yg dah lama tak dengar!) from Big Blue Marble!

I think mothers are better friends to their kids because moms are usually good listeners :-)

Oldstock said...


I'm sure you write lovely letters to your parents. Do you think your own children can write the same to you? Unlikely... but we can't fault them, can we?

Mesti banyak kenangan masa belajar kat STF ni... :-)

Oldstock said...

Hi Lee,

A two-year old already swearing with the F-word, heheheh. I bet the father must've been terribly embarassed.

Oldstock said...


So now, how are your own boys getting along with you? Not as serious as you and your dad, I hope.

Oldstock said...

Heheheh MatB....

You guys understand each other so well :-)

Oldstock said...


Wow... muda-muda pun dah pandai ber`ehem-ehem' ye ;-)

Yes, moms are good listeners... but selalu cair bila dengar pujuk rayu anak-anak, especially bila berada di toys department of any gedung membeli-belah.

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

I found your blog via The English Cottage. So glad I did.

Loads of posts here about real life that touch the heart and soul.

If you find those letters written to your mom, I think you should scan them and keep them. Those are treasures for your kids and grandkids. :)

Oldstock said...

Hi there Estrelita,

Welcome. Glad to know you like reading my posts.

I'm a bit sheepish in asking my mom if she still keeps my letters but it is very likely that she does. She told my son that she still has the old pound sterling note that was included in the I sent her in my letter many many years ago.

Do drop by again soon. I can't guarantee if I post more of those heart-touching stories, but I'll try :-)